Wireless Networking - By Paul Quershi


Within the last couple of years the
market place has seen Wireless Networking
really acquire a strong foot hold. Continually
falling prices and increased development in
hardware mean that Network speed has gone
up. This all adds up to make Wireless
Networking a real option for home users.

All this inexpensive equipment has
seen the phenomenon of the public Wireless
Networking hotspot emerge. Public access
points, or AP's, can be created by anyone with
some extra bandwidth to spare. Often people
share their broadband internet connection, or
allow traffic from the public network to pass
through their AP. Anyone can join in, using
either an off-the-shelf AP from companies like
Linksys, Netgear and Cisco, or with their own
custom Unix based computer acting as an AP.

There has been a lot of discussion
about extending the range of wireless
networks. Typically, an AP will give a few
hundred meters of range at best using a
simple 15cm antenna. However by
purchasing or constructing a bigger, more
powerful aerial it's not too difficult to get several kilometres. It is even possible to send the signal
through buildings and other obstacles (although not geographical features like hills).

One popular design of antenna (probably because it's cheap) is the "cantenna". This is
basically a metal can (traditionally Pringles, but soup tins, tennis ball cans and even bits of pipe work)
with the end of some coax cable exposed inside it. This makes for a very simple, very cheap, and very
effective antenna.


This article originally appeared in the Southampton Computer Club Newsletter, our thanks to them for allowing us to reproduce it here.