I am building a 2.4 GHz RF wireless communication system to alert me when a motion sensor is tripped. I bought two RF tranceivers (nRF24L01+PA+LNA SMA) and two antennas to make sure I received my signal (since the distance was kind of far and had to go through multiple walls, I needed it to be somewhat high power). I used a couple Arduinos and everything worked out just great, I could get my signal accurately at the end of my street 100 meters away and through multiple walls/houses.
Once I had it functional, I wanted to make it look nice. Since I am doing this for somewhat of a "hack day" project, I decided it would be pretty funny to put the transmitter end into a piñata with the eye cut out and replaced as the motion sensor. I did all of this, it looked hilarious but nevertheless, I could not retrieve any signal! The antenna was sticking out the side of the piñata's head and if I took the system out of the piñata, my signal was fine. Another odd quirk was that if I took the antenna off from the piñata end, the signal began to transmit perfectly again (just not as far obviously).
My question is, could the cardboard piñata material have some effect when combined with the antenna? Is the antenna making the signal "more powerful" and the cardboard interfering significantly since it is so close to the source? It may not be the case, but I originally had the transmitter sitting on some cardboard (with no successful transmission), and when I took it off, it began transmitting. It just seems so strange that the signal can go through multiple houses, but god forbid the thing sits on or is close to cardboard at its source.
Any suggestions are appreciated!