Introduction: USB Dongle Elimination

Picture of USB Dongle Elimination
If you own a laptop you most likely despise your track pad. Sure its fine if you just want to check your email but good luck trying to finger dance on the pad with a complex program like Auto-Cad. So your left with a couple of options; get a wired mouse (least expensive), get a Bluetooth mouse (most expensive) or get a wireless mouse with a dongle.

I choose the wireless mouse with the dongle, unfortunately I underestimated just how inconvenient unplugging the dongle would be every time I wanted to put my laptop away. This routine gets real old going from class to class, so I decided to eliminate the dongle.

This Instructable can be adapted to a wide variety of USB devices including; flash drives, network adapters, security dongles and of course RF adapters for wireless mice.

This Instructable is being entered into the EPILOG challenge so if you like it please vote for it, If not I would appreciate the vote anyway. If you are going to vote, I feel like I owe an explanation of what I would do with a Laser Cutter.
  • First of all it would just be awesome to have, right now my method of cutting acrylic involves a jigsaw and goggles. Think of all of the wonderful things that could be made.
  • I would share. Not sure how, But anyone who wanted to use it would have access.
  • Telling off the boss and starting my own business would definitely not be out of the question.

Step 1: Consider the Risk

Picture of Consider the Risk

Before you disassemble anything, you need to understand that electronics can be very fragile and you are following these instructions at your own risk. If you have never taken apart a laptop before you may want to ask someone with more experience to help you. I can only explain it as a static sensitive puzzle with complex layers that are built up on top of other equally complex layers. When working with expensive electronics make sure you and the the device you are working on are grounded, at the very least always be sure to touch a grounded part of the case before touching anything else. If you decide to proceed just remember that the laptop must be reassembled the exact way it was taken apart.

Step 2: Laptop Dissassembley

Picture of Laptop Dissassembley
Do not break open your USB dongle just yet, first you need to make sure there is enough room inside of your laptop to accommodate the dongle PCB. I will be explaining how to disassemble a HP Compaq Presario C700, I imagine these would be the most extreme circumstances as I had to remove everything but the motherboard.
  • Start by finding a clean workspace that's large enough to spread parts out on, a static free mat with a wristband is recommend.
  • Next remove everything that is generally user removable. In my case this includes; the battery, the hard drive cover and hard drive, the access panel covering the memory, and the DVD drive. The memory itself can stay in, it shouldn't be in the way.
  • Next try to figure out how to get to the USB ports, my laptop has them under the keyboard area, so I started by removing the screws holding in the power button and speaker panel above the keyboard. The screws holding in the keyboard can be removed also, be careful they are both connected to the motherboard with ribbon cables. The connectors for the cables have small locking squares that have to be released before the ribbon cable will slide out.
  • Good job you deserve a break.
  • If you can see the USB ports you can decide if there's enough room to fit a dongle, but you will most likely have to remove another panel. If you have a Presario C700 it means you have to take off the LCD screen. Be gentile with the LCD if you have to remove it, its made of thin glass and is not cheap to replace. Don't forget to unplug both the "VGA" cable and the wireless antenna cables in addition to anything else the manufacturer decided to put in your screen.
  • The final panel I had to remove covered the entire top of the laptop, again there may be ribbon cables connected to it.
  • If you haven't already done so, try to find some empty space to put the dongle PCB. Keep in mind if there is a button on the dongle you may want to plan on putting it in an area where a small drilled hole would be unnoticeable. In my Presario C700 there was a nice empty spot right under the USB board on the right hand side of the laptop.
If there is absolutely no room to fit anything inside of your laptop you may have to abandon this Instructable, I apologize for your wasted time.

Step 3: Prepare the Dongle

Picture of Prepare the Dongle
If you have made it to this step hopefully you have found an empty space that is large enough to accommodate the dongle PCB. Now its time to crack open the USB dongle, but before you do you need to monopolize another workspace. I recommend not using the same area the laptop is taken apart in because you will be cutting, stripping and soldering wire: stray clippings can be deadly to a laptop.
  • In your new workspace open up the dongle. If its screwed together simply unscrew it, but most will probably be glued together in which case you will want to split it open with a small screw driver or razor blade.
  • Once opened you will need to solder a piece of wire to each of the four USB pins: use different colors of wire and keep track of what pins they go to.
  • Next take a large diameter piece of heat shrink tubing and cut it to fit over the dongle, alternately you can use electrical tape. After shrinking the tubing you should trim off any excess.
  • If there is a button on the dongle you can trim around it so it sticks through.

Step 4: Make the Connection

Picture of Make the Connection
Now that you have your improved dongle PCB all trimmed and protected, you can return to your original workspace.
  • First make sure the PCB fits in your empty space of choice, if it does route your wires through the area that makes the most sense and mark the final length of the wires with a marker.
  • Next you should take the dongle away from your original workspace to cut and strip the wires. When you return put the dongle in its place and solder the wires to the corresponding pins on the back of the USB connector. Its a little tricky but it can be done.
  • When your satisfied double check the pin connections with a meter, pin 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4.

If you have a button on the dongle that needs to be pressed, make sure there is a way to do so. In my case I've never used the button. If its absolutely necessary, you can drill a small hole through the exterior of your laptop. Again if its necessary, you will have to orient the dongle PCB with the button facing the hole and secure it so it doesn't slide around. Of course this is all up to you and at your own risk.

Step 5: Reassembley

Picture of Reassembley
Make sure everything is just the way you want it. Double check your pin connections. Also make sure there aren't any little pieces of anything that will get trapped inside of your laptop when it is closed back up.
  • You can now start reassembling your laptop in the exact same order in which you took it apart. Any ribbon cables that you released have to be locked down again, while holding the cable in its connector push the locking square back into place.
  • When you come to a point where everything should work, you may want to test it and make sure everything works the way it should. Just be careful. If you decide to test it and it does work you can finish the reassembly.
  • If you find that the mouse doesn't work you should probably check your pin connections again.
  • If the whole computer doesn't work, immediately take out the battery and try to figure out what went wrong: the best scenario would be the ribbon cable for the power button not being connected, anything else would be bad.

Step 6: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy
If it works you now have a custom wireless mouse setup. Point and laugh at those people with external dongles. Just remember which USB port you tapped into, it will no longer work. Because the dongle is semi-permanently plugged into that USB port no other device can share that port, unless its just using power. I still need some sort of indicator to stick in the port to remind me that its not going to work, anyone with ideas please comment.

Everything in this instructable could very well be adapted to a desktop computer or other similar USB device. Extra storage in your Xbox maybe?

This instructable is being entered into the EPILOG challenge so if you like it please vote for it, If not I would appreciate the vote anyway. If you are going to vote, I feel like I owe an explanation of what I would do with a Laser Cutter.
  • First of all it would just be awesome to have, right now my method of cutting acrylic involves a jigsaw and goggles. Think of all of the wonderful things that could be made.
  • I would share. Not sure how, But anyone who wanted to use it would have access.
  • Telling off the boss and starting my own business would definitely not be out of the question.


kallyfok (author)2017-10-10

I hope this dongle works good r now

GreenMangone (author)2017-01-11

Found this and it looks like the port version would be awesome for this application!!

MrSlowRobot (author)2016-05-25

Please, for the love of mankind would someone please explain to me why this instructable does not work with a Bluetooth dongle and raspberry pi zero. I have done everything over twenty times trying to get it to work. I've tried using equal length(to 1/10th mm) wires, powering the dongle separately, four different kinds of dongles, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. Wiring it directly to the pins I'm able to get the dongle to "behave" properly with the blue flashing light, but the pi board never sees/recognizes it. Yet when I plug it in the usual way via USB port it works fine. I know this is an old thread but perhaps someone will stumble on this eventually and impart their wisdom for me. Thank you thank you.

Akash KumarS2 (author)2016-02-26

How about putting a switch in VCC line of the connection and any how manage to put that switch outside of the laptop. In this way, when the dongle in not needed you can just turn the switch off and then the usb port will be available for other device.

ChrisP5 (author)2014-11-02

I have a broken USB port. would it work on it since the blue part of the 3.0 is too far in and cracked?

BadeD (author)2014-09-05

I'm thinking for those who don't want to take their laptop apart, they can:

1. Take the USB part off their dongle

2. Solder wires (length is up to them) from USB part of dongle to dongle board

3. Wrap dongle board around to bottom (or side) of laptop and tape/velcro securely

Now dongle is out of way, relatively hidden and can be removed if needed. If they don't like it, it can be put back together or proceed with Jason-B's instructable and put it inside.

Samimy (author)2014-08-18

so man, even if you freed the usb port, it is still useless cause there is no buffer same as a usb hub to introduce 2 or more usb devices to the computer.

you will data intereference and one of them won't work.

OH SNAP! (author)2013-01-08

great ible. just wanted to mention many computers will have internal usb's.

3366carlos (author)2012-12-19

damn good idea, i am afraid to open my laptop.

pyromaniac-will (author)2012-08-04

to remember to stop using the port cut the plugin end of a usb off and put it in the pot s nothing sticks out so it is basically unremovable maybe?

Jason-B (author)pyromaniac-will2012-08-04

Ive forgotten about the port a few times, plugging something into it wont cause any damage. It responds with a usb malfunction error message.

astroboy907 (author)Jason-B2012-11-09

You can get those plastic caps for uSB ports

fgorenc (author)2011-12-13

What happens if you plug another device in the same port to which the receiver is connected? Can two devices work on the same port at the same time?

afardella (author)fgorenc2012-09-09

Of course the second device doesn't work.
Operating system assign a IRQ (Interrupt Request) for every USB port to make the difference about which software driver has to be used for that IRQ.
Then if you have two devices plugged on the same USB port, the IRQ assigned to the first device plugged will be the working one.

Let' say that this Instructable is useful only if you want use the available USB port as power source.

It's useless if you want make that USB port work.


Jason-B (author)fgorenc2011-12-14

Unfortunately not. I've done it a few times with my flash drive, it makes niether of the devices work untill its unplugged.

garretttm (author)2012-06-25

Wait... why aren't jews allowed to remove the screen?
I think "be gentile" demands an instructable of its own...

Nekoman (author)2011-11-11

Two things:
1. How is it inconvenient to unplug the dongle? It only takes a second.

2. Just get a wireless mouse with a tiny Nano Receiver. When my laptop was my only computer I had one and I never had to worry about unplugging the receiver.

squiggy2 (author)Nekoman2011-12-07

Answer: Because we here on instructables like to hack things just for the sake of it!

curious youth (author)2011-10-20

great idea. but i would risk it. id rather buy a mouse with a micro dongle like this one quite simply cos i dont wanna risk my precious laptop ahaa

sageserver (author)2011-09-26

Would a usb hub work? so that you can maybe add more modules and still have a usable port.

zack247 (author)sageserver2011-09-27

if you could manage to get one to fit i wouldnt doubt it.

Jason-B (author)zack2472011-10-08

I think I could get one to fit it if was torn down to the bare minimum, don't forget the traces on the USB board would need to be cut.

s3cur17y (author)2011-09-27

Awesome idea...

But I would have done two things different.
1) I would have found something like a micro usb hub, like this one.

2) I would have shelled out the extra money for a bluetooth dongle. I found some on ebay for 2$ a pop. Because you can't always be sure that the wireless mouse is going to work.

Still Voting For You...

Jason-B (author)s3cur17y2011-10-08

I have that same $2 Bluetooth dongle that I purchased from Amazon, the only issue is the price of the Bluetooth mouse. What can I say I'm cheap.

s3cur17y (author)s3cur17y2011-09-27

Forgot I had a 3rd thing.. I would have gone with Fedora 14 as a distro!


istsquad (author)2011-10-02

This is a great idea, as long the laptop cases are not shielded. I did this to mine some time ago works if the case is apart, But will not when put together due do copper plated shielding in my laptop.

Jason-B (author)istsquad2011-10-08

That's what I thought before I started, but it seems to work on my laptop anyway.

awawawaw (author)2011-10-05

Really nice instructable, well written and detailed. I do agree that in some cases it is voided by the newer mouse dongles. My wife's latest only sticks out about 1/8" from the USB port, so you don't even know it is there. But my main mouse has the full size like this, so it would be nice to hide it away.

Good job!

Musicman41 (author)2011-09-27

Some newer mouses come with tiny dongles that render this instructable un-needed. Mine only stick out 3/8" and is 1/2" wide. I can easily and safely store my laptop in a laptop bag without removing it, and I still have 3 working usb ports.

zack247 (author)Musicman412011-09-27

maybe, but i find that any dongles are unsightly to see on my laptop.
my laptop has bluetooth built in, but dongles just look tacky.
in my opinion, at least.

zurich (author)2011-09-27

I'v been contemplating the concept of hiding the USB port in my laptop for a while (but i don't have the guts to do it), looks like you did a great job :) ! I had an idea for keeping the external port usable and adding up to three internal ports, if the space is there. I was going to reroute the leads of the external USB to a 4 USB hub and then place that hub inside the laptop, then just reattach one of the 4 USB ports to the external port. This method would be much harder to solder, but i think it might just work. datavirtue gave me the idea of a hub :D

datavirtue (author)2011-09-27

First, I wouldn't use a Belkin device. I would use a Logitech dongle that is compatible with all their devices so I could use any mouse or keyboard I wanted (from logitech) without re-hacking the USB port. Couldn't you splice into the USB bus without knocking out the port? Hint: usb hub

Reffner (author)2011-09-27

I have one of the newer tiny dongles as well, but I would TOTALLY do this. Awesome idea and well executed. I am of the opinion that doing something the easy way isn't always the best (or coolest) way of doing things. Great job on this one!

mikeasaurus (author)2011-09-27

Wow, what a clever idea. I wonder if there's room in my laptop for this, hmmm

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