We’re used to living in a world where we upgrade our phones, computers and TVs… but what about some of the more boring technologies around the house, that have been the same for years? Out of lab this week preparing for qualifier exams, I will try to make the next IC Friday pix twice as good.
We take the guesswork out of finding the best hardware solution for your iPad based POS System. Have a wired POS Receipt Printer, but you really need a WIFI enabled printer for your Point of Sale system? The WIFI Power Pack bundle was specifically put together to convert your existing wired printer into a WIFI printer that doesn’t need to be tethered to anything but a power cord. Simply put, the purpose of this WIFI Power Pack is to convert an Ethernet based printer to WIFI while retaining the ability for your iPad to open the cash drawer automatically.
The WIFI Power Pack has specific task in mind and that is to convert your existing wired thermal receipt printer into a WIFI enabled iPad printer.
We take the guesswork out of finding the best hardware solution for your iPad based POS system. If you’re already bored by your summer (or are looking for something to occupy your kids with), then take a look at this long-range WiFi antenna that was created out of an Illy coffee can. To recreate this antenna yourself you will need a type N Bulkhead socket and plug, an electric drill, a piece of metal from a coathanger and a WiFi extension cable. By drilling five small holes and affixing a soldered portion of the coathanger to the bulkhead socket, Graham-Cumming was able to create a directional antenna chamber that drastically improved his signal-to-noise ratio from far off access points.

We’ve seen projects done like this using Pringles cans, but this seem like a much better alternative.
From an RF standpoint, many of the USB WIFI adapters have pretty decent chipsets that are used to make up for their small antennas and limited board availability.
I am hoping to test out some antenna designs in the near future and didn’t want to pay for something new just for the SMA port. If you’ve currently got a STAR thermal receipt printer and you’ve always wanted to ditch the cables, the WIFI Power Pack is your answer. Taking only a few hours to build, a gentleman by the name of Jon Graham-Cumming built this Macguyver-esque device by using parts that are readily available in any geek’s home and local Radio Shack. In his testing he was able to pick up a strong signal from a hotel that is a quarter-mile from his home and connect to its guest network successfully. In the case of the DLink DWL-122 (yes, I mis-spelled it on the board), the choice is a small f-strip antenna. This very simple mod just shows that putting a SMA port on the PCB doesn’t totally trash the signal. There are many reasons actually: You might have a mobile setup and want to increase the flexibility of your wired printer where running cables isn’t possible or easy.
Connecting all the pieces together is easy, the router is even powered by your printer’s power supply so you don’t need to take up another electrical outlet. Whereas before he started using his coffee can creation he was only able to pick up about 58 different access points, 97 became visible with the farthest away being the aforementioned hotel.

The feed port can be identified by the tapered, triangle-looking trace, so that is where the SMA center feed will go. You maybe be in a kiosk, or storefront and need to rearrange your layout but don’t want to incur costs of running cables.
Once the pieces are connected there are some steps you will need to take in order to connect your new Power Pack to your existing network so that your iPad POS System can connect and print to your WIFI printer. He reported that the signal from some of the known access points in his area reported a signal improvement between 3 and 9dB, which is impressive indeed. Or maybe you’re looking for the freedom to print at multiple locations some of which are easily wired while others aren’t. Now that the USB device has a standard RF port on it, it’s quite easy to experiment with some personal antenna designs. The performance is not optimal since the tapered feed pad along with the SMA connector will create an impedance discontinuity, but it is quite easy to get better performance with simple designs. Below are comparisons of the signal strength with the f-strip and the whip antenna from the Fonera.

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