Power to the People of Iran

..and welcome to eeeGadgets! This blog is dedicated to everything associated with the wide (and interesting) field of mobile computing. The main focus is on presenting all the various hardware modifications I made to my eeePC, but I will also give short reviews of other interesting Mobile Internet Devices I come across. Further I want to share some tips and tricks I found out to be helpful in getting the most performance out of Ubuntu linux...
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Friday, March 20, 2009

HowTo: Add 3G/HSDPA functionality to your eeePC 1000H

During the last few months, Asus has started selling the "eeePC 1000H GO" with internal 3G/HSDPA card for easy everywhere connectivity. So far so good, but what about all those thousands of customers that already bought an eeePC 1000H before? Are they doomed to use one of those ugly external USB 3G modems - a threat to your eeePCs health if you drop it accidentally and the USB stick destroys the USB port it was sticking in (if not even more)...
No, I didn't want that to happen to me. But I still wanted 3G for my eeePC!

Luckily there's a solution to this dilemma.

Clever guys (credit goes especially to forum member "packer"!) over at the eeeuser.com forums found out time ago that the motherboard of all eeePCs (from the 90x series on upwards) is basically of the same layout, which does feature free designated areas and soldering spots for a SIM card holder and a miniPCIe 3G modem card (obviously intended by asus for use in the later eeePC "GO" models), and some even more clever guys (JKK? tnkgrl?) discovered that all one has to do to enable said 3G functionality is solder the needed connectors to the motherboard and bridge a few pins. So far the theory.

Sounded nice, so I decided to add 3G to my eeePC too. And went on to gather the necessary parts (unlocked Sierra MC8775 miniPCIe modem card, the appropriate miniPCIe socket, UMTS antenna and a SIM slot) which took me some weeks. After everything finally had arrived (thanks go out to Christopher, Greg, Torsten - you know who is meant!), I dissected my eeePC, cut out a SIM card slot behind the battery, and heated up my soldering iron (I used a 14W one with fine tip). Turned out not everything was as easy as thought at that point, in that this soldering job was in fact REALLY difficult due to the pin distance being less than 1mm, causing unpleasant capillary forces make the solder flow upwards between the pins (shorting everything) and all other kinds of ugly stuff. You can get an idea about the problems I had if you take a look at all those scratch marks I made on my motherboard during my efforts to remove shorts between the pins..

Soldering this one wasn't as easy as I had thought originally!

Three days later(!) and only by extensive use of my trusty multimeter (set to "beep" continuity testing), I was at a point where everything had contact and nothing was shorted, and the 3G card worked. Only two downsides were: firstly that I had been required to modify the SIM slot until it was not of the push-type anymore, to be able to put the battery back on with SIM card inserted, and so had to use some smooth electrical tape to insert it and get it out again (as seen on picture). Other downside was that the reception was sub-optimal to say the least, although the antenna had been quite expensive (30 eur!). It turned out that in the location I had installed it - behind the LCD - it did not work properly. Once I had re-opened the screen lid and relocated the antenna to the back side of the screen lid (where it was attached to the plastic cover from outside with some electrical tape) reception was a bit better, but now the thing did not look nice and the screen lid was half-open.

This antenna, although expensive,
was only good as a pigtail cable source for this mod!

I left the screen lid in that condition until a better antenna had been bought and delivered (a replacement cellphone antenna for the "motorola RAZR V3X"), which took another two weeks. The new antenna (resembling a large paper clip and galvanized with golden coating) was then slightly modified and mounted into upper right screen area, where it still sits until today. It has a much better reception, fit very well and I've finally been able to screw the screen lid back together and complete this rather stressful mod. I must admit that I almost gave up in the middle of the soldering ...
But in the end it was totally worth it.

probably the best antenna you can use for this mod!

The antenna required that I removed it from the plastic socket it was sticking in (which was very easy), then breaking off the little golden pin protruding in a 90° angle from the main antenna body and re-soldering it to the same location in a different angle - flat with the antenna body at 180° angle. The pigtail cable was cut off from my first antenna, and the inner conductor was stripped off of its insulation by 2 mm or so, and soldered to the very end of the new antenna's modified pin. The shielding of the pigtail cable was connected to ground by tucking it below the LCD's metal bracket as seen on the picture, to make the LCD case shielding act like a "ground plane" for the antenna (search wikipedia for "groundplane" for a good explanation, it wouldn't fit here). Everything was protected from shorts with that red electrical tape you see on the picture, and fixed down with a drop of hot glue.
This antenna now gives me usually -86dB signal strength (everything above -90dB is considered "good"). I have between 1.1 and 2.8MBit/s connection speed depending on time of the day, which surely is ok for me....

Mission accomplished!

You can read everything about the whole story behind this mod here:
Or you can buy a 1000H GO - its cheaper than my normal 1000h plus the extra parts I built in....

But where's the fun in that I ask?

By the way, if you are in need for a step-by-step guide on how to open up an eeepc, I can really recommend the very detailed instructions found here on justblair's DIY pages, its the best guide I've seen so far - easy to follow. I guess I don't need it anymore, but its good to have that info included here as well right?

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