I recently purchased a used HP Pavilion ze4610 (ze4600) laptop. The problem is that I have a terrible wireless range. The internal wireless card is an IBM High Rate MiniPCI Combo Card 802.11b. The range....from about 3 to 5 feet from my router was the best. I then upgraded the driver from a 1.04 to 1.07 it was about 8-10 feet from the router...still deplorable. What do I do about this problem? I am considering getting a wireless card (PCMCIA/USB) but don't know which is best. At this point it isn't the speed that matters it's all in the range. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
HP laptops normally do not come with IBM wireless cards. Looking at the driver list on the HP site, the ze4600 series came with Broadcom wireless cards. Actually, I'm suprised that the IBM card functions as the current HP BIOS checks for a supported wireless card that has been FCC type certified with the laptop. Anything else gets a nasty pre-boot error message. While the IBM card could work, there's a possibility that antenna connector and the pigtails on the antennas are not exactly matched connectors. Visually inspect the connectors. Sometimes, all that's wrong is that the connectors are not snapped together.
If possible take the laptop to a different wireless access point or wireless router and try again. If the symptoms are identical, then it's not the router. However, if it works with a different router, then it's your wireless router.
I did purchase this used. So does that mean that the IBM card is a replacement for the original stock card? Or, could the computer be displaying the wrong driver for some reason? Also, because I am hesitant to open the machine to look for something completely foreign to me, is there and external card that would be recommended?
Yes. As I mentioned, I'm rather suprised that it works because the BIOS is suppose to complain about non-certified cards. Note the Broadcom name on the wireless drivers for the ze4610:
Looks like it comes with something called a WL450 card. I couldn't find any data on this card on the HP web pile (except the drivers). Nothing on eBay. Very strange.
It's possible. There are patches and tweaks to the BIOS (and MiniPCI card flash image) that allow HP, Compaq, and IBM laptops to accept non-certified cards. I can't tell from here.
Flip over the laptop. There are several doors on the bottom. One of them covers the MiniPCI wireless card. Remove screws, lift lid, and there's the card. If you want to read the instructions, go to:
and grab the Maintenance and Service Guide. See 2-7 for wireless card removal.
My guess(tm) is that there's nothing wrong with the MiniPCI card. The problem is probably the antenna connectors. Open and inspect. I'll also guess(tm) that the antenna leads are not even connected and possibly not present. Don't panic as there are aftermarket antennas available on eBay, or you can get an external USB or PCMCIA wireless card.
Argh. See Page 2-58 for antenna removal and placement. The type of antennas in the ze4100 are the same type as a repair job I did a while back. See:
This is from a Compaq 2120US but the antennas are the same. I took the photo as an example of a miserable antenna location.
If you look carefully at the photo, you'll see where the hinge has crunched the coax cable and shorted the antenna. I cheated and shortened the coax cable at both ends and resoldered the connections. The problem is that even without a shorted coax cable, the location of these antennas at the hinge points is awful. It should be located high up on the LCD display. Range was lousy as compared to other laptops in the office. The position of the LCD display made a huge difference in signal strength.
You can check for a short by unplugging the u.FL connector and using an ohms-guesser. It should read open circuit.
You previously asked what I recommend as a suitable replacement. Due to the marginal internal antennas and possible impending repair job, I suggest something other than a replacement for the internal MiniPCI card. My favorite of the week is a Buffalo Tech WLI-CB-G54S.
There is also a higher tx power version for more money:
I've only recently been playing with one each of these and am rather impressed. The external antenna connector should be handy when I bother to find a suitable connector or pigtail.
Thank You for your advice! I opened panel on the bottom to expose the wireless card and what looks like two unconnected antenna ports. Will I need to purchase some cable to attach to this. Or is the wire on the right of the first image the antenna cable?
No picture. I get: Warning: connect(): Can't connect to localhost:10000, Unknown error (0) in /usr/local/lsws2/DEFAULT/html/gallery.php on line 54 Could not connect Can you find a better non-porno photo gallery to post the photo?
As I recall, there are two black coaxial cables with tiny crimp on connectors (Hirose u.FL). They snap onto the two connections labelled "MAIN" and "AUX". It doesn't matter which cable goes to which connector.
There's a real possibility that the laptop never had antenna connectors and cables. This looks like the right antennas:
but I'm not sure as the model numbers are different. Installing the antennas is NOT easy and should be done by someone with laptop repair experience. Before you attack, look around the hole (remove the MiniPCI card) and see if the cables aren't dangling around loose in the bottom of the laptop.
Well, I don't think you'll need to go any further. Just find and connect the antenna cables. HP and IBM both use compatible u.FL connectors, so they should just snap in place. However, if you want to dive in deeper, the disassembly destructions are in the service docs URL that I previously posted.
Hi I can see the image and there is nothing near the antenna connectors. The resolution is too low to tell what is happening with that cable on the right.
You can buy antennas and snake them in if you are into working on your laptop. Check out ebay for kits for your model. I saw one suggestion for running antennas under the keyboard- easier to install, but probably poor range. But then, maybe you don't need so much range.
Or get a pcmcia card as suggested. Certainly the easiest thing to do if you don't mind something sticking out a bit.
Yep. I tried it with my office computah and it finally displayed something after the 3rd try. Nothing connected to either antenna connector and no cables in sight. Probably no antennas.
I saw those instructions for installing the antennas under the keyboard for older IBM laptops as redirected from eBay vendor. They were nice instructions. However, when a friend tried it, he noted that the instructions forgot to mention to remove the big metal shield on the base of most laptops. Doesn't work and don't bother.
Yeah, that's probably the easiest way. Taking apart the laptop is rather challenging. My first one took all day and ended up with spare parts. It's a chronic bad habit when replacing broken USB and power receptacles. I hate doing it, but with practice, I no longer end up with spare parts.