Wireless Networking on a PowerBook 2400c

Airport-less Wireless Network (with Appletalk and dial-up analog modem) for a PowerBook 2400c (aka Powerbook 2400)

For the good of the order, here's my new wireless setup, for under 90 bucks:

Siemens SpeedStream 2623 wireless router with com port for external modem, $40 plus shipping from TigerDirect.com, tip from dealmac.com. 802.11b, 11 Mbps generation.

In order to pass appletalk between wireless and wired side, I had to upgrade the firmware with an SMC 7004AWBR flasher. It's the same hardware as the SMC, but the SpeedStream firmware out of the box didn't pass appletalk packets while the SMC firmware did. I found this solution at www.socketforum.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=319.
The firmware is at www.smc.com/index.cfm?action=products_downloads&productCode=SMC7004AWBR&prod_id=63.

But SpeedStream has a better support website than SMC. Whatever.

I hooked to my long-existing USR 56K modem (fortunately not a Mac-only model). Happened to have a serial PC cable on hand, too. I don't have broadband. Very few wireless routers support analog modems, so I snatched this one. This setup's surfing speed is adequate for me.

Orinoco Silver card from 2buystore.com, $40 shipped (found via dealtime.com search.) Had a bit of searching finding the Mac drivers. There seems to no longer be an official Orinoco ftp site, nor are the files available on Proxim's website. Google came through, though. Here is where I found them last:


I used ORiNOCO_v7.2.smi.hqx.

I would not be surprised if this driver continues to fade in the shadows. To find them again, should this link go dead, try Google search using "ORiNOCO/PC_Card/MacOS/" or the same thing in an ftp search engine such as one of these: www.ftpsearchengines.com The name of the actual driver file is ORiNOCO_v7.2.smi.hqx. A search for that specific file might dig it up, too.

I understand one can install Airport to drive the Orinoco card, but I think Orinoco's own drivers are a simpler, more direct solution. Plus they support OS 7.5 to 9 without complaint, unlike Airport's OS 9 or better snobbery. (See Postscript #5 below for further information on Airport not recognizing Orinoco cards on the 2400.)

This setup is working very well. I have the router in the basement, but can find a signal in every corner of my 2000 square foot house, plus the garage.

Nothing says 21st Century like web surfing in the garage...!

I run 9.1 on the 2400c. I also have two desktop Macs hard-wired to therouter, one running 10.1.5 and the other 8.6. They share with each other nicely.

Here's another great site about Wireless with vintage PowerBooks:
Wirelessly Networking a PowerBook 1400 or Other Old Apple Laptop: Step By Step

Postscript #1

By the way, the firmware switch is apparently a no-turning-back scenario. I couldn't get the modem to dial on demand (I have to manually press "connect"), so I tried going back to the SpeedStream firmware. Toasted it. References on the Socket Forum link above confirm similar experiences. Silly me.

PostScript #2

For my fellow 56k underclassmates, note that the 2623 is being phased out as of Fall 2003, replaced by the 2624. The 2624 does not have a com/modem port. So, get 'em while their hot!

PostScript #3

(January 2004) I have since moved to DSL (saints be praised!), so the analog modem is no longer in use. But it was fun while it lasted! However, it was a very easy switch. I just plugged the 2623 into the DSL modem, switched the interface in the router to PPPoE, entered my DSL username and password, and I was off to the races.

PostScript #4:

(May 2004) I have since moved to a Pismo Powerbook (Bronze 2000) running OS 10.4 with a Belkin 54g wireless PC card I picked up for $25 after rebates at J & R Music.com. It got onto my wireless network right away. Note that the Belkin contains the same chipset at Airport Extreme, so even though it's off brand and is in the PC card slot but not the Airport slot in the Pismo, the Airport software recognizes it as a native Airport Extreme card. Cool, eh?

Postscript #5:

I still keep the Orinoco card, because if I boot into OS 9 on the Pismo, the OS 9 version of Airport recognizes the Orinoco as a native Airport card without fuss. It just works. Sadly, the Airport software trick does not work on the Powerbook 2400--you need the Orinoco driver. The Airport software refuses to run properly on the 2400 because it does not consider the 2400 is Airport compatible at all, so it never gets to the point of checking the actual card. But we know better...

Postscript #6:

(December 2004). Onward and upward. I am now running an iBook G4 with an Airport Extreme card, still with DSL and the Seimens router. Worked like a charm right out of the box! LEADER!

Updated December 30, 2004

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