Introduction: TP-LINK TL-MR3040 Antenna Mod Using U.FL SMT Connector

Picture of TP-LINK TL-MR3040 Antenna Mod Using U.FL SMT Connector

Wanted to expand the range of my MR3040 by adding an external antenna via a new SMT U.FL connector and RP-SMA pigtail. No fancy tools or special training required to build.

I've also done the WR703N
https://www.instructables.com/id/TP-LINK-TL-WR703N-Antenna-Mod-Using-UFL-SMT-Connec/

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

++Things You'll Need++

Parts:
- U.FL SMT connector (1)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=u.fl+connector
- U.FL to RP-SMA pigtail (1)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_?k=ufl+rpsma+pigtail
- RP-SMA Antenna (1)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_?k=rpsma+wifi+antenna

Tools:
- Soldering Iron w/ solder
- Small Phillips Head Screwdriver
- Small Flat-Head Screwdriver
- Small Pliers
- Drill w/Bits
- Pencil or Pen

Step 2: Take It Apart

Picture of Take It Apart

++Disassembly++

1. Switch Power Off
2. Remove the back cover (notice arrow)
3. Remove the battery
4. Remove both screws using the small Phillips Head screw driver (see image)
5. Gently pry the case apart using the small flat-head screwdriver, starting at the arrow, working around clockwise

++Used This Guide For Reference++

http://techstruggle.blogspot.com/2015/12/tp-link-mr3040-disassembly-portable-35g.html?m=1

Step 3: Plan of Attack

Picture of Plan of Attack

++Mark Board For U.FL Connector Location++

1. Place connector down
2. Orient the U.FL connector (see image)
3. Mark where it will go with pen or pencil
4. Set connector aside

++Used For Reference++

janeczku @ the mini pwner forums posted this:
http://www.minipwner.com/index.php/forum/7-hacks-and-enhancements/1892-mr3040-external-antenna-mod?limit=6&start=6#1949

Step 4: Remove the Trace

Picture of Remove the Trace

++Remove Copper and Tin++

1.Use the small flat-head screwdriver to scratch away the copper trace that was outlined in the previous step
2.Apply solder at noted locations (see image)

Step 5: Install U.FL Connector

Picture of Install U.FL Connector

++Solder Connector++

1. Place the U.FL connector in the newly free'd area
2. Ensure orientation of connector as explained previously
3. Apply light pressure to the connector so that it doesn't move around when soldering
4. Apply gentle heat from the soldering iron to the pre-soldered areas from the previous step to attach one of the ground tabs
5. Use the same technique for the center pin tab

Step 6: Add the Pigtail

Picture of Add the Pigtail

++Install Pigtail++

1. Connect the U.FL end of pigtail
2. Remove the mainboard with pigtail and set aside
3. Drill hole in case to accommodate RP-SMA end of pigtail
4. Slide the RP-SMA end through the hole and tighten nut
5. Put the mainboard back into the case, hiding the extra pigtail cable underneath

Step 7: Finish Up

Picture of Finish Up

++Put It Back Togther++

1. Snap the case back together while avoiding pinching the new wire
2. Re-Install the two case screws
3. Re-Install battery
4. Re-install back cover
5. Install new external antenna
6. Power up and make sure all works as intended.
7. Success.


++Testing++

Scanning WiFi using the stock openWRT software provided 4 networks without antenna, and 18+ networks with the antenna. Your mileage may vary.

Comments

iuzzef1 (author)2016-04-26

Do you think this is possible in the TP-Link TL-WA850RE ?

Malkaris (author)iuzzef12016-06-28

it will have the same antenna trace, you'll have to find it and determine if there is enough room for the hack. very likely, but also depends on your solder-skills.

DrewL11 (author)2016-02-02

Very informative with lots of pictures. Thanks!