Netbook External Antenna Mod

I have been using an Alfa AWUS036H for some time now. it's a great USB wireless card that supports injection, monitor mode, and runs 1000mW. The problem is while I can hit just about any access point I point it at the performance is horrible. I average about 2Mb on a 40Mb cable connection. Its just not acceptable. Its great for hacking but for regular use its worthless. During my playing I noticed that the Broadcom B43 card that came in my Dell mini also supports Injection and monitor mode, I can also run it at 1000mW. The Broadcom also averages around 20Mb to 30Mb download speed on my 40Mb cable connection, which isn't bad for wireless. The problem is I can't get near the coverage that I can with my Alfa. To solve this problem I have decided to add an external antenna to my internal wireless card.

After looking over the netbook I decided that the best place to mount the antenna is right where the factory notebook lock slot is located. So I ordered a U.FL to RP-SMA pigtail and mounted it in the side of the notebook and routed the wire though the case to the wireless card.

This is the spot where I plan to mount the antenna. The hole will have to be drilled out but there is plenty of room behind it once i do a little clearancing.Here is the notebook disassembled and the pigtail test fitted. I had to clearance quite a bit of material from the monitor support bracket to make it fit.
Here is another shot of the pigtail test fitted. I know I didn't go in to the actual disassembly of the netbook because honestly if you are doing this you should already have a solid understanding of that.Here is a picture with the antenna test fitted to the pig tail.
Here is another angle of the antenna test fitted.While I had it apart I added some heat transfer pads that I got from an xbox-360 red ring kit to the bottom of the keyboard. The keyboard bottom is a large aluminum sheet so I am hopping this will help cool the passively cooled CPU down a little.
Here is the notebook almost back together. The pigtail came out really well. It almost looks like it was always there.here is the location where the antenna wires connect to the wireless card. For right now I just left the factory black one off and used the connector from the new pigtail. At some point I may try and splice the two black wires together but i am not sure how it will effect the signal so for now i will just leave it disconnected.
Here is the finished product. The new antenna is on the left and the antenna you see on the top is from my Alfa mounted behind the monitor.Here is a shot of the back. Just an FYI, if you see a netbook like this at your local Starbucks I would stay off the wifi.

Well that's the completed project. I haven't had time to really test how well this works yet but I do get a better signal on my home wifi. Without the antenna I avrage about 40dBm and with the antenna I get about 20dBm. Once I get a chance to take this guy in the field we will see how well it works compared to the Alfa. Until then it can just sit on my bench and look cool.

 

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