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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks Network
Apple uses Broadcom chipsets in their AirPort cards (at least the 802.11g ones), and a lucky little thing in both Tiger and Panther (maybe Jaguar, too) is that if you have a Broadcom chipset connected via the PCMCIA slot in your computer, the OS will treat it as if an AirPort card had been installed -- with no configuration or software whatsoever.

Now, even better, Broadcom sells their chips to generic manufacturers, which allowed me to schlep down to Fry's Electronics and purchase a "PC only" generic wireless 802.11g notebook adapter for $14 (with a Broadcom chipset), slap it in my PowerBook (that's really all you've got to do), and enjoy wireless connectivity at a greater speed and price that would have otherwise been possible.

I have been testing this out on my 500mhz PowerBook G4, and it has been working as primary mode of connectivity for some time now (about five months), and has let me get wireless on my laptop (802.11g, even) for a grand total of $14, compared to the $120ish Apple would have charged me for an original AirPort card (that is slower).

  1. This method is "plug and play," as in you put the card in, go into Network Preferences, and it says that you now have AirPort (you can even drag the PCMCIA icon out of the menu bar for that clean look). However, it isn't "unplug and play again without a restart." You cannot take the card out while the computer is on and the put it back in again. For some reason in both Panther and Tiger, it requires a restart for the system to recognize the card as an AirPort card again. You also cannot use the PCMCIA menu to turn the card off, then turn it back on again and use it.

    Workarounds: You can turn off AirPort using the AirPort drop-down menu. As far as I can tell, this accomplishes the same end. While your computer is asleep, you can take the card out and put it back in before the computer wakes up (for transporting in a small case, for example), and your computer will be none the wiser. If you don't put it back in before the computer wakes up, then you will have to restart, which is a pain for those of us who try to have run times measured in months rather than days (though following a few guidelines can prevent restarting from ever having to happen).

  2. This is sort of a "try at your own risk thing," as I have no idea whether this method works on computers other than my own, though I have no idea why it wouldn't.
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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks | 11 comments | Create New Account
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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: zmagyar on Nov 22, '05 06:33:38AM

Well I just recently learned that indeed an PC 802.11g shows up as another airport card, and while this is a good news, it creates a bit of headache which so far I coudn't overcome. The problem is when you do have already an airport card built in. It seems that the system is confused which is which, you can't rename either the built in or the added one, they are both airport, period. And then you can't disable it either, because if you disable one, the other one disables too. You can overcome this by going to terminal with ifconfig but as soon as you open the network preferences the confusion starts again. You also can't easily configure them as the configuration overwrites when you try to configure the second instance of the airport...

The bottom line is, does anybody know how to rename the airport card? This might be a good start to solve this.

BTW I didn't try to remove the built in yet.

Thanks for hints,

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: Dahak on Nov 22, '05 06:42:23AM

I ran into the same problem with my Pismo and an MS Broadcom-based PC card for my Pismo. Ultimately, the only fix is to take out (or at least disconnect) either the built-in Airport card or to take out the PC card you just installed. I chose to disconnect my built-in Airport 802.11b card in favor of the the MS 802.11g PC card. I haven't had a problem since disconnecting the built-in card.

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: mpenix on Nov 22, '05 07:06:46AM

Here is a useful link to a table that has various adaptors along with an indication as to whether the 802.11g adaptor has the broadcom chipset or not:

FWIW, I've been using an 802.11g Asante PC card in my Wallstreet for about 6 months under OS X 10.3 with no problems using the built in airport drivers. I selected the Asante when I saw them on closeout for $15 and found them compatible on the above web page. Couldn't be happier.


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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: mindbooger on Nov 22, '05 07:51:29AM

I don't know about renaming it, but you can disable the internal Airport, either on-demand or internally, by either kextunloading or disabling the kernel extension for the plain old Airport. I was doing this for quite some time on my TiBook and a Broadcom Cardbus card.

On-demand: 'sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/AppleAirPort.kext' (you can kextload it later to get it back)

Permanent: 'sudo mv /System/Library/Extensions/AppleAirPort.kext /System/Library/Extensions/AppleAirPort.disabled; sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions'

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: zmagyar on Nov 23, '05 03:37:50AM

There are a few problems with this approach:
First of all I have to airpot kekxts in my Extensions folder, AppleAirPort, and AppleAirPort2..??
If I list the loaded kexts then I get two entries with Air:
129 1 0x2f0b8000 0x22000 0x21000 (3.4.4) <31 11 2>
130 0 0x2e805000 0x12000 0x11000 (3.4.4) <129 11>
It is unclear who loads the second one.
Finally if I unload the AppleAirPort.kext then no matter what I do (ex insert my PC Card Wireless) the system says: no airport installed and does not let me configure the Airport port, neither it shows a new port for the inserted for me this solution does not work.
I guess I will have to try to unplug the internal one and see what will happen.
Tx for efforts Zsolt

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: mindbooger on Nov 23, '05 10:14:01AM

FWIW, you need to unload the Airport driver _before_ you insert the PCCard. If you see them both loaded, it's too late.

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: ocdinsomniac on Nov 22, '05 08:52:43AM

I have been using a LinkSys PCMCIA card in my PowerBook 867MHz for well over a year (maybe two) now. There has been native support of many third-party wireless g cards since fairly early in the Panther days. When I got my card, I initially had to use a hacked driver, but the next release of Airport supported many cards, including mine. It's been that way ever since.

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: elpelso on Nov 23, '05 04:49:41AM

I tried something similar on an even older model. I still used a PowerBook G3 300 MHz (the Wall Street model), with no USB or Firewire. It has 192 Mb, which is the Apple-specified max, although I have read this can go to 512 Mb. Don't see the need for the expense, though. Anyway, I managed to install Jaguar on it, and it runs fine, not the fastest, but hey the machine was born in 1998. Then, I was travelling to the USA and wanted to try wireless. I read a few things on the internet, went to a computer store that was knowledgeable, and had a return policy worth its salt, and bought an AeroCard Extreme from MacSense (model WPE-800). I plugged it into one of the 2 PCMCIA slots, and upon start-up, my old laptop was wireless, g-standard and everything. Worked like a charm. Only thing that was a serious no-no, was ejecting the card while the system was running. Kernel panic would result. Shutting down, and then removing the card, was ofcourse problem-free. So, at a stroke my 1998 PowerBook bettered my desk-iMac G4 which can only use the b-standard according to Apple. Apple machines are so ahead of their time, it's amazing... On a related note, I've never tried using a PCMCIA FireWire card, but I would suspect it would work too...

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: tidjj on Nov 23, '05 12:26:37PM

I do use a Belkin F5D7010 PCMCIA card in my 867Mhz G4 PowerBook Ti for almost two years (Jaguar then Tiger) without trouble.
It now operates in WPA (since Tiger) and with the last Tiger release, it hooks back the signal very quickly after a little sleep.
I never had any problem to warn eject or plug it, regardless the operating system running. No such caveat.

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Add 802.11g wireless networking to older PowerBooks
Authored by: withdave on Nov 23, '05 11:07:09PM

I have a Pismo G3 Powerbook and today data-mined the net to see how to add wireless capability. Uncovered a good lead on cards to support older Apple machines:

Went to Fry's with a list of all the PCMCIA/Cardbus cards listed on that page as usable with the built-in Mac OS X Airport driver. Bought a Belkin F5D7010 PCMCIA card for $34. (Store was closing so no time to look for the cheapest. At that price it was a bargain anyway compared to other cards I saw on the net.) Took it home, plugged it in and could turn on Airport and use it immediately. Tiger treated it as a built-in Airport card, even driving the power and tansmit-receive lights you can watch on the card end.

My computers are all near my Airport Extreme so I'm not concerned about range and have no data points on that aspect.

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other old mac hacking
Authored by: gsiarny on Nov 29, '05 12:01:43AM
I wanted to add 802.11g to a Mac Classic I had lying around in the basement. It required a little hardware hack. I was eventually able to wire the AppleTalk connector to the wireless card, which I duct-taped to the side of the machine.

Dizzy with success, I then connected an old PDP-11 to WiMax. I'm having problems with my drivers, though, and it's hard to cart the fella around.

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