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Can You Hear Me Now?

Background
It all started with my Nokia Communicator and my dad. My dad lives in a rural part of
Oklahoma where the cell signal in the house is bad. He made a decision last year to get
rid of the land line and only use the cell phones for him and mom. He bought a trucker
cell phone booster online, installed it on the roof of the house and attached it to the
phone and went from !" bars to # bars. $his, combined with a bluetooth headset,
roughly gave him the same functionality as a cordless phone.
%ut then there was the Nokia. I&ve had it about ' years and loved it. I use the past tense
because it&s dead. Or at least, mostly dead. $he alarms for weekly meetings still go off,
but the screen is all white and I can&t make or take calls. I thought that I was getting a
bad phone signal when I moved to a new house recently, so I tried to see if there were
any plans to make an e(ternal cell phone antenna so I wouldn&t have to shell out the )*
my +ad did.
I read some books from the library, downloaded a few programs and most importantly,
ran across this article ,I should appologi-e at this point to the author, .ent %ritain, if I
misrepresent his article in any way/. It provided information to help me come up with
an ultra!cheap design of my own that performs acceptably well.
Getting Started
0ou&ll need the following materials1
2 wire pants hanger
2 length of coa( cable ,'& should do/
2 plug that fits into your phone&s e(ternal antenna 3ack on your phone. ,or be
prepared to rig something together/
0ou&ll need the following tools1
2 cutting tool for cutting the hanger wire
2 drill or awl for the cardboard portion of the hangar
2 ruler with "4"56 increments
2 soldering iron and solder
2 pen 4 pencil
2 sharp knife ,or coa( cable stripper/
Construction
! +isassemble the hangar.
$he wire will be used for the antenna elements and the cardboard tube will be used as
the base on which to mount the elements.
! Cut the following lengths of wire ,e(cept the +7 at this time/ and lablel them1
8 9 : "4;6
+7 9 ' *4;6 ,remember, don&t cut this one yet/
+"9 ' ":4"56
+' 9 ' :4<6
+: 9 ' :4<6
+< 9 ' ""4"56
+# 9 ' #4;6
+5 9 ' #4;6
+* 9 ' =4"56
$he piece +7 ,aka +riven 7lement for you 2ntenna designers out there/ is going to
be6>6 shaped. $he length of the top half will be ' *4;6 and the bottom half will be "
*4"56 and the distance between the top and bottom will be "4'6.
! Mark the cardboard tube1
2long each side of the cardboard tube,draw two lines running the length of the
cardboard tube. Make them roughly opposite ends of the tube from each other. $he
spacing isn&t critical, this will 3ust help make the elements come out in a parallel plane.
Mark the following spots from one end of the cardboard tube on each of the lines drawn
previously.
8 9 "4' 6
+7 9 " ""4"56
+" 9 ' *4"56
+' 9 : :4;6
+: 9 #6
+< 9 5 ""4"56
+# 9 = :4"56
+5 9 "" ""4"56
+* 9 "< #4"56
! +rill holes in the cardboard tube.
2t each of the marks on both sides of the cardboard tube. $he tube is hollow, so be
careful to go through only one side at a time.
! Insert the elements into their respective holes.
! ?repare the coa(.
$here are usually five layers to coa( cables. $he outer plastic cover, a braided set of
wires. @nder the braided wires is a tin!foil thick covering of metal. $his covers a thick
plastic section with a thick copper wire in the center. If you are using a spare cable with
coa( connectors on both ends, cut one end off.
Carefully cut away the outer plastic cover about :4<6 from the end of the coa( of an end
of the coa( with no connector.
@nbraid the wires that are showing and gather them on one side. @nwrap the metal and
gather it with the unbraided wires and twist the whole thing together.
Cut through the thick plastic center being careful not to cut the center wire.
! 2ttach the coa( to the cardboard tube.
?ut the end you 3ust prepared near the +7 element and tape it in place. $his will help
with soldering.
! Aolder the coa( to the driven element.
It doesn&t matter whether the center wire or the braided wire is put on top. >ust put one at
the center of the top and the other 3ust below it.
! 2ttach the coa( to the phone
If you didn&t buy a plug, you will want to fabricate a plug of some sort. If you&re lucky,
you have a phone where it&s obvious where the leads go, but some have a plug with
multiple leads and you would have to do some research to find which ones to use.
Tuning
$his is a directional antenna, so you&ll have to figure out which direction works best. My
dad knew the general direction of the nearest antenna, so there wasn&t much guessing. If
you&re not sure, pick a random direction and wait "!"# seconds to see if a better signal
is registered. My dad&s phone took about :!<# seconds to get to < bars. If you don&t see
any results, turn <# degrees and wait again. Odds are, you should be able to figure out
the optimal direction in 3ust a couple minutes.
If I haven&t been clear in any of my steps, you can contact me at robertBwatkins.net
Disclaimer
$his design isn&t necessarily optimal and I&m sure someone will find a better design. If
so, please publish it and share it with as many people as you can.