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NetGear ME102 External Antenna?

Test Results

At first glance, the ME102 looks like it is unfriendly to external antennas since there are no sockets as are fitted to the Linksys WAP11.

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Removal of the lid continues to disappoint.  The tin shielding is soldered to the PCB and the coaxial cabling is soldered to the PCB inside the tin shielding.

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me102nolid-1.jpg (78038 bytes)

The next picture shows the antenna PCB tracks coming off the diversity switch in the top middle of the PCB but they disappear under the tin shielding right where we want to get at them!

me102top.jpg (65063 bytes)

Removing the lower PCB tin shield is simply a case of bending back three retaining tabs and then it comes away easily.  Things are looking up, the PCB clearly shows that standard SMA connectors could be soldered to the PCB by unsoldering the tin shield.  Holes would then need to be drilled in the top plastic housing but this would seem to be the simplest way to provision this access point for external antennas!

me102bottom.jpg (65738 bytes)

Alternatively, you can cut the antenna cable and solder in an SMA bulkhead connector as follows:-

bulkheadsolder.jpg (59675 bytes)

No need to drill holes, the connector fits perfectly.

sma-1.jpg (57015 bytes)

The old antenna can be preserved by attaching a right angled SMA socket to the remainder of the antenna fly lead.  I chose to remove the plastic swivel housing that was at the base of the antenna.  It's not needed here because of the use of the SMA connector.

antenna.jpg (102839 bytes)

As you can see, I now have the ability to attach external antennas or continue using the original Netgear antenna.  By using the Linksys WAP11 USB configuration tool, the appropriate antenna can be chosen.

NOTE:  When looking at the front of the ME102, the modified antenna is the LEFT (Yes that's right!) antenna in the Linksys tool.  Pretty easy to dermine really, just notice the signal strength from a client when either the left or right antenna is chosen as the transmit antenna and then see how that signal changes when there's no antenna connected.

final.jpg (82409 bytes)

Test Results

The netstumbler output below is divided into 4 zones.  The test was pretty basic, the receiver was a Compaq WL110, the first part of the test was performed with the Compaq card wrapped in tinfoil to aim to ensure that the onboard antennas did not factor.

results.jpg (71000 bytes)



ME102 configuaration (transmit)

Compaq WL110 (Receive)


ME102 driving my co-linear antenna (both of the antennas referenced here can be seen here  The ME102 was set to transmit/receive only on the external antenna. Cantenna (SMA Gold tin)


ME102 driving the original, unmodified antenna. Cantenna (SMA Gold tin)


ME102 driving the original, unmodified antenna. Compaq WL110 with no external antenna connected.
D ME102 driving both antennas. Compaq WL110 with no external antenna connected.


Not really anything to do with the ME102 but thanks to Bryan Nicholl, here's a picture of the inside of the Netgear MR314 wireless access point/router.

As you can see, it's just a MA401 inside with a small lead to the connector at the back, pity they didn't bother to populate the connector socket on the PCB.

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