Long Distance Wireless Internet

Where: Whinnery cottage on West End of Bois Blanc Island, Michigan:


There are 3 Islands just east of the Macinaw Bridge. Lets zoom in a bit:

Mackinaw Island has had military value since the country's beginning. Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution. In July 1812, in the first land engagement of the War of 1812 in the United States , the British captured the fort. The island has since become a popular tourist destination.

Round Island is State land and wilderness

Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo to the natives) is mostly wilderness. History of logging and lime. One small town. Many summer cottages and hunting lodges

Straights of Macinaw

Google Map

The Challenge

Cottage is a place to ESCAPE the modern world.

When purchased in 1973 it was a 2 room cottage - 1 bedroom and the kitchen/living space. Hand built from local materials (note stone chimney). Built in the late 50's

Early Cottage



cabin today

Today we have most of the modern aminities except Broad Band Internet. Most still use dial up. Some use Satalite.

View from the front yard:

round and macinaw islands


Picking up wireless from Macinaw: Proof of concept

I got a signal!


Xander and Kitchy

DIY Solutions

Christmas presents! USB wireless stick, folding vegetable strainer and 20' USB extension cable

The Strainer


Peter and Georgetesting 2


Other solutions


Hawking Unit (the Sombraro)

External antennas (Mac only)

Creating a Wireless Network

The Cantenna , Laptop, and Linksys Router


How To Build A Tin Can Waveguide WiFi Antenna

On the Laptop:

On the router:

Two solutions for the 2 classes of problems:

Keeping up With the Jones

The Whale's Tooth and Router


From: Brian Deery <bddeery@xxxx.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 19:45:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Bois Blanc Internet
To: George Whinery <g.whinery@xxxx.com>

Hi George,

It was indeed not a Radio Shack project. This project involved soldering,
Linux software, and custom firmware modifications. The key was getting a
highly directional antenna with a very short microwave path.

The router was modified to act as a repeater for wireless as well as wired
connections pluged into it. I used a Linksys WRT-54GL with DD-WRT custom 
firmware. The replacement firmware was further modified to work unattended.
I connected a high gain Yagi antenna to the router and pointed it right at 
Mackinac. I also did a Power over Ethernet modification to the router so 
I only needed to run one cable outside to the router.

My setup sees 10-20 hotspots on Mackinac, but only connects to the strongest

The hardware setup was fairly straightforward. Mostly just a big antenna
connected to the router. The hard part was the software setup.


Flash the Linksys Router with DD-WRT firmware - it was a 2 step process - 1st to install a "mini" version which in turn preped the router for the "standard" install.

linksys screenshot

Repeater Bridge



A wireless bridge connects two LAN segments with a wireless link. The two segments are in the same subnet and look like two ethernet switches connected by a cable to all computers on the subnet.

Universal Wireless Repeater

This How-To provides step-by-step instructions for creating a Universal Wireless Repeater appliance: a device that you can place anywhere and it will wirelessly repeat the strongest signal, onto another wireless network (with or without security). This functionality is also known as Wireless Client Bridge, or Range Expander. Unlike WDS, once you have this appliance setup, it will work with any open network.

To Do:

Better antenna - looking at parabolic dish

Power over ethernet

Unattended operation.