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Adding a 2nd Wi-Fi antenna

I have an upgraded 802.11n card in my iMac (early 2006). It’s getting a max of 150Mbps off of the single antenna. Anyone think I could double that by buying a 2nd antenna and connecting it to the other antenna port on the card? I can get the exact antenna cable that’s inside this iMac for about $13. Seems to male sense to me, but maybe I’m missing something?

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Here we go....

First, specs:

iMac (Early 2006 20-inch)*

*Firmware updated to make it look like a late 2006

CPU: Upgraded Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 2.33GHz/4M/667MHZ/ (Socket M)

RAM: 2GB PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2

GPU: ATI Radeon X1600 256MB DDR3

Upgraded AirPort (Wi-Fi) card: Model No. BCM94321MC, 020-5280-A (pulled from a  2007-2007 MacBook 13”)

Drives: Samsung 840 250GB SSD, Slot-loading 8x DVD-RW-DL

OS Used: 10.8 Mt Mountain (hacked/patched), 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.4 Tiger

This iMac came with an 802.11b/g card. I originality choose the BCM94321MC card mostly out of convenience, and the fact that it is supported in 10.4 through (at least) 10.8. I have another card that has a 2x3 MIMO spec on it, but it doesn't work in 10.4 (there may be a way to get it working, but wasn't really worth the effort to me).

Also note that this iMac has an upgraded CPU, SSD, and the firmware was flashed to look like a late 2006 (Core 2 Duo) model. I used MacPostFactor to get Mac OS X 10,8 Mountain Lion running on this too.

Test results:
I ran each test 3 times, and picked the highest result (I was going to do average or mean, but would have wanted to run the test many more times to get a more actuate result, I'm playing it a little loose here).

I have Comcast consumer level cable internet spec'd at 1200Mbps down / 35Mbps up. I really get around 45Mbps up when testing from a wired computer. I use the 2013 AirPort Extreme that support 802.11ac (late draft spec, I don't think Apple ever fully ratified the final spec, but I don't think it matters).

This basically took the iMac from around 78Mbps to 113Mbps, so about a 45% increase. Not math shattering, but really does help with file transfers.

Detailed tests I did can be viewed on this image:

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How to:

1) Mount the antenna + board combo at the inside-top of the iMac, to the left of the original antenna. I used double-sided tape, but it wasn't holding well, so I added a little kapton tape to the sides of the antenna board, and was careful not to block any real antenna parts. Foam tape may work much better.

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2) Feed the cables down the side, following a similar path of the original antenna, and connect it to the 2nd antenna port on the wireless card.

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Quick note: I'm using internet as a gauge, since my LAN can vary by test connection, and I wanted something optimized for network packets. I'm seeing about the same results when running file transfer tests to my Mac Pro (that I use as a file server).


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Rick Karrer, 802.11n uses something called MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), which basically means that it uses multiple transmitters and receivers, which enables simultaneous operation in both ends of a device.

Theoretical max data speed rate is 300Mbit (450Mbit utilizing 3 antennas).

With correct configuration, you should boost your possible max rate, by adding a second antenna. But remember: 150Mbit is the theoretical max, not the actual max (lower)

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Thanks for your feedback. According to the OS, I’m getting around 121-162Mbps off of one antenna. I just used 150Mbps to generalize. I think getting the 2nd antenna is going to worth it, unless someone knows an odd technical why it wound wouldn’t in this iMac. I even have a 3 antenna card, maybe I’ll get 2 more for 3 total lol.


Good idea, but sadly harder to do in this iMac. Just connecting the cable won’t work as the systems shell acts as a shield preventing the signal in or out. If you note the WiFI antenna is where there is no metal shielding in the back. You need to mimic the second antenna at a distance from the first.


Thanks for your input! I ordered the 2nd antenna last night before seeing your comment. If it’s just a shielding issue, I’m happy to experiment with antenna placement, and maybe even remove some of the frame (as long as it doesn’t wearing the structure beyond a certain point). I’ll let everyone know how it goes.


@Rick Karrer - So what did you discover?


Hey everyone! It works great! I did a bunch of tests, and have photos and screenshots I want to put together when I get a chance, but the short answer is it works as I hoped. I could even put a 3rd antenna in and use another card, if I wanted to, but that card isn’t currently supported in 10.4. I have 10.4, 10.6, and 10.8 (hacked) installed in this iMac, and while I’ll mainly be using 10.8, I prefer to keep the 10.4 for nostalgia’s sake.


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