WiFi Cards for PowerBooks with PC Card Slots
- 2008.08.12 (updated) - Tip Jar
The purpose of this page is to identify which PC Card (formerly PCMCIA) WiFi cards work in the PC Card slot of a PowerBook - pre-G3, G3, and G4. This quest started when I first bought my Lombard PowerBook G3. It was the last PowerBook not have an internal AirPort Card slot. Pismo, the model after Lombard, was the first PowerBook with an AirPort slot. (Apple introduced AirPort with the original clamshell iBook.)
Luckily, all PowerPC PowerBooks (except for the 12" PowerBook G4) have a PC Card slot (some have two). The G3 range and upwards are CardBus compliant.
Keep checking back on this page. I had been searching and buying on eBay like nobody's business for the purpose of finding which cards work out of the box or with third-party drivers.
Some cards come with specific Mac drivers, and some work with the Ralink ST2500 drivers. OrangeWare has released a driver that enables a lot of "not officially supported" cards to work, such as the Sony PCWA-C300S.
The WirelessDriver Homepage has also released a Mac driver that enables a lot of Prism and Prism2 wireless cards, such as the WaveLAN/Orinoco, Cabletron, SkyLINE, and D-link PC Card cards for use with Mac OS X 10.2 and Darwin.
There is also an excellent reference site at PowerBook Wireless.
There are some Broadcom based cards that work without any third-party drivers; these come up as AirPort cards, and the Mac thinks no different.
Hacking the AirPort Slot
If you want to use an internal card in place of the original overpriced Apple AirPort card, check out DIY AirPort (for that Old iBook) on GeekTechnique, which explains how to modify a Lucent/Orinoco Silver card to fit into the iBook's AirPort slot and work.
I have tried the hack at GeekTechnique, and it works in iBooks - but not PowerBooks. The AirPort slot in PowerBooks is in the wrong place, and while the Lucent/WaveLAN/Orinoco Silver will function in the AirPort slot, it is too long to close the bottom of the case.
I have also tried this AirPort hack in an iMac G3. Earlier models were not AirPort compatible, while later models require an AirPort bracket to install it. So, I got hold of an AirPort bracket for an iMac G3 and tried my Orinoco card in it. Fitting it in was a tight squeeze, but it did not require any trimming and hey presto it worked no problems.
Mac Compatible Cards
Dell TrueMobile 1300 & 1350 (CardBus, 802.11g)
Both show up in the Mac PC Card card tool as Broadcom based.
This is the best card I have seen and used. It works without any drivers: simply slot it in your PC Card slot, and when you boot up your Mac it says "new port found, AirPort". These show up in the PC Card utility as "Broadcom 802.11b CardBus". There are a number of people on eBay selling these cards, the main one being a seller called Value Solution.
Motorola WN825G (CardBus, 802.11g)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as Broadcom based.
This works just the like the Dell TrueMobile 1300. Just slide it in the PC Card slot, and your PowerBook thinks it is an AirPort card (currently $49.99 shipped from Amazon.com).
Belkin F5D7010 (CardBus 802.11g)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as Broadcom based.
This works without third-party drivers in Tiger, but it requires drivers in Jaguar and Panther. Be careful with this one and get an early version. Belkin changed the chipset in later models, and they are not compatible with Mac OS X (currently $29.99 shipped from Amazon.com).
Buffalo AirStation WLI-CB-G54A (CardBus 802.11g)
I haven't tried this card personally, but it is widely reported to work in the PC Card slot as an AirPort Extreme card. It works with Apple's AirPort drivers and requires no third party drivers.
Asante FriendlyNET AeroLAN AL5403-XG (CardBus 802.11g)
I haven't personally tried this card, but I am assured that it works. It requires no additional software and works with Apple's AirPort software. This is a very hard card to find.
Cisco Aironet 350 (PC Card 802.11b)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as "Cisco Systems, 350 Series Wireless LAN Adapter".
This card comes with it's own utility and doesn't rely on Apple's AirPort software. The card works fantastically, and the utility is very simple to set up.
Orinoco 802.11b Silver (PC Card 802.11b)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as "Lucent/WaveLAN".
Orinoco 802.11a/b ComboCard Silver (PC Card 802.11b)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as "Atheros AR5001-0000-0000)".
Orinoco 802.11b Classic Gold (PC Card 802.11b)
Shows up in the Mac PC Card card tool as "Lucent/WaveLAN)".
The following cards I know about and am looking for. Some people have had luck with them, but some haven't:
- Belkin F5D7011 (CardBus 802.11g)
- MacSense Aerocard Plus (PC Card 802.11b)
If you know of a card that works or definitely doesn't work, please let me know via email. The more the merrier.
I hope to keep adding to this article. I will continue buying cards and testing them using native Apple support as well as the third party Orangeware, WirelessDriver.Soundforge, and RT2500 drivers.
Several readers have emailed to offer information and cards. This article will be updated when possible.
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