IBook Wireless Retrofit

[squishy] sent in his iBook refit project. Normally a laptop ressurection wouldn’t grab my attention, but the wireless card caught my eye. Because his ebay deal didn’t come with an airport card, he refitted it with a Senao 200mW wireless card. The card just fit – and with some dremel work on the antenna connector, it was plug and play under linux.

44 thoughts on “IBook Wireless Retrofit

  1. You could dremel the antenna off a normal card, and solder on an antenna jack.

    Of the two cards I have laying around here there are no important connections in the exposed area. Just the LED and built in antenna.

    Not that the senao isnt a good card, using one at the moment.

  2. “So, the options as I have discovered are the following:

    1. There’s a guy that has crammed a cheap orinoco gold card into the airport slot.”

    I’m not sure if he’s referring to me, but here’s the said project:


    This baby still runs without a flaw btw.

    and another DIY iBook repair project:


    a project with quite some followers who report success in resurrecting their dead iBook :-)


  3. Ouch! Using a dremel to remove the outer part of the MCCard connector to make it fit in a MMCX socket? 10 points for a nice hack, but that’s not a particularly optimal solution (the outside of the cable i.e. the shielding) is likely not connected to the card…

  4. >I believe the Senao is good for Indoor networking only

    What gives you that idea? Put a parabolic dish antenna on it, at 200mw it will go a long way. And providing you have the same power level at the other end, it will work great.

    Those cards are also fantastic for wardriving thanks to the external antenna, and the very high recieve sensitivity (i.e. they need very little signal strength to read a packet). Try standing on top of a big hill with one of these connected to a high gain directional antenna (passive mode scanning, or stay the hell out of the way…)

    I wonder if you could use the prism2 card driver (http://wirelessdriver.sf.net) to run it in OS X. I think you might have to hack it slightly (OS X does make the PCMCIA slot / AirPort slot distinction), but it could probably be gotten working.

    On a related note, the AirPort Extreme slot is PCI (with a different pinout). If I had access to the appropriate manufacturing facilities…

  5. >try standing on top of a big hill with one of these connected to a high gain directional antenna (passive mode scanning, or stay the hell out of the way…)

    Oh, and no connecting to anything you find either.

    Another thing (I wish you could edit once you’ve placed these comments), is that it found a network which according to it’s SSID (it’s a community network), was in a suburb 22km away.

  6. This is exactly why I hate Macs with a passion… everything about them is proprietary in some way (like the “extra” pins on the PCMCIA slot). Kind of reminds me of proprietary crap of Compaq back in the mid 90’s, where you couldn’t install any hardware (even a simple hard drive) that wasn’t made by Compaq without the OS giving a hissyfit.

  7. Hey caliraisin, the reason the airport card had proprietary pins was not Apple’s fault. It was a decision from Lucent. When Apple released the Airport base station and cards it was waaay under pricing Lucent for their Orinoco cards, which is what the Airport card is. So Lucent wanted it so you couldn’t use an Airport card in a regular computer. The Airport cards have pins reversed. An airport slot is just a pmccia slot, it will read “normal” cards. You want to talk proprietary, look at Sony.

  8. My question is:

    Under linux does the new card support WPA encryption? My only gripe with running Ubuntu on my ibook is that the Airport drivers for linux don’t support WPA. This would be a worth-while hack to me if I knew I could get on a network with WPA security.


  9. I have been working on getting my DIY hack working.

    I have an old iBook with out an airport card, and honestly I can’t justify spending the 100 dollars on a card that is only 802.11b

    I picked up a dlink USB 802.11G adapter, and with their software I can pick up most networks. I ripped appart the inside and hardwired 1 USB port to a 4 port USB hub. Then redirect 1 Port of that Back to the USB port I high-jacked, and 1 to the USB 802.11G adapter, and 1 to a Dlink Bluetooth adapter.

    The only Problem I’m having with it, is i had to put a power interupt switch on the wireless card, because if i come out of a sleep mode, it won’t power up the USB wifi.

    I’ll put some pictures together once i get some time.

  10. does this give hope to all those of us that want to add usb2 to g4 imacs? Could we just sling a usb2 card into the airport socket underneath the dome and (with some hacking and routing of cables) have a working usb2 solution?

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