The Design And Construction Of An Antenna Booster

Project and Seminar Material For Electrical Electronics Engineering EEE

The Design And Construction Of An Antenna Booster


Wi-Fi signals are susceptible to signal loss as they travel hence Wi-Fi users are rarely completely satisfied with the signal strength offered by the off-the-shelf Wi-Fi cards, routers and access points. This project research intends to introduce a device which can provide Wi-Fi users with high signal strength and at a lower cost in order to enable them have a seamless, uninterrupted and reliable communication. This project includes the steps for Biquad antenna construction, steps for the construction of a Wi-Fi booster circuit and the working of the Wi-Fi booster system as a whole.

This project includes in its beginning chapter an introduction into what an antenna booster is and its applications. Also the aims and objectives of the project and the scope of the project are discussed in this chapter. The succeeding chapter looks at the history of Wi-Fi antenna boosters and their various types. Chapter three of this project describes the equipments and software used for the construction process of both the biquad and the booster circuit. Chapter four of this project describes the testing and operation of the system as a whole. The last chapter of this project gives a conclusion of the research carried out, problems encountered and recommendation.

Chapter One


1.1. Introduction to Signal Boosters.

An antenna booster is a device which is designed to amplify reception or received signals so that a marginal signal can be utilized. The way the antenna booster works is that it expands the area of the antenna, allowing it to pick up more of a weak signal and then translate it into a stronger signal for the device that the antenna is attached to. Antenna boosters can be used to improve radio signals in any frequency band be it the Very Low Frequency (VLF) band or the Extremely High Frequency (ELF) band.

There are a number of products on the market which claim to be able to improve signal quality by acting as an antenna booster. Some of these products actually work but others do not. Anybody interested in buying an antenna booster should do a research or read the reviews of various products online before buying.

Fig. 1.1 Cell phone antenna boosters that work (captured above).

Fig. 1.2 Examples of effective Wi-Fi signal boosters (captured above).

The pictures shown above will guide anyone interested in buying commercially produced antenna boosters be it for Wi-Fi or cell phone boosters.

The simplest form of an antenna booster is simply a length of wire attached to the antenna to increase the length of the antenna. Other methods may be the use of reflectors; which are designed to concentrate the signals and bounce it onto the antenna so that a stronger signal is received. Alternatively, an amplifier can be used to amplify the signals received by the antenna; this method is most effective and useful and will be used in this project.

1.1.1 Applications of an Antenna Booster

An antenna booster can be used for a variety of purposes. One of which is in cell phones, areas which have poor network coverage require a signal booster (also called an antenna booster or an antenna amplify). Although it is difficult to attach an antenna booster to a cell phone without making the phone hard to use, an antenna booster works effectively for cell phones.

Also our television sets also require an antenna booster for us to be able to receive a variety of channels. Depending on the kind of television, the dipole or half-dipole (also known as rabbit ears antenna) which comes with the television is often not used these days by consumers of electronic products. Consumers generally buy an outdoor antenna or subscribe to a satellite television company for better reception. These external antennas always come with a booster, which amplifies the signals received by the outdoor antenna before sending it to the television set.

Another application of antenna boosters is in the boosting of Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) signals. According to Wikipedia, in her publication about Wi-Fi, defines Wi-Fi as a popular technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data wirelessly (using radio waves) over a computer network, including high-speed Internet connections. For instance devices such as a personal computer, video game console, smart phone, tablet, or digital audio player some of which do not have an Ethernet port. Most of the times the signals present are not strong enough, in such cases an antenna booster will do. These boosters can either be attached to the router to increase the transmit power or attached to the device itself to increase its reception (i.e. desktops, laptops or notebooks) via USB port.

Boosters are also used in satellite communication in form of Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA). Here an LNA having a very low noise figure is required.

1.1.2 Why are Boosters Needed?

Boosters are needed because wireless signals are susceptible to a lot of data loss. This is due to the fact that wireless signals can be affected by topography; tall trees, tall buildings, weather, etc. Also the wireless network cards that come

inbuilt in computer systems and other wireless devices have limited power and range. Furthermore, the built in antenna for television sets and cell phones have limited power and range. Even the transmitters of some television, network operators or internet service providers may not be strong enough in a particular rural area. Therefore if it happens that you find yourself in such a place and require a good reception then an antenna booster would be the right choice.

The fact being that no broadcast station, network provider or internet service provider would want to waste funds and infrastructure on an area in which it would not stand to benefit much from financially. Hence the only option left for a person in such a situation will be to use an antenna booster.

Also, a work situation in which one cannot access an access point (this is simply a device that provides internet access to wireless users) due to the fact that the position of the router is far fro o e’s reah or o strutedy alls, a Wi-Fi antenna booster can be a solution in such a situation.

1.2 Aims and Objectives of Project Study

  1. To construct a Wi-Fi antenna booster which enhances the signal strength (increases it by 24dBi) and extends the range of Wi-Fi signals (by 200 metres).
  2. This Wi-Fi antenna booster would be constructed out of components which are relatively lower in cost than their off-the-shelf counterparts.
  1. To enable the user of this device enjoy a seamless, uninterrupted and reliable communication.
  2. To enable the user of this device to trap wireless signals that is beyond the reach of their inbuilt wireless card.
  3. To enable the user of this device obtain/enjoy stronger signal strengths across longer ranges.

1.3 Significance of the Project Study

This project is a research to design and construct a device which will trap and boost received wireless signals. It is known that wireless devices that receive and transmit wireless signals such as wireless cards, routers, access points etc already exists. In fact Wi-Fi antenna boosters also exist. These devices often have their limitations, for instance, the wireless signal antennas in a laptop computer are enclosed in the laptop case. This enclosure leads to a bad reception. Also the wireless network cards that come inbuilt in laptops, routers, or access points have limited power and range. The solution then lies in getting a wireless card with higher power or attaching an antenna booster to the computer.

Hence the significance of this project is that a method of constructing an affordable Wi-Fi booster will be introduced, discussed and implemented. This will include the circuit design, materials and tools required, the test results and the actual construction of the circuit.

1.4 Scope of the Project Study

This project focuses on designing and constructing an amplifier which will act as a Wi-Fi booster and constructing a biquad antenna attached to it. The whole setup will consist of a Wi-Fi USB adapter (for converting the signals from the coaxial cable into a USB adaptable form), the amplifier (booster) and an antenna. The antenna will trap the signal which is sent to the booster, the booster then amplifies the signal and sends it to the USB adapter which is connected to the system then sends the amplified signal to the system.

Alternatively, it will be note worthy to mention that this same device (the Wi-Fi booster) can be connected to a router and the biquad antenna then serves as a transmitting antenna. This aspect is beyond the scope of this project.

1.5 Limitations of Project Study

The limitations of this project study will likely be; acquiring test equipments and adapting the signals from the coaxial cable to a USB connector.

Test equipments for this project are not readily available; hence this will be a limitation. The testing of the circuits that will be built has to be done in another way, almost like improvising. Another challenge in the construction of this project would likely be the process of adapting the signals fed through the coaxial cable to a USB connector which is needed for connection to the computer.

Chapter Five

Conclusion, Problems Encountered and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The aim of this project which was to construct a Wi-Fi antenna booster which enhances the signal strength by 24dBi and extends the range by 200 metres using relatively cheap components was achieved. The Wi-Fi booster system was able to trap wireless signals through the biquad antenna which has a gain of 12dBi and was amplified by the booster resulting in an overall gain of 24dBi. This booster design is new and made from local components which are affordable. If this prototype is developed upon and mass produced there will be affordable Wi-Fi boosters in Nigeria and it can even be exported. There is also room for further work and improvement on the design especially considering that this booster can be designed to broadcast wirelessly thereby acting as a repeater to many computers instead of one as constructed.

In conclusion, with this device users can now enjoy a seamless, uninterrupted and reliable data communication. They can also trap wireless signals that are beyond the reach of their inbuilt wireless card and they can obtain/enjoy stronger signal strengths across longer ranges.

5.2 Problems Encountered

There were numerous problems encountered in this project work. Firstly it was to ascertain the kind of design to use, the first consideration was to use a four-legged transistor known as BFG480W. After downloading the datasheet and checking for the availability in Nigeria, it was discovered that such a transistor was not in stock in Nigeria. It needed to be shipped from Philips Semiconductors Company in the US, considering the cost and the aim of the project which is to introduce an affordable design, this was discarded. After much research and consultation with my project supervisor and other experts in the field, the idea of using a three transistor array dropped. This idea was followed through till the end of this project work.

Another challenge was to adapt the signals coming from the coaxial cable to a USB connector which would be connected to the USB port of a computer this is only necessary when the booster system is to be used on a laptop since on a desktop there is an SMA antenna port on the wireless card. This challenge was overcome by using a USB adapter module.

Other challenges include crimping the coaxial cable to its connector, soldering the coaxial cable to the biquad antenna and unavailability of test equipments like spectrum analyzer, simple bolometer (a device for measuring the energy of incident electromagnetic waves), signal generator.

5.3 Recommendation

This project write up should serve as an aid to any subsequent project work on design and construction of a Wi-Fi antenna booster. This project work should not end here companies, entrepreneurs and investors should take it up from here so that we can enjoy a seamless, uninterrupted and reliable data communication across long ranges. With this project work improved upon a device that will be very useful can be created which will rival other available boosters in the market, especially with its affordability.

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