Question I have to tip my laptop to receive a wireless signal

Jun 8, 2018
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I have a Dell Inspiron 15 2yrs old. WiFi card Qualcomm QCA9565. Internet DSL at 12Mb from Frontier Comm., router Arris NVG443B running at 2.4MHz.
Sitting beside the router, d/l speed is 10.5Mb using Frontier's speedtest, avg over 3 runs. ~15ft away, 3.4Mb. ~30ft 0.0Mb because by ~30ft the signal has been dropped. But, if I tip the laptop so the keyboard is leaning 45 deg. or so, I get an avg signal of 1.4Mb. This problem is not unique to my home network. Have 2 other laptops plus tablet that have no signal issues.
Hardwired to the router, everything is fine. Ran network troubleshooter, both next to the router and again after losing the signal, got "problem with wireless adapter or access point" which was 'fixed' near the router, but still existed after the WiFi signal was lost, and failed to fix. Uninstalled and reinstalled driver. Turned off all other wireless devices, booted in Safe Mode with Network, Reverted to a Restore Point about 3 months earlier then updated Windows 10 to latest build, and WiFi driver to its latest. Reset the WiFi card to mfg. settings. Scanned for viruses, et al. Uninstalled any software than used the Internet that I did not absolutely trust, used CCleaner to clean both the HDD and the registry. Cracked the case, checked that the card was seated, and the antenna was attached. Changed from 2.4 to 5MHz, reset the WiFi channel, reset the router, swapped out the router. Compared and matched EVERY setting to one of the other laptops that had any relationship to networking, but that would not adversely effect hardware. I found and fixed a few things, but nothing that affected this problem.
This has been happening for a few months, getting progressively worse, but I have tolerated it because I have a generous gut I can lean the laptop against. But now, the signal has become intolerably slow, and since I've started digging into this I have to keep going.
Can a WiFi card fail and still be able to receive as described? The antenna? another hardware problem? My wedding ring?
What did I miss? And, who can help me out if I need to buy a new laptop?
Thanks all,
tjchris
 
I would not buy a new laptop unless you really want one. The wifi cards are very standard and you should be able to get a inexpensive one and attempt replacing it. You should verify that you do not have one of those rare laptops that they restict the cards in the bios but mostly that was HP that did that and their newer stuff no longer does that.
 
Your laptop's WiFi has two antennas located in the screen, one oriented horizontally, one oriented vertically. The WiFi card will use whichever antenna provides the stronger signal.

WiFi signals are polarized - the orientation matters. And with the antennas on the router pointed up/down, the polarity is going to be up/down, meaning it's the vertical antenna which picks up the strongest signal.

From your description, it sounds like your vertical antenna has broken or become disconnected. That's probably why tilting your laptop improves signal. The horizontal antenna normally sits perpendicular to your router's signal polarity so captures nearly no signal, but tilting it allows it to intercept more of the signal.

The quickest thing to check is to see if the antenna has become disconnected. This is actually somewhat common. Open up the bottom of the laptop and locate the WiFi card. It'll have two wires leading to it (a few have 3), attached by button connectors. Sometimes the wire pops off the connector, and all you have to do is press it back in place. (Apologies for the ad-laden link, but they had the best pictures.)


Another remote possibility is that one of the button connectors on the WiFi card has broken. In that case you can replace the WiFi card, or if you want to be cheap, swap the two antennas so that the vertical one is the one connected to the card's working connector.

If everything at the WiFi card seems to be fine, then it's possible your vertical antenna has physically broken. Since the antenna passes from the laptop chassis to the screen, every time you open/close the lid, the antenna is being bent. So it's not impossible for the antenna to break from too many lid open/close cycles. Replacement antennas are cheap (they're just a wire cut to a certain length), but installing it may be difficult since you need to disassemble the laptop lid to get inside.

"Why not just tilt one of the router antennas so it's horizontal?" The signal propagates out perpendicular to the antenna. So if it's pointed up/down, the signal propagates out to the sides (imagine a donut dropped onto it so the antenna goes through the hole). If you tilt the antenna so it's horizontal, it will propagate up/down and to two sides, but the areas of the house towards the two ends of the antenna will get poor coverage. But if your house is narrow or there are only certain areas of the house where you use the laptop, then yes tilting one of the router antennas could very well work.
 
Reactions: LWheeler_MCSA_CCNA
Mar 3, 2019
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Your laptop's WiFi has two antennas located in the screen, one oriented horizontally, one oriented vertically. The WiFi card will use whichever antenna provides the stronger signal.

WiFi signals are polarized - the orientation matters. And with the antennas on the router pointed up/down, the polarity is going to be up/down, meaning it's the vertical antenna which picks up the strongest signal.

From your description, it sounds like your vertical antenna has broken or become disconnected. That's probably why tilting your laptop improves signal. The horizontal antenna normally sits perpendicular to your router's signal polarity so captures nearly no signal, but tilting it allows it to intercept more of the signal.

The quickest thing to check is to see if the antenna has become disconnected. This is actually somewhat common. Open up the bottom of the laptop and locate the WiFi card. It'll have two wires leading to it (a few have 3), attached by button connectors. Sometimes the wire pops off the connector, and all you have to do is press it back in place. (Apologies for the ad-laden link, but they had the best pictures.)


Another remote possibility is that one of the button connectors on the WiFi card has broken. In that case you can replace the WiFi card, or if you want to be cheap, swap the two antennas so that the vertical one is the one connected to the card's working connector.

If everything at the WiFi card seems to be fine, then it's possible your vertical antenna has physically broken. Since the antenna passes from the laptop chassis to the screen, every time you open/close the lid, the antenna is being bent. So it's not impossible for the antenna to break from too many lid open/close cycles. Replacement antennas are cheap (they're just a wire cut to a certain length), but installing it may be difficult since you need to disassemble the laptop lid to get inside.

"Why not just tilt one of the router antennas so it's horizontal?" The signal propagates out perpendicular to the antenna. So if it's pointed up/down, the signal propagates out to the sides (imagine a donut dropped onto it so the antenna goes through the hole). If you tilt the antenna so it's horizontal, it will propagate up/down and to two sides, but the areas of the house towards the two ends of the antenna will get poor coverage. But if your house is narrow or there are only certain areas of the house where you use the laptop, then yes tilting one of the router antennas could very well work.
Exactly what this guy said.

So if you open the bottom of your laptop you will find a little chip plugged into an mSATA/PCI slot. There will be two wires that are supposed to be connected to it (usually a black one and a white one or two black) make sure they are snapped onto the little pegs or get an external/USB adapter.
 

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