Upgrading ASUS UX32VD Wireless Card - Antenna Connector Problem, Help!

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by aznriptide859, Sep 10, 2013.

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  1. aznriptide859

    aznriptide859 Newbie

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    (Mods please let me know if this is the correct place to put this topic. Thanks.)

    Hello NBR, long time lurker, first time poster. I have a little problem which I hope someone can help me with.

    I purchased a UX32VD (non-IPS) back in February, and learned that Intel released a Wireless notebook card compatible with 802.11ac. I purchased a card just last week, and it has arrived to me today. I was just about to finish installation when I noticed the antenna plugs were way too small for the plug nubs on the card.

    Here is a comparison of the cards, the original Intel 6235-N card from the Zenbook, right next to the newer Intel AC-7260. You can clearly see the 7260's plug holes are much larger than the 6235-N's.

    [​IMG]

    So, it's obvious to me that this card wasn't meant for ultrabooks (which, I now assume all have these smaller plugs). I do not want to mash the plugs in, as that could permanently leave my notebook with no Wifi connectivity.

    Here are the plugs in question:

    [​IMG]

    So I have a few questions in regards to fixing this problem, as I would LOVE for my UX32VD to be 802.11ac compatible (my home router is currently AC-enabled).

    1. Is there a minute chance that I can swap the plugs to the larger size? Do any parts retailers sell plugs by themselves or an "adapter" of sorts? Also for future reference, what are these antenna plugs called?
    2. Does Intel sell a more ultrabook-friendly version of their AC-7260 that will accommodate the smaller plugs? If so, does anyone have a link? I could not find it on Intel's site after some brief searching.

    Thank you for all your help!
     
  2. Quicksand10

    Quicksand10 Newbie

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    Hey,

    Also a long time lurker, made my first post a couple of months ago, relative to this ASUS UX32VD Ultrabook as well...

    Last night, I was prepared to do the exact same operation as you, switching from the GARBAGE Intel 6235 to the Wireless-AC compatible Intel 7260, and ran into the same problem.

    Before receiving the piece, I knew that the Intel 6235 connectors used the IPEX MHF4 connectors, while the Intel 7260 used the (almost universal) Hirose U.FL connectors.
    So I ordered this item from eBay:
    IPX TO U FL IPX Double Crimp Pigtail Cable C | eBay

    Which, unfortunately, didn't fit. It fit into the standard U.FL, connectors on the Intel 7260, but it didn't seem like there were any (male or female) MHF4 connectors (they wouldn't fit in the cables, nor the original Intel 6235). Plus, the wires that ASUS used were much smaller than the wires that I bought from eBay. I don't know much about antennas, but won't the interface between two different wire gauges cause a bad signal?

    I'm left with a bit of a dilemma. My solder-fu isn't that great, and I wouldn't dare get anywhere near my laptop with my soldering gun.
    I'm gonna go see at my local electronics store, see if they can't conjure up a solution.

    There is a way to make it work without the antennas properly connected, as documented here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LGl0j6yF9Y , and
    Upgrade: Asus UX32VD with the Killer Wireless-N 1202 Wireless Card | Matt Groeber's Blog

    This method didn't work for me. I had the same signal strength with or without (no antennas) this method. I had no signal from my home router. I had full signal strength from my cell phone RIGHT next to the laptop, but as soon as I moved it about 5 meters away, it dropped to 1 bar. Whereas, with the Intel 6235, I had full signal from the home router (albeit a crappy connection at best).

    For future reference:
    http://wikidevi.com/wiki/Intel_Centrino_Advanced-N_6235
    http://wikidevi.com/wiki/Intel_Dual_Band_Wireless-AC_7260_(7260HMW) (additional links in the intro paragraphs about the connectors, interesting reads)
    Asus Zenbook UX32VD Teardown - Page 2 - iFixit , step 14 is the wireless part

    If anyone has any insight, please post here!
     
  3. aznriptide859

    aznriptide859 Newbie

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    I was researching around, and I (assumed) the 7260 uses U.FL connectors, but the UX32VD uses smaller (maybe?) W.FL connectors. I was searching a DigiKey PDF sheet, and they look like the same connector type but shrunken down a bit.

    I couldn't find a U.FL to W.FL adapter, so in the end I tried the YouTube method posted above, but instead ripped off the surrounding ring on the connector. I don't have a picture to show, but so far my WiFi's been holding up well. My router doesn't seem to be broadcasting in 802.11ac for some reason, but I will test it once I figure out what's wrong with it.
     
  4. jdebros

    jdebros Newbie

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    This is a great thread - thanks for sharing your experiences. I have a Zenbook Prime and have the same issue with the 6235, and I also purchased the 7260 thinking it would be a drop-in replacement.

    After reading both of your comments, I searched around for adapters, cables, etc that would fit, but all of it ultimately required some level of hardware hacking (soldering or somehow getting the connectors to fit on the card).

    I'm traveling right now, but I was wondering if the antenna cables in our laptops are soldered directly to the mainboards or if they use plugs?? I'd be more than willing to simply replace the cables so that my ultrabook would have the Hirose U. FL. connectors for any future card upgrades.

    Other than that, have either of you had any other progress with the swap-out and connectors?

    Thanks!
     
  5. aznriptide859

    aznriptide859 Newbie

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    I ending up had to remove the circular connector "locks" on the card, and used electrical tape to hold down the connectors (I didn't want to modify the connectors coming from the antenna, in case I needed to revert back to the old WiFi card.

    I don't think the ring section of the connector on the card influences data transmission (they don't seem to be soldered to any connections on the card itself). So far the card works, with some occasional issues (sometimes when I move my laptop from the desk to the bed, it'll randomly disconnect) that I'm not sure if it's caused by bad installation or just the early drivers. I haven't tested AC speeds either, since my router refuses to broadcast 802.11ac for some reason...

    I can snap some pics if you'd like on how I've installed it in mine.
     
  6. jdebros

    jdebros Newbie

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    Thanks for the quick response. A few pics on how the circular locks now look would be great - thanks for the offer. I've been patiently trying to get past this problem for over 6 months and this is the closest I've come to solving the issue with the original card.

    Thanks again,

    -j

     
  7. jdebros

    jdebros Newbie

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    After returning from my business trip, I decided to go ahead and install the 7260 card. I took the antennas out of an older/broken notebook and installed them in my Zenbook.

    The adhesive on the new antennas was really strong, so to save time and see how much I could get for free, I stuck the antennas to the removable bottom of the Zenbook. I mimicked the same orientation that I originally found them in. I didn't want to pull the Zenbook's screen apart - knowing myself, I'll get impatient and twist or bend something. At this point, I simply covered the ends of the original antennas with a cloth tape and tucked them out of the way.

    It's only been a couple of hours, but so far it's working like a charm. I installed the latest Win8 64-bit drivers (from Intel). BT and Wi-Fi signals and performance are strong and consistent.

    The largest benefits for me are that I get a USB port back. I use the other USB port for a micro sd adapter with a 64GB card, so I actually end up with one available USB port - which, as of late, was being taken up by a very small USB wifi adapter because the 6235 required me to jump through too many hoops to connect to Wi-Fi most of the time. Almost 100% of the time if I closed my notebook (set to suspend) and re-open it, I needed to shut down the notebook to get the card to re-associate with an AP. Interestingly, this works 85-90% of the time - the other 10-15% of the time, it required multiple reboots to reconnect. Hence, I opted to chew up the second slot so I could have reliable wifi without the fight.

    I'm cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a successful transition!

    -j
     
  8. Takitoes

    Takitoes Notebook Geek

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    Thanks for the update.

    I think im going to try this exact fix on my UX51vz and see what happens :)

    My other thought was about soldering the smaller pins onto the 7260. Not sure how feasible that is though, any ideas?
     
  9. zn7

    zn7 Newbie

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    Hi everyone, electrical engineer here. Also an occasional lurker.

    I'm going to attempt this upgrade later in the week with the Intel AC7260 card. From what I can tell from the pictures of the RF connectors (on the stock card) the RF connectors are less common low-profile U.FL or W.FL connectors. It is very unlikely that there will be an adapter cable available to convert between these two types.

    If there isn't an adapter available, I may try soldering the 2 types of RF connectors back-to-back to make a simple adapter between the two types (assuming there is roughly an extra 1.5mm of clearance in the case). This would prevent actually having to de-solder the connectors from the new card, thus saving the warranty. :)

    Anyways when I get my laptop open later in the week, I'll measure the connectors and attempt to identify the parts used for the stock RF connectors. They should be available through the typical components distributors such as digi-key and mouser. If there isn't room to build the adapter mentioned previously, the landing footprints for the two connector types are very similar and should overlap close enough to swap the board connectors out on the new AC7260 card with the new connectors using a hot air reflow tool and some tweezers + solder paste.

    These parts are SMD (surface mount devices) so they would be very hard to remove with a soldering iron alone. You would also need a very fine tip + solder paste to re-solder the new connector.

    If anyone is interested in an update, I can post more details later.
     
  10. Linkyyy

    Linkyyy Newbie

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    Hello zn7, i would like to hear how your upgrade worked :)
     
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