D-Link seems to have stepped up to a new level in design of its products after it started the production of Draft N equipment. The DWA-142 is a vivid example of this. A regular Wi-Fi adapter with a USB interface has a typical design that looks like a massive flash drive. The new network device from D-Link is completely different. Its case resembles a flying dish, or an external Wi-Fi antenna, or a hat – whatever you prefer. The top part of the round case of the DWA-142 is made from matte black plastic. A green activity indicator is located at its edge so that it could be viewed from both the top and the side. The bottom and sides of the case are made from translucent black plastic and you can take a look at the device’s PCB.
It’s hard to see any vent holes in this case at first sight, but there are actually quite a lot of them here. D-Link’s engineers made them in the top cap (in the round depression), in the side and in the bottom panel of the case. So, the DWA-142 is ventilated well and the ventilation system doesn’t spoil its appearance. The adapter has grooves in the bottom of the case to be mounted on a wall. It’s quite a rare thing for devices of this class.
We took the device’s cap off in order to see its internal design. To do this we unfastened two self-tapping screws hidden under two out of the three rubber feet at the bottom of the case.
The PCB occupies all the space inside the case. This is done to simplify the mounting of the components as well as to fix it securely in place because the PCB is not fastened to the case with any other means. Nearly all of the radio elements are installed on the top side of the PCB, half of them (including the radio module chip) being covered with a metallic screen. At the edges of the PCB you can see two antennas for transmitting data between the adapter and an access point.
The DWA-142 is based on Marvell’s Top Dog chipset supporting Draft N. The chipset consists of an 88W8362 MAC-controller and an 88W8006 RF-modulator. The latter is screened as we’ve mentioned above.
On the reverse side of the PCB there is a seat for a console but we can’t tell you what kind of a console it is because there is almost no public information about the Top Dog on the Web. It may be a seat for a JTAG connector as almost every controller is equipped with this interface today.