Add Internal Bluetooth to an Acer Travelmate 4400/Aspire 5020 Laptop.




This Instrcutable was made to show how to install an internal USB Bluetooth module into almost any laptop. I say almost any because the process should be similar, but I do not have experience with any laptop other than my own (Acer Travelmate 4400). As far as I have been able to gather from scrounging the internet for a couple of months, almost all laptops with the option of internal bluetooth use the USB standard to interface with the modules. I will show you how to wire a regular USB Bluetooth dongle into the connector (sort of) for the factory module. This is useful for folks like me, who figured they didn't need to spend another $80+ for a wireless protocol they had no use for ( /foot in mouth), or for people who's internal module quit on them after warranty. I did this with things I already had, so it was $0 for me, but I will try to remember what I paid for everything and list part numbers, if possible.

P.S. : It seems standard protocol to point out that this is my first Instructable, with hopefully more to come. So be nice.

P.P.S. : Disclaimer: I, Tyler Glenn, accept no responsibility for any damages to equipment, persons, or other property, that result from your attempt to try this. I know it is hard to come by for some people on the internet, but use some common freakin' sense. If you think that this is far far out of the scope of your technical ability, don't try it, it probably is.

P.P.P.S. : Do not take above disclaimer as me discouraging you from trying this, but don't blame me if you screw it up. Please.


Step 1: Materials Needed

First things first:

- A laptop with a factory option for internal Bluetooth. For this guide I will be specific with instructions for the Acer Travelmate 4400. (As far as I can tell this also applies to the Aspire 5020. They appear to share a chassis/mobo. Price: $400+ (I assume you have one if you want to try this)

- A USB Bluetooth dongle. To make it easy on yourself, I'd recommend trying to find the smallest one you can. I used a Kensington Micro Bluetooth USB adapter from Best Buy. Price: ~$40+/-

- A USB extension cable. 1.1 is sufficient because the Bluetooth standard can't currently transmit faster than 3.0 Mbps. (for those that don't know, USB 1.1 should be capable of ~12Mbps). I got my cable from a dollar store for, you guessed it, $1. Cost/availability may vary. Price:$1+

- Solder, wire, etc. I had this laying around. If you're inclined to try this project, you probably do too. If not, Radioshack or a Local hardware store should have some. Price: ~$5 a spool of wire/solder. (Should be cheaper, but that's my upper limit of spending.)


- Soldering Iron. For soldering (duh). Expect to pay about $18 for a basic starter kit. (Probably should come with some solder too. If you're good enough, you won't need any more than what comes with it. try and get one with a very small tip, we're going to be soldering in very tight quarters. I also, wouldn't exceed ~20 watts probably. This is a delicate board we're working on. I'd recommend a station with adjustable heat. I don't have one. But if this is what you do, get a good one.

- Screwdrivers, or a screwdriver with multiple bits. Got my Kronus at Radioshack. Do yourself a favor and get a good set. It'll come in handy all the time. ~$20?

- Pliers, Dikes, Pocket Knife. Same as screwdrivers, get a good set of tools, or you'll regret it.
Price: ~$20? (For the Immature, Dikes are what I grew up calling Wire Cutters or Diagonal Cutters.)

- Continuity tester. Not necessary if you're good. I use it for peace of mind. Helpful regardless. I left mine at my grandparent's house, and didn't feel like going to get it. So I made one out of an LED, wire, and a CMOS battery :P.

- Dishes. Useful for pudding. Also useful for sorting screws so you don't lose any.

Not Pictured:
- Safety Gear. You might be inclined to wear eye protection, unless you don't care if you go blind by a soldering iron to the eye. Gloves might be useful if you're unsure about burning yourself.

- First Aid kit. Just in case. (BTW, Honey is better for treating burns than ointment. Wash burn with cold water, and apply honey on gauze and bandage as normal. Not recommended for severe burns, i.e. with blisters.)

- Nerves of steel, and a bit of insanity. You're going to be opening up and modifying an expensive piece of equipment. Think about this one. Chances are if you have the type of income to be buying 20 laptops to modify, you either do this professionally, or you have people to do this for you.

- Will. Patience. Don't give up!

Step 2: Install Bluetooth Adapter

I know it seems out of order to do this first, but you don't want to put it inside only to realize that the dongle doesn't work. You want to install the Bluetooth adapter into any available usb port and make sure it works. I'd recommend spending a day or two getting familiar with the software included, and making sure it's going to keep working before you void your warranty.

Step 3: Open the Laptop

If you are not capable of doing this, I wouldn't recommend continuing. I won't go in to too much detail, but the acer laptops are pretty easy to take apart. There are no hidden screws under stickers, so you should be able to figure it out. There is one screw holding in the keyboard, (don't forget the ribbon cables!), and one screw under the keyboard. It is not necessary to take apart the screen, but you may be inclined to do so.

Apologies, I don't have any pictures of the teardown, only the end result. I decided to make this guide halfway through.

Step 4: Locate Bluetooth Connector

If you're using a different laptop than I am, you're on your own. For those with my laptop, the bluetooth connector is on the top of the motherboard near where the hard drive activity light is. It is nicely labeled "Blue 1". Can they make this any easier?

As a side note, while your laptop is open I'd recommend cleaning it, especially the air vents and fan area. You might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Step 5: Test Fit Pieces

At this point, it's a good idea to make sure all of your stuff will fit inside. On the Travelmate, there is quite a bit of space to the right of the connector, where the stock adapter would fit. (Mine even had double stick tape in it with one side un-peeled. :P)

Plug the USB dongle into the end of the cable with the socket (duh) and make sure it will fit somewhere in the laptop and be able to reach the connector on the mobo. Once you are satisfied, cut the cable to length.

Step 6: Trim to Fit

My laptop case wouldn't close all the way as the USB cable was, so I had to trim it down to make it fit. This is relatively easy with a pocket knife.

Step 7: Find Pinout for Your Connector

In the case of the Acers, the connector only needs the first 4 pins, (more on that at the end), which, imagine that, is the number of pins for a USB connection. Find the pinout for the connector on your mobo. For the acers, look below.

Pin 1 = +3.3/5 volts (I would guess 5, but everything I've read says it's 3.3. Either way, it's enough to
power a USB Bluetooth Adapter.)

Pin 2 = Ground

Pin 3 = Data +

Pin 4 = Data -

(Pin 1 in marked with an arrow on the Acer's Mobo. It's the pin farthest towards the back of the laptop, where the power connector is.)

For the unintiated, a standard USB device has the following pinout:

Pin 1 = +5 Volts
Pin 2 = Data -
Pin 3 = Data +
Pin 4 = Ground

Step 8: Solder!

Solder it up!

If you don't know how to solder, you shouldn't have started. Since this is not a guide on soldering I will continue.

Solder up the cut end of the cable to the connector on the motherboard. I found it was easier to remove the connector completely and solder to the pads directly. The order should be as follows.

USB -> Mobo
Pin 1 Pin 1

Pin 4 Pin 2

Pin 3 Pin 3

Pin 2 Pin 4

If your USB cable uses Standard wire colors, the color order on the Mobo side, from 1 - 4, should be as follows:

Pin 1 = Red = Pin 1
Pin 2 = Black = Pin 4
Pin 3 = Green = Pin 3
Pin 4 = White = Pin 2

My cable did not use standard colors, so don't go by the picture. The green and white on mine are correct, but the +5 line was brown, and the ground was orange. Weird, I know. Eh, it was a dollar.

Step 9: Test Again

Button everything up, but don't worry about screws just yet. I left the cable and dongle hanging out of where the dvd drive goes, to test the Bluetooth. Make sure it still works and shows up in your operating system's device manager. If it does put everything inside, make sure there are no shorts anywhere (insulate with hot glue if you are so inclined) and put everything back together for good.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Now you can turn the radio on with the button on the front. I'm currently working out how to get the light to come on in the button, but as it is, the Bluetooth aspect of it is functional. Once everything is working, all that's left to do is enjoy your re-freed USB port, internal Bluetooth, and accomplishment. Show it off in the best way you can: make an Instructable. :) (And maybe hope it makes hack-a-day. :P)

Thank you for following along even if you're not planning on trying this. This all happened because there wasn't a whole lot of imformation on the internet about doing this on a laptop that isn't the Asus eee. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone curious about trying this.



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    17 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 10

    I'm going to do the same thing to my acer aspire 7735zg, but if it helps you, the LED is fairly simple, just connect the 3,3V pin (pin1) to pin7 and it should work.


    9 years ago on Step 8

    For the 'Advanced Soldering Class' (next session - LOL) - if you mess up your soldering, go & pick up what is called a "wicking braid" from Radio Shack or other electronics stores; it is basically "braided wire - typically made of copper; explicity for "de-soldering" bad solder jobs.

    You lay the wicking braid on your bad solder job, apply the tip of your soldering iron, and roll, or pull the braid along (and keep the tip steady on the bad solder job), and you will see the solder come off the pins and the wire, and it will collect onto the braid. I love wicking braids but, thankfully, most of my solder jobs are okay on the first attempt, so I do not often have to use a wicking braid. :)


    9 years ago on Step 8

    For 'clean soldering,' keep a damp sponge on-hand and, when the solder begins to collect on your tip, quickly swipe - or "dab & twist" your soldering tip onto the damp sponge and quickly remove. After awhile, with a LOT  of soldering, you will have to re-dampen your sponge. 

    It also, it helps, whenever possible, to use "heat sinks" - little clamps that absorb the heat and they prevent the plastic and insulation from melting, thus letting 'only' the wire and the solder have the effects of the heat.

    Do not touch the soldered joint until after about 2 or more minutes of cooling - else you end up with 'bad solder joint' - called a "cold joint," which may have intermittent, or no, electrical connectivity.

    You can quickly/easily test solder joints with any Multimeter (multipurpose electrical meter - very inexpensive - pick them up for $12 at Radio Shack). Put it on the Ohms reading, at the lowest setting - then put the tips of the probes at either end of your soldered connection(s) - look for the needle to go almost all the way to Zero Ohms - meaning 'no resistance' aka 'good connection.' Test ALL pins that you've soldered, to make sure they are ok.

    These tips brought to you by me, a Former US Marine, with 30 years of soldering experience.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    On step 2 - I'm a bit confused. You say 'install bluetooth adpator.' Does that mean test the thing via connecting it to an existing external USB connector; like on the side/back of the laptop? That's the only part I'm unclear on.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    1) Some wireless keyboard/mouse combos use Bluetooth vs. regular RF
    2) Bluetooth lets you easily/seamlessly Copy & Delete pics to/from your phone - MUCH easier than most phone interfaces! And by copy/delete, I mean you can send pictures via Bluetooth to/from your phone & pc. So, when I want to empty my phone's pic card, I connect from my laptop to my phone via Bluetooth and send all pics to the laptop, then delet them from the phone. It's easier to organize and sort/keep the ones you want and trash the ones you don't with Bluetooth; otherwise, with the phone's kludgy interface, it sucks and takes for-freaking-ever!
    3) You can SKYPE via your laptop through your Bluetooth headset (I HATE wires!)
    4) You can Bluetooth connect 2 computers and easily share files, WITHOUT having to go through a wireless (or wired) router/Hub/Switch and without transferring files via USB drive and without wires (did I say, I HATE wires!)
    5) Ditto - Bluetooth connect 2 computers and share a printer
    6) Ditto - Bluetooth connect computer directly to some printers
    7) Ditto - Bluetooth connect 2 computers and play games

    Granted, Bluetooth is a spec for devices being within 30 feet of each other, but this is only a small list - go look and you will see more and more apps and things that Bluetooth can be used for - one is turning your laptop (or phone) into a "Bluetooth remote control" for your TV. Another is swapping vcards or 'e-business-cards' via bluetooth. Did you know that some appliances are now coming with Bluetooth interface - Fridge, TV, Toaster, Coffee-Maker. Maybe one day I can reboot my fridge via Bluetooth. Would be nice to push a "Make coffee" button and have the coffee-maker start cranking some joe.

     This is another good one to type into Google: "which appliances have bluetooth" - and look at the first few links - some appliances already have it. I imagine Bluetooth remotes may eventually replace IR remotes for TV's.

    Try Google - and put in "What can i do with Bluetooth?" Above is just some of the stuff I do with it. Cheers! It's all good.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    can i use other type of computer, compaq  maybye.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Dude, I did It and It works great ! On my Aspire 5022 the blue light works and I can Enable/Disable the bluetooth key with the front button.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome Dude...lololol...I was about to do this myself...thanxs for the help man...I'll share to others and give ya credit...i'm also gonna try to convert a wireless usb wifi adapter after i'm done with this one....great job...keep em coming. :) ...i'm on an acer aspire 5050 by the way...i tore apart the laptop and yes i do remember seeing something labeled "blue" aswell


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, I'm thinking about buying more of those for my other laptop projects (Instructables to Come!). I didn't mind paying the 40$ for mine, as I'm one of those people who would rather not have to wait. Once i saw Johnny Lee's videos on the wiimote, I had to have bluetooth. So I went to bestbuy and bought the smallest one they had. P.S. : What distro of Linux do you use/like the most?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Aspire 3624WXCi Lets hope it works!! I already opened this laptop, but from the bottom, not from the keyboard. I'm going to have to check if I can find a little bit of information to see if this is exactly like in my laptop. I have once read that it is straight-foreward in the 3620 series, a four pin connector, but I'm not sure. Thanks for the Instructable! Happy Canada Day (if you live in Canada) -gamer


    10 years ago on Introduction

    goooood work man!! I've never thought of this solution! when my asus a6j will be enough old and scratched I'll try this for sure ;-) very good idea!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I can't take credit for the idea. But, there wasn't really any information on actually doing it elsewhere. So i took what info I could find and sort of compiled into what you see here.

    I got the pinout information here:


    but it's not very helpful for much else. Another forum I read led me to the conclusion that almost every laptop uses the same style connection i.e. a usb with a proprietary connector.

    Thanks for the praise.



    10 years ago on Introduction

    good job. 2 of my familys computers are acers. also... HAL-9000?