Can you use an PC's case to boost the antenna for an 3G PCI card?
July 7, 2011 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Can you use an PC's case to boost the antenna for an 3G PCI card?

I'm wondering if a PC's case would work as an antenna extension for an internal PCI 3G card. Trying to find ways to boost it's reception. I can't find anything through Google about it, and it feels like if it was possible, SOMEONE would have a tutorial on it.

Part of me wonders about grounding going to the case, causing issues...but I know little about the details of a computer's flow of electricity.

Anyone have any ideas on this?
posted by toekneebullard to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Even if you could, it wouldn't help and it might make things worse. "Bigger is better" isn't true when it comes to an antenna.

The ideal antenna size is half a wavelength. Anything smaller and the signal attenuates. Bigger also attenuates the signal. If the antenna is a full wavelength, the signal is at a minimum (i.e. zero) and then it climbs again when you reach 1.5 wavelengths. The signal-strength versus antenna size curve is a sine wave.

The antennas incorporated into the 3G cards are already close to the ideal size for the frequencies being used. 1900 MHz (one of the frequency bands used for cellular in the US) has a wavelength of just 16 centimeters, so the ideal antenna size would be half that, 8 centimeters, or about three inches.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:01 PM on July 7, 2011

Yeah, antennas have to be designed to specific dimensions. What you should really be thinking about is whether your current modem can take an external antenna. This site seems to sell antenna adapters for many common cellular modems. I don't know if your model is there, but a lot of the USB models seem to be pretty cheap ($50 or so) so worst case you could buy a new one that does support an external antenna.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2011

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