External Wifi

Cheap chinese tablets come with cheap components obviously to keep production costs down.  The wifi module used is no exception.  Signal range is moderate to low that just moving to the next room, connection is dropped.  Hence this mod.


I have opened the tablet in the past to reveal its components to address several issues.  I tried soldering magnet wires as antenna to the module in full, half, and 1/4 of the wifi wavelength.  While it increased the signal to around -10dBm (highest I got), the connection is still not reliable as I still encounter browser  and download timeouts.  In the future, I will solder-in a laptop antenna in hope that the wifi connection will be more robust.  Or transplant a new wifi module with built-in bluetooth to get things going!

I have also played around with txpower in the build.prop as the wifi module gets hot after a while of internet activity.  I assumed connection timeouts were caused by the module overheating.  I have set it at 80 presently and gives me a good compromise on heat, signal strength and battery life.  Iwconfig is not installed stock so I will show you that in another day.

For the meantime, I am using an external usb wifi adapter pictured below.  I chose this because it is tiny and does not protrude much on the case.  It is working wonderfully on the tablet.  It shows a faint blue light showing it is turned on and blinks when there is wifi activity.  


HOW TO USE
Turn off the wifi switch in Settings-Wifi.  Then insert the usb wifi adapter in the usb host port.  Then turn on.    Voila! It works! Don't you just love the usb host (USBOTG) functionality of this tablet?    

On stock Eken firmware, Realtek "drivers" are already incorporated so it should work out-of-the-box.  No need for insmod-ing linux drivers.  I have tried a Ralink based usb wifi adapter but unfortunately it shows no activity. 

WHY IT WORKS
The built-in wifi module is behind the metal backplate of the lcd screen, effectively blocking and interfering with the signal.  The proximity of the wifi module to the processor, ram, etc. chips and with no shielding exposes it to more electronic noise/interference.

21 comments:

  1. Perfect!!! That's what I need to know. I have a spare wifi card lying around and will try your.

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  2. I tried the external wifi and it works a lot better. I do wish to us the build in one. Any luck in making it work as it should? Thank you.

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  3. @macher
    I have this broken laptop here waiting to be the donor. Will update once I transplant the thing. For the meantime, you can use the wifi txpower hack I posted. It helps very well.

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  4. sir, pede po ba kau magkaron ng tutorial on how to install ralink on android linux based na eken? syang kse kung bibili pa ako may ralink na kse ako from cdr king din. thank you

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  5. What is the wifi dongle you used? realtek chip used inside?

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  6. @Patrick
    Will do that later. Sana lang gumana pag compile sa arm-eabi-gcc kasi wala namang source code binigay ang Eken o kahit anong china tablet. Or better save yourself the hassle and buy one. Php350 lang naman. ;-)

    @Chavdar
    It is a cheap "unbranded" Realtek chip based usb wifi card sold by a local company who rebrands things. Here is the link: http://www.cdrking.com/index.php?mod=products&type=view&sid=11491&main=50

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  7. i am planning to buy a tablet but it doesnt have wifi..its a android 2.3 tablet..so can i use a usb wifi dongle with that..will it compatible?does it need any driver?

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  8. does the usb wifi dongle sold at cdr king has good results on wifi range? like how many meters? thanks alot for your reply. i have an eken t01a tab too just bought last week and this built in wifi is also my problem. regards! :)

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  9. Yesterday I attached a small dongle with Realtek 8192 chipset. stopped wifi, started wifi... dongle never woke up :/
    Does it matter in which USB port I insert the dongle? I put it in the normal USB port, didn't thought to try it in the microUSB port...
    Perhaps, RTL 8188 is ok, but for newer realtek chips there is no driver :(.

    Then I tried to use my laptop as "range extender" - viw WIndows hosted networks - and it works just fine :)

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  10. I tried this CDR King usb and it works. If it wont detect it, reboot with the usb wifi dongle attached and it will detect it on startup. Our tablet is eken t01a.

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  11. Apparently, this trick only works with wifi dongles using Realtek RTL 81XXCU chips. My wifi dongle uses a Realtek 8192SU chip. My Eken T01A detects it as a USB device but it cannot use it. Knowing that Android ia just one of the hundreds of Linux distros, I tried to insmod a kernel module from my puppy linux disto but to no avail. I also tried my other dongle that uses a Ralink r3070 chip. As I feared, it also did not work. I tried the dongle with my Androidx86 (ICS) PC instillation and it was able to detect and use the dongle. I copied the kernel module used by Androidx86 to run my Ralink dongle to my tablet and tried to insmod it. It did not work. Does any one know how to compile a kernel module in Android ICS? Realtek offers the sources to compile the kernel module for Android ICS for its rtl8192su chipset and I would like to give it a try. I tried to complie it in my puppy linux distro but to no avail. Alternatively and preferably, does anyone already successfully compiled the kernel module for Android ICS? If yes, please share. thanks. :)

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  12. Will try to post it here some other time. Meanwhile, is your driver from Ralink for 64 bit?

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  13. hi i got a tablet(its chinese i think, romanian brand) this one http://tinyurl.com/ct2w7t8 . but i think my internal wi fi doesnt work, it shows turning on but doesnt find any wi fi network. what dongle should i use as an external wi fi adapter? please. a realtek dongle? it has android 4.04. please answer. thank you.

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  14. Will it work on android jellybean?

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  15. It will also work. Including Kitkat.

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  16. Hello I have this question: I have android tablet and I want to install an wifi usb adapter. Does someone knows wich adapter works with android? Is there any problem with the installation of the drivers?

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  17. Depends on your tablet. What model is it?

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  18. Could this work on an acer iconia 8 running 4.4.2?

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  19. Any successful experience in using such a USB Wifi Dongle with an Allwinner A33 tablet ? (running android 4.4.2) WiFi is terrible on this tablet so I'm considering this workaround.

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    1. Answering my own question: No it does not work. At least not plug n play. When I insert dongle (RTL8188CUS), and turn back ON wifi, I have no way to tell which WiFi is active (onboard or external) and testing the speed shows no difference so probably onboard is still active. An app called USB info shows me the device, so android detects it, but I am not sure if it has the driver ready for it. Need to find out how to verify that...

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