powerbook wifi woes


My son's aging Powerbook G4 (an original TiBook) has been having problems with wifi connectivity over the past several months. He gets only an intermittent signal from our Airport Express. I've isolated the problem to his machine--other laptops in the same place at the same time have no connectivity problems.

I've opened the machine and reseated the Airport card, and checked the antenna cable--I don't see any obvious cable problems, or oxidation, but there may well be problems with the cables going from the card up into the antennas in the screen.

I really don't want to put a lot of money into this machine, so I'm trying to figure out how to easily put a wired connection in his room. What's the easiest, cheapest way to do that? It seems like there must be something that will pick up the wifi signal from our network and send it over an ethernet cable to his computer--but I don't know what they'd be called, and thus can't search for them effectively.

(Oh...and merry christmas to all of you, especially those who, like me, serve as family sysadmin over the holidays!)


Taking the Powerbook to a Genius Bar at an Apple Store will more than likely solve your problem on the spot, especially if it means just performing a hard reset.

Here is a site that tells you how to do it yourself:

Good luck & Happy Holidays!



Something of that sort? [googled 'wifi to ethernet']

You've probably considered this, already, but the cheapest method would be a USB wifi adapter. Will that not work?


This holiday season has been blessedly free of technical problems. I'm in shock. I must've been a good boy this year.

Merry Christmas!

It's called an ethernet bridge. It's what I use on my desktop to connect to the wifi in our house. Works reasonably well. I have a mac; the rest of the computers in the house are pcs. Good luck!

You don't necessarily need to go wired -- there are a number of ways to improve the quality of a TiBook's reception. We wrote about this in "Mac OS X Unwired" a couple of years ago (back we TiBooks were more common). I'm sending you that section of the book via email.

The short summary, though: (1) remove the battery and rub the inside (which reseats the AirPort antenna). Yes, really. (2) buy an inexpensive Wi-Fi PC card and use the TiBook's PC card slot. There's also some good info here.

I had similar problems with my TiBook. One antennae is near the vent next to the battery. Rubbing that to seat it better (takes playing) against the frame would help. I had a fine connection until I compared it to other newer aluminum PowerBooks or iBooks.

One thing that many suggested was getting PCMIA wifi card with B & G reception. I never got to that point. After 3 years plus the hard drive was getting noisy and I wanted some other newer PowerBook goodness.

Easy, get a PCMCIA wifi card, the day after Xmas. It should be less than $30, then. A linksys works fine and will get greater range, than your properly working airport card. Simple, cheap.

Merry Christmas mama !

Your cleanest, most simple, most elegant & reasonably-priced solution for the TiBook’s Internet connectivity is to get another AirPort Express and an Ethernet cable.

- Configure your existing AirPort Express to be a WDS 'main base station'. [FYI - this won’t affect wireless clients’ connection to it.]

- Configure new AE 2 to be a WDS remote station to your existing AirPort Express.

- The two AirPort Expresses will talk to each other & be the bridge to your son’s TiBook use location.

- Configure new AE 2 to ‘use Ethernet port for Internet’ [it’s a checkbox somewhere in the AE setup].

- Connect Ethernet cable: one end to port on AE 2, other end to TiBook’s Ethernet port on the back of the TiBook.

- Go into TiBook’s Network Preferences and select the Built-in Ethernet selection and set it to DHCP; click Apply.

- Wa La ! The TiBook is good to go!

The extra benefits of going this route are:

- Wherever there is an electrical outlet (within range of the existing AirPort Express), your son can unplug, replug, & move the 2nd AirPort Express; and, with TiBook & connected Ethernet cable, can get high-speed Internet access from the hybrid wireless-wired network.

- Turn on AirTunes on both AirPort Expresses, connect stereo speakers to either or both Audio Out jacks on the AEs, and play iTunes through to either AirPort Express and the speakers. Slick. Try that with a Linksys, NetGear, or D-Link wireless hub. No wait. Don’t bother. They can’t perform this additional ‘WiFi’ service.

Ho Ho Ho!

I know of no WiFi 802.11b/g PC card still available in the market that works natively with PC card-slotted Powerbooks (like the TiBook), OS X 10.3 Panther or 10.4 Tiger, and AirPort software.

If someone knows of one such WiFi PC card, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!! (c/o lefty@rangers.org)

I know this: to work with OS X's native AirPort software, the WiFi PC card *must* be using the same Broadcom chipset as the one used in the original AirPort card. The discontinued Asante WiFi card works perfectly. Maybe find a used one on eBay or Craigslist. Good luck. They’ve all been snatched up and are sitting inside TiBook PC slots already.

If a Proxim ORiNOCO Gold card is procured, one must purchase an AirPort-like wireless driver from the likes of IOXperts ( http://www.ioxperts.com/) for some $20 to get the card to work in the TiBook, and at only 802.11b speeds at that.

And the setup is not clean nor elegant, as the driver’s netprefs choices are either ‘closest network’ or ‘manually enter exact name of wireless network & userid & password’. Yuck. And whenever OS X is updated, then the IOXpert driver needs an update. Yuck Yuck.

A second AirPort Express/Ethernet cable solution might seem pricey, but it guarantees a Tibook’s continued and extended use until it can be retired.

Here is a third party wifi 802.11G card that works with the latest Airport drivers built in to OS X. No other software driver is need to use this card! This card of course is backwards compatible with 802.11B networks. This card is price at a reasonable $49.00. If you purchase this card and it does not work be sure to make sure that you have the newest Airport drivers installed as this card requires OS® X v10.2.6 with AirPort® installer 3.0.4, or Mac OS® X v10.3 to use.

Belkin Wireless G Notebook Card F5D7010


If someone purchases this card and uses it I would be interested in hearing how it works. I would also be interested in hearing if anyone is using the Belkin Wireless G Access point F5D7130 which sells for $69.99 or the Wireless G Router
F5D7230-4 which sells for $69.99. My question is since both of these products use the brodcom chip just like the Airport basestation and the Airport Express would it be possible to use Airtunes software which is part of OS X to stream music wirelessly using this products?

Glenn Perez

Thanks Glenn for the info on the Belkin card. Right now it only supports Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar and 10.3 Panther, so Tiger users are out of luck. - Lefty

If you want Tiger-compatible Wi-Fi PC cards, MacWireless is the place to look.

I think any of these will work

MacWireless 11g PC Card:

Asante AL5403-XG 802.11G Cardbus 54MBPS

Buffalo Technology WLICBG54A Wireless

SONNET G54CB Aria Extreme 802.11g PC Card

Here's a more complete list


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