Adding Bluetooth to your Acer Aspire One Netbook!

The other day I was surfing around on the net on my new Acer Aspire One and found the coolest hack for it over at Tnkgrl’s Website this hack was aimed at one of the few Achilles heels of the Acer Aspire One “no Bluetooth.” Now, granted it is easier than ever to get Bluetooth working on a laptop with Bluetooth dongles getting smaller and smaller however if you want to keep the exterior of your laptop clear of debris and use a mouse or perhaps tether with your cell phone you need to find another way. This is where the following hack comes in to play!

**Warning! The following WILL void your warranty. Proceed at your own risk. If you break your laptop it is not my fault. Nuff said…**

So this hack basically involves popping open your laptop, soldering a few wires to a 5V connector and a ground and then hooking into the unused USB leads on either of the internal mini PCIe connectors inside of the laptop to add an internal USB device “of your choosing” inside of the laptop. The USB Bluetooth adapter that I chose was the Kensington Micro USB Bluetooth adapter for a few reasons:

  1. It is tiny only taking up a very small amount of space inside of the laptop case allowing for placement anywhere within the laptop.
  2. It is Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR which is the fastest and newest version of Bluetooth available
  3. it is a class 2 (10meter) device which means it’s power draw will be minimal verses the class 1 (100 meter) devices.
  4. This Bluetooth adapter is $23.00 USD at Best Buy and as I am impatient I did not want to have to wait for delivery before I did this mod.

The install I found on Tnkgrl’s site served as the inspiration for my hack which uses the USB leads on the empty unused mini PCIe solder pads the reason I did this is:

  1. It is a larger target to hit. I was scared to death to try my luck right up next to the connector for my wireless card which I cannot be without.
  2. it puts my connection next to the access panel on the bottom of the Acer One (explained later)

This installation uses the power from a nearby USB port on the far left side of the laptop. This USB lead is +5 and allows me to once again hit a bigger target than the one provided for in the Tnkgrl’s awesome and skillful hack. (To be that steady!) I will try to provide pictures however the ones at tnkgrl’s site show pretty clearly how to best connect to the power on the device.

!Update! After reading the comment from tnkgrl i have changed my plans and re routed the power connections to the locations that she describes in her hack. please read her comment below for the reasons for the change.

Inside the Acer Aspire One

As you can see i have attached the Power and ground to the same locations used in tnkgrl’s mod.

Acer Aspire One

This is a close up of the solder points i used for the power connections.

Inside the Acer Aspire One

I then routed the wires to the other side of the mother board for attachment to the female USB connector.

The jewel of this install is in the use of an old USB extension cable to create an internal port which makes it a bit more future proof I can upgrade the module at any point by simply connecting a new device also the placement on the bottom side allows me to position the female USB connector directly under the access panel for easy access without dis-assembly of the laptop. I cut away all of the plastic from the USB cable and stripped off the outer wire casing. It was necessary for it to fit in the cramped area below the door the only suggestion that I would add is that you add some epoxy on the motherboard where you make the connection so as to keep the wires in place after you get done soldering.

Acer Aspire One

You can see that the tiny Bluetooth adapter easily fits inside the compartment on the bottom of the Acer One.

btooth

You can see here in the blown up image that the entire assembly fits well also if you look directly below the USB dongle you can see the solder locations for the USB+ and USB- located on the unused mini PCIe solder pads. the solder points you want are #36 and #38

That is pretty much it.

TIP! While you have the device apart you might as well go ahead and install some extra memory the max this thing can handle is 1.5 GB of DDR2 PC5300 533 MHz RAM if you are willing to integrate a Bluetooth module into this thing you will probably want to spend the $15.00 USD it costs to purchase the extra ram and there is not going to be a better time than right now to install it!        (What the heck! You have already voided your warranty anyway!)

Well that’s it enjoy your mouse and keyboard with no dongles and tether away!

Happy Hacking! :P

-Joe

19 thoughts on “Adding Bluetooth to your Acer Aspire One Netbook!”

  1. There’s nothing wrong with using the USB pads and installing the Bluetooth radio space meant for the missing 3G module…

    In my case, I still plant mod my AA1 with a 3G module, and I like the idea of the WiFi card and the Bluetooth radio sharing the same connector :)

    However, tapping into one of the external USB ports for +5V like you’re doing is a bad, bad idea!

    Each external USB port is designed to deliver up to 500 mA of current to peripherals being plugged in.

    If a peripheral requests the maximum 500 mA, the external USB port will be unable to comply because you’re already siphoning 50-100mA for the Bluetooth radio.

    Just FYI :)

  2. This is a great mod. I don’t plan to install WWAN, so I like the idea of having a removable USB module in that bay.

    I do have a question though. My soldering skills on stuff of this size really suck. Can you let me know what tools and solder you used for the job, and also – if you have any idea – a good resource to hone my skills before I trash by PC?

  3. My skills are not that good either Joe!
    However, i have a great magnifying glass and a pretty small soldering tip for my soldering iron. At any rate this is such a strange and tiny soldering job that i cannot think of any way to practice unless you have a broken piece of electronics that you do not care about any longer. P.S. I am not sure if it matters but i was unable to find a good wire that was small enough to do the mod so i ended up using wires that i separated from an old IDE ribbon cable. The small size helped me a lot. Also, do not forget to put some starter solder on the wires before you go after the connections. Use electronics solder the smaller the better i used resin core solder. I got all of my materials at Fry’s electronics but any reputable electronics store should have what you need.

    Cheers, and Good Luck!

    -Joe Harper

  4. I just recently bought a Bestlink Alpha 400. It is running a rather old version of Linux, 2.4

    My original plan was to ad a bluetooth adapter so I can keep using the 400 with my cell phone for my commute home from work.

    Then when I started looking aorund for a compatible adapter, that’s when I found out the lack of drivers for bluetooth with the v2.4 of Linux.

    Now I see you adding a BT adapter to your netbook. My question is, what version are you using and who makes the adapter? I don’t plan to ad an adapter to the inside of my netbook. If it’s small enuff, I don’t mind something sticking out.

    Thanks!

    Rob

  5. hi ,

    how will i configure my aspire one to hear all audios on my sonic gear SR300 blu tooth headset.
    im using a silicon wave bluetooth dongle on my acer.
    the bluetooth dongle works with other bluetooth connection , except for audio connection to SR300.

    my SR300 is working on my SONY vaio.

  6. I wish to install a bluetooth on one of my acer aspires
    what one would you recomend buying that has the same set up as yours did ? thank you

  7. Just buy a small usb cable adapter that lets you extend the cable and just cut the end off and use the pin diagram as it says then you can have it removable if you need to remove the blue tooth for any reason . also for you guys who need to soilder and be safe i recomend taking some electrical tape in small tiny strips and cover the other pins so you don;t drop solder on anything or have better chance of recovery if you do . also you can use the tin effect and heat the wire that way to apply it without hurting the board . i have done up to date over 200 mods . and after . carefull study
    and with tnkgrls videos and lessons it was simple to do . great work tnkgrl i love having bluetooth without loosing a slot .

  8. Done.

    Use flux, as seen here. Makes it much easier.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NN7UGWYmBY&feature=related

    Great project, I learned a lot. Doing this finally forced me to master fine soldering. You really don’t need an extremely steady hand, just a fine tipped iron and patience. I recommend practicing on some old broken electronics before putting the iron to your laptop. Look around your house, you must have an old motherboard or something with a fine pitch (small chip) size that you could try soldering wires to.

    If your technique is wrong, it would be easy to totally destroy stuff, so make sure you know what you’re doing before hand. I say it again: practice. Watch the youtube video first of course.

  9. Sorry for editing your comment but I can’t have curses on here. Even those meant as a joke.
    This thread has supprised me as to it’s longevity! i still get readers of thsi2 years after i first posted it. thanks for reading and i hope that you are all successful in your mods!

  10. hi there, great mod for bluetooth, although this was fine soldering you overheated the wire and the tinned wire (solder coated) was too long and there is a risk of a short if the red wire gets nudged down, if you use exposed wire the same size as the bit your tacking on to it will work well.
    best solder is definatley small cored, the manufacturer would have used lead free solder, tin the wires (heat and apply solder), trim to size, then you may need to heat the contacts first just to melt the solder, then when soldering on just touch the iron on the wire while it is on the contact, should take a second or less, this will work well if you have melted the contact first even if it has cooled as you have pre flowed the contact. hope i don’t sound condescending just giving advice as a soldering perfectionist!

  11. Thanks for the advice! I hardly ever solder and know that my “technique” if you can even call it that… is pretty sad. But it has functioned well with my hack job now for about 3.5 years… I will practice before i do it again to another expensive electronic item like a laptop. Thanks for reading my post! And good luck with whatever project you are working on.

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