24th 2005f December, 2005

Adding internal Bluetooth

by @ 13:01. Filed under

Adding internal USB Bluetooth in a Dell Latitude

By Tom Beighly

USB Connector
I just bought a used Dell CPx laptop. It’s not that fast but it gets the job done. I have a Bluetooth cell phone that I wanted to use as a wireless modem when I can’t find a Wi-Fi hotspot. The CPx only has one USB port on the back but it shows two of them in the device manager. Inspired by TnkGrl I decided to try and tap the unused USB port and add a Bluetooth module internally. This would eliminate having the annoying dongle on the back of the laptop and also leave the USB port available for other uses.

USB Bluetooth adapter
Since the CPx is a fairly big laptop there is a little bit of room to play around with inside and I decided to try and keep the Bluetooth dongle as stock as I possibly could. TnkGrl had to remove the USB connector on her module for space reasons but I would rather leave it unmodified if possible. I had a USB-PS2 adapter that I wasn’t using so I ripped it apart and got the centre portion of the USB connector. This together with unsnapping the case of the Bluetooth dongle led to a very thin package although you can see the USB connector effectively doubles its length. If I didn’t have as much space to play with removing the connector would mean you could fit this just about anywhere.

Mount the dongle here
I found a nice empty spot right under the palm rest and between the battery and CD drive. I had to cut a little notch out so the wires could slip through but its not visible from the outside.

PCIset pinout
Now that I had a good mounting spot for the Bluetooth module I had to figure out how to hook it up. I followed the traces from the existing USB connector and they seemed to go to an Intel chip that had PCIset written on it. It also had FW82371MB across the top and after a little bit of searching I came across the datasheet for it. It indeed did have two USB port built in. By examining the datasheet I found the USB pins that I needed. The chip has a XY coordinate system for its pins. The pins in red are what I needed to tap into. Actually finding the pins was nice but pretty much useless, there’s no way I could get next to the chip to attach any wires, all the connections were hidden. By following the traces from the original USB connector I noticed that they went to the docking station connector first then to the chipset. This makes sense because normally with the USB in the back you have to remove any devices before you can dock the laptop. I know the docking station has two USB port instead of one so I figured they just added the connector on the docking station to the existing USB hub. Why they didn’t add two ports on the back of the laptop I’ll never know but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was simply to help the sales of the docking station.

Tapping power from the USB port
Tapping power from the USB port
I took power for the new USB port from the existing port since the chipset has a specific power plane that is used for the USB system. The data pins I got from tapping the docking station connector. The wire I used was from an old PS2 mouse; the mouse cable has four different coloured wires the perfect size for what I needed. I ran the wires up over the top of the board but that was probably a bad idea, next time I would run them underneath to keep them out of the way.

Bluetooth adapter mounted
With everything connected it was time to test it out. Success!! I had a few issues at first because I didn’t have good connections but once I fixed them it worked fine. Here it is all wired up and nestled in its new home. I ended up running some extra wire to the connector then folding it over to get it to sit nicely in the opening. I thought I might have to pad it a bit to stop it from rattling but the extra wire took care of that for me.

USB Bluetooth properties
I plugged in a USB thumb drive in the back and it still worked fine. Here’s the details for the USB hub now showing two devices connected.

The only downside to this hack is that because of the way the docking station works you will only be able to use one of the USB ports on it since one will always be used for the Bluetooth. I don’t have a docking station so that doesn’t really matter to me. It’s much more useful have the second port all the time instead of just with the docking station.

Because I used a standard USB connector I could switch out the Bluetooth with a Wi-Fi adapter if I found that to be more useful (assuming I could cram it inside somewhere).

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18 Responses to “Adding internal Bluetooth”

  1. lalaland Says:

    First Post! 😀

    Hmmm isn’t this just a rip off of other projects about embedding wlan in a laptop?

  2. Chris J. Says:

    lalaland: I wouldn’t say so as Tom is doing it in a different way by connecting the Bluetooth dongle direct to the existing usb controller and thus is using unallocated resources. Many other projects include installing an completely new usb hub.

  3. Pointman Says:

    Heads-up for anyone who may have written this option off because they don’t see additional USB ports in their hardware profile…

    I sympathize with the need for this project as I also only have one USB port on my Dell Inspiron 4150 laptop. However, I was faced
    With an additional challenge since no unallocated USB ports show up in my hardware device manager. After some research I learned
    that the bridge chip does, in fact, offer up to 3 USB ports but two are disabled by low-level software (preventing them from even
    showing up in the hardware profile) unless the laptop is docked. After ohming out a few of the docking port pins I was able to
    trick the laptop into thinking it was docked by tying pin 54 (labeled “Docked” in a service manual that cost me $5 on the web) high
    with a 2k resistor to pin 98 (labeled “+5Vsus” in the same manual). Bingo! Now I had access to TWO additional USB ports. I
    installed a BlueTooth dongle and then brought the other USB signals to a 4-pin header that I can choose to use at a later time.

    The only risk is that telling the laptop that it is docked may, in fact, be enabling lots of other unnecessary functionality which may
    in turn affect my battery life.(Assuming that the laptop counts on full A/C power when docked and doesn’t much care about conserving
    battery life at that point?) We’ll have to see how it performs over time…

    Also, a heads-up for anyone who happens to use the same Dell service manual I found: The pin numbering listed for the docking port
    is reversed! Hard to explain without the diagram in front of you, but I would strongly recommend ohming out a few of the known
    pins(ground, parallel port pins, etc.) to confirm whether or not the figure is true or reversed.

  4. aZzA Says:

    Oh… Nice Job!!!

  5. Xavier Says:

    well I was wondering how can I add internal bluetooth to my sony VGN FJ170B

  6. d1 Says:

    Wouldnt it work for those “flash drives” for my FOSA NB-34B? I sort of needed more hard disk storage since i got lots of things and junk crammed in its small 20Gb hard disk.

  7. Shpimuletz Says:

    I’m just finised job an i’m not satisfied coz not work with out dock station.
    Pointman,would you like to tell as if will proced your solution with that 2k resistor,will be the problem when should conect my netbook to the dock station?

  8. Shoimuletz Says:

    Done :) Work fine… between 54 – 98. total satisfied.Thasnk’s all.

  9. alg Says:

    does anyone know what happens to this hack when you plug the laptop into a docking station (and then try to use the usb ports). Surely this will cause problems as you are trying to plug to devices in the same port without a hub, which sounds pretty dodgey to me !, and may actually damage something.

    other than that sounds intresting

  10. Alexander Says:

    If you have two USB devices on the same cable–as you will here–then you most likely will not fry anything, as the usb standard is setup to detect and prevent such things from happening.

    Worst case is that none of your USB devices will work until you remove both units from the line, at which point they will be restored.

    Best case is that one of them works–the one that was connected first–and the other will cause no harm to the system.

    I would sugguest that if you have a docking station and you need more than the usb ports that it provides you purchase a hub and put it in the port that is free and epoxy over the port that is ‘in use’.

  11. sjon Says:


    is it possible to connect a usb 2.0 device to the docking connector with a cable or somthing else
    please if you have a solution to help me i can use some of mine usb 2.0 devices on my laptop

    Sjon Kortekaas

  12. adam Says:

    i brought a bluetooth wireless adapter(range:300ft)for my computer(not laptop)hoping that i could browse on the internet via another wireless in range, but unfortunately i CANT! can ANYONE PLZ PLZ give me a step by step guide on how to do this plz> thanks

  13. kumar Says:

    hi i am looking for internal blutooth i have space in my laptop for blutooth my laptop acer aspire5630 if anyone know where can i buy this thank

  14. dialup_2001 Says:

    Kumar, there are people on ebay who sell 8,6 or 4 pin bluetooth internal modules for the acer aspire 5630/5633 range of laptops. Because acer use the same plastics for many of there range you should already have the blueooth switch on the front. Thanks.

  15. PoOh Says:

    Just done it on a Dell Latitude C400 lightweight laptop. Not that much space available to put the hacked Bluetooth adapter but it worked well . I had to do the false docking trick with pin 54 + 98. Bump for a good trick!

  16. oblus Says:

    hey, from where you have this docking station connector specification, is this spec available in web?

  17. chrisman01 Says:

    Could this same method be used to add internal Wi-Fi?

  18. Thomas Says:

    Service manuals for Dell laptops are all on their website.

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