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Improving built-in Wireless connection

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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May 12, 2005 12:19:29 PM

Hello everybody, first post here!

I have a Toshiba M30X-128 Centrino laptop with builtin wireless NIC (an Intel PRO/Wireless mini-PCI card). It has pitiful range. I want it to have more. How much more? Let's just say too much isn't quite enough. This will obviously require a better antenna, which is kinda the whole point of this post.
I know, I could buy a PCCard/USB wireless dongle with an antenna socket, but I think it's silly to spend money on something I've already got.
What I want to do is to connect a better antenna to the existing card.
I've had a look at some harwdare websites, so I know that I have to open up the laptop (no big deal, I'm a die hard tinkerer from the age of eight), find the Mini-PCI card (also no big deal), and connect an antenna to it (err...).
Google images spit out this pic -> http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/i/z/rv/2004/05/dothan-chipse... . As you can see the wireless card has two small antenna plugs. One goes, I'm told, to the inbuilt antenna. The other is the one I want to connect the external antenna to. I suppose I'll be able to tell them apart once I open up the thing and see which one goes to the inbuilt antenna.
I'm telling you all this so that you can see any critical flaws in the plan so far.
Now, the great question: what kind of antenna do I connect? It would really help if I didn't have to sell a kidney to buy it. Keep in mind that I'm almost completely radio-illiterate. Also, since it seems most of them have larger plugs, I'm assuming I need an adapter or something.
Ideally, I'd want to expand range in a non-directional way, but I'm told a directional antenna gives you much greater range than a non-directional one. You just have to point it the right way.
Am I on the right track?
Thanks!
May 12, 2005 1:23:52 PM

Your not going to get an aftermarket antenna for a mini PCI card that is directional. It will be an omni, if it exists at all. Surely they exist. At least something like a replacement antenna. Something with higher gain I wouldn't be quite as optimistic. Nothing at hyperlink or fab-corp that I could find quickly. You may have better luck. You might just open up the slot that has the mini pci card in it and check to see if you have solid contact with the connector and antenna. Typically the Mini PCI on a relatively new laptop/notebook would be very accessible. Probably a single screw and panel.
May 13, 2005 3:46:09 PM

I have taken off every panel I could find after about 10 minutes after I got the computer (as you do)... the miniPCI slots are internal, sigh.
Anyway... what kind of antenna am I looking for? So that I can go searching for it in the local electronics shops...
May 13, 2005 7:05:36 PM

I would be really suprised if there isn't panel access to the mini PCI slot however if that is true then it's going to be under the keyboard. Slightly more complicated but still not all that dificult get to.

No idea what to tell you for internal antenna replacement. You could call fab-corp or hyperlink and ask one of those guys. hdcom.com is another site that sells wireless gear and accessories.
!