Easy Pocket Wizard Antenna Mod for Extra Range?

A few days ago I was cruising through Lifehacker when I saw a post on wi-fi hacks. They had instructions for a cool little cardstock-and-foil quasi-parabolic antenna reflector for wireless routers.

But it also looked like it would also fit pretty well on a Pocket Wizard. Fifteen minutes (and no money) later, I had a pair of the tin-foil hats in my grubby little hands.

More info, how-to video and test results after the jump.

As you might imagine, this is the kind of thing that is pretty much gonna jump right to the top of my "to-do" list, shooting past "clean out closet" and "rake the front yard." So I assembled a pair of the antenna reflectors right on the spot.

Here is a video that explains the antenna and the theory:

The Missus was gone, which was why I could bail and assemble the reflectors with no rationalization of the logic of my priorities. But it also meant that I would have to wait until she got home to leave the house to test them, as the kids were in bed.

After she home I went outside to test the results. I quickly discovered that my problem was that the Pocket Wizards were too good to test in my neighborhood. They fired as far as I could separate them and still have line of sight for flash-firing confirmation. I tried two more (progressively larger) locations with the same results.

So it was not until a few days later that I had a chance to drive out to a long, straight country road with my six-year-old and test the setup properly. We set up the Pocket Wizards (with stock antennas) and flash in a line-of-site environment and found that we could reliably trigger the flash from up to two tenths of a mile, but not beyond that.

(Note to self: Any flash trigger that requires an odometer to test it is pretty cool in my book.)

After we attached the reflectors at each unit, we found that we could get a pretty reliable trigger at three tenths of a mile. Obviously, lots of things come into play to determine the range of the Pocket Wizards: Atmospheric conditions, battery condition, individual unit variances, etc. But this was an apples-to-apple comparison, with the only changed variable being the the antenna mods.

("Uh, gee, Dave, isn't two tenths of a mile enough?")

Yeah, it is. But the pont was to see if they would expand the range. And in my very unscientific test sample of one situation, it did just that. I would be curious to know whether anyone else gets extended range or whether it was just me.

More important, if it works there is no reason to think it would not work on the less robust triggers, too: Skyports, Poverty Wizards, etc.

And then there's this: Assuming you made the central support brace out of clear plastic (like material from a 2-liter soda bottle) the shiny side of aluminum foil is a very efficient light reflector, too. Mounted correctly to place the focal point of the semi-parabolic reflector at the IR receiving window of the flashes involved, this could extend the range of Nikon CLS and Canon eTTL.

Besides, until the as-yet-still-mythical Radiopopper makes an actual appearance, what else are ya gonna do to extend the range of your CLS or eTTL?

As for the specifics of the antenna, the URL of the pattern is listed below. Printing it at 100% is perfectly sized for a Pocket Wizard implementation, so no need to double it as some people do for the wi-fi boosting.

If you make one, please report back. I would love to get a better sample of info, whether it be PW's, Skyports, CLS or whatever.


:: Antenna Pattern ::
:: Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps :: (Lifehacker)


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