wifi card PCB scans

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dankephoto's picture
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With the idea of perhaps discovering how to enable the use of AirPort cards in an external PC card slot, I've scanned several wifi card PCBs.

dan k

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dankephoto's picture
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scans

I just picked up a Sony PCWA-C150S wifi card, which externally looks very similar to the Apple AP card, except with an add-on external antenna. I removed the antenna and installed it into an AP card slot where under OS 10.3.8 it appeared and worked just like a pukka AP card.

I've got other wifi cards and figured I'd just scan 'em all and see what's what. So I ripped apart the cards and scanned the PCBs:

original Apple AirPort card
a Sony PCWA-C150S
an orinoco SIlver
and a Farallon SkyLINE PN 473

dan k

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The theory sounds plausible o

The theory sounds plausible on the surface, but those cards have more than 2 trace layers

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dankephoto's picture
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adding second antenna port to AP card?

anyone ever heard of it being done? On the PCB there are pads for a second port. Just wondered . . .

dan k

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Re: wifi card PCB scans

dankephoto wrote:

With the idea of perhaps discovering how to enable the use of AirPort cards in an external PC card slot, I've scanned several wifi card PCBs.

dan k

What about the other way around -- using a non-AirPort card in an AirPort slot?

From what I understand:

  • AirPort cards are physically disabled from working in PCMCIA/CardBus slots.
  • The reverse is not true: that is, from what dankephoto writes above, it's possible to put a non-Apple card into an AirPort slot.
  • AirPort cards have Broadcom chipsets inside (somebody please correct me here if necessary).
  • Many third-party CardBus cards have Broadcom chipsets in them, and are recognized as AirPort cards by Mac OS X.

So... theoretically, it should be possible to tear apart, say, a [url="http://tinyurl.com/9agh5"]Broadcom-based Belkin F5D7010 802.11g card[/url] and stuff it into the AirPort slot in my PowerBook G4 Titanium, right?

The only issue is that the Belkin card has no antenna socket -- just a slab antenna that hangs out of the PCMCIA slot. If I tear apart this card, will I be able to attach the AirPort antenna to it somehow? I'm looking at this slab antenna and trying to imagine if there's just a regular circular antenna mount inside somewhere...

dankephoto's picture
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re: using a non-AirPort card in an AirPort slot?

Lucent-chipped 802.11b PC cards work fine in AP slots, but there are no known drivers for Broadcom 802.11g cards in AP slots. Still, give a Broadcom-card-in-an-AP-slot a try and see what happens.

dan k

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Broadcom tear-down.

Okay, I've got a spare card lying around. Any tips for taking it apart? Pliers? Wire cutters? What do I need to be careful around?

Should I just start at the slab antenna and work my way down?

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re: Broadcom tear-down

Try it first, before taking it apart, if it ain't recognized there's really no point in going further (unless you discover someone else has cobbled up drivers.) On a TiBook you'll of course have to run it with the case bottom off, or maybe you can just leave the lefthand side loose.

As for taking apart PC cards . . . The metal sides are usually snapped together with tiny metal tabs and latches. Those usually get bent up when it's pried it apart. Best way (seems to me) is to use a thin, flat tool, maybe a strip of hard plastic, slide it up and into the groove on the side to begin spreading the two halves apart. Then gently start to spread the gap wider until you can sort of shuffle the edges apart. The connector end plastic is frequently glued to the metal, so you have to carefully pry those apart as well.

Don't be surprised if the metal case ends up being pretty much destroyed after your first attempt. Do you have a couple old junk PC card modems or similar with which you can practice? That'll at least give you an idea of what you're up against.

dan k

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Thanks for the tips.

I got the PBG4 open yesterday and it did occur to me that I could probably plug the Belkin/Broadcom card in there without taking it apart. I'll definitely try that before doing anything to the card itself. Hopefully I'll get a chance at it tonight...

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Broadcom card = no go.

I tried plugging the Belkin/Broadcom FD57010 card into the AirPort slot on the bottom of my PowerBook G4. No dice -- AirPort did not recognize the card. Back to Plan B, which involves getting one of those Orinoco cards. Will a Gold work as well as/better than a Silver?

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Gold will give you 128-bit WE

Gold will give you 128-bit WEP encryption-- no more, no less.

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re: Gold will give you 128-bit WEP

Silver can be upgraded to 128-bit as well, so in the end there's really no difference.

dan k

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I have a quick question, wasn

I have a quick question, wasn't the airport slot only pc card and not cardbus? And I beleive most wireless-g cards are cardbus?

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re: I have a quick question,

The AP slot (card too) is keyed as cardbus, so can accept any PC card. The AP card won't fit into a 16-bit PCMCIA slot, but any PC card can fit into an AP slot.

dan k.

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what about Cisco Aironet 350 in AP slot?

Will those Cisco Aironet 350 pcmcia cards (the ones with the detachable plastic antenna), work in the AP slots?. Anybody with these pcmcia can test plugging it?

They're the shortest of the regular pcmcia cards, but dunno if they are recognised as AP cards, like lucent/wavelan/orinocos.

TIA

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re: what about Cisco Aironet 350 in AP slot?

Nope, they don't use the same Lucent chipset as AirPort so aren't recognized. I bought several of these (cheaply) thinking of the possibilities but sadly, no-go.

Edit: Ooops, just hauled one out, the jobbies I've got are AIR-LMC340 cards, but I expect the 350 would have the same problem. Looking at it, I'm also reminded the antenna connector is different.

dan k

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dankephoto's picture
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using orinoco PC card in iMac

just to crosslink, check out this thread.

dan k

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