HP Pavilion wireless problem (orange LED light) solved

A neighbour in the upper floor laboratory has several years old HP Pavilion. Recently she came to me with a problem – the wireless suddenly went dead. The led indicator was constantly orange – meaning that no matter how she positioned the switch, the wireless network card was permanently off line. Looked in the device manager and found found only LAN network adapter – nothing more.

I ran a variety of tests, did a lot of diagnostics – primary software since I had to make sure it’s not a driver or operating system issue. Disabled all power saving features, removed HP wireless assistant, tried to do thing manually, etc. Even updated the BIOS but nothing seemed to help. It is a widespread and quite known issue – a motherboard-wireless problematic connection and lack of power supply to the wireless network card in a lot of HP notebooks/laptops. After some serious Internet digging finally found on Techspot’s forums the only solution that worked for me:
I fixed orange light HP/Compaq wireless problem

The basic idea is that rising the temperature inside the machine to the risky 80C for 10 minutes somehow „repairs“ the broken power link between the wireless adapter and other chipset components. The guy in the forum post achieved this using software stability test that stresses the CPU/GPU, covering the vents and thus generating enough heat inside the machine. Having in mind the high potential damage this overheat procedure might cause I borrowed from the laboratory above their temperature measuring device with silicon sensors and off-chip processing (a kind of advanced thermometer). Disconnected all cables, removed the battery, disassembled the notebook, positioned the thermometer sensors, and gradually started heating specific areas inside the laptop by a hair dryer with narrow airflow concentrator.

The first several attempts were unsuccessful because I do not feel comfortable sustaining high temperatures in a computer for a long time. Started with small steps – 70C for a minute, 75 for 2 minutes, etc. A time consuming process since I paused after each try to let the system cool down, reconnect, power up and wait to see if something new happens. Finally when I kept the temperature at 80C for 4 minutes, reconnected and started the notebook, the device manager greeted me with „new hardware found“ – the wireless was live!

Actually I am amazed that this solution worked at all! The bad news is that if the computer is turned off and cooled down to room temperature, most of the time the wireless adapter will be lost again. Repeating the heating procedure (no matter how it’s achieved) usually does it’s magic, but it’s not a permanent solution. Leaving it constantly on, working non-stop 24/7 is always an option – still it’s just avoiding the problem, not final resolution.

Best advice – actually two of them :)
1. Buy external USB Wireless adapter – it should be no more than 20$.
2. Avoid giving money for HP / Compaq portable products!