1. BlackHairy's Avatar
    Before you read on, you should understand the risks of doing what I have done with my phone. By opening your phone, you will most likely instantly void your warranty. There is no way around it, there will be signs that it has been opened. Trust me. If you don't know what you are doing, you will most likely break your phone. Even if you know what you are doing, you probably should not be messing with it like I did unless breaking your phone is not a big deal to you. Personally, I don't care much if I break it. I'll buy a new one and turn my old one into a development board or something else cool like that!

    Some things you NEED to know:
    1.) Do not solder to the board. It is a heat sensitive multi-layered sandwiched board and any heat will ruin it. It would take a very highly skilled expert at soldering to solder to where the antenna connection is located. I am not this skilled, my hand is not steady enough, and I do not have the proper soldering iron and solder.
    2.) You will void your warranty by taking apart your phone
    3.) There is a good chance you will break your phone to the point that it is unrepairable
    4.) This is not a beginner project and knowledge of proper electronics handling is needed.
    5.) A static free environment is a must as any static discharge from you to the board can destroy it.

    After much trial and error, I have officially found where the WIFI antenna is located in the Blackberry 8820. I have also found a simple way to disable this antenna and connect an external antenna with no soldering to the board required. Currently I am waiting on some W.FL, U.FL, and MC Card connectors to mount to the case so an antenna can be attached through a drilled hole.

    This is what the phone looks like completely taken apart:

    Closeup of the board

    Closeup of the PCB for EDGE cell service on T-Mobile

    Scotch tape has been placed over the terminals where the antenna makes contact to. By doing this, the built in antenna cannot interfere with a new external antenna.
    12-28-08 06:12 PM
  2. BlackHairy's Avatar
    There is a test plug below these terminals that is used for radiation emissions testing and for technicians to test the WIFI module. This connects directly to the WIFI module's antenna pins, and by connecting an antenna to the center pin, you can increase WIFI signal. The outer of this plug is the antenna ground. The antenna I have in this picture is an Omnidirectional Collinear Sectional Antenna made from 18g or 22g copper wire with one end filed down to a taper to fit in the plug's hole. When using this antenna, I gained reception and didn't use a ground plane. If I had a ground plane I could have gained more signal and reduced noise. I believe the outer ground of this plug acted as a ground plane.

    I wanted to test a stronger antenna for this project. I am building a Double Biquad directional antenna. I used too heavy of wire (10g) for the first one and was unable to properly solder it. I did manage to get it to stick but didn't put the ground plane on first so I just used some tin foil for this test. The distance from the antenna element and the ground plane needs to be precise at exactly 17mm. Well I didn't have that. The foil was bent and curved and I was trying to hold the antenna and the foil in place while aiming it at a neighbor's access point while holding the connection in the plug on the BB's board and hitting "scan for networks". Was tricky to say the least. I did manage to see some impressive results. If I was using a properly built antenna you can only imagine what kind of signal increase could be achieved.

    And here are the new antennas in development. A Single Biquad and a Double Biquad with the ground plane. See, my soldering isn't bad when I have something to solder to that my iron can actually heat up! Even with this 14g wire, I still had to sit the antenna on the iron for several minutes for it to heat up. But it worked!

    So let's see the results!

    Built in WIFI antenna

    My P1SS-poor quickly hacked up Double Biquad antenna. This one, even though it was horribly constructed, did better than the Collinear antenna I used first. That antenna only picked up Linksys barely, and would sometimes pick up the Bebe barely. But only sometimes.

    This is the built in antenna. The one on the right is WIFI, the one on the left is GPS I believe

    Same thing, but the other side where you can see the contacts. WIFI is on the left in this picture.

    On the top of the phone is the antenna for cell service, the removable plastic piece on the bottom that connects to the white coaxial cable is for EDGE cell service. I have not tested it, but logically the antenna next to the WIFI antenna is GPS.

    Where to go from here? I have some connectors being ordered. These will be for mounting on the phone case and sealed with an o-ring, and for attaching to a WIFI antenna cable so it can be plugged in quick and easy. I believe that the two contact points on the board are for signal and ground. It may be possible to use the built in antenna as a ground plane and only tape off one contact and connect that to an antenna, and connect the ground from the antenna to the old antenna. This is, of course, the next step in the project.

    I have also picked up a dual-band cellular antenna that I will be connecting to the phone as well. I plan on either removing the cradle charger contacts so they are slightly recessed on the side of the phone, or drilling a small hole in the back of the case putting a small plug in there.

    And there ya go!
    12-28-08 06:13 PM
  3. SirDes's Avatar
    This is awesome! So next you are going to somehow add a sort of quick connect to the outside of the phone so you can connect an external antenna quickly to increase your wifi reception? Haha, that's so cool, I'm looking forward to seeing the next steps!
    12-28-08 09:02 PM
  4. BlackHairy's Avatar
    This is awesome! So next you are going to somehow add a sort of quick connect to the outside of the phone so you can connect an external antenna quickly to increase your wifi reception? Haha, that's so cool, I'm looking forward to seeing the next steps!
    Yes, that is the plan. An SMA connector is too tall, and a U.FL/W.FL will be too small so an MC Card or MMCX will probably work perfectly.
    Last edited by BlackHairy; 12-28-08 at 09:43 PM.
    12-28-08 09:10 PM
  5. firstorbit84's Avatar
    AWESOME!! This is what I've been wanting to do to my Pearl since I got it. I love T-mobile's UMA feature, but the Wi-Fi reception is only decent at best and more often, just short of terrible to say the least. I can only usually pick up about half the networks I can see with my MacBook Pro.

    I'm so glad to know that someone out there is doing the R&D for this project. In terms of the positions of components on the board and such, do you think the inside of the 8120 should look similar to the 8820?
    12-31-08 03:48 PM
  6. firstorbit84's Avatar
    how's the project coming?? any updates?
    here's a little motivation for you:

    http:// pdaclub.pl /forum/index.php?topic=53207 Dell Axim x50v wifi mod hope you can read polish.
    01-08-09 05:15 PM
  7. firstorbit84's Avatar
    any updates???
    03-15-09 08:33 PM
  8. raverx3m's Avatar
    shouldnt be a problem when it already has a plug on the board tho.
    just needs a longer connector

    can you just make a better internal antenna?

    say use a better material and not the piece of alluminum foin that is used from the factory?
    03-17-09 10:31 AM
  9. JasonBjorn's Avatar
    A question I have is how can I go about on adding a wifi card on my 8100? I think its possible and that's why I'm asking this.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    03-24-09 08:02 AM
  10. orgelkraft's Avatar
    While I'm sure you CAN put a MicroSD wifi card into an 8100.... (You can pick one up on eBay easy enough.) I don't think the 8100 supports SDIO..... even if it DOES, I don't think there would be any software to support using it. That would be a good project..... I could REALLY use WIFI on my 8100, when I'm out at the warehouse I loose my phone coverage, but they have WIFI coverage in the whole place....

    03-25-09 08:26 PM