Having weak WiFi signal in parts of your home or office can be frustrating. You may experience dropped connections, slow speeds, and difficulty streaming video or using bandwidth-intensive apps. Purchasing an expensive commercial WiFi repeater or signal booster may fix the problem, but there are cheaper DIY options using spare parts and scrap materials.

In this guide, I will walk through the entire process of building your own low cost WiFi repeater and signal booster using common household items and recycled components. With just a little bit of technical know-how, you can boost your WiFi reach and performance for under $20.

How WiFi Repeaters and Signal Boosters Work

Before building your own, it helps to understand what WiFi repeaters and signal boosters actually do.

WiFi repeaters receive an existing WiFi signal, then rebroadcast it to extend the network's range. They act as a middleman between your router and devices that are too far away to connect directly. Repeaters must be within range of your router's wireless signal in order to boost it.

Signal boosters, on the other hand, capture WiFi signals and amplify them before retransmitting. This makes the boosted signal stronger than what the router can output on its own. Signal boosters usually include an external antenna to improve reception from the router.

Boosters provide a stronger signal, but repeaters are often adequate for extending your home WiFi's range into dead zones like a backyard or garage. They also don't require running cables outdoors for an external antenna.

How to Choose the Right Hardware Components

The core of your DIY WiFi repeater will be an inexpensive wireless router configured as a wireless bridge. This acts as the middleman between your main router and weak signal areas.

Here are the key hardware components you'll need:

With these basics covered, you're ready to construct your budget WiFi repeater and signal booster.

Step-by-Step Guide to Build Your Own

Follow these steps to assemble your DIY WiFi repeater from scratch using recycled components:

Set Up the Secondary Router as a Wireless Bridge

  1. First, log into your secondary router's admin interface and access its settings. Refer to its user manual for default login details.

  2. Change the router's WiFi network name and password to match your existing primary router network.

  3. In the network settings, switch its operation mode to "Wireless Bridge".

  4. Disable DHCP server functionality so it does not assign IP addresses.

  5. Connect the two routers together using an Ethernet cable plugged into LAN ports.

Position the Wireless Bridge for Optimal Signal

  1. Place your wireless bridge in a location that receives adequate WiFi signal from your main router but is closer to your weak signal area.

  2. Experiment with different positions to determine where the bridgeRepeater gets the strongest signal. Elevated locations are best.

  3. Use your phone or laptop to confirm the wireless bridge now outputs the same extended network.

Build a Scrap Cantenna for Signal Boosting

  1. For a bigger boost, construct a cantenna from spare parts to focus the WiFi signal.

  2. Cut a wooden dowel or popsicle stick to size and hollow out one end.

  3. Insert a scrap USB WiFi adapter with external antenna into the hollow end and seal with tape.

  4. Angle the cantenna to point toward your weak signal area. Attach it to the wireless bridge with tape or clamps.

  5. Connect the USB adapter to your wireless bridge via an open USB port.

Configure Your Repeater Network

  1. Using your laptop or phone, connect to the extended wireless network from your weak signal location.

  2. Confirm you now get full bars and good speeds. Move the repeater anywhere the signal degrades.

  3. Reconfigure your devices to connect to the repeater network when in that location for seamless usage.

With these DIY WiFi repeater setup steps complete, you should now have an expanded wireless network reach and boosted signal strength, all for less than $20! Monitor your network speeds over time and tweak the positioning or antennas to continuously optimize performance.

Troubleshooting Tips

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

With the right tweaks, your budget WiFi repeater and signal booster will be up and running at maximum strength. Enjoy the expanded wireless network coverage!


Boosting your home WiFi signal doesn't have to be expensive. With some basic technical knowledge and recycled components, you can build your own WiFi repeater and signal booster on a budget.

Strategically position an old wireless router in bridge mode to catch and rebroadcast the signal to your weak spots. Add some scrap materials to fashion a directional cantenna for even better range and speed.

Getting more mileage from that mediocre router in your drawer beats spending money on an off-the-shelf repeater. With a weekend tinkering project, you can give new life to spare parts and finally eliminate WiFi dead zones.