A weak WiFi signal can be frustrating. Rooms far from your router or dead zones caused by interference often have connection issues. Buying an expensive, commercial WiFi extender isn’t always necessary. With a few cheap, easy-to-find household items and some simple instructions, I was able to build my own functional DIY WiFi extender.

What is a WiFi Extender?

A WiFi extender takes an existing wireless signal and rebroadcasts it to expand its coverage. It picks up the existing WiFi from your router and amplifies the signal to reach dead zones.

There are two main types of WiFi extenders:

A DIY WiFi repeater is easy to make and can significantly increase your WiFi coverage at home.

How Does a WiFi Extender Work?

A WiFi extender works by receiving an existing WiFi signal, amplifying it and then transmitting the boosted signal. The extender has to be within range of your wireless router's network to connect to and extend the signal.

The extender will have at least two antennas. One antenna receives the existing WiFi signal and passes it on to the amplifier. The amplifier boosts the power of the signal. Then the second antenna operates as a transmitter and broadcasts the boosted signal.

This process effectively increases the coverage area of the router's wireless network. Rooms that were too far away from the router can now pick up the extended signal from the DIY repeater.

Household Items Needed to Build a DIY WiFi Repeater

You don't need many supplies to build a simple DIY WiFi extender. These are the key items you'll need:

The only item you may need to buy is an additional antenna, if your router only has one built-in antenna. Everything else should just be spare parts and materials easily found at home.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a DIY WiFi Extender

Building your own WiFi range extender is a fun weekend project. Follow these steps to set up an extender using household items:

Step 1 - Install DD-WRT firmware on old router

DD-WRT is open source router software that lets you customize a regular router. Download and flash the firmware onto your spare router to overwrite the factory settings. This converts the router into a wireless repeater.

Refer to the DD-WRT website for the specific installation instructions for your router model. The process involves connecting to your router's admin interface and uploading the firmware file.

Step 2 - Set up router as repeater

Once DD-WRT is installed, log into your router's admin page. Under the WiFi tab, configure it as a repeater and select your main router's SSID. Hit apply to have the router connect and extend your existing WiFi signal.

Step 3 - Connect antennas

If your repeater router only has one antenna, add a second antenna. I used a tin can attached to a wire. Position both antennas upright and away from any metal objects to maximize signal transmission.

Step 4 - Connect router to main router

To get the best bandwidth, use an Ethernet cable to connect the LAN port on the DD-WRT repeater router to an Ethernet LAN port on your main router. This gives the repeater a faster, more reliable connection.

Step 5 - Place extender and test

Position your DIY repeater in an area halfway between your main router and the WiFi dead zone. Connect wireless devices to the extender's new SSID. Run speed tests in problem areas to see if your signal range has increased.

Adjust the antenna positioning or location of the extender to improve the extended signal if needed. Enjoy your boosted WiFi network!

Troubleshooting Tips

Here are some quick troubleshooting tips if your DIY WiFi repeater isn't working:

With a little tweaking, your homemade WiFi extender using household items should be able to significantly improve your wireless coverage at home.

Benefits of a Homemade WiFi Repeater

Building your own WiFi extender has several advantages:

While not as robust as a commercial unit, a homemade repeater is a simple solution for improving WiFi coverage on a budget.


Boosting weak WiFi signals doesn't have to be expensive. With an old router, antenna and some cables, I was able to build my own functional WiFi extender using only common household items.

The homemade repeater significantly expanded my wireless network coverage, improving connectivity in previously unreachable rooms. After following this guide, you can create your own DIY WiFi extender as well using spare parts found around your home.