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Acer Aspire One wireless fix (new WiFi module)

Discussion in 'Acer' started by imokruok, Oct 18, 2008.

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  1. imokruok

    imokruok Notebook Guru

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    The Aspire One is a great machine that, for me, was mildly crippled by a finicky Wi-Fi connection. There has been some discussion about this on other parts of the web. For some people, the actual wireless module turns on and off occasionally. For other people, the wireless connects and works just fine, but then won't work for a few minutes - but doesn't disconnect from the router. After a brief wait, the internet works again.

    This was a bit frustrating. I had the problem of the module remaining connected but not working. Fooling with various settings helped, but it was still not as good as it should be, so I decided to replace the module with an Intel 4965AGN wireless module. This is the easiest fix for those who have this problem and have been frustrated by a solution. I say "easy," because it was easy to spend $35 for the module on eBay and install it, rather than spend another 3 hours fiddling with the settings.

    I followed the disassembly guide here to take the keyboard and top panel off. This guide is great, and the author did a nice job with the descriptions.

    http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=1443

    It was a really easy operation to crack the case open. I then removed the Atheros and replaced it with the Intel 4965 card. Here's where the easiness comes in.

    If you look at that guide above, after installing the card, he has you removing all sorts of other parts just to run the new antenna wires. (The Intel card has three antenna jacks, the Atheros only two.) There is really no reason to do this unless you are really serious about having diversity reception. The Intel card will work just fine with only two antennas.

    The antenna leads that you remove from the Atheros have the same connector as the Intel card, so just go with the two leads instead. Then you don't have to take apart your screen and all of the other tricky parts. Now, you won't get true Wireless-n without the third antenna, but reception overall seems better with the Intel card, and the Intel card does not get as hot as the Atheros. (Which is kind of nice, since the card is under your right palm. And actually, the Intel card does not get hot at all.) And you can connect to a Wireless-n device, which is not possible with the Atheros.

    Also, the Intel card works properly with the hardware on/off switch. No problems there.

    A couple of tips. Before you install the Intel card, remove the Atheros drivers and software from your AAO. You can use Add/Remove if you do this BEFORE you pull the Atheros card. Otherwise, Windows wants you to reinstall the card before you remove the drivers.

    Also, when you take the AAO apart, use a credit card or other thin piece of plastic to push in the tabs on the keyboard. This saves you from scratches if you use a metal tool.

    I hope these suggestions help anyone who is looking to do this easy mod. I wouldn't have added the new card if I had to go through the complete disassembly to add the third antenna, but this is not a necessary step. The new card completely solves the finicky internet problem. For some reason, the Atheros just does not work well with the Acer hardware.
     
  2. goofball

    goofball Notebook Deity

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    I honestly did have some issues when using the 3 cell battery (weak reception, dropping network) but they all disappeared once I went to the 6 cell.
    I did end up changing to an Intel 3945 ABG card eventually, and the Atheros card is now in my Acer Aspire 5570, and no problems in there.
    The other thing to watch for when removing the keyboard is the left-most keyboard tab, it is not accessible from underneath unlike the other 2 so if it gets pushed in, it will stay in and you can't get to it to pop it out.
     
  3. vatodeth

    vatodeth Newbie

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    Go into System Properties, Hardware, Device Manager. Then go into Network Adapters, right click Atheros Wireless Network Adapter and choose Properties. In properties go to the Advanced tab, click on Power Save Mode and turn it off! No more issues since I turned it off and it even reactivated my wifi! I have not tried/tested the Normal setting yet, but it may also work. Apparently the power save feature of the network card glitches out and you can disable that useless feature.
     
  4. goofball

    goofball Notebook Deity

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    That did not work for me unfortunately. I tried that while on the 3 cell and it helped but not 100%. Once the 6 cell was installed, I had no further issues. Some have apparently had success with v.260 of the driver, but I didn't.
     
  5. imokruok

    imokruok Notebook Guru

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    Wish that would have worked for me, but it didn't. You name the fix, I tried it.
     
  6. fdisker

    fdisker Notebook Enthusiast

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    I've also tried all the fixes an none have worked for me either. The only stable config for me is bios 3109 with the Atheros drivers from windows update (vista ultimate). Every time I try an updated bios I get wireless disconnects.

    Inspired by your message I just ordered the Intel 4965AGN from Buy.com for 33 bucks. I've been inside my Aspire One several times already. Your keyboard tabs trick is well noted. The first time I took my One apart I shoved the third tab too far inside and it wouldn't come out. It took me about an hour working with some sharp, pointed dental instruments to get the tab out.

    I have no intention of taking the screen apart to add the third antenna. Looking at pictures of the Intel card I see three antenna leads. Which two should I hook the original antennas to? I assume it's lead 1 and 2.
     
  7. imokruok

    imokruok Notebook Guru

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    Yup, 1 and 2 in the same order as they were connected to the Atheros card. 1 and 2 are the outer two jacks; the middle one was marked 3 and I left that one open.
     
  8. fdisker

    fdisker Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks. Once I get the wifi module replaced I'll continue my quest for the aftermarket 6 cell battery. The included 3 cell is only giving me 2:15 and that just doesn't cut it.
     
  9. jigwashere

    jigwashere Newbie

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    Acer did come out with a new driver for the built-in WiFi radio. Seems to work well for some. I installed the new driver on mine, but never seemed to have a problem before.

    EDIT: Since I'm relatively new, I can't post to other sites (need min of 15 posts). Go to aspireoneuser website and search for 'NEW WIFI Atheros Driver(7.6.1.149)'
     
  10. fdisker

    fdisker Notebook Enthusiast

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    The Intel 4965AGN is installed and working perfectly. I updated to bios v.3305 and have not experienced any wireless dropouts in my testing today.

    Although I'm not happy about having to replace the Atheros card to fix my wireless problems it was relatively cheap (only 33 bucks from buy.com) and I haven't had any other issues with the machine.
     
  11. imokruok

    imokruok Notebook Guru

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    Good to hear and congrats on the successful install. Same here, BTW - no dropout with the new module, and I've transferred an entire DVD over the wireless already.
     
  12. soundman

    soundman Newbie

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    Hmmm... I'm reading all this with great interest. I've just bought an Aspire One (Linux version), and it is also having difficulties connecting to my wireless network, despite reading full wireless signal strength. Most times it can take 10 to 20 minutes to establish the connection, other times (rare) it makes the connection within a minute of boot up. Replacing the Atheros wireless network card with an Intel one sounds tricky (especially on the Linux version, as heaven knows what the procedure is to uninstall the old linux drivers and install the new ones), and it's something I'd rather not have to do to a machine that I've just bought. I'm pretty sure that modifying the machine like this will void the warranty.
    As my main reason for buying this machine was to get wireless internet access, I'm now rather disappointed with this purchase. Is it now time to warn other potential purchasers of this issue? Should the machine be withdrawn from the market until this issue gets resolved?
     
  13. Telkwa

    Telkwa Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks very much for this post! There's all kinds of talk on the Ubuntu Forums about making the stupid Atheros card work. I'd been wondering if an Intel card could be shoehorned inside, and you've answered that question.
    EDIT: I popped an Intel 4965 into my Dad's full-size Compaq laptop, and it solved the Ubuntu wireless problems. I'm a believer in going with the Intel card!!
    soundman, I don't know what would be involved with the OEM Linpus install, but with Ubuntu, the Intel card was recognized on the next boot-up and Ubutu put it into play like if it had been there all along. I'd managed to get the Atheros card working for a little while. The Intel card was faster and picked up a better signal.
     
  14. soundman

    soundman Newbie

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    Telkwa - the Linpus linux variant used on the Aspire One is based on the Fedora distribution, not Ubuntu.
    Replacing the Atheros card with an Intel one may or may not work, depending on whether or not the correct drivers are present on this system. And linux can be real tricky to get drivers and hardware singing together - best left to the manufacturer to sort out.
    Anyway, this is something that I shouldn't have to do and will likely void the warranty. From what I'm reading, it seems like the Intel card should have been fitted from day one. One wonders how this machine got to market, with one of its' major functions in such a flakey state.

    Another thing: anybody know how to set up several user accounts for different users to log on to the linux Aspire One? Linpus looks to be really dumbed down not to give this option in the menus.
     
  15. Telkwa

    Telkwa Notebook Consultant

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    Yeah, understood that the OEM OS is not Ubuntu. If I bought one of these it would probably be a One with XP and either the 120 or 160 GB traditional HDD, then set up a dual-boot.
    And that dual-boot would be Ubuntu, since that's the one I'm familiar with.
    Since Acer would probably have a cow if they found out I'd installed Ubuntu, I was prepared to take my chances regarding a voided warranty anyway!
    Ubuntu does work out-of-the-box with the Intel wireless cards. At least that's been my experience.
     
  16. kseba

    kseba Newbie

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    I am thinking about installing the Intel 5100 WiFi module in my Aspire One. Does anyone have any reasons why it shouldn't work or any experience installing it?
     
  17. soundman

    soundman Newbie

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    I was about to dump my Aspire One (linux, hard disk model), because of the dodgy wireless connection - one of my main reasons for buying it.
    But following the suggestion from imokruok in this thread, I bought an Intel 4965AGN wireless card on Ebay, and replaced the Atheros one. This wasn't as tricky as I thought, and the instructions for doing so are supplied in a link on this thread. Note - there is no need to go all the way to disassembling the screen - you just need to remove the keyboard assembly. It only took about half an hour, but be careful not to loose any of those tiny screws. The installed Linpus linux didn't seem to like it, so I replaced that too with Ubuntu 8.10, by making a bootable USB stick with a live distribution on it and then installing it, wiping Linpus from the machine completely.
    I'm happy to report that the wireless connetion now works fine, and speeds are as fast as my broadband connection will allow, plus I now have a proper linux install with all the linux goodies, update manager and password access to the machine. And Ubuntu 8.10 is nice - real nice! Works great on the Aspire One with only 512Mb ram. Try it.
    Many thanks to imokruok for his excellent post here. Much appreciated. Saved me the cost of buying another machine!
     
  18. imokruok

    imokruok Notebook Guru

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    Thanks for your comments. Glad it worked out!
     
  19. loumarjr

    loumarjr Newbie

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    theacerguy.com/2008/08/09/wireless-problems-with-the-aspire-one/#comment-6300

    Check POST 208, It fixed my WiFi Problem with Atheros and Aser Aspire One. Seems you need to install the 5006 driver manually to fix.

    Mike (Post 208)

    It seems your advice fixed my problem. I hope every body else tries this fix. I could not get my connection to stay on more than 15 minutes.

    I changed the driver to the 5006 series and it dropped the connection after about 15 minutes, however after I rebooted, no more issues!!!!!

    Thanks again Mike!!!
     
  20. Newb_Shatta

    Newb_Shatta Newbie

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    Hey total noob at this stuff here, Was trying to get a data card that was stuck in my SD drive out and pushed a bunch of buttons and when i was done a message came up saying something about Atheros 5007EG not responding or something of the sort, when I restarted Wireless Network Connection was gone and Atheros drive was gone from Device Manager. What happened? How do I fix it?
     
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