Installing USB Bluetooth adapter inside

posted in: Hardware | 58

Here’s how I installed an external USB Bluetooth adapter inside my laptop case.

My old computer wasn’t Bluetooth ready, it didn’t have the internal connector and antenna for it. I decided to modify my USB dongle and move it inside the case.

USB Bluetooth adapter

I didn’t want to use my laptop with an adapter sticking out from the side.

Bluetooth adapter connected to laptop

First of all, I installed Bluetooth adapter software on my computer to make sure everything is working fine while it’s connected to the USB port.

Bluetooth software installed

For this modification you’ll need:
1. Laptop disassembly experience.
2. Soldering skills and tools.
3. Inexpensive USB Bluetooth adapter.

This modification is only for experienced users.  You can damage your computer. Proceed on your own risk!

This guide should works for most computers as long as you have enough space to mount the Bluetooth module inside the case.

First of all, I disassembled the case and found a place for the adapter.

In this guide I’m modifying a Toshiba Satellite A105.

Place for Bluetooh inside laptop

My idea was simple. Remove the Bluetooth adapter circuit board and solder it directly to one of the USB ports.

NOTE: after this modification one of the USB ports will not work.

USB connection for Bluetooth

I found some thin wires laying around.
Make sure that wires are long enough for your project.

Measure wires

Disassembled the adapter and remove the circuit board.

Take apart Bluetooth adapter

Unsolder the USB connector.

Unsolder USB connector

The circuit board easily fits into the empty place inside the laptop.

Bluetooth module inside laptop

I soldered four wires to the circuit board. I used terminals for the USB connector.

Solder wires to Bluetooth module

After that I soldered wires to the back of the USB port.

Solder wires to USB connector

At the last step I installed the Bluetooth circuit board into the case and routed wires to the USB port.

I secured wires to the motherboard with electrical tape.

Route wires inside laptop

Finally, assembled the laptop and tested it. There is no on/off hardware switch for the Bluetooth module but I can turn it on and off through software.

Bluetooth module installed

Later I found that the reception range wasn’t as good as for external adapter but it was enough for me.

58 Responses

  1. Hello.. I did a search on google for bluetooth adapters and clicked on images. I have the SAME adapter you used on this page, “How I installed external Bluetooth adapter inside my laptop”. Can I ask a BiG favor of you.. I lost my driver disc for mine. Can you please help me out and either tell me the manufacturer of this adapter or possibly send me a copy of yours. I plug it in and it sees my DROID, but won’t do anything else with out the driver.

    I thank you much in advance..

  2. Unless you are totally dependent on your laptop, you should do this just for kicks. I am going to install a PC expansion slot on my brand new w530, using similar techniques. Except I’ll be sure to make it so I can continue to use all of my external ports. And I might even add another port to the back of my machine.

    And for Larry Holmes: who are you to tell people not to do anything they want with their computers? Who cares if you void the warranty? I’ve never used a warranty in my life. If something happens, I’ll buy another mobo and done deal. Mind your own business, Larry. You busy-body.

  3. udayanka


  4. @ vivek,

    my lap is lenovo my internal bluetooth is not working so can i use external device

    Yes, you can use an external USB Bluetooth adapter. Just google it and you should be able to find one for about $10.

  5. hi,
    1 my lap is lenovo my internal bluetooth is not working so can i use external device .
    2 can u tell external device price

    thanking u

  6. I did this mod before I saw your article. I was able to also fit a small 2-port USB expander in addition to the USB dongle; the dongle was one of the ultra-small ones now available, meant to be left in the computer all the time. I thought about just using that, because it is so small, but I wanted to free the USB port.

    I connected the 2-port USB expander to the laptop’s main pc board (after I had disconnected the two signal pins of the connector from the pc board), where the connector was soldered to the pc board. This was tricky and I had to use extreme magnification because of poor eyesight. I connected the GND and +5v power from the connector pins to the expander, as you show in your instructions, also leaving them connected to the USB connector in the laptop.

    I connected the dongle to one of the 2-port expansion connector’s USB pins after removing the connector itself from the expander p.c. board. The dongle was sealed in plastic so I had to leave that connector in place and carefully solder directly to the pins; I probably could have hacked it open somehow but I decided not to; it did not add much to the space required for the dongle to fit inside.

    I connected the pins from the other 2-port expander’s connector pins on its p.c. board, again, after removing the connector itself to reduce the size of the expander p.c. board, to the corresponding pads on the laptop main p.c. board where the USB connector had been soldered. Since these are all surface mount connectors, if they are carefully de-soldered using proper tools and techniques, the pads will be left intact, and the connecting wires may be soldered to them without the need to work on the back side of the laptop main p.c. board, which in my case, meant I could do everything from the top of the p.c. board with only the keyboard removed from the case. I also used a de-soldering “machine” I have left from one of my past businesses, to do all the de-soldering, which allowed me to avoid damaging the main p.c. board. A “solder sucker” or braid COULD be used, but you’d need to be VERY VERY GOOD at this or you will probably damage one or more of the pads on the laptop main p.c. board as you remove connectors and add wires.

    I then tested it by setting up and using the Bluetooth with a mouse and headphones, using software that came with them or was on my laptop. I plugged a USB keyboard into the regular USB connector on my laptop and verified that it worked.

    I wrapped the two p.c. boards in some very thin tape which is used to repair garden hoses and so forth; it cures after it is wrapped on itself and the adhesive reacts. It is much thinner than electrical tape. Since all this equipment was difficult to fit inside the laptop, I was glad to have the extra tenth of an inch or so I got from using this tape, but I could probably have used electrical tape and made it work.

    As you mentioned in your article, I had to experiment a bit, trying to fit the case back together with the two p.c. boards and wires tucked into spaces inside. Because there are spaces intended for some other expansion modules inside my Toshiba a505-s6986, but the connectors were not installed on the laptop’s main p.c. board, there was room for me to put the two p.c. boards into those spaces (with some trimming, pushing and shoving, that is, all done with the greatest care, of course) without the need to find another space somewhere else. This was fortunate because I don’t think there WAS a space somewhere else! Luckily, I was able to do all this by removing only the keyboard and bracket, and some small parts, which were put back when I closed the laptop back up.

    A very difficult and tedious “hack”, which of course, would void my warranty, (although it worked out so well, I believe I could remove everything and return the laptop to factory condition much easier than it was to do the “hack” in the first place without modifying anything in the process).

    The result was what I needed. Even though I have four USB connectors on my laptop, it was much more convenient and, in one case, physically possible, to have the bluetooth dongle inside the case, freeing up the USB connection for another add-on I needed to use there. The addition of the 2-port expander (which I bought at WalMart some time ago for about $6) made it all work out; I now have an internal Bluetooth addition to my laptop, with 4 USB connections free for use with other peripherals. If I could not have fit the expander in the case, I would not have installed the dongle there, since it was so small it did not stick out when plugged into the USB connector on the laptop. Adding the expander gave me Bluetooth internally AND the standard 4 USB connectors.

    This required all my “skill” acquired after many years of working as first and technician, then, an engineer, to get everything inside the laptop, and, to measure power consumption, loading of the internal parts, as well as the USB power, to make sure this would all work without taxing my laptop power too much. YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT THIS HACK UNLESS YOU ARE ALSO SKILLED AT SOLDERING, MEASURING ELECTRICAL VALUES, AND ALSO, FITTING THE HARDWARE INTO YOUR LAPTOP WITHOUT DAMAGING IT.

    To be honest, it probably isn’t worth doing for most people, as the new mini dongles which are available to add Bluetooth simply by plugging into a USB connection are so small they will almost disappear into the side of a laptop, so why bother with all this just to have them tucked inside, and risk damaging your laptop? If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t!!

    Larry Holmes
    LightSpeed Technologies

  7. oyewole

    pls i wnt to knw hw my admn password can b remove without formatting my system.

  8. Richie

    I had same problem with my laptop Toshiba M70-340 and i like the idia, but some old model laptop are design only for its battery consumption, that’s why the manufacturer design it for removable device such as bluetooth if the usb device attach permanently the battery will suffer, but im not telling you that your idia is wrong maybe you can improve it by putting a switch just like the switch of the Wi-fi modem (WLAN)

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