3G connected hotspot hangs out at your house

[Drug123] made the most out of this inconspicuous gray box on the gable end of his father’s home. It serves up a 3G Internet connection that was otherwise unavailable..

The project idea was sparked by the absence of wired or fiber optic broadband in the community where his dad lives. He knew some neighbors were using 3G connections, but he couldn’t get it to work inside the house. So he set about developing an external installation that would both communicate with the cellular network, and provide a WiFi connect to it. Hardware for that is relatively expensive; a USB 3G modem and a WiFi router with a USB port.

The box itself is made of plastic, but even without the Faraday cage effect that would have been formed by using a metal housing, the 3G modem’s internal antenna just doesn’t do the job. You can see that [Drug123's] solution was an external antenna which is mounted at the peak of the roofline. Inside the box there’s an exhaust fan to cool things off when they get too hot, as well as some power resistors which provide a heat source on the coldest nights. The low-cost build certainly fits the bill, and it’s not too hard on the eyes either.

Comments

  1. Besser Wisser says:

    Idea is good. But I reckon he will need to do the system after the first thunder storm.

    The system is bound to get fried as it lacks lightning protection.

    Adding that – then it for sure is value for money.
    However, I bought a 3G/2100MHz repeater/amplifier for $160 including directional external antenna.

    Makes the whole setup simpler and less weather sensitive as all electronics remain indoors.

  2. I did the same thing for my summer house this year, but with a wifi link. Worked quite well, even under heavy rain or fog (wifi frequencies are absorbed by water).

  3. jojowasher says:

    With the external antenna I don’t think there is any avantage to having the actual router outside in a box, might as well just ran the antenna cable into the house and had the router inside.

  4. Lee says:

    Great fabrication, esp with bending plastic, I hate that… What about grounding from lightning strikes? Maybe his dad’s area isn’t prone to such things but there should at least be a break somewhere along the antenna cable with a coupler that’s connected to ground. Much like how consumer rooftop antennas are grounded before the connection enters into the home.

  5. barry99705 says:

    He really doesn’t need the heaters. I’ve run d-stink web cams outside in Alaska. Unless there’s a really big swing in temperature over minutes, not hours, the heat/cold cycle won’t hurt his stuff.

    • drug123 says:

      Thanks for your input, I hadn’t experience with electronics exposed to the cold before. At first I supposed that heat from router and power supplies will be enough, but to be sure decided to include heater.

      • lwatcdr says:

        Cool project but I just can’t help making suggestions.
        You may actually want to seal the box. Condensation can be a huge problem. As to the heat issue a simple heat shield offset from box should help a lot. My guess is that most of your heat gain is from solar gain just a bit of shade will do wonders for dropping that. Some white plastic sheeting offset from the box may drop the solar gain to reasonable level. If heat is and issue you could always mount a heat sink that passes through the box with fans to cool it. Once you are ready to seal the box load it up with silca gel packs to dehumidify it. I have no idea where this village is so if you are in an area that is super dry like Utah, Arizona, or Nevada then that probably condensation is probably not an issue. Some lightning protection is also in order and depending on the signal you are geting maybe a yagi pointed at the cell site.
        If you hack the router you could add a usb hub and a small micro that could control the fans for you and monitor the heat build up and control and monitor it over the wifi from you phone or computer.

        .

    • EccentricElectron says:

      RTFA. It looks like his local environment is pretty extreme.

      • drug123 says:

        Actually I’m sure that despite we have relatively strong frosts during winter (year before last we had up to -35°C/-31°F), the weather in Alaska more harsh. But on the other hand we have up to 40°C/105°F in the summer…

      • barry99705 says:

        Read my fucking comment. -40F. Very few places in the lower 48 states get that cold before wind chill. Wind chill only effects animate objects and standing water, so you can count that out as well.

    • EccentricElectron says:

      The article is well worth a read – really like the way he fabricated an external enclosure from scratch, and the diy aerial is nice hack.

  6. nah says:

    did that thing with a plastic bottle, 5m usb cord and hot glue

    works like a charm

  7. dave says:

    Why did heneed to mount it outside if he was using a remote antenna. He could have skipped everything except building the antenna and installing the pigtail onto the modem and saved a bunch of time and money.

    • qhartman says:

      He probably got the whole thing more or less done, then realized that it still didn’t work and then added the antenna later. No sense in undoing all that was done…

    • drug123 says:

      I have few reasons for that:
      1. Iron-coated roof space becomes too hot during sunny days for electronics. It’s usual to have more than 50°C/120°F there. Electronics suffers from lack of cooling.
      2. This hotspot is not only for standalone PC which is often is turned off because it is a little loudly. I and my nephew have wi-fi enabled devices (phones, laptops, ipods, etc.) we would like to use anywhere in the premises.
      3. While drilling in the attic was OK, inside cabling will be real pain. Wireless access from desktop is a real saving.

  8. dave says:

    >..or just installed the modem inside the pvc antenna case and used a long usb cable.

  9. Joe says:

    Lightning rod anyone?

  10. marsrover says:

    I too am wondering about lightning.
    But this is perfect, I live in a place where real internet isn’t avaible. So a project like this is perfect. Thank you.
    now, all I need is that wi-fi box…

  11. p@ says:

    I use to do something similar , the equipment is NOT that expensive any more i bought 3 usb 3g stick modems for att from ebay for 130$ about a year ago and a cradlepoint wifi router from ebay for 80 something bucks, i used to use this setup in my work truck while out in the woods working had external antennas routed outside the cab the cell ones with mag mounts on top of the truck, a few adapters and one for wifi the other antenna for the 3g modem , worked very well only real problem was powering this setup while the truck was not running

  12. Kevin says:

    Not to mention that changing this to an external antenna likely violates FCC rules.

    • cyrozap says:

      I don’t think his village is within the FCC’s jurisdiction… ;)

      Now I’m interested in the legality of doing this in the U.S. I’m pretty sure you can slap an antenna on to anything without breaking any regulations. I think it’s the power output the FCC is worried about and, so long as you don’t mess with any of the Tx/Rx electronics (beyond adding an antenna), you shouldn’t have to worry about it, either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 92,295 other followers