T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

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MudMan54
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T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by MudMan54 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:36 pm

I've been using a WE826-T2 with Nomad's Wholesale Pink plan (T-Mobile). With external antennas, I have a decent D/L of 20Mbps and u/L of 5Mbps. I received my T-Mobile Home Internet yesterday and without external antennas, I have one signal bar at my location. with a D/L speed of 2-4Mbps and a u/L of 1Mbps. Basically unusable for my needs. After doing a little research I found an FCC document with images of the unit (RTL0102VW). It uses a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X20 LTE modem and has two external MHF4 antenna ports connectors on the PCB. I have not disassembled the unit to test it out as I didn't want to void the unit. Check out the link for the FCC document internal photos.

https://fccid.io/H8N-RTL0102VW/Test-Rep ... df-4058016

Image

Update:
I disassembled the unit and discovered what I thought were MHF4 antenna ports are SWG RF switch connectors, used for RF testing. But I found the antennas, they were in plain sight connected via pressure contacts on the PCB to copper foil antennas wrapped on a sub inner plastic housing. I did some ohm testing and you can see my results in the images. Any antenna experts out there care to comment?
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Attachments
PCB antenna contacts Label-1.jpg
Antenna housing top side_Lables.jpg
t-mOBILE hOME iNTERNET pcb.jpg

Erickpal
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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by Erickpal » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:07 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort of doin this.

Are you going to connect antennas to it?

mibi37
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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by mibi37 » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:56 pm

Thanks for the post, I noticed some of the images you posted aren't showing, could you reupload them? Interested to see if you're able to connect antenna cables.

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by bcd1975 » Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:27 am

I could be wrong but it looks like it’s utilizing 4x4 mimo antenna setup. Either way would it be possible to sandwich some sma pigtails in between the copper contacts on the board and the antennas on the case?

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Didneywhorl
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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by Didneywhorl » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:22 pm

One way to find out if they work like test ports! ;)

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by dbcool » Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:05 pm

Solder antenna pigtails to the antenna contacts on the board . There is plenty of room to do it and not interfer with the contacts.

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by doco2279 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:51 am

Is anyone planning on doing this? I have never soldered RF connectors before. I'm assuming there is an inner wire and outer wire. If I were to attempt this, do these two wires go on different contacts? Is it just one solder joint to the indicated contact with the yellow arrow? Any help figuring out how to do this would be appreciated. I don't mind playing guinea pig.

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by pivotpoint » Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:45 pm

I received my T-Mobile Home Internet Wi-Fi gateway today and for a signal I am getting two bars if anyone can pinpoint the exact locations to solder the connectors to like doco2279 asked I have the connectors and two outside antennas and will post after mod photos if someone can direct me to the exact location points to the center pin and ground the connectors would need to be soldered too. Thanks

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by tvecell » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:44 am

It's kind'a hard to see where the traces are going on the photos. One of the test points doesn't seem to correspond to either main antenna.

For each antenna one of the spring contacts should be ground and the other signal. The ground one should be connected to a large ground plane. The other to a relatively thin trace.

You would strip 1/4-1/2 inch of the outer insulation off the coax, undo the braid or foil and bundle it to one side, then strip the inner insulation from the center conductor. Use an xacto knife to carefully remove the green stuff from 1/8-1/4 inch of trace and a slightly bigger area of the ground plane directly adjoining.

Then solder the center conductor to the trace and the braid to the ground plane. Be particularly careful to work quickly with the center conductor because the insulation around it melts fast. Pre-tin the conductor. Pre-tin the PCB. Use lead-base solder if available (lower melting temp). Use lots of flux and a relatively low tip temperature. If it didn't work, cut an inch of coax off and start over :-).

The main risk you have is pulling the trace up from the PCB. You can do that either by heating it up for a long time or by pulling on a wire that it soldered to it. SO avoid these things :-). This also means that it may be smart to glue the coax to the PCB with some hot glue about an inch from the solder work to act as strain relief.

Edit: the ground plane sucks up a lot of heat, so you may want to heat it up 'til the solder melts and then dip the pre-tinned braid into the puddle.

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Re: T-Mobile Home Internet has hidden MHF4 connectors for external antennas?

Post by triangles » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:26 pm

Okay noob to 4G LTE here. However, I'm no stranger with a soldering iron. I've had my unit apart and I think I see what needs to be done. Just looking for a cheap pair of antennas that would be appropriate. I only get 3 bars signal strength. I drove own the street 1/2 mile and I get 5 bars and triple to quadruple the speed. According to cellmapper.net I'm about 1/2 way between towers that are probably about 1-1.5 miles away. I have a 43' TV Antenna tower I might mount the unit outside in a weatherproof enclosure if going up gets me a better signal.

Also I'm not sure I understand all the antennas on this thing. I assume WIFI 1 and 2 are the 2.4 and 5 GHz wifi antennas and the Main 1, 2 are the two MIMO antennas for the LTE. WTF are Diversity 1 and 2??? What are these used for and would I need to do anything with them?

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