Hacking the Toughbook.

I have found a way to hack in better wifi in the toughbook. First if your has the cellular RIM modem and are not interested in 9600baud dial up speeds at $90.00 a month but would like full wifi speeds and take advantage of that nifty antenna, then read on.

Fist the toughbook is hard to add wifi into, there are plenty of mini-pci slots, but the thing is made out of metal with metal covers, not the best for 2.4ghz wireless. The left hand blank cover just like the Ethernet jack on the right hand side IS plastic and is accessible if you remove the battery. This is where I mounted the first wifi antenna. I bought a dell antenna kit off of eBay for $6.99 which gave me a pair of internal antennas. I used one in the above location, the second one is going to use the laptops pull up antenna. Here is how this stuff works. That antenna is designed for 1.2ghz so it is 2 times longer than it needs to be. Fortunately wifi cards are incredibly uncaring about their impedance match. So we are going to use it as-is. I cut the end off the cellphone antanna cable at the module in the battery bay. I carefully stripped an inch off the outside and very carefully folded and slipped back the shield to expose 7/8th of the center conductor. now strip that leaving 1/4 inch to the braid. now cut a 6 inch long piece of the new antenna kit wire so we have that silly little u.fl connector strip that one the same. clip the center conductors to be 1/8th of an inch and solder them together do this fast with a low wattage iron we cant be melting the insulation. after the center is joined, hit it with a car touch up paint or fingernail plish or other laquer paint and let it dry, while this is going on, get a small strip of black tape and apply it around that painted bare wire for a little bit more insulation and filler. now simply slide the larger wires braided shield over the whole connection and siolder it to the smaller wires shield, heatshrink or tape the ground and now fish the wires under the case near the board to get to the hard drive side and your wifi card. I use a 100mw Atheros card, you can use anything else except the engenius 400mw card. at that power I think the mismatch on the entenna will harm the card.

There you go, that fly laptop with the stylin' antenna is actually functional, unlike a honda civic with a monster wing on the back.


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