Thanks! The tripod was free. I put a wanted ad on craigslist and got a couple free tripods from a guy who wanted to get rid of some. The damn SMA cable is the most expensive part. I'm thinking about ordering the raw parts and assembling some myself. I do have some experience in that area - I used to be a cable/antenna installer and assembled RF cables.
You're can antenna looks ok, but some measurements would be helpful to see how much gain you're really getting. Fire up Netstumbler and compare signal levels with the can antenna, and with whatever you were previously using.
Building SMA cables is quite different from CATV F connectors. With F connectors, all you do is strip back the jacket the required amount, and use a piston tool to shove in the connector. I think I could do it blindfolded.
However, SMA is quite different. You get to crimp the tiny center pin into place. One mistake in stripping length, and you get the pin either sticking out of the connector, or shrinking back into the connector. The braid also has to be perfect or you get frayed pieces of braid all over the place or worse, inside the connector. Also, a loose connector doesn't work. Don't forget to hide your mistakes under some heat shrink tubing.
What you'll need is a good supply of decent connectors (RF Industries), a stripping tool, and a crimper.
Two of the tools shown should cover most everything up to LMR-400. That's the HT-336K and HT-336G.
I got around connector costs and cable losses by modifying a dongle to accept the antenna, and then using USB cable to run from antenna to computer. I found USB cables for $1.99 on Ebay Express. (shipping extra) I used a TP-Link TL-WN321G it was easy to modify for the antenna. It cost $12.99, again found on Ebay Express. I had some trouble at final installation, I added a second USB cable ( 2 -
15FT cables) and started getting unreliable operation. After some retesting of the antenna at another location, I figured out it was the extra length of USB cable. So, one section of USB cable unless you use an amplifier type cable. Mike
I presumed that we would like for the USB shield to connect to the can. That might be why my tinfoil-wrapped CDROM container didn't work as well as a coffee can where I had a tight fit between the connector and the edge of the cutout.