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Boost your Wi-Fi using a common household item

There are plenty of ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal around your house. You can relocate your router, use Wi-Fi extenders, tweak your settings or upgrade your equipment (mesh routers work great!)

Click here for tips for finding and fixing your Wi-Fi dead spots.

Another well-known DIY hack to boost a Wi-Fi router’s signal is by adding a reflector around its antennas. Crazy as it may sound, you can use an empty beer can or a sheet of aluminum foil to extend your Wi-Fi coverage a little bit further than usual.

Recently, a group of scientists took this simple concept to another level – with the use of geometry, software and a 3-D printer, of course.

3-D printed Wi-Fi reflector

Researchers from Dartmouth College and Columbia University revealed a simple method to boost your Wi-Fi network for under $40 and they claim it can even outperform expensive directional antennas.

Dubbed as WiPrint, it’s a new system designed to help home users fabricate custom Wi-Fi foil reflectors with the use of 3-D printers.

With WiPrint, the user will only have to specify the environment (your home’s layout), the regions for signal increase (like your office or bedroom) and the regions for signal decrease (windows and walls).

Note: There are computer programs that can help you create a heat map of your home Wi-Fi. HeatMapper is an option for PC, and Netspot works for Macs.

Based on this information, the researchers wrote that WiPrint’s algorithm can find the optimal shape in just 23 minutes. Once it does, the software will produce an optimized reflector shape which can be 3-D printed.

The printed reflector can then be wrapped with a reflective material like aluminum foil then placed around a Wi-Fi router. This creates a “virtual wall” that can funnel Wi-Fi signals to areas that need the boost.

Improves Wi-Fi security too

The reflector can also improve your network’s security by decreasing the signals in public-facing rooms with windows and doors. By weakening the coverage in these areas, you’ll have another layer of protection against Wi-Fi signal hackers and smoochers who typically initiate their attacks from outside your home.

For people who don’t have access to a 3-D printer, the researchers said that cardboard can act as a reasonable substitute. However, cardboard is not easy to bend so the ideal shape will be harder to achieve and the results will not be optimal.

Do you want to read more about WiPrint? Click here to read the research group’s entire paper.

Bonus: How to use an empty beer can as a Wi-Fi reflector

It sounds crazy, but it really works. If your router has an internal antenna, a sheet of curved aluminum foil set behind the router can work as well. Check out the video below for a quick tutorial.

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