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WLAN Card / Extra Antenna installation


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So your tempted to upgrade your WLAN card to a new 3 antenna one.

or you already have a WLAN card, it has 3 connectors on the card but only 2 are used, you want to add another antenna to boost the range.

or the decision to add a dual antenna 11n WLAN card and not add another antenna so save warranty issues.

What ever scenarios hopefully this guide will help.

I'll try to go through the procedure of installing the WLAN card and extra antenna if needed.

But first things first OxfordTEC and I do not accept any responsibility for any mishaps or breakages.

It's up to you be careful and use your initiative to work out if the upgrade will work or not, if in doubt don't do it !!

The upgrade will mean warranty on your Notebook could be void.

The upgrade will also need some tools, a small flat head screw driver and a small crosshead (philips) screwdriver, the best ones are the Jewellers set, very cheap in electrical stores

The upgrade below assumes you have a Core2Duo based machine with a MiniPCIe interface, older Notebooks will have a MiniPCI card which are much bigger than MiniPCIe, but the procedure will be similar.

First things first, before you buy any card or look for an antenna, check to see what you have already.

Some Notebooks have the WLAN card behind a panel on the back of the Notebook usually larger Notebooks 17"

Some Notebooks have the WLAN card underneath the keyboard, usually smaller Notebooks 15.4" and smaller.

Check to see what WLAN card you have, do a check to see what it can do, Google is your friend here.

I have made a guide of most of the popular 11n WLAN cards here, use this to help you choose one.

If you have chosen one, work out how many antenna's you will need (if any), best to get both at once.

Our friends form OxfordTEC who sponsored the WLAN card and antenna for me to be able to make this guide have all the gear you need to get you going.

There are 2 antennas to choose from the shorter one (25.5cm) as used below is best for any place BUT the LCD cover, a lot less fiddly to pull the bezel and keyboard off and fit this.

The longer one (60cm) is suited to place inside the LCD cover, this is quite a bit more tricky to do, I'll do a guide on this procedure in the not too distant future, over all this is the best place for the antenna as there is the least amount of metal around to block the signal.

The Antenna's from OxfordTEC are high quality with Gold connectors and have Omnidirectional 3dB gain, normal antenna's (as included with most Noebooks) and others sold else where are only 1 or 2db gain.

If replacing a WLAN card with another, then remove all software and drivers that came with the old card before installing new one !!

Will save issues later on, trust me, I've been here :)

You may want to download the latest drivers and Client Utility, as the included SW can be quite old and also unless you have a LAN connection to the internet you will have no access to the internet till the drivers are installed.

Turn Laptop OFF, Disconnect from AC Adaptor and remove battery !!!

Notebooks with the WLAN underneath Notebook


Remove any screws from the cover, Dell and Toshiba usually have 2 screws, Acer can mean unscrewing nearly the whole back of the machine off.

Acer back covers are notoriously hard to get off, it means bending and twisting the cover while trying to move it as well, BECAREFUL not to break it

Anywho, once of, the any Dell Inpsiron E1705/i9400 owners will see this:


The picture above shows the original Intel WLAN 3945 card that came with the i9400, a 2 antenna connector card, the i9400 came with only 2 antenna's so lets add another and place a much better card in there.

If your current card has 3 antenna's connected then you already have a 11n capable WLAN card and you can stop right here.

BUT chances are you will see 2 antenna's connected (real old laptops may see one)

Now to work out what card you have if you already don't know is to get the device name and model, and have a look here at the most popular 11n cards, if you can't see it there then chances are you have an older 11a/b/g card getting only 54Mbps or in SuperG's case 108Mbps.

Now while you are at the 11n device page, it may pay to start thinking about the card you would like.

You've purchased your card and now would like to install it.

Once again open the cover that houses the WLAN card.

To take the old card out.

Remove the antenna's, very carefully by pulling the connectors up.

To remove the card, there are either 2 screws or more common 2 clips that hold the card down that you push back.

The card should pop up from the clip end, the just pull it out from the miniPCIe scoket.


To put the new card back in do the reverse of the removal.

Place the card with the socket end in first then lower the back down while slightly pushing the card towards the socket end.

The 2 clips should hold the card down (or 2 screws in some cases)

MAKE SURE the card is in straight.


The above is what the ends of the antenna's look like that go onto the sockets on the WLAN card.

Now if your machine came with 3 antenna's already hook them up carefully by pushing down straight:

White cable goes to pin 1 (left)

Black cable goes to pin 2 (right)

Grey cable goes to pin 3 (middle), a new antenna will be black with a gold connector and this goes on pin 3 as well.

I try to keep the metal antenna connectors away from the metal clips that hold the card in, as the signal will conduct along the metal clip and any antenna connectors and not travel up the antenna, giving poor performance.

If you have only 2 antenna's and bought another then, you need to find a place to put it (them)

Probably the best option and safest is to use the WLAN bay it self, the metal plate of the WLAN cover will stop any signal from coming below the machine but the top of the machine should let all them radio waves right in.

In the case of the i9400/E1705 there is plenty of room to wrap the wire around the modem and place the aerial at bottom of the bay.


If you haven't enough room in the WLAN bay then you need to consider going into the lid hinge of under the keyboard, as a 2nd best option.

This will mean removing in most cases the laptops Bezel (cover above the keyboard)


Using a flathead screw driver, lever up the corner.


Now carefully lift the bezel up, popping up the retainer as you go towards the other end.


Above the antenna can be seen about to be inserted into the lid hinge.

Above there is still enough room in the lid hinge to place another antenna.

Push the antenna end in first and wriggle it in as far as it will go.

Once in as far as it will go, then place the gold/silver connector end through the whole in the Motherboard by the hinge (following other antenna cables) into the WLAN bay.

Connect the antenna to the WLAN card, use pin 3 (middle) for this antenna.

Hide any slack in the remaining antenna cable, that's it put the bezel back on (usually reverse of taking it off)

Another possible place if the lid hinge is not accessible or no room for the antenna, is to go in a vacant space as below:


Here it follows the LCD inverter cable but ends up below the keyboard chassis but above the motherboard.

If you are able to remove the keyboard, which is held with 2 or 3 screws (flathead screwdriver), you can also then wriggle the antenna down the side of the laptop below the keyboard.


I've placed it under the keyboard chassis but above the Motherboard, then placed the gold/silver connector through the MB hole to the WLAN card.

This is how I've got mine at the moment as it's quite fiddly to get it here and out again.

WLAN is below the keyboard

You've looked on the back of the machine and there is no WLAN to be seen anywhere, next step is to look below the keyboard.


Above is my Wives' Dell Latitude D820 looking from the top with the LCD folded right back, important to get the bezel off.


The way to get the bezel off is the basically the same as my i9400, at the top right of the Notebook is a wee indent where a flathead screwdriver fits snugly to lever up the bezel from that corner.


Carefully lift the bezel up and along the Notebook.


It should look something like this once completely removed.

There are 3 screws holding the keyboard in along the top of the keyboard, undo these with a philips (crosshead) screw driver.

Remove the keyboard from the top down, may need a little flexing to pop it from it's retainers.


At the bottom of the keyboard on the reverse is a ribbon cable that joins to the Motherboard (see my stunt double finger)

The ribbon cable will need to be removed from the socket on the Motherboard, incase of the D820 means just lifting up the plug by the little provided handle.

The i9400 and Toshiba use a little clamp to hold the ribbon cable in a place that lifts back

BE OH SO CAREFUL HERE, it's soooo easy to break this clip, other notebooks will have different means of doing it (if it needs it at all)

Toshiba A100's are horrible to get pulled apart cables are quite short, but quite doable with care.


You should now with the keyboard removed see something like the above.

The latitude came with the Intel i3945 WLAN card as seen above, this is a 2 antenna card.

BUT the D820 already has 5 (yes 5, 3 for WLAN 2 for WWAN) antenna's so we'll pretend it only has 2 :)

Like above if you are installing a 3rd antenna, choose you place, anywhere that looks good and won't get in the way will do fine.

Remember to stay away from CPU's and GPU's and anything else that needs airflow.


Here you can see I placed the the antenna lead along the RAM cards and into some empty space up along the right hand side of the Notebook.

All Notebooks will vary with how they are internally.


Once the antenna is in connect it to the WLAN card, and you should see something like the above, with the 3 antenna connectors connected.

You are now ready to turn your machine on.

Let the machine boot and when 'new hardware found' pops up ignore it.

Run the installer application for your device driver/client utility it will install everything needed.

In case of Atheros cards and Vista you will need to point the New Device found to the place where you downloaded the drivers (and expanded them)

or just run the software on the CD if this came with your card.

Now you are ready to surf, connect to you router.

I hope the above guide is of use.

Any suggestions they are most welcome as I can add/change/remove anything to make it better.

The above guide can also be used to add WWAN card and RAM cards on some Notebooks

Or armed with compressed air clean the fans and inside of the Notebook.

Enjoy :P


OxfordTEC MiniPCIe WLAN cards

Notebook Internal antenna's

MiniPCIe WLAN giude to cards

Version 1.00

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Probably the best option and safest is to use the WLAN bay it self.

Pieter, this may not be a particularly effective position if the cover closing the bay is itself shielded [as is usually the case] -- killing any incoming RF radiation. If the bay's lid has metal claws around the sides or any form of meshing inside you're definitely in trouble and the antenna will be worthless.

In the pictures it looked like the antennas you installed have a wrapped section at the end? I've only seen antennas offered with a completely different form, usually with a little square printed-circuit board attached at the end as the antenna dipole. Interesting. The rod form you show should be MUCH easier to snake into an optimal reception position where the antenna's 'view' outward is unshielded in all directions, making the antenna section free to breath that good ol' WiFi radiation.

Certainly a great write-up there boss! Definitely a post for the masses, and worth a sticky. :) I admire people who can walk on water. Your series of reviews are really worthwhile, unbiased, and contain a host of useful insights. Great work.

Edited by Darmdorf
Cleaned up a bit
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Yes the bottom of the WLAN cover is metal, but this faces down when the laptop is in use.

So when you are using the Notebook the Radio waves are free to move through the chassis of the laptop.

Of course Note books with an Alloy chassis are going to have some issues as the Molybdenum/Magnesium will reflect the radio waves.

My i9400 and most consumer Notebooks are mostly plastic so no issue

The ultimate place is up the sides of the LCD cover but this requires pulling the lid apart and very fiddly and easy to muck up for the unwary.

The keyboard is also on a large plate of sheet metal so once again not ideal.

That is why I recommend that the 3rd antenna be used as the spare one as all but the i5300 use it to transmit from

It's far from finished yet, must redo some photo's as well, Nyree's camera not very good at focusing at close range.

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