3G Mod an EeePC for Portable Internet Access

During the last few months, Asus has started selling the "eeePC 1000H GO" with internal 3G/HSDPA card for easy everywhere connectivity. While this is surely a welcome addition to the Eee PC range, customers such as Dennis  were left wondering if they had purchased too early. Dennis wanted 3G mobile internet on his notebook and was prepared to take what some may describe as a drastic step to get what he wanted.  Dennis considered a buying one of those ugly external USB 3G modems but considered it a risk to the USB port or even the whole motherboard if the EeePC was dropped or knocked. His solution was to modify the notebook internally…

This article is based on Dennis’s own account and is published with his permission.  A more complete account is available on his own blog which you will find a link to at the bottom of the page.

imageOver at the eeeuser.com forums it was discovered some time ago that the motherboard of all eeePC models from the 90x series on upwards is basically of the same layout.  Components missing between models are still catered for on the motherboard and can be replaced.  There are free areas and soldering spots for a SIM slot and a miniPCIe UMTS modem on the standard motherboard regardless of which model you have bought, though you do need to bridge a few pins to activate them.

Dennis very bravely took a soldering iron to his Eee PC and started adding the needed connectors to his motherboard

image Amongst the hardware that Dennis added:

  • unlocked Sierra MC8775 miniPCIe modem card,
  • the appropriate miniPCIe socket,
  • UMTS antenna and a SIM slot)

Considering Dennis used a 14w soldering iron with fine tip, a fairly crude tool for the job, he managed, albeit with difficulty to solder on the miniPCIe socket. This is no mean feat if you consider how delicate those surface mount parts are.  A better tool for the job would have been a SMT Solder Station which can be bought cheaply nowadays.  Credit must go to Dennis’s skill and patience!

Dennis admits himself that testing and dealing with short circuits took imagethree days.

The sim card reader he had bought also required modification, as did the case of the Eee to allow the Sim Card to be inserted

Dennis used some electrical tape to good effect to make a ribbon that allowed him to retrieve the sim card from the EeePC

Finding a suitable antenna also proved difficult and Dennis went through two before getting useable reception.  Eventually he settled upon a modified "Motorola RAZR V3X" antenna which delayed his project though did give him adequate reception

image The new antenna gives usually around -86dBm signal strength (everything above -90dBm is considered "good") and between 1.1 and 2.8MBit/s download speed depending on time of the day.

I love this kind of hardware hacking, and considered this individual story to be a fascinating read.  I would recommend that if you have ten minutes that you click on the link below and read the full story.

Thumbnail via WebSnapr: https://eeegadgets.blogspot.com/2009/03/howto-add-3ghsdpa-functionality-to-your.html

Of course Dennis could just have bought a "1000H GO" and sold on his original Netbook to offset the costs, any sane person would have opted for that option I suspect.  Dennis is clearly not sane, I happen to know what else he is working on right now, keep an eye on his blog for more details as they emerge…

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