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ReallyBigTeeth

Biquad Yagi Antenna - 2.4 GHz

by ReallyBigTeeth Aug 15, 2016
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Whats the difference using the a solid reflector plate vs the 34mm one?

I don't really have a solid understanding of antenna theory, so my best guess is that a solid reflector would do a better job of blocking incoming radio signals from the rear. I'm not sure if there is any real difference in propagation between the two. Every time I sit down to read a paper on antenna theory, I somehow end up watching rock climbing videos on Youtube instead.

Absolute waste of Time building it... No difference in receiving wifi

Hi Stahlwolle,

Maybe I can help. When you say "No difference in receiving wifi", what are you comparing the 3D printed antenna to? What environment are you testing it in? On what frequency are you operating? What is your use case? Do you have photos of your build?

Hey! I was using the wrong diameter of copper wire, absolutely my fault... Was 1.6mm²... Now i ordered 2mm² wire but the only wire at this diameter i could get in Germany is vanish-coated... So i have to sand the ends before soldering... Can you explain how you fitted the wire exactly into the mounts? Mine are always poppig out

I tried making a video to show the build process I used, but it had poor lighting and I felt the video quality to too low, so I didn't post it, but I'll try to explain the process. First, I laid a length of wire in one segment of the frame and marked a line at the first bend. I used bead crimping pliers (see the attached photo) to make a sharp 90 degree bend, then laid the wire back in the frame to test fit the bend and made small adjustments as necessary. Getting each bend perfect before moving on to the next goes a long way to making sure that the final shape fits well in the frame. Once the whole thing is bent, the ends are soldered, and the excess solder is sanded or filed away, lay it on a flat surface and see if the whole thing lays flat. If not, make small adjustments until it does, then fit it back in to the frame. If you really want, you can add some epoxy to secure the wire in place. Use some waxed paper and sandwich the frame between two hard, flat surfaces and add some weight wile the epoxy cures.

Make sure to avoid:
-bends that aren't sharp (rounded inside corners)
-bends slightly before or after a corner in the frame (element segments that are too long/short)
-bends at the wrong angle
-antenna elements that doesn't lay flat on their own

A wire diameter of 1.6mm should work just fine. I designed the frame around 14 gauge copper wire, which is about 1.7mm in diameter, so I wouldn't go any bigger than that, but there's no harm in trying. If you really want to use a different wire gauge, you could try using the biquad yagi OpenSCAD scrip that I wrote: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2749265 . You can use it to design an antenna to your exact requirements.

Biquad Yagi Antenna Customizer - OpenSCAD

If i use a solid Reflektor, do the dimensions matter?And can i use any kind of sheet Metal?

From what I remember, Andrew McNeil's original design called for minimum dimensions for a solid reflector. I can't remember what they were, and I haven't been able to find them but I did attach his pdf template for your reference. I cut some aluminium sheet metal to 56 mm x 110 mm for my reflector. It was just slightly larger than the minimum dimensions that he called for. I don't think the type of metal matters. Andrew even used some copper tape on a cardboard backing as a reflector and he said it worked well.

Comments deleted.

The 110mm tubes start printing fine, then jump to 110mm from 5mm ish. Any ideas?

Hi jigsaw488,

My best guess is that your slicer sees the wall of the tube as too thin to print with your current settings. I designed it for 0.35 mm nozzles by making the wall of the tube just under 0.4 mm. The bottom 4 mm of the tube is solid except for a small hole for a screw, which is why you can print fine up to that point.

What diameter extruder are you using, and do your slicer settings match that diameter? If it is 0.4 mm or larger, your slicer will ignore anything thinner than that. If you are printing with a nozzle larger than .35 mm, I can do a quick design change and attach a file for you, or you can try editing the tube yourself. Just import the stl in to the 3D design software you normally use and modify the inner diameter of the tube. You could also use the OpenScad customizer to make a tube that will print properly: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2749265

Some slicers have an "x/y inset" option which will shrink wall thicknesses to offset overextrusion, or perimeters that print from the inside out. When I slice with Kisslicer I use a 0.12 mm inset for 3 perimeters/shells to get accurate final dimensions. If your slicer has an inset setting, try decreasing its value or changing it to 0.

Jeremy

Biquad Yagi Antenna Customizer - OpenSCAD

Hello. Looking to make this and i have the copper wire. Yours look like a solid loop bent to fit. Is that right or is it just regular copper wire bent to fit and just done really nice because it really looks seamless? Do you solder the ends together? Also the coax is just soldered to the top and bottom of the element? Thats it? Thanks.
Jeff

Hi Jeff,

The wire I used is from a spool of left over 14 gauge solid copper household electrical wire. Pretty common stuff. I test fit, marked and bent one section at a time until I had a full loop around each printed frame piece. Then I soldered the ends together and carefully filed down the excess solder. I tried to take video of the assembly but my camera didn't pick up enough detail to make it worth uploading. A professional youtuber, I ain't.

The centre conductor of the coaxial cable is soldered to one side of the driven element, and the braided shield is soldered to the other side. There is a link above to one of Andrew MaCneil's videos. He touches briefly on the driven element connector at about 15 min.

Good luck with your build. I hope you find the antenna useful.
Jeremy

You said "The centre conductor of the coaxial cable is soldered to one side of the driven element, and the braided shield is soldered to the other side."
That means I solder the center coax wire AND the braided shield both to the copper wire? I am no expert for antennas or electronics but doesn't that short circuit something? What is the use of the braided shield then anyways??

I like to think of it as though it were a folded dipole (also often used in a yagi configuration), or any loop antenna used by hams. The difference being the biquad design has two RF pathways, like feeding two folded dipoles from one feed line. The antenna is still only driven by the centre conductor of the feed line.

So speak with me like I'm a 5th grader :D. I have to solder the center coax wire AND the braided shield to the driven element "looped" copper wire?

That's right. Of the two points of the driven element that are closest together, one will have the centre conductor of the coaxial cable soldered to it, the other will have the braided shielding soldered to it. I've attached a photo with the solder points circled. Be careful not to bridge the two points with solder, or you'll have a real short circuit. Same goes for using too much heat. If the insulation surrounding the centre conductor of the coaxial cable melts, then there will be a short in the cable.

Thank you RBT. I got it soldered correctly. Really nice performance.

You're very welcome. I'm glad you had a successful build.

Awesome. Thank you for the quick reply!!!! One more question. I see the configurable antenna you have uploaded. How would I figure out what numbers to enter? For instance if I want to make an antenna centered around 2.510ghz.... is there a calculator for this? Thanks.

Everything is calculated for you. You just have to choose the variable values that suit your needs. Open the .scad file in OpenSCAD and change the first variable "antennaFrequency" to the antenna centre frequency that you want in MHz. In your case, line 30 would read:

antennaFrequency = 2510; // MHz // Desired centre frequency for the antenna.

I included a variable on line 76 to correct for the electrical conductivity of different element materials. You can play around with different values there if you you find your antenna is tuned slightly high or low. The value is just a multiplier for each length of wire and is a bit of laziness on my part, but it gets the job done. The correct calculations are too complex for me.

When you're ready, hit the render button (or F6) to render the model, then save the model to an .stl file.

Awesome. Again thanks so much. One last question than ill leave you alone. You said on line 76 you left it open to enter a value to correct for the electrical conductivity of different materials. How do i find that value? Promise, last question. Lol. Thanks so much.
Jeff

The value on line 76 is already filled in, so you shouldn't need to change it. It's just a lazy calculation based on Andrew's design. He found that the driven element should have 31.5 mm sections, but a theoretical quarter wave of 2.442 GHz is 30.69 mm. That's (speed of light / target frequency) / 4 or (299792458000 / 2442000000) / 4 = 30.69 mm. It's a pretty simple calculation, but it's only a starting point when designing an antenna. I either had to spend a lot of time trying to understand the math behind antenna theory, or add in a fudge factor, which in this case, ended up being a multiplier value of 1.02635 to get the element length up to 31.5 mm.

Initially, I changed the speed of light in my OpenSCAD script to account for the quarter wave difference, but I thought it would make more sense to add a separate variable in case I do, one day, figure out the rest of the math. But for now, it's just a simple multiplier. I should probably put that on my to do list, but I may never get around to it as I haven't done any work with antennas in a while.

hi thanks for the effort and work you put through it, i can request one? could you create a stl file to replace the 34mm back reflector? like what you done except a plastic one, so i can apply a cooper or aluminum tape as a reflector? i dont have the knowledge to design one myself, btw here's what i come up with i hope you can help...

i wanted a capability to mount it unto my tripod so i can focus it into the source ap steadily

I've attached two printable reflectors. One with square corners, and one that has round ends. The hole for the mount has a 4 mm diameter and the mount is 13 mm tall. Let me know if you need anything changed and I'll fix it for you.

Have you started learning any CAD programs? I do most of my design work in SketchUp with a few plugins, but you might be more interested in Blender, Fusion 360 or FreeCAD. If you are a programmer like me, OpenSCAD might be useful as well.

hi thanks for the fast reply and last request could you create these two without the mount? for reflector variants w/and without mounts i suppose..btw can i view these files via openscad directly? good thing is that i found it on a youtube vid thanks a lot sir for this 3d awesome biquad yagi design that you come up with...

andrew mcneil is selling on ebay with longrange to midrange biquad yagi if your interested again

There is an import stl function in OpenSCAD, but if OpenSCAD thinks the model isn't manifold, you can't do anything with it. For a model this simple, I would just code it from scratch.

I funded Andrew's Kickstarter, but got burned. He took everyone's money and didn't fill most of the orders. I won't be giving him any more of my money.

thanks again RBT =) you really helped alot, its sad that the talent he has and all the people look up to him got spinoff like nothing really happened. what every reason he has.

wow thanks for the reply, with this easy access on 3d technology and on the spot creation makes me think of getting to know the in's and out's of cad's program, and if im gonna start somewhere i would choose sketchup.

btw last request if i may=), can you create these round and square reflector without the mounts? and can i directly open this with openscad?

the good thing is i found your 3d file by a youtube vid planning about a year to change in a more sturdy 3d printed biquad yagi
btw this is my diy poor mans biquad which is impressive performance using scrap things https://imgur.com/a/WN9RvjO
thanks alot for making this awesome 3d file sir.

andrew mcneil is selling longrange and midrange biquad in ebay if your interested again..=)

Comments deleted.

Hey rbt!
Nice design!
Do you know the precise Distances between the elements?
thanks!

Thanks Defekkt. The element spacing in the description is the spacing that Andrew McNeil worked out. I don't currently have a way to test the antenna to get the spacing more precise.

Thank you so much for this! This is so awesome... on the road to perfection.

I want to build a few antennas to share a free and anonymous internet connection. They will be hooked up to a satellite dish instead of the LNB. Good read: http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Making-of-a-Beast-Part-Two-The-BiQuad-Antenn/

How on earth did you managed to get the copper wire corners that perfect?
Currently I am struggling with the bending. For that I use a leatherman with shrinking tube on it to prevent damage to the copper wire.
Do you bend the wire like a heart shape first and begin in the middle or do you use the frame as support for the bending?

Do you have a biquad yagi with a lot more elements? Is your Antenna already the sweet spot? Does the reflector make a big difference? (Want to have a mobile one as well)

I read that the thickness of the wire matters and that 1,2 mm is preferable. Is there a reason that you used 1,7mm wire?

Did a few tests of filament in an old microwave since the operating frequency is almost the same as wifi. In case it gets hot, you know that it blocks RF. Also great for testing enclosures. I dried a piece of pla and abs support frames.
ABS got nuked almost instantly, PLA was slightly better.
Is PETG better in terms of rf blocking?

In case you want to print an antenna, found an interesting paper about conductive ABS compared to PLA for a flexible antenna:
DOI 10.1109/APS.2015.7305043

Hi dotslash,

From what I understand, the thicker the wire, the more broad banded the antenna will be. Similar to the effect of increasing the spacing between the elements. If that's true, than based on djinc3ption's anechoic chamber test data, this antenna could benefit from thicker wire (assuming he used the same gauge wire), or increased element spacing, but no further testing was done that I'm aware of.

The electrical resistance of the material used in an antenna element will determine it's performance potential. RF energy travels along the outside of a conductor, so in terms of cost vs efficiency, silver plated copper would be about the best material to make an antenna from. The higher the resistance, the worse the performance, so I wouldn't bother with conductive filaments for making antennas, but take my advise with a grain of salt, as a radio engineer, I am not. I used standard household mains copper wire because I have lots of it, and it's easy to find by anyone who want's to build this antenna. It's everywhere, and cheap.

Check out djinc3ption's make page, with test data, here: https://www.thingiverse.com/make:327272
the frequency response of his build peaked right in the middle of the WiFi channels with low SWR across the WiFi spectrum. A bit narrow banded, but that could be adjusted. There isn't any test data on the reflector, but I'm sure it does it's job.

I wouldn't worry about the melting point of the plastic. You would have to be putting a crazy (and illegal, in most countries) amount of RF energy in to the antenna to get it hot enough to melt the plastic. The magnetron in you microwave puts out roughly 10000 to 30000 times the energy of a typical WiFi device. As far as blocking RF goes, I'm not aware of any significant RF blocking by PLA, ABS, or PETG. Sure, If you blast them with 1000 Watts of RF energy in a microwave, they will absorb some of that energy and heat up, but that doesn't give you a measure of the RF energy being blocked. The true test would be to measure how much energy is lost from a 50 milliwatt (0.05 watt) router. The antennas that came with your router are all encased in ABS plastic, aren't they? That RF energy still goes on to pass through furniture, floors/ceilings, and walls.

I switched to printing with PETG because, in my opinion, it has the best properties of PLA and ABS, without any of the bad (warping/shrinking, low temperature melting, clogging nozzles, poor bed adhesion, etc).

I had recorded video of the element construction, and planned to make a detailed write up, but the lighting at my desk was poor at the time (broken arm lamp) and the video didn't turn out well enough to capture the important details, so I scraped it in favour of laziness. I started with a long, straight length of copper wire and stuck one end in the frame and used a fine tip marker to mark the first bend. I used a bead crimping tool (see the attached photo) to grip the wire at the mark and used my desk like a sheet metal break to bend the wire to the appropriate angle. Then I put the wire back in the frame and marked the next bend. Lather, rinse, repeat until the the element is bent to shape, mark and cut off the excess wire, then solder the the joint, and file away any excess solder.

If you want to make an antenna with more elements, or at a different frequency, I wrote an OpenSCAD script that lets you change all kinds of parameters. You can make a single biquad element or a 500 element biquad yagi and everything in between, with some advanced features. Check it out here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2749265

Biquad Yagi Antenna Customizer - OpenSCAD
Biquad Yagi Antenna - 2.4 GHz

I did a lot of antenna theory 30 years ago, so I'm a bit rusty... got a couple of questions:

I'm going to use this as a proof of concept for a radio telescope I'm building but I need it to be at 1.4ghz, and maybe some other frequencies.
Can you point me in the direction of a simple conversion for the copper elements for this? I was thinking of using the same model but putting all the frequencies I will be using on it (if they will fit, otherwise I'll print multiple antennas)

I assume if I lengthen this, put more elements on it, it could be more effective?

Btw, this is a great model. I'm currently upgrading my radio telescope and needed a compact directional antenna. This is exactly what I'm chasing :)

If you've taken any antenna theory, you likely already know more than me, but I'll have a go at it anyway. The theoretical optimal outside dimensions of the driven element for a 1.4GHz biquad yagi would be 53.53 mm. The best I can do from here is practical guesswork, and assumptions. So, given that this 2.4 GHz antenna design has been tested to have a peak response at 2.442 GHz, and assuming that everything can be directly scaled to 1.4 GHz (a big assumption), than 54.945 mm is the practical optimal dimension for the driven element. That is ((31.5 * 2442) / 1400), or a ratio of ~1:1.74429. That would make the first parasitic element 47.1 mm, the second 48.84 mm, the third 50.58 mm, and the fourth 52.33 mm, with a 59.31 mm reflector. Element spacing would be 29.65 mm, with 33.14mm between the driven element and the reflector. Your elements would use 2.8 mm copper wire (~9 AWG) or thicker depending on the bandwidth required. This is a ridiculously simplified conversion, but I'm guessing it would get you pretty close. The only way to know would be to build it and test it in an anechoic chamber. At least then you would know what adjustments need to be made.

From what Andrew has said about the testing he did when he came up with the dimensions for his biquad yagi, adding more parasitic elements ends up having a negative effect on the performance of this antenna. To increase the practical range byond this design, he used double biquad elements, which ended up being a double biquad driven element, two double biquad parasitic elements, with 3 additional biquad parasitic elements.

If your using a yagi as a rear facing receiver for a parabolic antenna, all of this might not apply. You may have to design the antenna to work specifically with the the reflector to get the best performance. A single biquad antenna may actually perform better in that case.

You've got me curious, can you give me any details about the project you're working on? What is your antenna's use case?

Ok cool, its just rough figures I need so this is perfect. I hope to print maybe 9 of these eventually and connect them in parallel.
I'm using slicer so I'll just do a scale of 1.74. It doesnt have to be spot on (well, ideally it does, but for this it doesnt matter). I believe I should be able to use the 2.4ghz and use it as a half wave(?) for 1.2ghz, which will be ok for some stuff. Scaling it up by 1.74 uses a lot of filament, so I might print a template a few layers thick of each element and use some cheaper media.

The project is based off gnuradio and simple_ra: https://www.gnuradio.org
I am a physicist and I've been doing this form of radio telescope for a few years now. I'm currently working on a small/portable version which is where this antenna comes in. You can pick up cheap usb radios (rtl-sdr) off ebay for as little as $10, I've just upgraded to a bigger radio but of the same form.

Except for the radio, you can generally make this telescope out of spare parts or computers you already have.

Its not too hard to set up but there are some issues, if you have a reasonable amount of linux/unix knowledge you can get around some of the issues that might arise.

This 2.4 GHz antenna would be ~1/8 wavelength of 1.2 GHz. Not a great receiver for 1.2 GHz, but it would work, though I think it would be worth it to make a dedicated 1.2 GHz antenna.

One thing I have done to save printing filament is to print only the outer frame of objects, and glue in cardboard for areas that require large panels. I did some quick modifications to make the antenna 1.4 GHz and slimmed it down for cardboard inserts.

I have a HackRF One that I've used mostly for listening to trunked police/fire/ambulance radio, and decoding a few digital ham radio protocols, but I haven't done much with it at higher frequencies. If you publish your build online, let me know. I'd love to see your final build.

Oh man thats awesome! Thanks for those files.
How hard is it to mod for a dedicated full wave or 1/2 wave? Is it possible to chuck it into customiser - especially an "outer frame" version - while i love the idea of a full print, for such a big print I cant justify a shitload of filament.

The only issue is the prusa is only 20x20, so thats another print size issue, even though I can split. I'm starting to think printing it is going to be more problematic than its worth.

I think ideally the largest I could go is 1/4 wave for printing, but a full wave would be awesome... so many choices. A biquad with multiple elements would be perfect for what I need, they tend to suck down signal rather well.

As for writing this up, yeah I suppose I should at least write a small paper on it. I was asked to build a prototype a few years ago but it was knocked on the head by a jealous colleague who was originally tasked with the job and a $20k budget (and had no idea how to do it). She was rather pissed off when I effectively completed the task in under $200 :)

Hey, is there any chance you could design me a template for 1.2ghz full wave and half wave? I wont be able to print them but I think if I score some flat plastic of some sort I can use the template to cut something up. I hate to ask, but you seem to know a lot more about design than I do and I could do with a full wave/half wave antenna array. Ideally I would like about 8 elements, and 9 antennas (or more) in a 3x3 array.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, but if its too time consuming and complex I completely understand.

I was going to do some job hunting this weekend, but this seems more interesting. I've never designed anything in OpenSCAD, but it's probably about time I learn how to use it. I've got a basic template for a biquad frame coded. When it's done you'll be able to input all sorts of parameters to generate a custom biquad yagi, or just a single biquad.

Thanks mate, I appreciate your help. If I can figure out how to I'll pm you my email address so I can discuss this in depth maybe.

Edit: nope, couldnt figure it out lol

I just uploaded the first iteration of the biquad yagi generator: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2749265

I tried to include as many variables as possible, but I'm sure there is plenty more to add to it. I've been awake too long working on this. I hope the file makes sense.

If you want to contact me by email: [email protected]

Biquad Yagi Antenna Customizer - OpenSCAD

wow! that was so easy to use. Thanks heaps. Thats all the variables I need, so this is perfect!

Hello.
I tried making this antenna but it doesn't work. I followed all the instructions but the reception it's pretty bad. I even used a really short coaxial cable. I feel disappointed :(

I'd like to help if I can. What steps have you taken to troubleshoot your antenna's poor performance? Do yo have another 2.4 GHz antenna to compare reception with? Have you checked your print for dimensional accuracy? If the dimensions aren't accurate, the antenna will be tuned to a frequency other than 2.4 GHz. If you haven't already done so, use a multimeter to check for electrical continuity from the connector to the antenna. If the the centre pin and the outer rim of the connector have good connections to the antenna but your antenna is still performing poorly, check to see if the cable has a solder bridge where it connects to the antenna. It is also possible that the insulator around the inner conductor of the cable has melted during soldering, resulting in an electrical short. You can also post a "make page" with some detailed photos and I may be able to spot any issues.

Thank you for your reply. I posted a "make" of the antenna describing everything I did.

Thinking about building this, but am a complete noob at antennas

Have no idea about the wiring of the passive and driven elements ?

Any details would be great.

There is a Youtube video among the photos on the Thingiverse page. It should give you a good idea of how the printed antenna is put together. The parasitic elements have no electrical connection with one another. The only connection is a coaxial cable soldered to the driven element.

Thanks.
Looking at the schematics from the video helped :)

Looks like really nice work but it doesn't seem to fallow Andrew's instruction completely, correct me if I'm wrong. I can't see any reflector there, have u used his measurements for each element? I made two of these, one out of cardboard, one with etched pcb boards and they perform pretty well. Your antenna looks very carefully made on the other hand, nice work!

Edit. I looked at your files, looks like you are following all the measurements, reflector seems to have different design tough.

This is an old design that I didn't upload until last year. The video that the dimensions came from is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TanbyHBKrvU. If you watch from about 5:00 the first element that Andrew bends is the 34 mm reflector.

Andrew has made some changes to his design since then, and I actually made a different version of my printable design that uses a sheet metal reflector, but I haven't gotten around to uploading it. Basically, I made one end of the printable tubes solid, and used two screws to attach a piece of aluminum sheet metal to the rear of the antenna, in place of the wire reflector.

Have you uploaded the new files since then? I would love to print a final version ;-)

I have. It wasn't a big change. I just closed off one end of the tubes so that a sheet metal reflector and/or a mount of some kind could be attached with screws. I included a couple photos of the antenna with a solid reflector instead of the 34 mm wire reflector. The dimensions of the elements are all the same. djinc3ption did some antenna analysis in an anechoic chamber and found the tuning to be dead centre of the 2.4 GHz wifi band, so no changes were necessary there. The only change that I would recommend is to increase the spacing between the elements a little if you want a stronger signal for the lower and upper channels. The spacing I outlined on the design page makes the antenna a little narrow banded; great if your trying to pull in channel 6 or 7 but the frequency response becomes less optimal the further from centre frequency you get.

I've been tempted to design and upload a little adjustable stand for it, but I figure everyone is going to have a different use case for this antenna which would require niche mounting options, so I'll leave it up to everyone to make their own mounts or brackets or stands. Unless enough people would be interested in a little desktop stand, maybe I'll upload something in the future. I'm thinking something like a typical adjustable microscope stand.

just got the 13860 v2 maker select! Very new. Just leveled the bed for the first time and planning out what ill do with the little bit of pla supplied...

thank you for your opinion. Makes sense!

ill seach for PETG filaments and maybe purchase the conductive filament just for fun...

I may build a yagi cantenna with the conductive stuff just as a test...

Any advice for a linux user on 3d design software?

I willprint your yagi biquad as soon as I receive my order!

Congrats on the new printer!

If you do a lot of printing with PLA, it will eventually clog your extruder. Printing at a lower temperature can slow the buildup of decomposed PLA in the extruder, but I don't think its avoidable all together. I hate having to remove nozzles to drill out the clogs, so I was extremely happy when I switched to printing with PETG. It prints a lot slower than PLA (~20mm/s vs ~100mm/s) but layer adhesion is better, it's less brittle, easier to sand and cut with a knife, easier to drill, etc. I get my PETG from 3DPrima in Sweden. I'm not sure if they make the filament, or if they re-brand another manufacturers filament. It would be nice to find a local supplier. Shipping to Canada isn't the cheapest, but at least I know what I'm getting.

I do pretty much all my design work in Sketchup extended with a few plugins. Unfortunately, I was never able to get it running on a Linux OS. I also have FreeCAD, Blender and OpenSCAD which all work on Linux and are all free. Because I spend so much time with Sketchup, I was never able to get to the real meat and potatoes of the other programs, but I liked FreeCAD the most and OpenSCAD the least.

Have you done any CAD design in the past, or are you taking the plunge for the first time?

just diving in. I have been poking around freecad and repsnapper. I have found some good tutorials for editing a stl file with freecad...

one of my main reasons for purchasing a 3d print is wifi projects... I have been following andrew McNeil for a few years and my craftsman ship on building this thing by hand work but look like a ugly mess...

I have a thin mini itx long range repeater proto type I hope to trick out with a sleek case and 4 antennas...

Yeah, Andrew's got a good channel. I backed his kickstarter in August and I'm waiting for the standard 2.4 GHz biquad to arrive. He said in his kickstarter youtube video comments that he was thinking about getting a 3D printer. I'd like to see what he adds to thingiverse. I'd also like to see if has has anything to add to the HAM radio scene. I'm trying to figure out how to set up my first attic antenna.

What ever software you do go with, stick with it for a few years while you get to know the ins and outs (and keyboard shortcuts). I thinks it's better to become proficient with one CAD program, than to get stuck bouncing from one program to another, always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Every CAD program has it's strengths and weaknesses and different features, but you can accomplish most of the same things in any one of them.

Sounds like your repeater would make for a good antenna test bench. There are lots of Linux console options for signal monitoring. If you're interested in network monitoring and/or security testing, check out Parrot OS. It's got a hand full of great utilities for exploring networks among many other things. I've got a virtual image on my laptop and another running on a raspberry pi.

Good luck with your new printer and network setup!

Have you or any tried conductive filament to build any antennas?

No, I haven't. I'm tempted to buy a small quantity for testing. I can see the potential of conductive filament, but I don't see the use case in it's current state. There are other more reliable methods of building electronic circuits.

Silver, silver plated copper, copper, and aluminum are the best choices for building efficient antennas. Silver is a the best conductor and it doesn't oxidize in air but it is expensive, which is why some high performance antennas are made of silver plated copper. Copper is nearly as conductive, but does oxidize in air and radio signals will attenuate slightly as it oxidizes. I use copper because it's cheap (I have lots of scrap) and does a great job as an antenna element. The conductive filaments that I am aware of are made from plastic mixed with carbon graphite powder to make it electrically conductive, but it's comparatively high resistance would cause losses in signal propagation and reception. Solid carbon graphite is at best about one tenth as electrically conductive as copper. I would think it's just fine for making a simple electronic circuit, and while it would work as an antenna, I definitely wouldn't expect it to perform as well as a solid copper antenna element, and I wouldn't go to the trouble of building an efficient antenna design using an inefficient electrical conductor for the antenna element.

All said, I have no experience working with conductive printer filament. I would love to do some experimentation but I don't want to put PLA through my extruders anymore, and I'm not going to bother with ABS again. If there were PETG conductive filaments, I might be a little more willing to try it out.

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Is there an STL for the 5.8ghz version???

I just realized I didn't originally post this as a reply:

You know, I haven't considered making one for another frequency. I suppose I could design one. Some quick math ( (speed of light / frequency) / 4 ) tells me that a 5.8 Ghz driven element would have sides about 13mm long. That would be tough to build with any degree of accuracy.

I don't normally design things that I don't intend to build, so if I do design a 5.8Ghz version, It will be a rough prototype that my require some tweaking on your part to build it. I'll let you know If I do design something.

I understand, I thank you.

Good news! I just uploaded a biquad yagi customizer that you can use to create an antenna to your liking. It uses OpenSCAD to change the values. It's still a work in progress, but I thought I'd let you know that it's there in case your still interested. I still think 5.8 GHz is pretty small for this kind of design, but you can try it out if you like. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2749265

Biquad Yagi Antenna Customizer - OpenSCAD