output of lspci -nn -k
02:00.0 Ethernet controller : Atheros Communications Inc. AR242x / AR542x Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) [168c:001c] (rev 01)
Subsystem: Hewlett-Packard Company Device [103c:137a]
Kernel driver in use: ath5k
Kernel modules: ath5k
Took a hunch and opened w/l panel. antennae connected to w/l card by two ridiculously tiny snap connectors. Need a jewelers loupe to even make out what they are. They are similar to snap connectors on a 9v battery only with an even tinier center post. The whole connector is the size of a pin head (sewing needle looks like 2x4 compared to these connectors). Anyway it appears one conn was held in place by the access panel and center tap was smashed flat instead of slipping over the header post on the w/l card. Possible a flaky connection from factory that finally worked its way loose.
Will try to repair and report back. (I have my doubts. Once a spring-tensioner is futzed with it usually breaks or never makes good contact.)
Still does not explain why I should not be able to use the USB w/l adapter that I know works on compaq 1.
[UPDATE] HP tech support claims there is no relation between onboard atheros mini PCI-e card and using a USB w/l adapter, which sounds reasonable, however local tech confirms my suspicions that any and all w/l may be running thru a mainboard controller or bus that may be damaged and this would explain why the USB w/l adapter is not working either.
How do I know? swapped atheros mini-PCI-e card and the "bad" one works in compaq 1 but the good one still does not work in compaq 2. I believe the bad antenna issue in compaq 2 is just coincidental.
Not sure how accurate this is but lends credence to idea of a common controller for both USB and mini pci-e
From the PCI wiki:
b]"PCI Express Mini Card (also known as Mini PCI Express, Mini PCIe, and Mini PCI-E) is a replacement for the Mini PCI form factor, based on PCI Express. It is developed by the PCI-SIG. The host device supports both PCI Express and USB 2.0 connectivity, and each card may use either standard. Most laptop computers built after 2005 are based on PCI Express and can have several Mini Card slots."
Well, still have wired ethernet.
Thanks for tips