[Alienware - Broken WiFi Hack] - How to fix your broken WiFi card. [Possible

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by iunlock, Feb 7, 2019.

?

Have you experiened a broken WiFI card / pin?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
    60.0%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. Killer cards

    4 vote(s)
    80.0%
  4. Intel cards

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Greetings all,

    As many of you may have experienced, the WiFi card pins on the Killer WiFi cards and even Intel cards can be very fragile.

    I've received numerous messages regarding broken WiFi pins and in some cases where the 3rd party techs broke off the entire WiFi wire from the connector itself due to a lack of common sense and/or improper training on how to properly remove the wires from the WiFi card.

    I wanted to share with you guys my MacGyver hack that I was forced into when presented with this issue on a system that I was working on.

    Although it is nearly impossible to fix due to the nature of the coax like cable of the antennas, I was determined to conquer this challenge for multiple reasons...(There are wires inside/middle+insulation+another set of wires on the outside+insulator so it's not like a normal wire where it is just wrapped in copper and wrapped on the outside with a non conductive material.)

    -

    The issue:
    Not only was the WiFi pin broken off of the black (bluetooth) cable...

    BUT, the pin itself was completely broke off of the Intel 9260N WiFi card! (You can see the broken pin stuck inside of the WiFi pin that was broken off.


    -


    For one I'm extremely OCD so there's that going on, but also I wanted to see if it was truly fixable to where it could be 100% functional.

    For starters the white wire on the Wifi Card is for Wifi, and the black wire is for Bluetooth.

    The issue here was that the black wire (Bluetooth) wire was pulled off carelessly by the ignorant 3rd Party Tech that services Dell/AW systems, so the connecting piece was completely broken off.

    Therefore, although the WiFi kind of worked, the Bluetooth did not.

    Long story shot, having NOT thrown away all the broken WiFi cards that I've come across from working on systems, when faced with this issue I was determined to fix it and what do you know....

    .... Those broken WiFi cards sure did some in handy with this miracle fix where I wasn't sure that it would work....

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Here is the broken WiFi connector piece that was pulled right off from the black antenna wire... sad I know, as it also broke of off the soldered WiFi pin off of the WiFi card! This is virtually unheard of with Intel cards, where this was a big issue on Killer cards...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    -

    Here is the start of the surgery of attempting to maticulously solder on the broken WiFi pin back onto the black Bluetooth wire.
    [​IMG]

    -

    Here is where the 3rd party tech pulled the wire right off of the pin connector piece ... SMH ... like seriously?
    [​IMG]

    -

    I've successfully soldered on the WiFi pin back onto the black wire. Phew....
    [​IMG]

    The inner layer has to be micro soldered first, then the inner layer after the outer layer cools off. However, you have to make sure that the outer wires do not make contact with the inner layer wires. It's tricky.
    [​IMG]

    -

    Ok so having all the prior broken WiFi cards laying around, it resurrected to come in to good use since I was looking for something to keep the WiFi pins sandwiched / secured down since the stock clear plastic WiFi brace was missing (due to the 3rd party tech losing it.)
    [​IMG]

    Definitely looked flat to me and perfect for the job!
    [​IMG]

    That "ah ha," aka MacGyver moment... (For those of you that are too young to know what MacGyver was, Google it lol... it was a show/guy where he made things possible with what he had to work with...)
    [​IMG]

    -

    I had left the broken pin inside of the WiFi pin in hopes that it would work with lining up the little whole to the stud on the WiFi card and sure enough.............
    [​IMG]

    I secured the pin using a special glue where it is just strong enough to hold the pin onto the board, while not making it a permanent bond where it'd be impossible to get off.
    [​IMG]

    -

    Here is the old broke WiFi card sandwiched on top of the original WiFi card. I used a lighter glue to where it'd be just enough to keep the top card bonded well enough to keep the pins secured. That way if it ever needs to be swapped out, it'd be easy to break apart the top WiFi card. (easy snap off)
    [​IMG]

    -

    Here is a better angle of the sandwich, where the old card perfectly secured the pins down as the original clear brace would have. I had lightly glued the card to the original card to where it would be easy to pop apart with a simple twist using a flat head screw driver.
    [​IMG]

    -

    Here is another angle of where you can see the WiFi card sandwich effect.
    [​IMG]

    -

    I had secured it with some electrical tape as shown below...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    -

    And the moment that was highly anticipated due to the uncertainty of whether it would work or not....
    [​IMG]

    -

    Again, the antenna wires are tricky due to them being multi layered. You'd have to have specific tools and a lot of patience to execute the procedure for sure, but it can be done as proven here...

    -

    Moral of the story... Yes, it can be done and don't throw away your broke killer WiFi cards lol.

    -

    Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  2. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Additional Info:

    As some of you may know the antenna wires run way into the display unit, so it's literally easier replacing the entire display unit than the wires themselves. It's tedious... crazy I know...
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  3. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    *pics*
     
  4. rinneh

    rinneh Notebook Prophet

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    As far as i know both antenna cables do wifi and bluetooth second. I had a unit here where the white cable was snapped because of a screen hinge pinching it until it became a cut. And wifi was still working even though less reliable. With my ocd i just ordered for 30usd a new screenlid with wifi cables.
     
  5. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Yup that's correct. Both wires share the responsibility for WiFi indeed, however, you would need both to take advantage of it fully. It'll work with only one 'leg', but only at its basic functions...Where it fails is when trying to use the bells and whistles of WiFi features....
     
  6. nickbarbs

    nickbarbs Notebook Deity

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    Hi iunlock, legendary posts as usual doing your best to help out your community! I actually just followed your alienware 17R4 thermal repad guide on my 17R5 1080 (followed your specs for Kaby Lake 1080, and it worked on my Coffe lake 1080)

    What a timely post - this just happened to me LAST WEEK! When i was putting back the laptop i noticed that my wifi killer card had lost the solder on the black cable, damn! I tried to use a needle to pull the solder out but ended up digging into the middle of the antenna (lol) like some sort of horror movie i basically picked apart the contact bit rendering the black antenna hopelessly useless. Lol. So I considered soldering but also from research found you really need to microsolder a middle cable and then solder outer cables as you mentioned i mean repasting is one thing and tough enough but i'll bet the same folks who are ripping up their antennas and killer cards are going to do even worse if you hand them a solder (that's me included.)

    If you'll allow me to share what I did as an alternative: as i'm afraid of soldering and i can't find a black 17r5 display bezel, and frankly i dont want to pull apart my laptop again and a display case swap is literally a total disassembling of every part of the machine... which really just opens me to additional risk and wear and tear on the connectors, screws, etc for a problem that really... is not a critical problem! but it is a crucial convenience of the laptop - in addition, the bluetooth stops working etc.

    Ok sorry long story short here's what I did because I didn't want to soulder
    1.) Purchased a new Intel 9260 wifi card from amazon for 20£. this also supports bluetooth 5.0 which the killer card did not.
    2.) Purchase a NGFF compatible antenna: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antenna-Co...8&qid=1549534049&sr=8-1&keywords=ngff+antenna
    Built-in Antenna NGFF MHF4 IPX IPEX Connector for 3G 4G LTE Module Unlocked GPS WCDMA NGFF Network Signal Receiving Wifi ( I just bought another backup one of these LOL for fear that i will end up breaking off my White cable as well at some point too!)
    3.) Tucked the flat fat end of the attenna in a small opening between the subwoofer and case. taped down the cable on the bottom case between the subwoofer opening and wifi area and ran it through the same clips holding some lighting cables, to the wifi card. Clipped the still working white cable and the new black antenna to the card and put the machine back
    wifi2.jpg
    I'm getting full signal again , even higher than before on 5ghz. Bluetooth 5.0 works perfectly with zero interupts and decent range. avoided risks of soldering and ripping apart my pc for a simple fix.

    I like tucking the antenna into that subwoofer bit because a.) it fits in without force and is shielded, has an opening to the air nearby where the subwoofer output is so that could help the signal, and it's away from the chunky high voltage and high metal components of the pc on another extremity (similar to the top of the monitor)

    The end result is the same. I would not recommend people stack 2 wifi cards like that as it is a bit extreme. Soldering is also dangerous. For less skilled people please consider my alternative.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  7. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Nice work. :) There are definitely more ways around the mountain than one, many that will work as you've shared, but my goal was to show the most native fix possible.
     
  8. nickbarbs

    nickbarbs Notebook Deity

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    You actually managed to show me how i would solder, i think i had it in my mind played out as you did it LOL. But i'm terrified of that and also, frankly this weak wifi connector breaking off usually should be a warranty replacement item. Keep in mind, if people are out of warranty the solder approach is better than people who are still under warranty because you can't really explain that as "not operating as intended" if a tech looked under the hood!

    Anyway thanks for letting me post this here, it was a considerable pain in the ass to a. find a working antenna fit for purpose and b. figure out where to put it, so hopefully with these 2 approaches we can help other people who are stuck (i've seen online there are many).

    I added a picture to my original post too to show the idea.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  9. Vasudev

    Vasudev Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    The tech broke off the pin on the card and it was PITA to remove it using a needle.
     
  10. nickbarbs

    nickbarbs Notebook Deity

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    My tech managed to peel off the taped lighting cables off the bottom case, which didn't need to be done and snagged one of them when reassembling. I fixed it after but it's still a bit mangled.

    Well done removing it with the needle, I only managed to mangle the connector head and achieve nothing but frustration!
     
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