For many Virtual Reality enthusiasts tetherless PC based VR has been the holy grail. Yes higher resolution and 6DOF tetherless is the goal together but we have had access to the Vive Wireless Adapter for some time now. The problem is that it is only officially supported on a desktop PC with a full size PCIe slot. Laptops don’t have full size PCIe slots but there is a way to make this work, with a bit of ingenuity and will.
On June 7th, 2019 I tweeted that I had hacked my laptop to accept the Vive Wireless Adapter. Although I had gotten the adapter working, drivers installed, etc., I was missing the power source and needed to still test the complete installation including the Vive Pro HMD Wireless Adapter installation. I may document this process more but I’ve been busy creating the sidecar template and short story, I got my inspiration from this Reddit post but know that your laptop needs a full size M.2 port not the half size ports that some come with. You also need a spare M.2 slot since you’re likely using the main slot for the laptops use. My Alienware 15R3 has 3 extra M.2 slots in addition to the boot M.2 and my 2.5mm SSD for storage.
Please see the list of parts for the laptop hack below:
On July 3rd I was able to install all of the necessary hardware on my HMD by removing the unnecessary cables and installing the wireless adapter and battery pack. I was subsequently able to test the Vive Pro successfully on my laptop as seen here.
The last issue was to build a sidecar that would house and protect the wireless card and cable that is not detachable, perhaps someone makes one that is detachable at the PCIe board as opposed to unscrewing the laptop base and removing the M.2 card but I could not find this part.
Like any good fabricator I started this process with cardboard, blue tape, a ruler, and all of the wireless adapter hardware.
Step 1: Base template
Base made wide enough to accept the card, cables, etc.
Initial creases to fold over and eventually create a slide in sleeve to go around the side profile of the laptop.
Once fabricated out of ABS this form should click into the laptop base and while in use, on a table, it should not move around. I’ve noted vent ports on the base and side where I need to make accommodations.
Step 2: Card horizontal or vertical?
The card in a vertical orientation gave me the most compact and flexible arrangement. Laptop closed.
Laptop screen opens freely.
Loose placement but I need something to mount the card onto…
Step 3: Custom riser
By building a template for a riser, I can mount, screw the card onto the riser, counter sink the screw on the bottom and epoxy or JB weld the riser onto the sidecar base.
Riser with card test fit into sidecar.
Hole for power source.
Step 4: Venting
Notice the exhaust aft of the cable.
Exhaust tunnel assembly final mock up.
Step 5: Enclose the sidecar
I mocked up the remaining sides of the sidecar in cardboard.
Final mockup of the sidecar installed, laptop closed.
Final mockup of the sidecar installed, laptop opening.
Final mockup of the sidecar installed, laptop opened.
Inside the sidecar, I used a spare antenna cable, which is a bit too long, to re-route the antenna input to the side. I’ll likely exchange the cable for something shorter before sealing the enclosure but this’ll do for now.
Vive Wireless Transmitter plugged in and clipped to the sidecar.
Sidecar removed for travel. Vent is visible as well as the power port, and transmitter antenna cable coupler.
I hate the fact that this cable needs to be exposed, I need to find or contract someone to make me a coupler here so that I can pack the sidecar separately and securely without risk of the cable being damaged.