Adding Wi-Fi to a laptop the ghetto way

The gf’s Amilo laptop has a broken Wi-Fi adapter. It can see all the networks but everytime you try to connect, it gives an unknown error. I tried different drivers and different Windowses but the problem persists. So we’ve been using it with an external USB D-Link adapter for now. But that’s not every nice, having a thumbdrive-sized adapter sticking out the side of your laptop all the time. When you have the laptop in your lap while sittting on a sofa is a potential physical damage risk as well (as we’ve seen with the CS-17 fix). So, the solution is to install the USB adapter inside the chassis. Will it fit?

D-Link Wi-Fi adapter naked

There’s some space where the original Mini-PCIe adapter used to be, but I don’t think the bulky D-Link will fit. Luckily since this is quite a big laptop (17″ display) there’s two HDD bays, one of which is empty. Stripping out the case for the Wi-Fi adapter makes it fit nicely with the USB extension inside the HDD2 bay. A dab of hot glue secures it in place and the chassis designer has kindly left open holes for the cover locator that I can use to pass the USB cable thru to the mainboard area. I just cut the location tab off the HDD bay cover and it’s good to go!

Adapter in the HDD2 bay

I soldered the USB leads directly on the back of side-USB connector, then plugged the hole from the outside with — you guessed it — hot glue to prevent bad things from happening. Now all is well, we get Wi-Fi and there’s no bulky things sticking out the side of the laptop.

Leads soldered and hot glued

I know the position for the adapter is sub-optimal on the bottom of the laptop underneath all the internals, but it works fine enough. Besides, the Wi-Fi router is in living room only a few meters away so the reception is excellent even this way.

Put together, working beautifully

I’m pretty happy with this one, actually.

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5 Responses to Adding Wi-Fi to a laptop the ghetto way

  1. Gunnar Dalsnes says:

    I would have chosen the easy way and bought a new mini pci-e adapter, but I guess that wouldn’t have been challenging enough:-)

  2. nuit says:

    Is it possible to use the usbport as well? does it act like a hub? or did you seal the port with hot glue?

  3. Miha says:

    USB port is now taken so you can’t use it any more?
    Could you add a USB hub inside laptop? and make more USB ports in laptop?
    I’m wondering which chip set is used for USB in laptop and how many USB ports it have.
    So if would chip set had 4 USB ports maybe you could use unused port.

  4. Mikko says:

    nuit and Miha: Yes, this particular USB port is not usable from the outside anymore. It has been plugged with hot glue to prevent that.

    Miha: USB hub is possible, there is probably enough room inside the same HDD bay if I wanted to add one (a discrete one). I don’t know if the USB hub chip on the motherboard has spare ports though…

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