Panasonic Toughbook (CF-28) Hack #1 - External WiFi Antenna

Discussion in 'Networking and Wireless' started by Toughbook, May 29, 2007.

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  1. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    One of the problems with the early Toughbooks is their lack of WiFi. One would think that this could be easily remedied by adding a mini-pci WiFi card. That is partially true. The main problem you encounter though is the fact that these things are encased in magnesium! You have to be able to access the signal! The little internal antennas do well if you are close to your access point. But what if you are hundreds of feet away? Or if you are War Driving? You add an external antenna!

    [​IMG]

    I stopped by Radio Shack tonight and bought a D-Link 7dB booster antenna. It allows several configurations but I wanted to attach it straight to the laptop. It works VERY well... Here's a close-up of the antenna connection... You can also use a little 2db antenna or 5db antenna. I think the power of the card has more to do with it more than the length of the antenna. Using a 400mw card... I only see 3 more access points when using my 7db antenna over my 2db antenna.

    [​IMG]

    It was important to me that the SMA connector not stick out too much... So I shimmed the back with washers and allowed only enough to stick out to ensure a good connection! This was the first antenna hack using the side mount type. I now use a very thick rubber "O"ring. This not only spaces it perfectly but also makes it comepletely waterproof. Though I'd bet money that the shimmed version was too.

    [​IMG]

    It was VERY easy to do... For those of you that have CF-28s out there! Just open up the back... Take out the hard drive... Take out the battery... Drill a 1/4" hole in the side of the case and wire it up. The two red circles show where the attachment points are. I used a 19" pigtail because that was all I had at the time. A 12" fits perfectly if using the side shown. If you have GPS you can still add one on the side of the LAN... In that case a 4" pigtail works well.

    [​IMG]

    I figured while I wait for the parts to come in to install my next hack on this (STAY TUNED) I would put this in. I was tired of hooking up my PCMCIA card and attaching the MC connector to my other antenna. Now I don't have to worry. For those of you wondering... The antenna doesn't get in the way when you type. On a few occasions you may need to slightly push the antenna over a little but otherwise... You're golden!

    Just drill the hole, insert the SMA pigtail and tighten it down! I use blue threadlocker to make sure it stays tight! The last thing you want is the connection twirling around and breaking the cable. (Ask me how I know!)

    [​IMG]

    Then work it over to the other side and attach it to the WiFi mini-pci card! (I'm saving the other connecion for my next antenna.)

    [​IMG]

    Then just tuck and tape...

    I used the Atheros 100mw A/B/G mini-pci card and it works great! (For the first one... I now use either a 400mw or 600mw card.) Net Stumbler pulls in 19 access points while my PCMCIA card alone only pulls in 5! (I'm sitting at my kitchen table now.) I'm sure if I stepped out on my deck the number would jump even higher! (I get 22-24 when on my deck... Some from almost two blocks away!

    This is an EASY first hack for a new Toughbook owner!

    So... Get to adding WiFi to your CF-28!!! ... Or ANY laptop for that matter!
     
  2. unirambler

    unirambler Newbie

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    Looks good! Now, once I get my cf28 working I'll need to add this to my list of "fixes". :)

    Steve
     
  3. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    I found the pictures I accidentally deleted off my server. They are back up. This is an EASY hack!
     
  4. John B

    John B Notebook Prophet

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    The antenna really gives a Toughbook look :)
     
  5. stugops

    stugops Notebook Enthusiast

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    What would be the best mini-pci WiFi card for this computer. I am tired of hitting and missing. The antenna is a grat and simple idea>
     
  6. kusa

    kusa Notebook Consultant

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    Ok. Step one, I replaced the factory cards with a 3com mini card...see pic. Im looking at the pics on this thread and it looks like your card is in the right hand slot(closest to the battery) or maybe it s not a 3 com card...Any way it the 3com card i have only fits in the left side. Is the Engenius Senao 600mW EMP-8602+S 802.11abg mini pci card going to fit in the right hand slot? :confused:
     

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  7. icecubez189

    icecubez189 Notebook Deity

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    man thats one tough looking notebook

    nice hack!
     
  8. privateer

    privateer Newbie

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    Great Idea - thanks.

    I ended up using an EnGenius 600mw card and rather than running the SMA to the side I modified the docking area of the useless RIM modem. I can use the 7 dB or a 2.6 dB antena (from a dead USB card) and the unit looks stock with the "slide" door closed.

    Now for the GPS ......

    Thanks again
     
  9. nobscot6

    nobscot6 Wise One

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    nice job...........
     
  10. regist1

    regist1 Notebook Enthusiast

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    privateer.. I am interested in your antenna. Can you post a picture?
     
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