Luggable PC Wireless Module Installation

The point of the Luggable PC project is to build a mobile computer out of commodity desktop parts instead of more expensive specialized laptop parts. The upsides come from component choice, ability to upgrade piecemeal, and customization. One downside is that desktop components won’t have some of the parts taken for granted on modern laptops. Like today’s topic: wireless Ethernet.

The motherboard I currently have in the Luggable PC chassis (Intel DH87MC) does not have wireless Ethernet out of the box. I had been using a small USB wireless network dongle to provide wireless connectivity. The compact size is handy, but the compact size also restricts the antenna size, which in turn restricts performance.

The driver for the Realtek device isn’t anything to cheer about, either. It works OK in Windows, but it frequently fails in Ubuntu. I would frequently find myself without network access in Ubuntu and have to reset the USB adapter by unplugging it and plugging it back in.

I knew that my motherboard had a mini card slot for a wireless card. I also knew I had salvaged wireless cards from laptops I had disassembled for parts. But it wasn’t until today that I finally got around to plugging a wireless module into the Luggable PC.

I had also salvaged the matching antenna modules from the laptop. They formerly resided in the laptop lid, and now they are taped to the inside of the 3D printed enclosure.

Intel Wireless Card

Thanks to these two large(r) antennae, I now have stronger wireless signal and better data throughput. And the driver for this Intel-made wireless module has been far more reliable. And on top of all that, I’ve freed up a USB port.

One win for salvaged parts!

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