Introduction: Adding an Antenna to a Underpowered Router

Picture of Adding an Antenna to a Underpowered Router

I have a D-Link router of the 2.4 gHz type. It supports 802.11b and I use it for all of the laptops I repair and test. I occasionally want to push the signal to the other end of the house, and I chose to do this, rather than buy a new add-on antenna.
Recycle, man...Recycle.

Step 1: Getting Started...

Picture of Getting Started...

I chose to keep the D-Link and cannibalize the Linksys for two reason, the first being that the Linksys uses a weird propietary 50-pin header to connect the card to the motherboard of the router. The second is that the D-Link uses a mini-PCI card as the receiver. I have a future use also, and this will make an upgrade easier, by far.
I also note the mini-PCI actually HAS two antenna inputs soldered on the card. The second one terminates in a little strip of metal that is stuck to the inner side of the case with double-back tape.

Step 2: Proof of Concept...

Picture of Proof of Concept...

This is a photo meant to help actualize the concept we are attempting. I just soldered the end of the antenna to the mini-PCI card, leaving almost the length of the second lead intact. I energized the router out of it's plastic shell, and according to the Cisco tables, a -30 dBm gain in strength. I have measured the signal strength in a before and after walk-around and the signal AFTER is well worth the time to do this mod. I see gains incidental of location (on my property) and an overall signal strength increase
of 225%. (from 4 dB to 7 B for the second antenna.)

Step 3: Adding the Antenna...

Picture of Adding the Antenna...

Here we just cut the donor antenna lead.

Step 4: Removing the Second Pigtail Lead...

Picture of Removing the Second Pigtail Lead...

isolate and remove the second pigtail lead...

Step 5: Stripping...and Attaching

Picture of Stripping...and Attaching

Strip, tin and prepare the donor antenna lead. Clean with alcohol and either heat lamp or can-dry to remove moisture.

Step 6: Attaching the Second Lead...

Picture of Attaching the Second Lead...

Use alcohol and a toothbrush for pre-cleaning, dry with heat lamp, and then solder the leads to the perspective places. Shield to outside, center lead to center space.
You will want to check for continuity and solder flow.

Step 7: Plastic Shell

Picture of Plastic Shell

Remove the motherboard from the plastic shell and mark on tape a circle of the approx. size the antenna end requires. I used a plastic washer to mark the I.D. of the circle, and a drill bit to SCORE
the outside edge. I did NOT just drill into the case, I stopped the drill bit shy of cutting through to better control breakthrough of the thin plastic. I used a center pin drill with a cutting edge to best effect.

Step 8: Hole Drilled...

Picture of Hole Drilled...

I cut the remainder of the hole with a sharp X-Acto knife. This is TERRIFICALLY thin plastic, very fragile.

Step 9: Check for Interference...

Picture of Check for Interference...

The motherbord should now be placed back as well as the new antenna to check for interference. The photo shows the fiberglass motherboard was trimmed with a file to accommodate the new antenna.

Step 10: Finishing Up...

Picture of Finishing Up...

1) Replace motherboard in shell 2) Replace mini-PCI card in motherboard 3) Lead Dress

Step 11: Ready to Use...

Picture of Ready to Use...

Plug it in...and enjoy 7 dB around the house. I hope anybody else who does these steps has the same result as I. Your mileage will vary, some features not available in all localities... : )

Comments

agarthanh (author)2015-01-05

what a master

thnx for the info

Arbitror (author)2009-08-11

I have that exact same router!
I gotta try this...

Yerboogieman (author)2008-04-01

my old D-Link router like that, not a wireless though, would be the only one that would work my linksys one wouldnt work, so i bought a $80 netgear did the $600 mod on it just to check it out, works perfect

_Ko0LaiD_ what happened between you and grammar and his good old friend spellcheck? You all used to be great friends. Is the $600 mod by any chance DD-WRT?

Yep.

Estwald (author)2008-04-02

That "little strip of metal" on the second cable appears to be an antenna of the design known as a "J-Pole".

ironsmiter (author)2007-04-19

Nice recycling project! how much distance does that 7dB get you? and if anyone has the "stock dual antenna model", how does this compare? don't try this on an elcheapo "la Fonera" router.... at least not without a software upgrade. With stock hard/software it only confuses the poor little beaste. Sounds like it was already running in dual antenna mode, just using the shielding as a "reference antenna" "I also note the mini-PCI actually HAS two antenna inputs soldered on the card. The second one terminates in a little strip of metal that is stuck to the inner side of the case with double-back tape." What signal strength does it test out to with only one antenna, and NOT being connected to the shielding?

Rick Camper (author)ironsmiter2007-04-19

Yeah, it was the 3 dB that started me wondering about "what can I do" (pun intended) without resorting to a cantenna on the receiver. As for the "one antenna question", after I severed the lead, I wired it to use the donor parts and just never took a sample (waa...waa....waaaaaa) My bad. Oh, BTW 7 dB here around these parts is, like, 35 to 38 ft. radius. I also know that would attenuate VERY quickly and fall below usable levels, say, 20 ft. out. I would reason because of the use of brick and balloon framing and not the newer steel, which would be a bigger attenuation.

beavis2k (author)2007-04-19

the new fonera routers have the capacity for two antennas but only one is used, hack a day has the steps to connect two. cant do this with my dlink router, it is the old version without the mini-pci, so i removed the stock antenna and installed a larger one.

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