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Installing the External Antenna

While we appreciate what Nintendo did to help Wii owners get the strongest wireless connection possible, we wanted to see if adding an external 5.5dBi antenna would increase the signal strength. Given that the internal cards are rated to increase the signal a mere 1.8dBi, adding an external antenna should boost the signal significantly.

To do this, we had to first take the Wii apart. Fortunately, we documented and video recorded the whole process, which you can read about (and watch) in the article titled Wii Exposed: Wiinternals, Wii-motes, and a Teardown Wiideo.

Once you have taken apart the Wii, you will be able to remove the WNIC by simply lifting it off the motherboard. Watch the heat transfer goop on the card, as it will easily come off and get on your fingers, clothes, etc. Once the card is removed, flip it over and remove the external antennas. These will pop off the U.FL connectors with a bit of pressure. Be careful when removing the antennas because there is a pin in the connector that can be easily damaged. Refer to Figure 1 and Figure 2 for a visual shot of the card and U.FL connectors.

Now that the card is removed, it is time to install the antenna. Due to the tight design of the Wii, there are only a few places that the antenna components and pigtail can fit. So, we whipped out our handy dremel tool and drilled a small hole at our selected location, which is illustrated in Figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7

Figure 7

External shot of antenna hole

Figure 8

Figure 8

Inside shot of antenna hole

In our case, the pigtail connector fit perfectly through the hole and into the antenna. However, there was a slight gap between the nut on the connector and the body of the Wii, which caused the antenna to slip around in circles. To correct this problem, we purchased a small nylon washer and used it to fill the gap. The end result was an antenna that fit snugly onto the body of the Wii. Figure 9 provides a shot of the washer.

Figure 9

Figure 9

Nylon washer

Once we had the antenna in place, we seated the U.FL connector and replaced the wireless card back onto the motherboard. We then carefully placed the excess pigtail wire inside the body of the Wii and reassembled the console unit. Figures 10 and 11 provide a shot of the final product. Note that this modification means your Wii has to remain in its horizontal position.

Figure 10

Figure 10

External antenna installed

Figure 11

Figure 11

External antenna installed

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