CF-31 Mk. III & My Aircard/WWAN Journey

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by HSEDuster, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. HSEDuster

    HSEDuster Newbie

    Reputations:
    5
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I'll try and keep this concise since your time is valuable.
    This is just a bit of a PSA about a couple of things I discovered about aircards in my CF31.

    ((Turned out longer than I thought, so you can skip everything and just scroll down to the 'moral of the story' bit if you're in a hurry))

    Quick history, I bought my Toughbook from Shawn on here, which was a pleasure. He also sold me my first WWAN card (aircard, whatever you want to call it) shortly thereafter as well.

    For reference, my laptop is a "CF-31SALAX1M", initially it came with Windows 7 when I got it, but since my wife was having issues with her laptop a couple months ago, which is Windows 10, I elected to upgrade(downgrade, depending who you ask) to W10 so I could better understand what she was seeing.

    First off, yes you can still get free upgrades to W10 from Microsoft (a quick google search showed me how, though I would happily provide links if anyone would like), and the upgrade went well.

    The MC7750 card I had originally gotten worked great at first but then died a few months after using it (this was pre W10 upgrade). It coincided with a change of assignment at work, so I didn't need the WWAN ability at the moment, so repair/replacement was postponed.

    A couple of months ago, I decided to try and get it working again. At the time I didn't know if it was the card, the laptop, or what was wrong. It just wouldn't detect the card.

    I also wanted to use AT&T vs Verizon (long story on that one). That pretty much meant I needed an MC7735, one specific to Panasonic at that. Not cheap according to eBay. Or anywhere else for that matter.

    Here's where the good news starts... First off, for one reason or another, I ended up taking apart a Cisco 819G (specifically C819G-4G-V-K9) router I had laying around. It's a 4G WAN/LAN router thingy. It's really meant for more enterprise type duties, but point is, it takes a SIM card and gives you internet access. I actually didn't know if it worked at all. I got it on eBay a long time back for, I kid you not, $15 shipped. I went through a datasheet back then and noticed it used a Sierra Wireless chipset... A 7750 actually...

    So, when I took it apart much to my pleasure, I found a genuine Sierra Wireless MC7750 AirPrime card inside. Plugged it into my laptop and presto! It worked. Seriously. No tricks, no BIOS voodoo, not even an update. It was detected and with my Verizon SIM, a restart, and I was on the net surfing at 4G (where available.......)!

    But... That's still a 7750 and still limited to Verizon (and whatever else the 7750 works with I assume).

    So I took to eBay, found a generic MC7735 from China, contacted the seller and asked if it would work in a Panasonic, he said no... A few months later, I bought it anyway (it was $50 shipped), waited about a month to get it (damn shipping), plugged it in and it was detected alright, but no connection. Poo.

    About five minutes of weak ass troubleshooting and I downloaded a firmware update from Panasonic, installed that, and presto! Works great with Verizon! What about AT&T? I dunno yet... My SIM from them is a nano SIM and I can't find my adapter, so I'll be ordering one on Amazon and trying that out this week. I'll post back with results if anyone wants (well, I'll probably post regardless since I have no life, but I digress).

    Moral of the story:
    You can still upgrade from Win7/8/8.1 to Win10 for free from Microsoft
    MC7750 from a Cisco 819G works fine ($15 shipped, eBay)
    MC7735 from eBay (China seller, $50 shipped) works fine - for Verizon so far

    Getting an Intel WLAN card (with 802.11ac) to work is a PITA, but that's a thread for another day... Unless of course, anyone has suggestions :)
     
    toughasnails, SHEEPMAN! and Shawn like this.
  2. Shawn

    Shawn Crackpot Search Ninja and Options Whore

    Reputations:
    1,509
    Messages:
    7,985
    Likes Received:
    1,770
    Trophy Points:
    331
    802.11ac does work.
    Not too difficult, BUT you lose Bluetooth.
    I have a CB160 in my CF31 with 3 antennas connected to it.
     
    HSEDuster likes this.
  3. HSEDuster

    HSEDuster Newbie

    Reputations:
    5
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I'm going to have to keep tinkering with it then. I may have gotten a bad card? That'd be some weird bad luck though (I guess I get a lot of dead cards? haha).

    I followed the guidance offered here:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/cf31-wireless-ac-upgrade.801902/page-2

    And got an "Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260". Model 7260HMW. Generic/plain branded Intel (not Dell or anything).

    When I boot, it doesn't show me any wifi options and if I dig down in device manager it *does* detect the card but says it failed to start or something to that effect. I loathe having to unscrew down to the heart of the beast to uninstall/reinstall/uninstall/reinstall the card(s), but I might give it another go later on today and see if I can make any more headway...

    Also, how did you route the third antenna?
    And whats the CB160? I did a quick google search but didn't yield anything noteworthy.
    I'm really more interested in the third antenna more than the wifi. I haven't see any good guides/pics/tricks/tips on installing new/better or additional antennas in the CF31 so I haven't explored that angle yet. Seeing as internet speed is what really limits me, I know the AC upgrade won't mean much beyond my LAN, but if I could wedge in a third antenna... I have a few Taoglas antennas in the correct bandwidth ready to go...
     
  4. Shawn

    Shawn Crackpot Search Ninja and Options Whore

    Reputations:
    1,509
    Messages:
    7,985
    Likes Received:
    1,770
    Trophy Points:
    331
    I am guessing they sold you a Lenovo or Hp card.
    They will NOT work. Dell is fine.
    A different card will not show in BIOS.
    There should be a post of mine here on NBR explaining what I did.

    CB-160H cards are good, but expensive. $35 to $50
    Broadcom BCM94360HMB Azurewave AW-CB160H 1300Mbps 802.11ac WIFI Card + BT 4.0

    [​IMG]


    Link to the wifi thread.
    Many pages.

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/cf-30-cf-31-wifi-thread.792639/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2018
  5. HSEDuster

    HSEDuster Newbie

    Reputations:
    5
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Still tinkering with the WLAN card, though that CB160 looks quite promising. I may just go that route instead.

    Main purpose of this reply though is to just update that the $50 MC7355 does, in fact, work with AT&T without a hitch. Just swaped SIMs, restarted, and W10 did the rest!

    FWIW, maybe placebo, but my connection seems stronger/faster. I might do some speed tests later...
     
    Shawn likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page