On connecting to nearby open access points

Q: I\'m looking to acheive the following,

I have recently moved into a new area where I know there is MANY unsecured wireless networks are available but from my house IS NOT visible, i have a notebook which has intergrated wifi (but evidently not powerfull enough to find the networks)

I\'m looking for a solution which will allow me to \'scan\' my new area and \'connect\' to them.

Can you please provide me with a solution which will enable me to do so ?

I dont mind if its omni directional or just simply directional, but it must be able to connect to normal routers (which i guess are standard 2dBi) up to 1-2km away.

 The ideal solution for you probably depends on the nature of the connection that you want to establish:  An ad-hoc connection to a range of unsecured access points that you can select on a day to day (or even minute by minute) basis, or a relatively permanent connection to an AP providing the most robust/reliable link of the lot. 

I am also assuming that you are not interested in a small lecture on the dubious legalities of connecting to a private network without explicit or implied permission from the owner, either because you don’t intend to do that or don’t care about it! ;-)

To address each option in turn, I recommend the following:

1.       Manually choose or select which network to connect to on a day to day basis:

For this job, I suggest:

The idea would be to set up the device as a client/bridge, and mount it at a convenient outdoor location, like on a TV antenna pole or similar.  You can connect your laptop or computer by the Ethernet cable, and then log on to the routerboard configurator to scan for, and connect to, nearby networks.  (you could always add a domestic grade AP of your own – Linksys, dlink, or Mikrotik – so that you can use also your laptop or mobile device wirelessly if you prefer)

This setup will allow you to connect to most unsecured APs within one or two Km of the mount point, perhaps greater or less than that depending on existence of obstacles like trees, buildings, hills, etc, and the power output of the remote devices.

Costs for the first 4 items above come to less than $300 if you make your own enclosure.  I can supply a suitable enclosure based on our DuxMaster Outdoor design for about $55 extra.

You could also use an indoor kit version,using this type of case (http://shop.duxtel.com.au/product_info.php?products_id=44) for around $250.  This way, you can simply place the device on a convenient window sill or veranda to scan for nearby APs for a similar result (albeit more ‘directional’) to the outdoor kit method.

2.       Connect to a single AP on a relatively permanent basis: 

If you are able to mount a device in a location where you can readily change the direction to which the antenna is pointing, like on a balcony or window mount, or on a pole that can be rotated from below, then our DuxClient kit is probably ideal. (http://shop.duxtel.com.au/product_info.php?products_id=47)

Less than $300 delivers all that you need to connect to access points several Km away – up to 10 or 15Km if there is clear line of sight between.  I use one of these myself to make an excellent connection to an AP 13Km away (http://shop.duxtel.com.au/product_reviews_info.php?reviews_id=1)

With this setup, you would connect in much the same way as the previous option, vie Ethernet to your computer or domestic grade AP, and scan for networks using the onboard configuration tools.  Once connected, you need never reconfig the unit (even after powering off the DuxClient device) unless you decide to connect to a different location.

 If you have any questionsor need further clarification, feel free to ask!