Airport Extreme Dissected! (1/3)
I recently visited my brother and sister. She was reporting trouble with her ancient Graphite base station... it turned out to be a telephone jack that had been pulled right off the circuit board (Ooops!). So what is a brother to do but to buy her a new "Extreme" Base Station (AEBS) for her birthday (she'd been pretty good!)
Anyway, the Airport model we settled on was the AEBS with the modem since my sister needs a dial-up connection. That was fine with me since there are a couple of extra bits I wanted to photograph anyway. For an introduction to the Airport Extreme Base Station, see the preceeding page that shows the initial stages of dismantling the AEBS.
But remember, opening an base station automatically voids your warranty. This information is for entertainement purposes only and anything you undertake is at your risk alone.
As you will see below, taking apart the AEBS is a bit of a challenge, so have a Torx T-8 driver and a small Philips screwdriver handy if you want to follow along. You may or may not notice that I obscured the serial numbers, etc. for the sake of privacy. Any picture can be enlarged by clicking on it.
Before I started, a picture of the box. So far, we still have a warranty!
Thankfully, Apple finally ships a universal power adapter for base stations. This AEBS is fed 5.1VDC, which means that it does not require a internal power supply like the Graphite ABS. Such a low voltage makes power-over-ethernet a bit more problematic though.
The cabling in Britain includes the typical ridiculous power plug combined with a standard RJ-11 telephone cable + adapter.
The thick manual gave me hope that Apple finally explained all the features of a AEBS in a manner that non-nuclear scientists can understand. At the very least, it explains a number of things in a number of languages.
Comparing the generations. The form factor has not changed much.
However, note the typical move by Apple to put connections out of sight on the later base station. This is a lot easier if you design it from the ground up instead of buying ready-made boards from Lucent.
Showing off the ports on the underside (left to right): External Antenna Plug, Reset Button, WAN Ethernet port, LAN Ethernet port, Telephone Jack, USB Printer port, Power port
The AEBS even includes a Kensington-style hole to prevent theft.
Now from the inside. Note the small metal reinforcement strip.
Up top, the antenna board shows off four coaxial antenna wires around the board and a bunch of power and control wiring in the lower right corner.
Here is a detail shot antenna cables on the antenna board. Note how fine the soldering connections are. Doing this on your own is tedious at best!
My torx driver pointing to the approximate location of the screw that holds the metal enclosure to the lower shell. It is below the topmost bar-code. You can feel it through the sticker.
Now on the inside. Note how small the screw is!
Unless you carefully unpeel the sticker, there is no way to extract the inner shell without leaving permanent traces.
Thanks to the server-loads imposed by slashdot enthusiasts, I have cut this page into several segments. Click on one of the arrows below to be taken to the next AEBS dissection page.