clockworkpi

WiFi Antenna Upgrade! (Better Signal 🤩)

Hi everyone :slight_smile:

I replaced the ceramic WiFi/BT antenna with the following (you can see the original antenna for reference):

UPDATE: the howto video is linked further down.

Short instructions:

  • disassemble the mainboard module, remove power
  • drill a 2mm hole on the side of the case
  • remove the insulation of the antenna cable to expose the core and move the shielding down (cut it before you solder, for a cleaner result)
  • remove the ceramic antenna, heat both sides alternating, then lift it from one side when the solder is soft with the soldering iron, then remove with pincers while heating the second pad. this is the trickiest part of the entire mod
  • add some solder to the pads. the idea is to sink the (insulated) core into the solder, melting the inner insulation, and soldering the insulation wires to the second pad
  • :warning:measure with a multi meter that the two pads are not shorted, this can happen if you apply too much heat to the insulation solder point, and it melts to the core
  • gently pull out the cable and close the case
  • reassemble
  • connect power and everything else, and boot to check if it still works
  • remove the sticker thing at the back of the antenna and glue to the case (see video)

The result is a much better WiFi signal:

The antenna comes with a selfadhesive tape so you can tape it to the case like this:

It worked :). At least for me.

Will this void your waranty? I’d say yes.
Is it worth it? Totally.
Is it easy to do? I think yes (if you have some experience soldering SMD parts).
Would I do it again? Always (I pretend to know what I do)

Some technical details:
The ceramic antenna has 50Ohm. The external has also 50Ohm. This seems to be important.
The ceramic antenna has 0.5dBi. The external has 4.5-5dBi. I was told this is more than twice the range.
The spec of the Wifi chip says “0-2dBi antannas”. This one still worked :wink:

Cheers,
Paul

PS: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32601323947.html

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no one yet

But it is a great idea!
Is it possible?

I wouldn’t imagine it would be hard. Just watch out re: FCC certification/violation installing a non standard transceiver.

See here:

I personally don’t have any problems with the wifi reception. Generally the gameshell works wherever my laptop does, and I generally only use wifi on injunction with my computer.

I can see the benefits, using the gameshell as a dedicated wifi connected device, ie media streaming etc. That and as a MMO machine. The only MMO I play on the gameshell is PokeMMO.

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It easier to use an usb antenna like these
image

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Update: I replaced the antenna and it works much better.

@guu: have you ever gotten 100% signal? the label overlaps the icon now :wink:

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Looks nice and non intrusive as you can still fit it inside the case!

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Thanks so much for posting about this @p3dt, and especially for the video!

I ended up buying a similar antenna (actually 2 since they come packaged that way) from Amazon here:

I’m still using the original GameShell case, and the only modification I had to make was to drill a hole in the main board clear plastic case, like you showed in your video. It turns out there was just enough empty space at the top of the original GameShell case that I was able to slightly bend/curve and “cram” the antenna inside that space and still close the case tightly. I suppose I might get a little bit better signal if it was on the outside, but I didn’t want to modify the outer shell unless I had to.

Going into this whole thing, even with the video, I was skeptical of my soldering skills and a bit worried about pulling that ceramic part off. Thankfully there’s nothing physically close enough to it, so even my poor soldering skills were able to cope. I used some needle nose pliers to grab and remove the ceramic piece once I melted the solder. Connecting the new antenna was super easy, again because those solder points were nice and big and spaced away from each other and everything else.

The end result was that one of the areas where I tried to use the GameShell in the past which only gave about 30-40% signal strength jumped to 80-90% signal strength! I can now comfortably use it everywhere that I can connect other wifi devices, and I’m quite happy with the result. Since I didn’t even have to modify the outer case, it even looks untouched from the outside. :slight_smile:

The only drawback is that it makes it a little trickier to get inside and remove the SD card, but that’s something I’ve tried to avoid doing much all along anyway, so it’s not a big deal. And it’s still about as accessible as before, it’s just that extra care must be taken to not pull on the antenna when messing around inside the case.

Note: if anyone does use this exact part, I’d recommend only cutting off the plug at the end and stripping the wire from there. The length was pretty much perfect, but there’s not much extra so I wouldn’t advise cutting off any you don’t actually need to!