Converting an AirPort Express to an Antenna Express

What You Need
basic electronics
hand tools
a power drill
a 9/64 drill bit
a 3/16 drill bit
*optional* protective tape
DVM (Digital Volt Meter)

WARNING: IF YOU DO THIS WRONG IT WILL FRY YOUR AIRPORT

If you are tool belt challenged, stop NOW

Get an Airport Express

Purchase a new AirPort Express Basestation from an Apple reseller. Should cost about $99.00

It should look like this.

 

Protect Your Investment!

Cover the AirPort Express with protective tape. This is a nice piece of hardware, and it would be a shame to get it scratched up.

Mark Antenna Holes

You now need to mark where you’re going to drill the holes for the antenna bases to come through. Take a ruler (or even better, a trisquare) and make line .5″ from the front (the side with a little dot) and from either side on the top of the AirPort. Where they cross is where your antenna will come through.

Take it Apart

Now turn your AirPort Express over. This is where the unit separates. You’re going use your paddles to remove the bottom. Stick the paddle in and gently pry the bottom out.

 

Drill Pilot Holes

Go to the top again. We’re going to drill our pilot hole now. Using your 9/64 bit, drill a hole at the cross marks you drew on the top of the unit.

Turn it over and Look for Holes

If you turn it over again, you’ll see where the holes come out of the bottom. It should be about where they come out in this picture.

Remove Screws

Ok, next we need to get the delicate electronics out of the case. Start by taking the Allen wrench and removing the screw. They’re where the picture shows where they are.

Remove Insides

After you get the screws out, use a small screw driver to remove the electronics.

Enlarge Holes

Now we’re going to drill a bigger hole with a 3/16 bit. This hole is for the hardware the antennas go on. The first hole that went all the way through serves as both a pilot hole and a hole for the antenna wires.

Insert Bases

Push the antenna attachment bases through the back.

Tighten Bases

Secure the base with a nut.

Put Electronics Back

Now get the electronics you took out earlier and put wires from the back of the bases you just installed through the holes you drilled earlier.

Solder Wires

For this step, you’re going to take the electronics section and turn it back over, as we need to solder the wires from the antennas to it now.

Solder to Chips

Strip a small section of plastic off and pull the wires back. Solder the center wire to the center prong of the U1514 and U1515 chip. Solder the outside wires to the gold circular test port.

Secure Electronics
Turn the electronics over and screw back in.
Secure Wires
Tape the loose wires down and put the bottom back on.
Add Antennas

Screw on the Antennas