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Live from DefCon: The Sniper Yagi

Sniper Yagi

Josh is at DefCon this weekend and sends back his first report on what he’s found there:

What looks like an M-16 with a huge silencer instead of a barrel? The Sniper Yagi, of course. As likely to get you thrown in jail as logged onto a WiFi network, the Sniper Yagi replaces the barrel and firing mechanism with a 14.6 dBi yagi antenna and can get you online at up to ten miles — assuming your aim is good (playing lots of SilentScope helps). With dual Sony-Camcorder batteries this thing will lasts for up to eight hours, but really it’s all about using a crazy looking gun to get online. A full How-To will be available, but if you get busted don’t come crying to us.


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Reader Comments

Cool, but looks nothing like an M-16
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 11:55 AM ET by Thor

get your gun facts straight.

How Safe?
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 12:09 PM ET by Randy

So, there's a wireless group in Washington DC working on WiFi coverage on the mall. Last time I read about it the coverage wasn't complete. Looks like this gadget will extend that coverage. What if, say, I set this up at, oh, the Washington Monument pointed towards the Capital, do you think the Secret Service would have a problem? Just want good connectivity... right?

gun type
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 12:55 PM ET by Travis J I Corcoran

Very cool, but that doesn't look anything like an AR-15/M-16. I looks like a shotgun with an aftermarket stock.

is this a gadget site or a gun site ?
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 2:33 PM ET by Jay

2 of the 3 readers commenting above appear to have real guns on the brain, just like this guy ...

Yeah, but does it work...
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 2:58 PM ET by Tallpole

So do you have to calibrate the sight? :)

Anyone know what the gain on the Yagi is like, or how useful the sighting is?

For what it's worth Jay, as geeks, accuracy in the facts tends to be an important thing- so yes, it is a gadget site... where people correct each other as they should!

What a load of crap!
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 4:50 PM ET by LW

OK, on a rifle you use a telescopic sight to get pointing accuracy of around 1 minute of arc (1/60th of a degree, or 1 inch at 100 yards).

The half-power beam width of this antenna is going to be about five degrees (ten times the apparent width of the moon). You don't need a telescopic sight. If you have drunk less than (say) 30 beers in the last hour, you could line the antenna up by hand.

Now to the "10 mile" claim. A normal AP antenna is a dipole. A dipole has a gain of 2.1dBi. Subtract that from 14.6dBi and you get about 12 dB. Every 6dB gets you twice the range, so 12dB gets you four times the range.

So how far does your current AP (really) go? If you say 20 yards, this super-duper-sniper-thingo will give you 80 yards. If you think your current Wifi is good to 100 yards, you will now be able to do 400.


I don't know what's funnier
Posted Aug 3, 2004, 5:31 PM ET by DensityDuck

...the concept of a wifi antenna built up to look vaguely like a rifle, or the gun nuts etc. coming out of the woodwork to describe how inaccurate the writeup is...

Neither, actually.
Posted Aug 4, 2004, 11:26 AM ET by Ian Wood


Yeah, because anyone who knows anything about guns is a gun nut.

Hmm ...
Posted Aug 4, 2004, 5:55 PM ET by Ben

LW, even four times the typical range is kind of optimistic anyway, isn't it?

If the author wants to get technical with gun terms such as referring to specific models, he should at least do a little research.

I'd rank this idea right up there with taping road flares to your chest and walking around malls yelling "FOR ALLAH!" or going into a bank with a cheque taped to a chainsaw.

And I don't know about where the rest of you live, but around here pointing a rifle at occupied buildings is a quick way to attract *real* incoming fire from police and non-police alike.

Here are some real facts:
Posted Aug 4, 2004, 6:12 PM ET by Cowboy Man

Hi Folks,

I'm the guy who built the Sniper Yagi, and we presented it at DC here this past friday.

I'm reading through these comments with some amusement, so I thought I'd set some facts straight for those who're actually interested in knowing them:

1) The stock is a sawed off Ruger 10-22. Just a plain old stock - no receiver, no firing mechanisms, etc. Just a stock I bought off the net.

2) The Antenna is a 14.6dBi antenna from Antennex System. There's also a 500mw amp bolted on the stock, which helps things out a bit.

3) The estimates for range at 10 miles are probably a bit high, unless you've got an antenna on the other end as well. If so, then yes, you can definitely do 10 miles, line of sight. If it's just some goof's Linksys router in his house, I've tested it at around 1 mile and it works great.

4) When I flip the amp on, I get an approximate gain of 27dB over the unamplified signal, according to the iwconfig stats on my linux box that I hook the SY up to.

5) The howto is up at - feel free to check it out for more details.

Hope this helps.

Awesome! But..
Posted Aug 5, 2004, 4:33 PM ET by djspeed

How do you sight this thing?
I mean with a gun it makes a nice whole in the target, but this?!! What methods do you recommend to ensure the cross hair is where the strongest signal is?

Also for all you gun freaks this thing looks more like an MP-5SD, Buschman, or the British L2A1 Sterling SMG (Canada labeled it the C1).

Awesome! But..
Posted Aug 5, 2004, 4:34 PM ET by djspeed

How do you sight this thing?
I mean with a gun it makes a nice whole in the target, but this?!! What methods do you recommend to ensure the cross hair is where the strongest signal is?

Also for all you gun freaks this thing looks more like an MP-5SD, Buschman, or the British L2A1 Sterling SMG (Canada labeled it the C1).

Within his rights... just not too smart.
Posted Aug 6, 2004, 4:12 AM ET by RF Sigint


How to put yourself in harms way.

Why doesn't he just put on a "Manhole Suit" and lay on an expressway.

Posted Aug 11, 2004, 1:44 PM ET by dorindamay

Hmmmm..."10 miles line of sight". Allowing for curvature of the earth, how high (in altitude, silly)do you have to be to get 10 miles line of sight?

Posted Aug 11, 2004, 1:51 PM ET by dorindamay

At DFW airport recently an unsuspecting member of a rock band had his luggage confiscated because he had an unusual microphone packed that looked like a pipe bomb on the x-ray. Caused quite a stir...they evacuated the terminal, hauled his suitcase away in the bomb disposal unit and sent the FBI to his home in Alabama to question his neighbors. Maybe he should get one of these WiFi antennas as a compliment to his microphone.....

But why use a gun?
Posted Aug 11, 2004, 5:43 PM ET by Dave Bell

I can imagine there being a bit of a difference between getting a signal on this, and getting a decent data-rate.

But do a bit of digging into the Russian Zenith cameras, and their Photosniper. That night suggest a slightly less conspicuous look to use.

Posted Aug 12, 2004, 7:28 AM ET by everwondering1

i like this, it looks pretty damn good, is creative, and funny, which is what i assume it was made for. and for dj speed, this looks nothing like an mp5 of any sort.

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