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Inside a wireless access point with two PCB designs

31 Jul 2015  | Brian Dipert

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Back in January, my Belkin F5D7130 802.11g wireless access point had definitively failed one month earlier, after having previously cheated death in the spring of 2012 thanks to a DD-WRT open-source firmware transplant. The F5D7130 and I go back a long way, actually, in various hardware variants: the first iteration that I used looked like this:

And apparently at some point a narrower single-antenna model was also sold:

This particular iteration was a narrower two-antenna model:

It is differentiated by a cryptic "VER. 2001" label on the bottom cover:

How to take it apart? The rubber feet obscured no screws beneath them, but the sticker was a different story:

After removing the two Philips head screws, the gentle twisting application of a flat head screwdriver around the side edges of the device enabled separation of the top and bottom sections, revealing a dual-PCB sandwich inside:

Broadcom's BCM4306 base band/MAC (media access controller) chip on the supplemental PCB (above) dominates the initial-view landscape, along with a mysterious metal shield and, above it, the two antenna connectors and cables. Above and to the left of them (and just below the wired Ethernet connector) on the primary PCB (below) is a LANKom Electronics LF-H41S transformer. To the left of the Ethernet connector is the system reset switch; to the right is the 5V/2A "wall wart" power connector. On the far right of the primary PCB is a 20-pin connector, which I believe implements a JTAG port function. And in the bottom right corner is a Texas Instruments SN74LVC04A hex inverter, with a Philips (now NXP) 74LVC32A quad 2-input OR gate (PDF) below it.

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