External antenna on an Airport Express mod:
! MODIFYING YOUR EQUIPMENT WOULD INEVITABLY VOID ITS WARRANTY !
The Apple Airport Express is a wonderful piece of hardware. The only drawback I have experienced with this device is its relatively low WiFi signal sensitivity.
Having noticed that, I started looking for a way to connect an external antenna to the Airport Express to extend its range ... [ check out Airport Enhancement article ].
My second atemp to improve my AE's range was to add an external WiFi antenna to the apple device.
- A drilling machine (with adjustable speed) + a 7 mm drill.
- One Apple Airport Express.
- One External WiFi antenna.
As you can see on the picture bellow, there is an internal antenna connector located inside the Airport Express, on its main board. According to Johnny Express, this connector is used to calibrate and check the Airport Express during its production process.
The basic idea is digging a hole on the side of the AE to plug a right angle antenna connector into the mainboard:
The hole has to be 14.4mm far from the side and 3.5mm out of the center of the Airport Express. As you can see on the next picture, I had a first go on the wrong side of the AE!!! I am still wondering why I first dug on the wrong side... Anyway, the second go was a lot "cleaner". If you don't have specific equipment to dig plastic like me, I advise to really take your time and to really gently the plastic case.
The following picture shows a Linksys access point antenna plugged into the Airport express! Unfortunately, the Linksys antenna connector was not of the right type to plug in correctly into the Airport Express mainboard connector. Simple signal strength measurement showed the WiFi connection was worse with this very antenna than without (because of the connector issue).
Johnny Express suggested I use an antenna or a pigtail with a right angle SSMB jack but I had no such connector or time to get one and try for the moment.
Last but not the least the picture shows how I fixed the hole made by error in the AE. I used the same epoxy mastic than in my vintage bluetooth mouse article. I also put taped the antenna hole to prevent dust to get inside the Airport Express while I don't use the external antenna.
Amphenol RF- SSMB Connector Series
The female connector used on the Airport express PCB (a female one) is described on this page.
Toutcoller : Pattex ReparExpress Pate a reparer multi-materiaux
This page presents the mastic I used to repair the wrong hole I made in the Airport plastic case.
Many thanks to Macbidouille for their mods and daily news. The dismantled Airport Express picture present on this page is the courtesy of Macbidouille.