The Wind-Powered Wi-Fi Repeater

The Wind-Powered Wi-Fi Repeater

The team's Wi-Fi repeater users a wind turbine and solar panels to bring connectivity to the wilderness.

A wireless Internet connection is a wonderful thing: being able to access your e-mail while you're in the middle of nowhere can, at times, be a lifesaver. It's just a shame that when you're really in the middle of nowhere, there's no wireless hotspot to be found - unless you're Dan Lampie and David Brenner, that is.

According to Hacked Gadgets, the pair have solved the problem of a lack of Wi-Fi coverage in the middle of a field with the invention of the Wind Turbine Powered Wi-Fi Repeater - which does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

Designed to provide communications coverage to remote areas on a shoestring budget, the device is built around a commercially available Wi-Fi repeater hooked up to a 19dBi parabolic directional antenna pointed at a remote location which does have an active Internet connection. This connection is then rebroadcast via omnidirectional antennas to the local area.

In order to provide power to the device, the pair used a small wind turbine - along with some solar panels for when the weather isn't behaving itself - to charge an internal battery pack, which provides continuous power to the repeater.

It's a neat design made even more impressive with the low cost of the device, although as it relies on a directional antenna to connect to a remote location - in tests it easily reached a third of a mile - it does require line-of-sight to somewhere with an Internet connection. Despite this possible drawback, the design could easily be adapted to provide low-cost mesh network coverage in rural areas - which, by bouncing the connection from repeater to repeater, could solve the line-of-sight issue.

Full details of the project are available on the official site, while the team has posted some YouTube videos demonstrating the technology.

Could you find a use for a completely wireless Wi-Fi repeater, or is this technology more likely to end up being used to provide an inexpensive communications infrastructure in developing nations? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
tozsam 22nd July 2010, 11:28 Quote
what about being built into a car design, the motion of the car would provide more than enough wind power. The amount of times I've been using my iphone satnav only to loose connection in the middle of nowhere, then when the connection finally comes back you hear the 'do a legal u-turn' and find out you have gone several miles in the wrong direction.
jezmck 22nd July 2010, 11:34 Quote
tozsam, that would be inefficient, you're in a car with a battery and an engine.
What you need is just an antenna on the roof.
Xen0phobiak 22nd July 2010, 11:40 Quote
Just use a GPS based satnav tozsam, problem solved.
scawp 22nd July 2010, 11:49 Quote
Great stuff, might need a few of them but anything is better than WiMAX
HourBeforeDawn 22nd July 2010, 18:14 Quote
not a bad idea, the sooner we start moving off of fossil fuels the better for us in the long run.
aoakley 22nd July 2010, 20:15 Quote
That's brilliant... so long as your value of "middle of nowhere" never exceeds "a third of mile from somewhere else that *has* got an Internet connection".

WestHej 22nd July 2010, 21:57 Quote
Whats the latency like on this?
The_Beast 22nd July 2010, 23:04 Quote
pretty cool but is only really useful in a field with a line of sight to the actual hot spot
Gareth Halfacree 23rd July 2010, 09:31 Quote
Originally Posted by aoakley
That's brilliant... so long as your value of "middle of nowhere" never exceeds "a third of mile from somewhere else that *has* got an Internet connection".
They only *tested* it to .3 of a mile - standard Wi-Fi equipment with custom antennas has been known to reach multiple miles quite easily.

Plus, it'd be easy to combine this with mesh networking technology like LocustWorld: that way it only has to be near another non-Internet-connected Wi-Fi mesh node, which in turn is near another, and so on - until you eventually reach the one node in the village which *does* have an Internet connection.
-EVRE- 23rd July 2010, 10:21 Quote
Been doing this for years... but you would be surprised at how much power you need to generate for 100% up time and reliability. 200watt solar panel and 3kw of battery is needed to keep 4watts of radios running year round here in north Idaho.
Anakha 25th July 2010, 20:15 Quote
Originally Posted by The_Beast
pretty cool but is only really useful in a field with a line of sight to the actual hot spot

Not really. If you need connectivity further out, you put several repeaters up, so the signal is carried along by the repeaters until it reaches your internet base station(s). It would, essentially, become a mesh network. It's how most rural internet access is provided. A company pays for a hard line to somewhere, then sets up a wireless mesh to cover the village.
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