Note: This hack was posted in the Mobile Internet Aficionados forums by members Julie and George. They have graciously given us permission to make their instructions a resource center guide.
If you have a Verizon Pantech MHS291L, you know how great of a MiFi it is. While you can no longer obtain one directly from Verizon, it's XLTE compatible, and a lot of us obtained it with our old Millenicom plans. It's also a great option to purchase used on eBay and such.
But, if you’re like us and are tired of feeding it replacement batteries, like an endless slot machine; I have discovered a little hack that might save you some money.
It has long been the case that these MiFis are not usable without the battery. And the Pantech MHS291L is particularly prone to battery swelling which can be a fire hazard when used full time, like many of us RVers do.
With a little bit of a hack, you to use the MHS291L without a battery (sort of). Below are step-by-step instructions.
Since we have our MiFi plugged in all of the time, we actually prefer this method to having the battery in.
Disclaimer: As with any hack, you do so at your own risk. This modification is definitely not approved by Pantech, Verizon, the battery manufacturer or even necessarily RVMobileInternet.com. We, nor Julie & George, take no responsibility the results of following these instructions. However, we have now had multiple members successfully follow these directions with success.
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What you’ll need:
- Old distended Pantech battery
- Sharp knife
- Non-conducting thin flat pry implement (credit card or similar works pretty well)
You are basically going to disassemble an old battery. You’ll discard (recycle) the actual cells, but you’ll retain the magic little chip that the mifi start-up code is looking to see before allowing it to power on – along with all of the trim pieces to allow you to install it back into the MiFi.
Remove the outer wrapper of the bad battery. This is actually quite easy, if you find the seam in the wrapper around the cells. Peel back from the seam and pull the wrapper off of the battery.
Retain the wrapper for Step 4!
Carefully pry the cells (the silver wrapped box) from the charge connector (the black frame surrounding the cells).
You need to be really careful here to avoid breaking the charge connector. You’ll also want to use something non-conducting to pry the charge connector off of the cells (such as a plastic credit card). You’ll get sparks (that would be bad) if you use metal around those contacts.
Eventually you’ll separate the charge connector from the cells, as below.
Once you’ve removed the cells, you’ll end up with the plastic housing, charge connector (the part with the copper contacts), the distended cells (silver part), and a piece of plastic backing that went between the cells and the charge connector.
Retain the charge connector and the plastic separator, discard (recycle) the cells.
Next you’ll reassemble the charge connector back into its proper location on the plastic housing (with the copper contacts sticking though the holes, as before, and place the plastic spacer behind it.
Everything should fit in only one way.
Once the pieces are assembled, you can use a piece of tape to affix the plastic spacer to the housing, with the charge connector sandwiched in between. Take note to not cover up the three notched slots in the housing that fit into the MiFi, or the copper contacts.
You’re almost done! Next you’ll need something to make the plastic housing a little more rigid. By itself the housing is too flimsy and won’t make proper contact with the terminals.
Remember that wrapper you saved in Step 1?
It just happens to fit inside the housing well enough when it’s rolled up and tucked inside as follows. Be careful with the silver contacts on the back of the charge connector. While I don’t think the wrapper is conductive, it’s best to be safe.
Then insert the fully assembled housing back into the mifi, as you would a battery, and put the cover back on.
Want to get "fancy"?
While the rolled up wrapper was a quick and dirty solution, it did make removing and reinstalling it kind of tedious. So I cut off two pieces, from a plastic drinking straw, and super glued them to the inside of the battery frame (making sure one of them was directly behind the copper contacts). Then I wrapped a little bit of tape, lengthwise, around it; adding a little "pull tab" to the back, for easy removal. That gave the battery frame significantly improved rigidity and now allows it to be removed and reinstalled with ease and without having to make sure the contacts are seated and aligned each time.
Plug MiFi back into power. Upon first plug in, you should get a screen that says Verizon, then another one that says “Completed”. That’s your indication that everything worked, and the terminals are making contact with your hacked housing.
Once you see that, power on the MiFi and make sure it’s working.
Look ma, no battery!!
Using this method, you’re not actually charging anything, but the MiFi thinks there’s a battery installed. It’ll keep “charging” it forever, but no current is going anywhere except to run the MiFi.
You can retain your good working battery, fully charged, and ready for when you do need to use your MiFi disconnected from power.
If you need to source a new battery, here are some resources (we usually recommend going OEM, but considering we know the Pantech branded battery is prone to swelling.. well, you make your own decision. The off-brand/generics can be so hit-or-miss in quality.. be sure to follow up with research on them.)
You’ll avoid the risk of continually charging the battery, which could eventually cause them to swell and become a fire hazard.
It should be obvious, but with your hacked 'battery' in place, your MiFi will only work when it’s plugged in.
If your MiFi just keeps powering itself off, after this hack, then it’s most likely that the charge connector is not making proper contact with the terminals on the MiFi. Try reseating it.
This is a very simple hack, but it does require that you be careful and patient. It took longer to type these instructions out, than to complete them