The tin-can antenna: A boon for third world

Monday, February 27, 2006

A physics research institute here is using a low-cost but effective tool to bolster communications in developing countries: the tin-can antenna.

Made from a can (the best are those used for seed oil, their creators say), a screw-on connector and a short brass wire, the “cantenna” is promoted by researchers as a cheap and efficient tool to amplify access to information and communication technologies in some of the world’s poorest and often most remote areas. Cantennas work like regular antennas but cost around ?2, or $2.40, to build, while those purchased in a store can cost several hundred euros. They are directional antennas and can be used for short- to medium-distance point-to-point links. They can also be used as feeders for parabolic dishes. That means that by aligning a series of cantennas, it is possible to receive signals from a distant receiver using one or more repeaters, which send, amplify and redirect radio waves, and send signals remote areas. “Bringing technology to the community is called the last mile,” said Sandro Radicella, who heads the Aeronomy and Radiopropagation Laboratory at the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics here. “But I like to call this a first-mile solution because the user is put first.”

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Source: International Herald Tribune (link opens in a new window)