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Author Topic: Native Wireless 802 ac Wifi in a Mac Pro via original Mini PCIE slot WORKING !!!  (Read 56091 times)
Rominator
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« on: February 24, 2014, 08:09:09 AM »

So, being obsessive, it has been bugging me that very latest Macs have "Gigabit WiFi" and we don't .

And I wanted it.

And someone was kind enough to give me a link to TonyMac where someone soldered a newer AC older "n" card to a Mini PCIE board and was able to make it work.

http://www.tonymacx86.com/general-hardware-discussion/99327-could-next-wlan-bluetooth-combo-card-2013-macbooks.html

With some research I discovered that the TonyMac thread was actually a repost of a MUCH longer thread in Russian. Google translate of course made it humorous but not esp useful.

http://applelife.ru/threads/zapuskaem-kombo-moduli-wi-fi-bluetooth-ot-apple-na-obychnom-kompjutere.39681/

Everything you need to know to do this is in first post. The pin outs being in English was a MAJOR PLUS.

I also found a guy at InsanelyMac who had purchased a double adapter on TaoBao. He was all cheesed off that the BT part doesn't work when in Mac Pro Mini slot.

http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/289922-anyone-got-any-pci-e-bcm4360-wifi-ac-card-going-new-macbook-air-owner-wanted/

Anyhow, so 2 or 3 (1 or maybe 2) people have achieved this so far.

So, I had to do it too.

And let me express my amazement at the humble Russian guy who did the original solder work. He tossed it off like "so I soldered this together" like he was talking about brushing his teeth. Took me 2 stinking days !!!! So easy to short one pin when adding another. At one point I had 7 wires connected but as I tried fixing 7th the 6th shorted, I ended up back to 4 left. I then realized I had wrong wire so I started over with new wire.

In short, I used the BCM94360CD which is for iMac 2013. And I am typing and posting this with it sitting in the Optical Drive Bay, without a single antennae wire connected. I need to epoxy the last 5 solders in permanently before I start getting rough with the board. I would solder 4 or 5 wires, then epoxy them so that future work didn't undo previous let it set, solder some more. So, lots of breaks.

You need steady hands, a LOT of patience and a good voltmeter with sharp points. LOTS and LOTS of checking for shorts. Obviously getting one wrong could burn up the Mini PCIE port in Mac Pro.

I am 100% certain I could add the BT function but it would likely require a USB plug on the outside and some wires going in the cheese grater holes. But I NEVER use BT on the Mac Pros so not sure when I will bother.

So, proof is in the pudding (or screen shots in this case)

Nice thing about using original Apple card, it will always work and will never need kext fiddle faddling. Even when other BCM94360 based cards come out for general use, they may very well use different device or vendor id's meaning driver won't lock into them. I have some of the 4352 sitting down in the mailbox, my understanding is that even with driver fix, they never run in ac mode so not sure of usefulness. I'll test later and post. Would be nice to find some antennae wire extensions so I can test cards from outside but use the real antennae.

And before anyone notes lousy speeds, please keep in mind I haven't hooked up antennas yet. Once the last round of epoxy dries I will do so and post more impressive stuff.

I am hopeful for a way to make these more easily and faster and potentially sell them through MacVidCards. There are things on TaoBao that have promise but sending a bunch of money to someone in China makes me nervous.

EDIT: Looks like the TonyMac/Russian guy did this with a 94331 card, all that bother for "N"...I am likely the first for "ac" unless someone did it and didn't post. (referring to soldering, using an adapter much easier)

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« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 01:20:15 PM by Rominator » Logged

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Rominator
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 10:08:58 AM »

MacVidCards:~ ddff$ /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport -I
     agrCtlRSSI: -53
     agrExtRSSI: 0
    agrCtlNoise: -92
    agrExtNoise: 0
          state: running
        op mode: station
     lastTxRate: 1053
        maxRate: 1300
lastAssocStatus: 0
    802.11 auth: open
      link auth: wpa2-psk
          BSSID: 90:72:40:15:54:3f
           SSID: Dpart
            MCS: 9
        channel: 36,80


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« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 10:10:29 AM by Rominator » Logged

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Robert Davies
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 02:32:37 PM »


Hellfire!! That is nice solder work! Those pins are tiny!

Really nice job Rominator, and thanks for posting it all up.

I like to think that I'm not bad with the old soldering iron, but I'm not sure I'd even try that!!

117Mb/s without antennae!!

Hmmm… Where are those listings again?

Smiley

-Rob
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 10:08:00 PM »

Thanks !!

I realize now that I got wrong card extender. I meant to get ones that used ribbon cable that had wires, the ones I got is like a sheet of thin plastic with foil traces inside. I have found ones that I think will work better in China and ordered some.

This will cut the soldering in half, though the pins on the bcm94360 are the trickier ones.

Oddly, all of the pins are common on the other side, so Apple could have made them twice as wide had they chosen too.

Without antenaes it was running faster than the "G" cards in most of these machines.

I am waiting for an AC card I have ordered for my rMBP now. It is unique I that it only requires a board swap to move to new standard. Then I can try testing the speed out, hard to find another way to stress the connection. I'll try copying a large file and time it compared to "n" level card on another Mac Pro.
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Squishy Tia
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 11:00:31 PM »

There aren't any working AC mPCIe cards out there that OS X supports natively?

What about this one?
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 12:17:49 AM »

Try this, type "Intel 7260 OSX" into a google search bar.

There's your answer.

Even if it did work it is 2 stream, like MBA, would run at 867 instead of 1300.
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Robert Davies
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 02:19:41 PM »

Would be nice to find some antennae wire extensions so I can test cards from outside but use the real antennae.

You mean like this sort of thing?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/300942436639

-Rob
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Rominator
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 09:51:48 PM »

Hopefully, yes.

Can you confirm that is size of the ones in Mac Pro?

If you read the Russian thread, they discovered that Air/MBP cards had different size than iMac.

I am starting to think that the xlr8yourmac guy doesn't read his emails.

I have written him two days in a row and no answer or fixing the erroneous summation on his site. He states that iMac uses Mini PCIE card which is part of why I ordered 4 of them thinking it would be easy to slap them in.

Apple no longer makes Mini PCIE Airport cards, the iMac ones look similar until you see them side by side.

Anyhow, I'm surprised more people aren't excited to get wireless ac in Mac Pro.
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Robert Davies
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 03:49:19 AM »

Now you mention it, I cannot be certain….

I was told 'Yes, it's a mini pci-e card'… by people who really ought to have know better…

We now know different.

I sort of assumed that they (the connectors) would be the same u.fl connector as on any other airport card. They *look* the same, but I have not my card (like yours in the pics) through yet.

Re: Xlr8yourmac guy, I used to have quite a bit of back and forth emailing with him over the last decade or so - it's where I used to get my hacking about info from. Some time just after the last significant quake in Ca. things started slowing down on the site, rumour was that his place had suffered severe structural damage, costing mucho to put right - but xlr8yourmac as a site is nowhere near what it was sadly - luckily there's Netkas' and to an extent MR to publicise people's work…

Thinking back to the wifi card adaptor that you're working on for a moment - would it possible to create a soldering mask around the pin you're soldering, and then move it on to the next pin - it may work if you could stagger the wires on the length of the pin possibly?  - Sorry rambling…
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2014, 11:01:49 PM »

Xlr8 has decided not to mention this card mod.

He quietly did correct his error about iMacs using Mini PCIE cards but has left in the error about Macs supporting 4352 cards.

So far there is not a single report of AC working in OSX on a 4352. Even with mods, you just end up with N support.

I guess since I'm not an advertiser he doesn't find this newsworthy.

Meanwhile, with the incorrect info he is passing along, more people will buy 4352 cards and wonder why they max out at 450.
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 12:05:15 AM »

450Mb/s is but a dream for me at the moment…

After a little bit of plist editing I got the 4352 recognised - bad news only on 2.4ghz channels and fluctuating 54Mb/s connect speed to an 'N' Airport.

That XLR8yourmac report is/was at best inaccurate, but in my experience, wrong would be a better description - the edit required is pretty straightforward, but then I think how difficult it would be to describe to your typical MR poster….

Moving on(!)

Must find a 4360 card, or better still, a workable converter/adaptor for the reasonably readily available Apple cards - I found a couple of places, 1 on ebay, and another on AliExpress that do the PCI-E -> mPCI-E -> Apple Card adaptor like in the thread that started all this - bad news 106 -> 120 USD a piece. From what auto-translate made of the Taobao site, the adaptor on there was 30 USD-ish, but I could not work out how to order or whatever on that site at all Sad
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Rominator
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 03:36:41 AM »

I haven't bothered with 4352 yet.

I have ordered those cables you linked to and will wait until I can completely test cards outside the Mac Pro.

Plugging the antennas on is far too difficult to be switching them out often.

Will be much easier when I can switch them out  OUTSIDE the Mac Pro.

So, I have a bunch of little bits coming to continue this project.

Looking at the various posts, nobody has ever gotten 4352 to run in "ac" mode, I think the reason so that it is listed as "working" is that everyone is reposting an original error post.

You should email Mike at XLR8 and let him know. He never even responded to my emails but I know he got it because he revised the iMac wording (without changing the "last updated" date)

His board was much more fun when he had a forum, even in it's final days when he didn't allow new members, the crusty old farts posts were fun.

Anyhow, my thoughts on 4352  are that it may or may not offer "ac" on Macs eventually. May require ref lashing with Apple id numbers. Perhaps those of the BCM94360CS2 from Air since it is a dual stream card. It may require more kext fiddling but it seems that right now this card is a dead end until serious work done on it.

In any case, XLR8 page should be corrected, especially as the MacRumours page links to it as a source of useful knowledge.
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 02:15:21 AM »

Top Left is the BCM94360CSX which is for current MacBooks. It has WiFi ac and BT 4.0. Note the extra tiny antennae connectors. This is why the hacker guy had to build antennae extensions/change the connectors. This is a GOOD reason not to try to use in a Mini PCIE application. Also, there are only 3 connectors, so not sure how 3 antennas for ac and 1 more for BT connect.

To the right of that is the iMac 2013 card. BCM94360CD. This is the one I built into my Mac Pro. It has 4 antennae connectors that are same as prior Mac Pro cards. The pin outs line up with the card above.

Below these two is the "other" wireless ac card. This card is incorrectly reported on XLR8yourmac as being Mac compatible. To use in a Mac you need to mod a kext or two and the end result is an "N" card that can only use 2.4Ghz band. So, no "ac" support and REDUCED "N" support compared to other cards. There are threads with these "fixes" at OSXLatitude and on the russian board with similar fixes, neither of which which fully enables this card. I think that the BT works but haven't tested. Note that the antennas seem to do double duty, each being assigned 2 channels.

Next moving to the right (2 antennas and blue board) is the BCM94321MC. This is an early "N" card that only uses 2 antennas.

Finally on far right is AR5BXB112 a later "N" card (IIRC) that uses 3 antennas. It would seem that 3 would be better than 2 and I know this card connects at 450.


* wifi-cards.jpg (237.13 KB, 3108x2167 - viewed 1564 times.)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 07:21:09 AM by Rominator » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2014, 08:32:59 AM »

At AppleLife we plan start to manufacture direct adaptors from Apple's cards to miniPCIe. With working BT too. Blueprints already done.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 08:51:38 AM by armdn » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2014, 09:30:06 AM »

I read the entire 25 pages before I busted out soldering iron.

I even had a friend who speaks Russian natively read through as well. Last post in that thread was me as of yesterday.

It is too bad that we can't just talk to the Chinese, obviously they have already designed and made two different forms of these adapters already.

I have ordered some from TaoBao but it is taking FOREVER to get them here.

The other thing that needs to happen is to create a market.

With most internet in US MUCH slower than "N" there is nothing that makes people want an "ac" card except nerd porn.

(I say as I look at my BCM94360CSX that I haven't put in my 2012 rMBP yet)

I got a huge thrill firing up 2009 Mac Pro running 2013 latest tech, especially knowing that there are probably less than 5 people on the planet with a Mac Pro and ac built into Mini PCIE slot. Sort of like when I first flashed a Fire GL X3 into a Mac X800XT in my G4 Quicksilver.

I have also spoken with a gentleman who wishes to make something similar for other Mac laptops that used a different connector.

I hope a solution comes up, soldering takes a long time and I would be upset if next one blows up or hurts Mac Pro logic board.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 09:33:02 AM by Rominator » Logged

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