MacBook Pro with a snipped bluetooth antenna. Repair or purchase dongle?
June 15, 2011 1:29 PM   Subscribe

MacBook Pro with a snipped bluetooth antenna. Repair or purchase dongle?

While installing my optibay, I snipped the antenna (shown in step 6 here). The BT board is fine, but now it gets very poor reception, which isn't surprising since the antenna is now less than a centimeter long.

Looking at the antenna, it looks like plastic insulation around metal woven around a plastic core. Is this some sort of optic cable? Or can I solder the two ends together and shrinkwrap it and call it a day, or should I just get a dongle? I know I need to get a dongle that will wake from sleep, anyone have any reccomendations beyond the list maintained by macx86?

If it matters, I will be using the following BT devices:
  • Apple keyboard
  • Apple touchpad
  • Plantronics headset
posted by Brian Puccio to Technology (8 answers total)
Oh, I've got a 17 Early 2009 MBP aka 5.2 aka MB604LL/A.
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2011

I use a D-Link DBT 120 with my hackintosh and waking from sleep is pretty spotty. If you're using a laptop that might not be such a big deal, since you can easily just remove and reinsert it when it gets finicky -- that's always fixed it for me.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2011

it's not an optical cable (RF doesn't work that way) so you might be able to resolder it. you may want to do some research into antenna wiring - people who make things like cantennas and whatnot may have some tips on working with that kind of cable. failing that, you may be able to find the cable from someone on eBay. that's a bit of a long shot though. (iFixit doesn't stock just the cable. from experience with other Apple laptops, the BT and WiFi antennas tend to be part of the screen assembly, so you may not be able to find it without getting the whole screen, which will be Expensive(tm). but, worth a search anyway.)
posted by mrg at 1:51 PM on June 15, 2011

I would try soldering it and see if it fixes the problem. I can'tthink of a reason why it wouldn't fix the problem. Altenatively, attach anew piece of wire.

You can always buy an adaptor, might as well try and fix it first.
posted by Quack at 1:54 PM on June 15, 2011

Maybe you could buy a replacement antenna. Cheaper than a dongle and will work reliably with OS X — and you're already comfortable opening up your MBP.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2011

The cable is coaxial; there's two conductors in it. It'll be very tricky to solder correctly. Just buy the antenna in the link above.
posted by zsazsa at 2:24 PM on June 15, 2011

Awesome, I knew the wire looks like more than just a simple wire that I could solder. I'm just going to spend the few bucks to buy the antenna and figure out where that cable goes to. It cannot be far, it looks to be a few centimeters long.

Thanks all.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:29 PM on June 15, 2011

Just a follow up for future googlers, I picked up an antenna (Apple Macbook Pro 17" Unibody Bluetooth Antenna - Compatible with all Early 2009, Mid 2009 A1297 17" Unibody Macbook Pros) and had it installed in 15 minutes, bluetooth now works perfectly again.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:41 AM on July 4, 2011

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