Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

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MattShirley
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Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

Hello! First off, I'm very new to working on hardware projects and low level programming. My apologies if I am missing some basic concepts.

I just ordered an Odroid N2+ after the recent restock and I'm very excited for it to arrive. While ordering, I noticed HK does not provide WiFi/Bluetooth on any of their boards. Fine, while I want WiFi/Bluetooth, I can see why the HK designers might not want to include this out of the box. While I am aware of the external USB dongle (I ordered one), I really want these features inside the case. I am really surprised that there isn't an expansion board to add these features, or even any documented best practice way to add these pretty common features.

Given the lack of official HK expansion board, I'm wondering what options do I have?

1. What I'm hoping the most straightforward option would be to buy a USB header to USB host/port adapter like this and plug the HK dongle directly into the board: https://www.amazon.com/TRIPP-Motherboar ... NH355B81AC

My understanding is that there is no USB header port on the N2+ board (please let me know if this is wrong). Is it possible to use the GPIO pins? My understanding is a four port USB header includes a 5v power, grounding (easy enough), along with what is listed as D+ and D-, which I imagine are used for uploading and downloading data. Is it possible to wire the D- and D+ pins to GPIO pins? Then what would I need to do, load drivers somehow that support the USB protocol?

(I also found this link https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/view ... hp?t=11558 on the Raspberry Pi board and the replies indicate its GPIO can not be used for USB without some kind of hardware support, so maybe this is not worth pursuing if the same logic applies to Odroid)

2. Similar to the above post, I found this Raspberry Pi USB expansion board: https://www.amazon.com/Ethernet-USB-HUB ... B07T16RSFM Any leads on what it would take to get this working on the N2+?

3. Another option is provided by this thread for the GO Advance (viewtopic.php?f=193&t=37577&p=282890&hi ... fi#p282890), soldering a small hub onto an actual USB controller (perhaps the micro USB OTG on the front), and using that. I've never soldered anything before, but the idea is reasonably straight forward and has the benefit of likely not needing any software changes because it's already a USB controller.

4. It looks like there are some WiFi/Bluetooth boards for the Raspberry Pi Zero (which includes neither): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/re ... or-pi-zero Similar to above, I have no idea how much work it would take to adapt these for Odroid and would appreciate any advice.

5. I went ahead and ordered this ESP32 Feather module https://www.adafruit.com/product/3591 I'm going to try and get an electrical engineer friend help me piece it together. I noticed this message board has an Arduino integration module, so perhaps that can help with it (viewtopic.php?f=180&t=37713).

Anyways, thoughts on either of these two options? Any additional ideas to pursue? Though the USB dongle isn't terrible by any means, internal WiFi/Bluetooth seems like a pretty common feature so I'm very open to any ideas the community has. Some of my ideas are focused on supporting the HK USB dongle, but I'm open to other options like utilizing an Espressif/ESP chip.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by odroid »

1. There is no USB header port. There is no way to implement USB interface signals on the GPIO header either.
2. It uses a USB host port on the RPi.
3. You can try it.
4. If you have enough soldering/wiring skills, you can try the SDIO interface on the 40-pin GPIO header something like this wiki page. But, you need to develop & compile a few kernel driver modules by yourself.
https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi
5. Serial over WiFi will not be what you want probably.

I think an WiFi Module 5B with an OTG cable might be a simpler solution for you.
https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/usb2-0-otg-cable/
https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/wifi-module-5b/

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

odroid wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 10:11 am
1. There is no USB header port. There is no way to implement USB interface signals on the GPIO header either.
2. It uses a USB host port on the RPi.
3. You can try it.
4. If you have enough soldering/wiring skills, you can try the SDIO interface on the 40-pin GPIO header something like this wiki page. But, you need to develop & compile a few kernel driver modules by yourself.
https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi
5. Serial over WiFi will not be what you want probably.

I think an WiFi Module 5B with an OTG cable might be a simpler solution for you.
https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/usb2-0-otg-cable/
https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/wifi-module-5b/
Thanks, I really appreciate your timely feedback. You referenced this article: https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi Obviously this isn't your product to support, but is the DIY shield referenced on that article not very similar to the Feather module? https://www.adafruit.com/product/3591 Could the pins on the Feather module not be connected to the GPIO pins (likely without soldering even) in a similar manner? Adafruit also lists this one without a USB-to-serial (which you recommended against) https://www.adafruit.com/product/4172

The software installation instructions are reasonably straightforward, as long as the C4 instructions are similar to the N2+ instructions.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by odroid »

We don't know about the Feather module well. I only know the ESP8089 chipset is very different from ESP32.
Since SDIO interface clock speed is over 25Mhz, you have solder wires as short as possible to minimize the signal distortion.
As per our test, SDIO ESP8089 WiFi connection showed only 40Mbps while the USB WiFi Module 5B showed over 200Mbps throughput.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mad_ady »

First of all, I'm not a wifi fan because of its unreliability, so I prefer cables when possible.
But in your case, here's my advice:
1. Run tests with your usb wifi dongle with the N2 in its final position. Record upload/download speeds
2. Use a 1-2m usb extension cable and run the same tests. Compare with results at step 1. Depending on position you should get better results.

If you move the wifi inside the case expect worse performance than in step 1!

A SDIO wifi adapter has less throughput than the usb one!

Now, the two main problems with wifi inside the case (for N2) are:
- attenuation/shielding caused by the massive metal heatsink
- RF interference caused by usb3 devices

Both problems are fixed by placing the antenna further away (0.5/1m) from the SBC.

For best internal performance in your case you should:
- make sure the heatsink is not between the wifi module and your AP
- avoid using usb3 devices that draw a lot of power (e.g. storage)

If you still want to continue, I'd try with a usb-wifi dongle. Look at the N2 schematics and see if there are exposed pads for D+ and D- for the otg port. If yes, attach short dupont cables to them and get 5V/GND from the GPIO pins. I think @codewalker made some changes to dt overlay so that you can force the microusb to host mode.

If there are no pads, you can consider unsoldering the microusb connector

@odroid when the chip shortage ends and you are designing a new board you should consider (if cost permits) to leave an unpopulated header for D+ and D- next to the OTG port so that people that need to hook up an internal usb device can do so. If they were to use both OTG and an internal device at the same time it wouldn't work, without causing an electrical issue, right?

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by odroid »

@mad_ady,
Adding some branch patterns to the hi-speed LVDS interface signal lines will break impedance matching certainly.
It will cause very unstable USB functionality.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

I'm sorry I giggled just a bit when I read the first post, but the OP's opinion is very valid - s/he wants to have WiFi connectivity and prefers not to have anything sticking out of a box.
Fair enough, but as it has been pointed out, even if that is done, the performance will be very poor, unless you have a separate antenna sticking out, pretty much like all wifi-enabled boards do, except of RPi. In the latter case, Wifi works so bad you use a separate dongle if you need it to work reliably.
Oh, and Wifi/Bluetooth pair in RasPis most often doesn't work simultaneously.
And finally, personally I like the option of upgrading peripherals, so I definitely prefer adding them according to my needs. Perhaps an elegant compromise would be to add a vertical USB port on future products, so a small dongle could fit into the case?
odroid wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:43 pm
@mad_ady,
Adding some branch patterns to the hi-speed LVDS interface signal lines will break impedance matching certainly.
It will cause very unstable USB functionality.
If we talk USB2.0, I don't think this is that easy to break, but it is worth noting there is a risk indeed. It's not 230V AC that goes through anything.
You could use a stripped USB cable as an extension, and eliminate branches by cutting excessive traces after soldering.
Still, this is not a job for someone who has never soldered before.
Also, this is all overkill for something that should stick out of a box in the first place.
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by tobetter »

We've tested this earlier on ODROID-C4, but I think it would work on ODROID-N2/N2Plus as well.
https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

That leads to the internal wiki, so we don't have access to it. :)
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

I don't have much to add right now other than to thank everyone for offering advice. Even if you're just telling me what's not possible, it's helpful to know what is and isn't worth pursuing. :D

One point of clarification, I don't mind an antenna sticking out the back. It's just something about relying on the dongle seems "impermanent" and less than ideal. But perhaps I will have to sacrifice my aesthetic preference, and as others have pointed out, the USB dongle might even get better performance than what I actually want. Regardless, I'd like to continue working on this idea (even if it doesn't become my "daily driver") and would appreciate hearing further feedback. After all, I would love to learn more about hardware and low level programming in general (I'm a Python web developer, so it's a bit away from my normal environment).
tobetter wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:26 pm
We've tested this earlier on ODROID-C4, but I think it would work on ODROID-N2/N2Plus as well.
https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi
I don't have permission to view that page, but I saw that you were credited on the C4 DIY ESP32 project (https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi), so would definitely appreciate any input. Do you see any major issue using a break out board like Adafruit sells (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3591) instead of soldering directly onto the ESP32 chip?

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by tobetter »

@MattShirley, Sorry for the wrong link, please use this.
https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c4/appli ... dware/wifi
viewtopic.php?f=205&t=40754

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

MattShirley wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:39 pm
t's just something about relying on the dongle seems "impermanent" and less than ideal.
There is a false belief in circulation even in some IT communities, that USB is somehow less reliable than built-in solutions.
The fact is, however, that built-in solutions often use exactly the same USB link - just routed on a board instead of a bunch of wires.
Keyboard, mouse, webcam, card reader, sound adapter and LAN are usually connected via USB in most laptops, yet nobody questions their reliability. ;)

USB 2.0 is much faster (480Mbps) than any modern WiFi link, so you're not risking suboptimal performance at all. The bottleneck is always the performance of WiFi dongle itself, so you're in a winning position when you actually can replace it.
I prefer Gigabit cable, but I understand there are people who choose 10-20x slower links for convenience. ;)

The DIY WiFi shield sure is fun to make, but I cannot say it performs any better than USB dongle. If I had to guess, I'd say no, 8xGPIO are not faster than USB 2.0. And I believe the performance was not a goal of this otherwise cool project.

I highly recommend using N2+ as a daily driver.
Sent from my N2+ :)
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

mctom wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:47 pm
MattShirley wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:39 pm
t's just something about relying on the dongle seems "impermanent" and less than ideal.
There is a false belief in circulation even in some IT communities, that USB is somehow less reliable than built-in solutions.
The fact is, however, that built-in solutions often use exactly the same USB link - just routed on a board instead of a bunch of wires.
Keyboard, mouse, webcam, card reader, sound adapter and LAN are usually connected via USB in most laptops, yet nobody questions their reliability. ;)

USB 2.0 is much faster (480Mbps) than any modern WiFi link, so you're not risking suboptimal performance at all. The bottleneck is always the performance of WiFi dongle itself, so you're in a winning position when you actually can replace it.
I prefer Gigabit cable, but I understand there are people who choose 10-20x slower links for convenience. ;)

The DIY WiFi shield sure is fun to make, but I cannot say it performs any better than USB dongle. If I had to guess, I'd say no, 8xGPIO are not faster than USB 2.0. And I believe the performance was not a goal of this otherwise cool project.

I highly recommend using N2+ as a daily driver.
Sent from my N2+ :)
My concern is more the dongle than the USB interface. I'd prefer to have the entire unit "self contained" rather than rely on peripherals, but like I said I understand this is more an aesthetic choice. Several of my ideas were based on enclosing a USB dongle inside the device (ideally with an exposed antenna), which I think would be an improvement over having the entire dongle jutting out the back. I do hope that HK considers adding an internal USB header or USB support over GPIO in the future, as it would seem to support this request as well as likely many other tinkering ideas.

When I said "daily driver" I was referring specifically to the ESP32 internal WiFi module. I'd love to get it working, but all locations in my house are wired for ethernet anyways. I'm really looking forward to getting the N2+ in general. I have an RPi4 and an Asus Tinker Board 2. I got the Tinker Board to sideload the Microsoft Game Pass xCloud streaming mode in Android on the TV (RPi has no hardware video decoding support in the community built LineageOS image so couldn't handle the app), which works really great. However, the TB did poorly on GameCube/Dolphin emulation, and things like Slash TV and some YouTube videos lead me to the N2+ as the best option. Once I get the board, I'm sure my brain will shift to the software side and trying to squeeze as much performance for these applications as possible. I'd also like to build an AOSP image in TV mode for the N2+, which I ~think~ can be done completely based on AOSP repos (no proprietary software) but I'm sure will be its own fun project.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by L67GS »

There's a hardware solution that would be simple but perhaps undesirable as you'd lose 2 USB plugs.
USB plugs are a standard 2.54mm pitch so they could be desoldered and replaced with a 2.54mm DuPont header and you'd have internal USB.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

N2+ has 4x USB3.0 ports, so their footprints are much more complicated than that. :)
And I wouldn't dare doing custom wiring for anything above USB2.0.

But I like the idea, excellent thinking out of a box! :)
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

L67GS wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:25 am
There's a hardware solution that would be simple but perhaps undesirable as you'd lose 2 USB plugs.
USB plugs are a standard 2.54mm pitch so they could be desoldered and replaced with a 2.54mm DuPont header and you'd have internal USB.
Thanks for this. Are you aware of any USB products that could be soldered that would expose one external USB port and one internal header? Also, any chance a USB 2.0 can be soldered to a USB 3.0 port to reduce the problem? I might try and acquire some cheap used boards to experiment with this. I'm sure soldering is a skill I should have anyways. :D

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by L67GS »

Theses are hard to find:
https://www.odroid.co.uk/connector-pack-for-odroid-c0
The old C0 connector pack had provisions for a single or dual USB, I suspect the N2 uses the same dual so that single would likely go right back into the outer row of holes. So you'd have a single USB with a 4 pin header behind.

Disclaimer: **Wait for a HK rep to confirm my suspicion**

A word on desoldering, if you attack the USB with a conventional iron it will possibly end with lifted traces. Going this route I'd recommend taking the board and parts to your friendly neighborhood T.V. repairman. Now that T.V.'s are more or less disposable they could use the business and it should only be a few bucks anyway.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

There you go again... I said this is not a USB2.0 port :D

This is the connector that would need to be removed:
https://www.icbanq.com/icdownload/data/ ... )4A001.pdf
22 pins, four of which are just for mechanical sturdiness. If you really think about removing that, you'd need at least a desoldering gun and a bit of luck to not rip off any trace - including inner layers.

And then you may try fitting something like that:
https://www.wellco.com.tw/PDF/USB%203.0 ... IP_180.pdf

9 USB pins should fit, but the two bigger ones holding the socket in place won't. Don't even think about drilling extra holes in the board. But, if you wanna be a maker, I'll let you figure out this one. ;)

Disclaimer: This is a terrible idea, please don't do it.

EDIT: No need to bug HK with any suspicions. This is open source hardware, you download schematics, get part numbers, google their datasheets and you know everything.
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by L67GS »

mctom wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:39 am
N2+ has 4x USB3.0 ports, so their footprints are much more complicated than that. :)
And I wouldn't dare doing custom wiring for anything above USB2.0.

But I like the idea, excellent thinking out of a box! :)
He's right, I just read this.
N2plusboarddetailh_704x512.jpg
N2plusboarddetailh_704x512.jpg (115.04 KiB) Viewed 432 times
There are single USB 3.0 ports that look like they would work, I have one in front of me now. But you'd now be breaking the unoccupied one out directly to wires because of the funky footprint.
20210624_121745.jpg
20210624_121745.jpg (287.3 KiB) Viewed 432 times

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

I'm pretty sure goldpin breakout boards don't work with 5Gbps data rates too well :D
Not to mention..
odroid wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:43 pm
@mad_ady,
Adding some branch patterns to the hi-speed LVDS interface signal lines will break impedance matching certainly.
It will cause very unstable USB functionality.
Guys, seriously, before it gets more ridiculous than that. This is not a LED mod for 1998 Civic. The only way to even attempt such a feat is to replace a connector with another compatible connector, by someone who has years of experience in soldering. I am an EE with 10+ years of experience in the industry, and wouldn't ever risk a brand new computer just to hide a 10mm long dongle.
I just screwed my N2+ board to the bottom of my desk, never to be seen again. You guys reminded me how this thing even looks like.
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by crashoverride »

mctom wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:31 am
Guys, seriously, before it gets more ridiculous than that.
For sake of discussion (not implementation), I will point out the following:

1) It is possible to find WIFI/BT modules from other board makers that use the SDIO interface.
2) The eMMC port should be capable of providing the required SDIO signals.
3) The GPIO header should be capable of providing the required serial port for BT on the module.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by tobetter »

mctom wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:47 pm
The DIY WiFi shield sure is fun to make, but I cannot say it performs any better than USB dongle. If I had to guess, I'd say no, 8xGPIO are not faster than USB 2.0. And I believe the performance was not a goal of this otherwise cool project.
Just in case for sure, the interface in the shield is to use SDIO interface. Performance wise, obvisously USB is way faster than SDIO.

Not sure if this adaptor can fit to N2 OTG port. :)
https://ko.aliexpress.com/item/33013207 ... c0426e4-20
https://ko.aliexpress.com/item/32849089 ... 2dc22634-3

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

Thank you everyone for contributing to this discussion. I'm very glad to get a diverse range of perspectives.

@tobetter just posted ideas about USB directional adapters. I just ordered one of these in the name of simplicity: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NX9Y774?ps ... yp_imgToDp

Also, regarding the USB 3.0 soldering, I understand the USB 3.0 pins are much more complicated than USB 2.0. I was wondering if a USB 2.0 could be soldered directly onto a USB 3.0 board using some subset of the pins. I'm going to take a wild guess that the answer is "no" though. :)
Last edited by MattShirley on Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by tobetter »

MattShirley wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:56 am
Thank you everyone for contributing to this discussion. I'm very glad to get a diverse range of perspectives.

@tobetter just posted ideas about USB directional adapters. I just ordered one of these in the name of simplicity: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NX9Y774?ps ... yp_imgToDp
Ok, there is another type...but I wonder, for the space, using the adapter is not much different to insert a small USB Wifi dongle?

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by MattShirley »

tobetter wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:04 am
MattShirley wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:56 am
Thank you everyone for contributing to this discussion. I'm very glad to get a diverse range of perspectives.

@tobetter just posted ideas about USB directional adapters. I just ordered one of these in the name of simplicity: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NX9Y774?ps ... yp_imgToDp
Ok, there is another type...but I wonder, for the space, using the adapter is not much different to insert a small USB Wifi dongle?
For sure. This is all in the name of experimentation though (and who doesn't want to have a 180 degree USB adapter lying around?).

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by tobetter »

MattShirley wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:05 am
tobetter wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:04 am
MattShirley wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:56 am
Thank you everyone for contributing to this discussion. I'm very glad to get a diverse range of perspectives.

@tobetter just posted ideas about USB directional adapters. I just ordered one of these in the name of simplicity: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NX9Y774?ps ... yp_imgToDp
Ok, there is another type...but I wonder, for the space, using the adapter is not much different to insert a small USB Wifi dongle?
For sure. This is all in the name of experimentation though (and who doesn't want to have a 180 degree USB adapter lying around?).
Oh...I see. :)

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

MattShirley wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:56 am
Also, regarding the USB 3.0 soldering, I understand the USB 3.0 pins are much more complicated than USB 2.0. I was wondering if a USB 2.0 could be soldered directly onto a USB 3.0 board using some subset of the pins. I'm going to take a wild guess that the answer is "no" though. :)
Electrically compatible, yes. USB 3.0 ports are backward compatible, so theoretically if you solder a USB2.0 port in place, it should work. I think...
If you find a jack that physically fits, and pins are in the correct order (I think they should be by default), it might actually work after all.
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by L67GS »

True, using a single 3.0 jack and a 4 row header to access the other as 2.0 should work. Coupld get super slick and plate off the open area where the USB no longer is in the case and break the LEDs from the network dongle out to it.

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

L67GS wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 6:16 am
True, using a single 3.0 jack and a 4 row header to access the other as 2.0 should work. Coupld get super slick and plate off the open area where the USB no longer is in the case and break the LEDs from the network dongle out to it.
Why do you insist on that header so much? ;) These four pads are not even spaced evenly.
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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by L67GS »

mctom wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 6:41 am
L67GS wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 6:16 am
True, using a single 3.0 jack and a 4 row header to access the other as 2.0 should work. Coupld get super slick and plate off the open area where the USB no longer is in the case and break the LEDs from the network dongle out to it.
Why do you insist on that header so much? ;) These four pads are not even spaced evenly.
My suggestion was because that's what the OP wanted help with. While I agree it's not a novice install any local tech with a vacuum desoldering station could do it for $20. I've been desoldering EEPROMs and installing sockets for them here and there for 15 years, and I fabricated my first vacuum desoldering station to do that first one. That was a relatively simple, cool hack that was easily obtainable but it's moot since he's going a different direction.

"1. What I'm hoping the most straightforward option would be to buy a USB header to USB host/port adapter like this and plug the HK dongle directly into the board: https://www.amazon.com/TRIPP-Motherboar ... NH355B81AC"

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Re: Internal WiFi/Bluetooth?

Post by mctom »

Well, considering that by just looking at N2+ photos you can clearly see that 4 "USB2 compatible" pins are not holding a constant spacing between them, it's not the best idea to try fitting any ordinary header in there.
Actually when I skim through USB2.0 sockets it seems to be true in their case as well.

So I still claim the only reasonable solution is to put a vertical USB port in place.
I briefly searched online and I could only find either a single USB3 vertical jack, or dual vertical USB2 jack:
https://www.ebay.com/i/223387150162?chn=ps?_ul=MX

It may work, or not.
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