Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades Discuss Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  (#1) Old
Senior Member
 
acabtp's Avatar
 
Posts: 315
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: New Jersey, USA
Default Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 10:22 AM

So, I wanted to add a GPS receiver to my Dell Mini 9, but I didn't want to have to use a dongle or other external device. I figured that a netbook really ought to just have it built in, so that's what I decided to do. All of these pictures are links to larger versions.

I started by tearing the Mini down and seeing if it was even possible. Dell's service manuals for the Mini 9 are pretty decent and are all you need to take the system apart. You can view them here. Luckily, there's a bit of space around where the Bluetooth adapter is located. It wasn't much, but it looked like enough, so I ordered the smallest USB GPS receiver I could find. It's a nice unit with a SkyTraQ chipset and support for AGPS. Once I used the included utility to download an AGPS update into the unit, it gets a location fix in about five seconds after a reset.



Once I made sure the GPS receiver worked, I immediately took it apart to see just how small it could get. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how small it really is. Here's a picture of the GPS unit, the Bluetooth adapter, and a quarter for scale comparison.



I then started moving the Bluetooth adapter and removing the old mounting provisions for it, since they were now in the way. There was enough room, but just barely. If the GPS was another 2mm thick, it would not have fit. The GPS completely fills the space between the Bluetooth adapter and trackpad. There is a lot more space on the bottom of the laptop in the unused WWAN card area, but the GPS needs to be on top so that it has a view of the sky. A unit with a separate antenna may provide other mounting options, but I decided it would unnecessarily complicate things. Here is a shot from test fitting.



Next, I needed a 5v source to provide power for the GPS. Luckily the trackpad runs on 5v, and it's right there, how convenient! The power is on the outer two pins of the ribbon cable connecting the trackpad to the motherboard. In the picture below, ground is to the left and +5v is to the right.



Here is the GPS unit with the USB plug removed and wires soldered on instead to save space. The orange wires are connecting power and the blue data. You can also see that the sheilding foil has been removed from underneath the Bluetooth's new location.



A connection to the USB of the Mini was needed, and luckily the WWAN mini PCI-e connector's USB lines are active. I was able to run the data lines through the hole in the motherboard for the WWAN card mount. I connected the USB data lines to pins 36 and 38 of the unused mini PCI-e connector.





So then I double and triple checked the wiring, put some tape in for insulation and put everything back together. I was quite pleased when it started right up, and now my Mini knows where it is! The satellite reception through the case of the Mini is excellent.



Fitment is perfect, you cannot tell it was modified without opening it up. There are no bulges or other outward indications that anything has been changed.







[youtube:22mp7qxo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4shj-yEGa30[/youtube:22mp7qxo]

The GPS receiver is turned on and off by a Team MRB Power Isolator Module.

Keep in mind that when you try something like this, you very well could break your computer. If that is something you couldn't live with, don't even attempt it. Also, it helps to have electronics and soldering experience. That being said, are there any questions?

Tom Beauchamp

Digg this Article

Questions and Answers
Lots of good questions, I'll try to answer most of them here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strider_mt2k
Can you detail the exact solder points on the mini PCIe area?
USB_D+ and USB_D- are available on pins (pads, more accurately) 38 and 36 of the mPCI-e connector. It is labeled with pad numbers on the motherboard. There is no 5v power on a mPCI-e connector, so that's why it was sourced elsewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strider_mt2k
How are drivers for that GPS module?
Like all of the other GPS units I have used, this one is based on a USB to Serial adapter from Prolific. The driver is very small and once installed the device just shows up as a COM port (COM8 for me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by strider_mt2k
What GPS software are you using?
It will work with anything. It's just running the GPS demo utility that came with the device in the pictures. I'm currently looking for a good PC based navigation software as well as something that does the same kind of location based services that the Google Maps / Windows Live applications for Pocket PC do on my phone. I've used MS Streets & Trips in the past, found it just ok. Microsoft MapPoint has a lot more business related functions like statistical analysis but is too cluttered for normal driving directions, IMO (It makes a sweet map of your war-driving logs though). My current navigation solution is Delorme StreetAtlas, which works pretty well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRunkle
is there any possibility of using the WWAN mini PCI-e so one could just put a mini PCI-e usb hub in there? Or did Dell completely deactivate the WWAN?
I can't say for certain on that one. I did not have a need for the PCI-e connection, so I just checked and implemented my connection to the USB lines. The 1.5v bus lines on the PCI-e connection did not have power, so I would wager that the slot cannot be made fully operational. Also, there is no 5v power on a mPCI-e connector and you need that to make a standard USB port, so it couldn't be just a plug-in operation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jw8725
Hi great mod but how would this affect battery life?
I've only had it running since this morning, but I used my Mini intermittently throughout the day and did not notice a negative impact on battery life. Obviously it will have shorter runtime with the GPS on, but it's a very low power device, so it doesn't seem to have too great of an impact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jw8725
Is the GPS always switched on or does it only operate with the software?
I have developed the Team MRB Power Isolator Module, and this GPS unit is turned on and off by turning the Bluetooth on and off. Read here for more information.
Reply With Quote
  (#2) Old
Expert Member
 
strider_mt2k's Avatar
 
Posts: 867
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 10:57 AM

Ohhhh yeah! YOU ROCK!

This one has to be stickied, or Wikied or something.
Excellent work!

The door is opened!

I don't have any excuse to NOT pursue my on board hub now that you've shown me where +5 volts can be tapped!
EDIT (to avoid multi-posts)
Now that I look at your placement I would have to be crazy to not drop a GPS module in there while I'm at it!
(Now I'm gonna have to get one.)
Good catch removing that foil from the BT relocation point.

That and burying my mouse's Nano Receiver inside still leaves two ports open!
This is the hub I'm planning on using:

I picked a couple up after seeing one used in a UMPC project so I know it breaks down very small.
Here's a link to THAT project for reference:
http://www.ultramobilegeek.com/2007/08/ ... ernal.html


Seriously, thanks for sharing your project.

Questions:

Can you detail the exact solder points on the PCIe area?

How are drivers for that GPS module?

What GPS software are you using?


Inspiron Duo: Win7 Pro 32-Bit, Intel 6200 Wifi Upgrade
Former Inspiron Mini 9 Owner, Modder, Enthusiast
Reply With Quote
  (#3) Old
Senior Member
 
Posts: 135
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Nanuet, NY USA
Send a message via AIM to onefish2
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 01:27 PM

Awesome write up. I am very impressed and jealous of your mod. Keep em coming!


Obsidian Mini9 - Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 with Netbook Remix, 8GB SSD, 2GB RAM, 4GB SD, Bluetooth, 1.3 Webcam
Lifestreaming @ http://www.ExploitTheSystem.com | Blogging @ http://www.onefish2.com
Reply With Quote
  (#4) Old
Junior Member
 
Posts: 19
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Oshkosh, WI
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 02:45 PM

VERY interesting mod. I like it a lot. Question though...is there any possibility of using the WWAN mini PCI-e so one could just put a mini PCI-e usb hub in there? Or did Dell completely deactivate the WWAN?


Dell Mini 9 Obsidian - Xp Pro - 2GB RAM - 16GB SSD - 16GB SD - Bluetooth - 1.3MP Webcam
Reply With Quote
  (#5) Old
Expert Member
 
strider_mt2k's Avatar
 
Posts: 867
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 02:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRunkle
VERY interesting mod. I like it a lot. Question though...is there any possibility of using the WWAN mini PCI-e so one could just put a mini PCI-e usb hub in there? Or did Dell completely deactivate the WWAN?
I'm not aware of any mini PCI-e USB hubs being available, just folks using those connections to mount and wire laptop USB hubs internally, such as I would like to do.

EDIT

CONGRATS!
I submitted this to hackaday.com, but it looks like Engadget has picked it up!


Inspiron Duo: Win7 Pro 32-Bit, Intel 6200 Wifi Upgrade
Former Inspiron Mini 9 Owner, Modder, Enthusiast
Reply With Quote
  (#6) Old
Member
 
Posts: 77
Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 04:04 PM

Congrats on being one of, if not the first person to do a serious hardware mod on the MINI....
Reply With Quote
  (#7) Old
Senior Member
 
ytsejam1138's Avatar
 
Posts: 187
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Orlando, Florida
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 04:28 PM



My Dell Mini 9
Black / BIOS A05 / Dual Booting XP Pro and Ubuntu 9.04 / 2GB RAM / 16GB SSD / BT 2.0 / 1.3MP Webcam / US-INTL Keyboard U061H
Extras:
16GB SDHC
Sleeve
External Drive
Skin
Buffalo MicroSD USB Memory Stick w/8GB MicroSD
Reply With Quote
  (#8) Old
Junior Member
 
Posts: 29
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Loxahatchee, FL
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 04:54 PM

I was just going to post this. Congrats for making it on engadget!

Umbra
Reply With Quote
  (#9) Old
Member
 
Posts: 91
Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 06:07 PM

Hi great mod but how would this affect battery life?

Is the GPS always switched on or does it only operate with the software?

Talking of software, what are you using?
Reply With Quote
  (#10) Old
Member
 
Posts: 77
Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Re: Integrated GPS on my Mini 9 - 10-07-2008, 06:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jw8725
Hi great mod but how would this affect battery life?

Is the GPS always switched on or does it only operate with the software?

Talking of software, what are you using?
Great questions...
Reply With Quote
Reply

« Turning an Integrated Device On and Off Without a Switch | 3GB's+ RAM? »
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


LinkBacks (?)
LinkBack to this Thread: http://www.mydellmini.com/forum/dell-mini-9-hardware-upgrades/155-integrated-gps-my-mini-9-a.html
Posted By For Type Date
Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Netbook - eCoustics.com This thread Refback 10-04-2009 02:09 PM
EeeUser Forum / CMS combo mod 1000he (hub+light+GPS+Duo Internalized) This thread Refback 09-04-2009 12:12 AM
Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Netbook | The Industry Standard This thread Refback 08-29-2009 06:27 PM
Ten ways to upgrade your netbook - netbooks - PC World This thread Refback 08-29-2009 11:19 AM
Ten ways to upgrade your netbook - netbooks - Good Gear Guide This thread Refback 08-29-2009 01:59 AM
Vansteen's Geek Chart This thread Refback 08-28-2009 02:15 AM
Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Netbook - Network World This thread Refback 08-27-2009 11:23 PM
Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Netbook - Business Center - PC World This thread Refback 08-27-2009 02:49 AM
brocksamson's Bookmarks on Delicious This thread Refback 07-23-2009 08:16 PM
MyDellMini Home This thread Refback 06-20-2009 12:38 PM
USB GPS - Hack a Day This thread Refback 05-27-2009 10:48 PM

Copyright © 2008-2011 MyDellMini.com.