Because of our rural location we have problems connecting to broadband/ADSL. We suffer with a long distance from the exchange and a poor quality cable. However, within 1.5Km of us broadband/ADSL DOES work, and the challenge was to cover the gap in the cheapest and most reliable way possible.
Wi-Fi seemed to be the most obvious method to take, but the normal range of 100m was not enough. We looked at ways of increasing the range and there are a number of sites that recommend high gain aerials and other expensive add-ons to the basically cheap Wi-Fi system. All were complicated to use, requiring expensive 2.5GHz aerial cable and connectors and the losses in the cable can easily lose all the gains from the aerial.
Another approach was needed. A search of the web showed several ideas that might together make a workable system.
The first is the use of parabolic reflectors, which by their nature focus all wavelengths to the same spot
The second is the use of Chinese cooking implements as a way of creating cheap parabolic reflectors! It has been found by experiment that a Wok is a remarkably good parabolic reflector, is cheap to buy and only requires small modifications to become an aerial.
The last idea is the use of USB Wi-Fi dongles as a suitable feeder for a cooking implement aerial.
This picture shows a 30cm stainless mixing bowl with a USB Wi-Fi dongle mounted at the focus. This is the receiving end of the link. It seems to be just as good as a Wok!
This picture shows a standard Wi-Fi access point with a hand made single plane parabolic reflector mounted into the top of a waterproof box. This is the transmitting end of the link.
And this is what it looks like mounted on the compost heap of a friend who DOES have broadband.
This link is 1.5Km. It has worked now for 6 months and has been 100% reliable. We have more problems with the ADSL (telephone connection) than we do with the radio link. It is clear from the signal strength that we get that the distance could be 3 or 4 Km without any problems. Bigger reflectors might go even further.
This picture shows a typical display from the radio monitor software.
There is a lot more detail in how to build such a system, and if you are interested please call or email (see the contacts page) and I can explain how you can make it work.