802.11g PC card for original internal Airport slot?

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Hi all

I am searching for this high and low. I have an iMac G4 800 15" lcd screen with Superdrive and an original Airport card in the slot within the base. I am using 10.2.8 with 512mb RAM.

I would like to upgrade to 802.11g. Airport extremebeing out I wondered whether a third party PC card (802.11g) might be found to do the trick. I know of an 802.11b Sony Vaio PC card (C150S) which works if one detaches the antenna (easy apparently) but have found no definitive proof (ie someone who has tried it) apart from being told a Buffalo card would theoretically work.

The search continues. I know the answer is out there.. Hope someone here can help.

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dankephoto's picture
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dunno . . .

I have, and have used, a Sony 150s card stripped of its antenna in an AP slot, it works fine. I've also used standard Lucent-chipped 'b' cards in AP slots too, though the cards' builtin antennae proclude normal usage.

AFAIK there is no 'g' card of the same formfactor as the original AP card.

Sure looks like a marketing op to me, how many original AP-slot Macs are out there? Alot! It'd take no great engineering effort to produce a compatible card.

I still haven't got a Mac-compatible 'g' card, but once I do I'll be sure to try it in an AP slot, just to see if the drivers will work with it.

dan k

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Barry's picture
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It's because G cards are card

It's because G cards are cardbus 32bit. B cards are standard 16bit. You can't use a cardbus card in a 16bit slot.

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Exactly. Dr Bob has made pos

Exactly. Dr Bob has made posts about this before. 16-bit PC-Cards don't have the bandwidth for G.(Period) Even is you some how managed to get a G card working in an original AP slot, it'll only operate at B speeds. Since a G router will talk to a B card at B speeds, you gain nothing. The only way to get faster wireless would be to use an Ethernet <-> WiFi G tranciever/router and plug the iMac into that over the hardwired ethernet. The only advantage to B that G has is over local connections, and that range is limited to about 50', so if you are going for speed, even a pure hardwired LAN is hard to beat. Using a G card won't really speed up your internet experience. 100Base-T kicks all sorts of butt of 802.11g in speed and reliability.

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But is a gen 1 AP slot 16 bit, or 32 bit?

I've assumed 16 bit, but I really don't know. Anyone? I've scoured the devnotes, but as y'all know Apple hasn't release the AP slot specs, nor do they describe any details about the AP card itself or its interface.

One thing of interest is that AP slots are keyed like Cardbus slots, accepting 16 bit and 32 bit cards. Doesn't mean they are pukka 32 bit slots of course, still we won't know until someone tries.

If gen 1 AP slots are 32 bit capable, they'd be fully capable of delivering 'g' wifi speeds.

dan k

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Barry's picture
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I'm going out on a limb here,

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm pretty sure that the airport slots are 16bit. I'm sure if it was possible then apple would have made an extreme pcmcia card.

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re: I'm going out on a limb here,

"Barry" wrote:

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm pretty sure that the airport slots are 16bit. I'm sure if it was possible then apple would have made an extreme pcmcia card.

Hehe yeah, definitely on a limb, since you don't seem to know any more than do I.

However, I do agree with you. I'm skeptical the AP slot might be CardBus, as in all(?) cases the AP slot is hung directly off the I/O controller rather than off the PCI bus. The PCI bus is where you'll find an actual CardBus slot on those Macs so equipped. I'm doubtful the I/O controller has a CardBus capable port built-in, not when the PCI bus is the normal place for it.

Still, again!, we won't know until someone tries it.

Oh, and don't be so sure Apple would make an Extreme AP card for older Macs. Even if possible, keep in mind that the most recent gen 1 AP Macs are 3 years old now, well past the point where Apple wants to bother with the headaches supporting such (relatively) ancient hardware.

dan k

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Out on another limb...

I fell on your topic, and it got me thinking, is it possible to fit a PCI wireless card in a Mac (g4 for exemple)? That would be a useful hack for the wallet Wink

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re: Out on another limb...

"louis" wrote:

I fell on your topic, and it got me thinking, is it possible to fit a PCI wireless card in a Mac (g4 for exemple)? That would be a useful hack for the wallet

No hacks needed, several vendors sell Mac-compatible PCI wireless adapters. Ugh, I don't have any links to offer, but a quick google ought to find some PDQ.

dan k

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I've tried searching for the

I've tried searching for the post Dr. Bob made regarding AP slot capabilites, but I must be using bonehead terms. Neither the AF search or a Google of the domain for terms come up with that thread. =[

EDIT: And then I simplify my search to just "pcmcia" and it turns up really dang quick. Geez.

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all depends . . .

on the slot. If Macs' AP slots are as fast as CardBus (which I doubt, but still don't know), then a 'g' card would make a diff.

The old thread Jon references was mostly about upgrading an original AP BaseStation, not about Mac AP slots. I certainly accept drbob's assertion that the AP BS has only an ISA interface, agreed, not the hot ticket for 'g' speeds.

I await reports of actual testing . . .

dan k

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Dr. Bob has also stated expli

Dr. Bob has also stated explicitly that Lucent wanted the pin-swap on the AP cards to force incompatibility and not lose sales. Thus, the Ap slot is identical to a regular 16-bit PC Card slot, save for the data pin swap, which it seems is over come when using an non-AP card in the slot. It still isn't CardBus, as the connector of CardBus has that huge ground shield over the connector, and there is nothing like that on non-CardBus slots.

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Potential candidate?

Hi

I have been pointed in the possible direction of this Buffalo b/g card. Might buy one from Amazon but am hoping to find a high street store that stocks it in case I want to return it - most stock the -L 54G or -S "125G" models which do NOT work with OS X or Airport even in Powerbook external Cardbus slots.

Any ideas?

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CardBus cards

Don't mistake the card for the slot, it's entirely possible for the Macintosh AP slot to be CardBus-capable and the AP card to be a pure 16 bit device. It's also entirely possible a 'g' card works in the Mac AP slot, but we'll have to try it to find out.

CardBus cards can work just fine in a plain-old PCMCIA cardcage if the associated controller is actually CardBus. Witness PowerBooks 2400/3400 which have a CardBus controller attached to a non-cardbus cage. The significant difference between a pukka CardBus cage and a 16 bit cage is the key. See my page for some illustrations.

The 3400, in spite of its ground-plane-less 16 bit cage, does support 32 bit cards just fine - if you mod the card's key to allow insertion.

I'm not arguing that Macintosh AP slots are CardBus nor that Mac AP slots can accept a CardBus 'g' card, but rather that I don't know. So far I've seen nothing authoritative supporting either position. With no official docs available from Apple documenting the AP interface, we can only test.

dan k

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Gotcha. I had no idea that t

Gotcha. I had no idea that those models had a ground-plane-less slot w/ a CardBus controller. Without knowing much of the actual chipsets, where in the device tree does the CardBus controller show up? I'm assuming that it's right on the PCI bus, as a CardBus interface should be. I shoould check the OF on my iBook to see where the AP is connected sometime too.

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AirPort slot is . . .

(from Apple's devnote's architecture block diagram) hung directly off the I/O controller, which (for example) is KeyLargo in a first-gen G4 PowerBook. The G4 PB's PCI1211 CardBus bridge is shown directly connected to the PCI bus.

There are no public docs of which I'm aware that describes the nature of the KeyLargo's AP interface. Keep in mind the KeyLargo chip itself is capable of handling large amounts of data, so it's not unthinkable to suppose the AP interface might be more capable than a simple PCMCIA port.

Edit: Just found these:

"Apple's devnote" wrote:

The KeyLargo IC provides an EIDE interface (ATA bus) that supports the the
DVD-DOM drive and the wireless LAN module.
and
The interface between the AirPort Card wireless LAN module and the
KeyLargo IC is a subset of the PCMCIA interface.

Sooo . . . ? What does that mean, other than Apple needs to better proofread their docs? "the the DVD-DOM drive" Tongue

dan k

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That may be a thin reference

That may be a thin reference to the pin-swap, or an actual notice that it only had capabilites relating to networking, I'd guess. I doubt anyone has tried much to get an ATA Flash card or other PC Card in the slot. It'd be pretty interesting if someone had the equipment to run a PC Card emulator test thing-a-ma-bob to directly probe the port, but that would be much more in depth than a simple swap-n-test with various cards.

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Testing...

Taking the plunge.. Ordered a Buffalo WLI-CB-G54A from PC World. Due in Tuesday...

UPDATE:List of PC cards (b and g) that are supposed to work on the Mac. Any other suggestions or comments on the list?

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Airport model?

Are you talking about the old graphite airport?
If it is the graphite then there is a 486 pc in there.
http://www.plasma-online.de/english/upgrade/tweak/fixes/fix_apple_airport.html

you can find bunches on that one. the snow and up kept getting new guts. so there may be options but this is a good start point for research.

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Buffalo card did not work

Delayed testing for some months as my migration to the ISP with 8mbps broadband was repeatedly postponed by them.

It did not work.. Form factor of card too big. There is an external antenna connection but the card is too long for the lead in the base of the iMac to reach it easily. Managed to force it but not recognised at all when restarted. Using original card again now and have given the Buffalo away.

I believe the old Lucent silver/gold cards are interchangeable (original Airport cards were simply rebranded Lucent silver cards which then became gold after Apple's software update to enable 128bit encryption I am led to believe) but are 802.11b only. They even had the antenna slot as well.

Any suggestions of any other cards to try in the internal Airport slot?

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Re: But is a gen 1 AP slot 16 bit, or 32 bit?

dankephoto wrote:

I've assumed 16 bit, but I really don't know. Anyone? I've scoured the devnotes, but as y'all know Apple hasn't release the AP slot specs, nor do they describe any details about the AP card itself or its interface.

The original AP slot is PCMCIA, which is 16 bit and uses programmed i/o (very slow). All the G cards are Cardbus which uses the PCI DMA protocol over the same connector, which technically has to send address and data strobes on the same pins which makes it much slower than true PCI, but still a heck of a lot faster than PCMCIA. It also runs at a much higher clock rate.

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