Wi-Fi cAntenna Deluxe 10Former staff writer - December 9, 2003
Price: $30.00 - $35.00 USD
Today we're looking at a rather unique product, a product that you would usually not find on a hardware review site. The product we are looking at today is a cAntenna, and that isn't a spelling mistake. cAntenna obviously comes from the word, Antenna and a cAntenna is basically an Antenna made from a Can (Pringles chip can, soup can, or what have you) hence the name. cAntenna's are mainly used for WiFi war drivers, freenet operators, and system administrators to run WiFi assessment tests. cAntenna's are very inexpensive compared to commercially available WiFi antenna's, but cAntenna's are just as good and some people would argue that they are better. cAntenna's, while may be new to the Wi-Fi industry, is not a new idea. Ham radio enthusiasts were the first ones to start using soup cans for antennas, long before the modern computer. The two inventors from Japan, Hidetsugu Yagi and Shintaro Uda were the first two people to ever come up with the idea. If you have ever looked at commercially available RF Antenna's, then you have probably seen the name "Yagi". You now know where that name came from.
We're going to be reviewing the 10" cAntenna III and it's little brother the 5" Mini-Tenna from EtherDesigns. EtherDesigns carries directional Antenna's (like the two we are reviewing today) and also Omni Antenna's. They also sale pigtails, tripods (to mount your cAntenna on), Wifi Detectors (A Handheld device that detects WiFi networks in the area), and mounting kits that allow you to mount your cAntenna on a stationary object.
Wi-Fi Crash Course
For those of you that are totally left in the dark, I'm going to give you a brief description of what Wifi is and how it works. Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is the term used for a high frequency wireless local area network (sometimes referred to as a WLAN). Wi-Fi has several different IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) specifications such as; 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11i, and 802.11x. You have probably seen some devices (Wi-Fi cards, routers, access points) with these specifications advertised on TV or have seen them at your local computer store. The mostly widely used specification is 802.11b & now 802.11g. Both of these standards operate on the 2.4 GHz spectrum, the same frequency as some cordless phones. The 802.11b standard offers data speeds up to 11 Megabits a second, while the new 802.11g standard offers speeds up to 54 Megabits a second. In order to setup a WLAN, you will need a Wi-Fi card for your computer (Laptop or Desktop) and you will also need a device that either allows an entry point in to your current network (Wireless Access Point) or a device that connects directly to your Internet connection (Wireless Router).
Wi-Fi give you the freedom to connect to the Internet or your LAN from your bed at home, a hammock in your backyard, or a conference room at work without any wires. The two major draw backs of Wi-Fi is the limited range that you can be from an Wireless Access Point or Router, and Security. The product we are reviewing today should relieve the range problem, the latter will not be discussed in this review. However, you can find excellent security information for Wi-Fi networks on google.
* You should read your ISP's TOS and the local laws in your state for legalities associated with sharing your Internet and war driving.