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Stuck For Signal? Try Putting Your Dongle in a Pringles Can

What happens when a radio station that is been refurbished, loses all connection to the Internet due to the broadband cabling being severed and plastered over?

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In the case of Frome FM, and the technical quirkiness and thinking of Matthew Sims, it’s to use a 3G Dongle. But, wait one second, what happens if the signal is too weak to offer a connection?!…

Knowing that the radio station needed broadband, and quickly, he decided to order a PAYG SIM card for an old O2 3G Dongle he had lying about at home. Loading it up with 500GB of data he realized that the signal was weak but the dongle was working, however this test was just on a studio laptop.

The dongle needed to be plugged into a playout computer which was encased in a metal cabinet, when he did this the signal completely died.

Of course, for many of us this may have been the end of the road as we leave the studio in a blind panic, however for Matthew he remembered a solution that was used for poor signal strengths that he found on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantenna).

The objective is that you put the dongle inside a tin or a container that has a silver lining and BOOM! Instant receiver gain to give you a stable signal. Completely out of tin cans, Matthew had an empty Pringles tube (that he says wasn’t empty at the time) that could do the job.

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In Matthews words: “I used a old Wi-Fi usb dongle holder and made a hole about 2/3 to 1/2 way down the can to slide it through. I used some thick clear tape to hold it in place but it would have worked just as good with regular tape or duck tape. A male to female USB cable also allowed me to position the cantenna on the top of the cabinet and I pointed it in the general direction of the nearest O2 mast.”

This was a complete success for Matthew and for Frome FM as he could connect remotely via his iPhone and could see the computer when he got back home. Bar a few hiccups during the week, this quick and clever thinking makes for a great story and gives us all food for thought when it comes to fixing WiFi signals.

We salute you Matthew!

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