Use an HSDPA 3G USB adapter with the Asus Transformer TF101

       823 words, 4 minutes

My Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 is quite nice to take on a ride. The only issue is that when there’s no WiFi around, there’s no Internet at all. I used to have a Novatel MiFi 2352 3G hotspot but it died. All I have left is a data-only SIM card and an Huawei E220 USB modem.

By default, even with the dock keyboard, plugin the HSDPA USB adapter into the Transformer won’t lead far. But since I can root the Pad and install an alternate ROM, there are every likelihood that I can manage to access Internet via the 3G modem.

I had quite a few difficulty to achieve my goal. So here’s what I did ; hoping I didn’t forgot anything among all my “ah… whoops, nope…”

Prepare the USB adapter

The Huawei E220 has a feature that makes it attach an USB storage to the OS it is connected to. Under Windows or MacOS X, when the driver is installed, it’s not an issue. But with Android, you can’t use the HSDPA adapter since the “composite device” is still up by default.

First thing to do is disable this feature. You’re suppose to be able to do it on any Windows machine. My testings on Windows 7 didn’t work. I had to use a 32bit instance of Windows XP, running in VMware Fusion. Here are the directions:

You can now turn Windows off ; your HSDPA adapter should be ready for Android.

Replace the Asus ROM

The official ROM from Asus doesn’t seem to provide driver for 3G adapters. There is probably a way to install a bunch of apps and drivers to have it work. But it seemed easier to just install a ready-to-use alternate ROM.

There are several alternatives to the official Asus ROM. I went for the one called “PRIME! V2.1.1 ”. No particular reason except I found a lot of posts saying it supports HSDPA USB adapters by default.

Here’s how to replace Asus Android 3.2.1 with PRIME! 2.1.1:

When the process is done, the script will terminate and the Transformer will reboot. Once rebooted, you’ll be presented with the Welcome wizard that will help you configure WiFi, Google account, etc… Be sure to not select the “Wireless only” configuration when selecting the connecting mode.

Beware that this procedure wipes all and every data from the internal storage!

Install the enabler application

Although the drivers are there, you have to enable 3G. This is quite straight forward using the 3G Toggler application.

Just download the application on your Pad, enable 3rd-party application launch and run it. Select “Enable” and that’s all.

Using the HSDPA 3G USB adapter

I installed a application named “Data Enabler”, which is available from the Market and provides a simple button to enable/disable 3G when the adapter is plugged in.

Plug the Huawei modem to the USB port of the Transformer and wait till it blinks blue.

Go to the “Settings” and select “Wireless & networks”. Select the “Mobile networks” section, then the “Access Point Names” and select the one published by … dunno … During my testings, once the APN appears and another time, I had to create a new one my-self. It’s probably not useful to anyone but me, but I created an APN using the following parameters:

Once selected, I can connect/disconnect using the “Data Enabler” application.

w00t w00t w00t !!!