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Macbook Air Internal EVDO Broadband Card Mod

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the evdo-wants-to-be-free dept.

Hardware Hacking 68

Sastira writes "Jordan Bunnell has successfully modded his Macbook Air to use an internal EVDO Broadband card. In order to make everything fit, he had to sacrifice the WiFi and bluetooth cards, but considering the portable nature of the laptop, it is a small price to pay for being truly wireless." (You'll need to scroll down past the sketchy-looking top section of that page.) Sastira also links to this InsanelyMac forum thread on the mod.

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Frist post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23240114)

This post is brought to you by Hans Reiser's shredded anus, which is by now no doubt being passed around the jail house like a pack of smokes. His poor anus probably now resembles a pastrami sandwich that fell apart. I wonder if he'll describe that experience in the passive voice...

My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240172)

Uh, my EVD0 USB dongle from Sprint is about 2.5 inches long, and weighs 2.01 ounces. I carry my MacBook around all of the time with it attached and in use. I sure wouldn't give up WiFi and Bluetooth to put it inside.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23240258)

my dongle is about 8.5 inches long and weighs 2 pounds. I carry my johnson around all of the time with it engorged and ready for use. I sure would give up WiFi and Bluetooth to put it inside a nice tight pousoir.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240262)

Pardon me for being an ignorant T-Mobile user... can't you just tether to your phone with Bluetooth? I find it unlikely that someone with an Air would lack a cell phone with Bluetooth...

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23240320)

I would imagine that MBA owners would be somewhat likely to own an iPhone.

iPhone, for some inexcusable reason, can't tether via bluetooth.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (0, Troll)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240418)

I would imagine that MBA owners would be somewhat likely to own an iPhone.

iPhone, for some inexcusable reason, can't tether via bluetooth.
nore would you want to live with the dialup speed the current iphone gets..

without 3g support the net connection on the iphone is pointless

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23240968)

Pointless for watching youtube, maybe. But for checking email and such, definitely. Plus if you need it for work, many companies will use laptop software that caches information on the client and syncs up later, and waiting for a few minutes while it does that is not going to be an issue. Otherwise you'd have to pay for a separate data line and cellular dongle (which many people do, and yes it's faster that way).

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (2, Interesting)

dave024 (1204956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240462)

Yeah but you can use wifi to setup a network between your iPhone and computer, and get on the internet on your computer using EDGE.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23246912)

Love to see the step-by-step for that one.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (2, Informative)

dave024 (1204956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23247208)

Step by step directions: http://turanchox.com/?p=5 [turanchox.com]

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240488)

Two problems with that theory:

1. You can hack the iPhone to tether. If you are willing to crack the Air open and jury rig it for EVDO, you are probably willing to hack your iPhone.
2. iPhone is AT&T (or hacked for T-Mobile) and won't work with EVDO. If you have EVDO, you are probably on Sprint or Verizon.

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23244180)

In addition, when you are using your phone for data, the phone cannot also work. This means that if you are using the data and your phone rings, the data gets cut off to answer the call. At least thats how AT&T's Edge works.

many drawbacks to EVDO tethering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23244776)

a) EVDO comes in several speeds (Rev. 0, Rev. A and Rev. B in increasing order of speed). Tetherable phones only support the slowest Rev. 0 standard right now, whereas the mini-PCI, USB, etc. EVDO cards are available in the faster speeds. To phrase it in terms more familiar to a T-Mobile user -- it'd be like choosing between EDGE with using a tethered phone or HSDPA/HSUPA with the USB. EVDO Rev. 0 is faster than EDGE, but you'd still much prefer the faster speeds of Rev. A or B.
b) except for a handful of phones (the Palm ones come to mind) most tetherable EVDO phones are unable to even notice an incoming voice call while you are actively using them for a data connection. The Palm ones are slightly better in that they can detect the incoming voice call and drop your data connection to allow you to answer the voice call.

Tetherable phones will eventually support the newer EVDO data standards, but most will probably never gain the intelligence to keep you from missing voice calls when using them for data.

Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23241030)

Uh, my EVD0 USB dongle from Sprint is about 2.5 inches long, and weighs 2.01 ounces.
Then I don't think I would talk about my dongle if I were you. (I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242176)

my EVD0 USB dongle from Sprint is about 2.5 inches long, and weighs 2.01 ounces

You should peel off the sticker and get it down to two ounces even! :-)

Re:My external EVD0 card is portable, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23253222)

if I may extrapolate from your posting history, that's not be the only dongle of yours that's about 2.5 inches long and weighs 2.01 ounces.

May Void Your Warranty (0, Flamebait)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240270)

So when the internal, non user-replaceable battery dies on this laptop, which it will, I get the feeling Apple might not be too happy about replacing it...

Re:May Void Your Warranty (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240388)

So buy a replacement battery online, unscrew the 6 screws in the bottom of the laptop, and pull out the old battery, and plug in the new one.

Re:May Void Your Warranty (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240442)

So when the internal, non user-replaceable battery dies on this laptop, which it will, I get the feeling Apple might not be too happy about replacing it...
Yyyyyeah. If you're okay with killing your bluetooth and wifi in order to get internal EVDO, I have a feeling you're going to be okay replacing the battery yourself [slashdot.org] .

Re:May Void Your Warranty (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240518)

I wouldn't worry about the battery so much. This person clearly has the chops for opening up the case and replacing the battery, a task that only takes a screwdriver [appleinsider.com] and a few minutes' time [appleinsider.com] , since the battery isn't soldered in. Even if it was soldered, I doubt that'd be a problem for this guy. When he needs a replacement battery, he'll have no trouble getting an after-market one.

Re:May Void Your Warranty (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240846)

In Apple's eyes, cracking open the thing just because you have the "chops" till doesn't make it ok. What if he has to have the MB replaced?

Mini PCI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23240280)

Couldn't he have just used a regular mini-pci card? Or does the Macbook Air not have a standard mini-pci port? I would think the wifi and/or bluetooth would be mini-pci. Since he disabled those anyway why not just use the port they were using?

Re:Mini PCI (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242914)

No. No MiniPCI nor PCI-X. No room for the cards either. His USB EDVO was smaller than a PCI-X card, and he used a dremel to saw open more space.

Well, let's face, he would HAVE to... (1, Troll)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240300)

Jordan Bunnell has successfully modded his Macbook Air to use an internal EVDO Broadband card.

...because even for the humungous amount of money you pay for an Air, there's not even an RJ-45 wired network connector in it!

Re:Well, let's face, he would HAVE to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23241076)

...because even for the humungous amount of money you pay for an Air, there's not even an RJ-45 wired network connector in it!

kind of off-topic cause it's about wireless, but still, he's fucking right! it's bad enough that it only had wifi before, with its slow LAN transfer speed and all.. now there's NO WIFI and NO BLUETOOTH and NO RJ-45. I wouldn't even call this a laptop anymore; it's more like an oversized PDA. My fucking cell phone has more connectivity than that.

I don't own one yet because my arms aren't weak/broken, but I'd recommend an eeePC over the Air to anybody looking for a lightweight notebook.

Drop WiFi? (3, Insightful)

alanmeyer (174278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240342)

In order to make everything fit, he had to sacrifice the WiFi and bluetooth cards, but considering the portable nature of the laptop, it is a small price to pay for being truly wireless
Losing bluetooth is OK perhaps, but losing Wireless is far too big of a price to pay. Even the best connection via Verizon is slow, relative to wireless. Too bad

Re:Drop WiFi? (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242742)

The summary suggests that he removed two cards, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are on the same card in a MacBook Air. It's all or nothing.

Re:Drop WiFi? (1)

Da_Biz (267075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23243064)

Losing bluetooth is OK perhaps, but losing Wireless is far too big of a price to pay. Even the best connection via Verizon is slow, relative to wireless. Too bad

As someone who owns a EVDO Sprint card, I could see why someone would want to use this:
1) The nature of my work and hobbies requires frequent, flexible access to reliable network connectivity. The whole reason why I pay a premium for Sprint EVDO service (and the hardware) is to virtually guarantee that I can be anywhere in my city and have access. There are times when slow(er) and reliable are preferable to

2) Anything that sticks out of a laptop is a liability: I have almost snapped the antenna portion of my EVDO PCMCIA card off, and it's something that can snag on things (possibly knocking the laptop off). The USB version of this card is nearly worse: it sticks out several inches. Add to that the fact that either solution can act as a lever to put strain on the PC slot, USB port, etc., and now you've got something that increases potential for breakage of some sort.

One aside: the one thing that sometimes irritates me about Slashdot comments is "tunnel vision," e.g., "wow, XYZ sucks for my purposes, THEREFORE it's totally sh-t." Most things are just tools: good for some things, bad for others.

Truly wireless? (1)

waded (1032834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240382)

Swapping a 10ft cable for a 15ft one is neither more, nor less, wired. Swapping Wi-Fi for EVDO is neither more, nor less, wireless. Lets call it truly wireless when no cords, including power cords, come in the box, or are required, ever.

Re:Truly wireless? (2, Funny)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240448)

Lets call it truly wireless when no cords, including power cords, come in the box, or are required, ever.
I also look forward to the day that batteries charge themselves through magic.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240566)

Clearly the OP wants some sort of nuclear powered laptop.

Of all of the laptops on the market, the Air is really the closest to his vision. The only cord you need is a power cord.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242550)

I'm sorry but how is that different from my laptop which only needs a power cord? I have wifi and bluetooth built in. How is the Air closer to "truly wireless?"

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23243526)

Well, the fact that it accesses optical devices (CD/DVD) over the Wifi is a start. Not coming with any sort of wired ethernet connection is another (you'd be hard pressed to find a PC laptop without an ethernet port these days). I'm not saying these are necessarily good things, but they do reflect Apple's mindset about the Air.

Re:Truly wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23273840)

Actually this particular Air has no access to wirelessly mount cd roms because he had to remove the WIFI.

There goes local network connectivity unless you use an add on rj45 port or a vpn client in your own home.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 6 years ago | (#23244674)

The non-user-replaceable battery makes it LESS wireless than my Dell, though. Even than my TiBook (if the screen wasn't destroyed). You have to plug it in more often. My buddy still brags that he can go for over 6 hours of movie-watching fun on his TiBook (what, like 5 years old now?) by swapping the battery.

IMNSHO, the MacBook Air, in its attempt to be less wired than any other computer in the world, still manages to be (in many important ways) less useful than the EeePC.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240598)

induction.. they are already starting to do it in japan for cell phones and ipods.. without much effort they could do it with laptops

it isn't magic it is science

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240642)

No magic required...

they're working on it. [geek.com]

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240654)

I also look forward to the day that batteries charge themselves through magic.

Someone hasn't been paying to recent technological developments...

http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-01/electricity-air [popsci.com]

The key to wireless power is resonance. Think of a wineglass that shatters when an opera singer hits just the right note. When the voice matches the glass's resonant frequency--the tone you hear when you tap the glass--the glass efficiently absorbs the singer's energy and cracks. Using magnetic induction and two identical copper coils that resonate at the same frequency, the MIT scientists successfully powered a 60-watt lightbulb from a power source seven feet away. The team called their invention WiTricity, short for "wireless electricity." Next up: sending the juice even farther and more efficiently.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240778)

Someone hasn't been paying to recent technological developments...
Nope, I was just being a sarcastic asshole.

Re:Truly wireless? (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240966)

truth be told, there's already some research going on to make some kind of wireless power connection possible. one of them even seems quite realistic. of course, we'll never have it everywhere, but it'll still eliminate that last cord from the laptop ;)

Bluetooth tethered phone? (3, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240508)

I have a Macbook Air and I solved this problem by tethering my Palm 700wx via bluetooth to my MBA. No hacking, no sacrifices (WiFi and Bluetooth still intact).

Apart from the fun of moding - why would anyone else do this?

-ted

Re:Bluetooth tethered phone? (1)

Falc0n (618777) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241350)

same thing here.. I use a Blackberry 8830 from Verizon, tethered via bluetooth. The phone doesn't even leave the holster. I'll admit though, the speeds aren't that impressive. I get about 200-350k, and it doesn't do well when moving in a car. The only other issue with this idea is battery drain, using bluetooth drains the laptop, and the phone seems to suck its power away within 2 hours.

I didn't catch anything about the antenna tuning (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240512)

Wifi runs at 2400 MHz, EVDO runs at 850, 1900 or about 2100 MHz, depending on carrier and implementation. So the fact that it works is fine, but I'm sure the signal isn't as good as it could be. Dell laptops have multiple antenna wires inside depending on which card you'll be using.

Re:I didn't catch anything about the antenna tunin (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23240624)

Yeah, at the end of the article he talked about how the performance wasn't as good as what he was getting with the card normally, especially with uploads.

IMHO, the loss of 802.11 was too much. The Air is built around the 802.11 support.

Why? (1)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241088)

Q: Why would you pay a premium for something with limited functionality, then risk destroying it to swap in a different feature, when you could have had all those features for less money?

Re:Why? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23243472)

Two reasons: 1. Running OSX. 2. Having a slimmer computer.

Enjoy (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241190)

Explaining to airport security what all the extra wires they find in the X ray are.

You're not worthy (2, Funny)

klubar (591384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241528)

If apple wanted you to have verizon access... they would have built it in. If it's not there, you don't need it.

Besides, if you want a computer that you can modify then you don't deserve to own a Macintosh.

Nothing to see here. Go back to your boring gray PC please.

Re:You're not worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23241828)

Like a SuperDrive? It's not built in, so it's not needed? Great logic there captain...

Re:You're not worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23242542)

Woosh

Re:You're not worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23242466)

If apple wanted you to have verizon access... they would have built it in. If it's not there, you don't need it.

Besides, if you want a computer that you can modify then you don't deserve to own a Macintosh.

Nothing to see here. Go back to your boring beige PC please.
There, fixed it for you.

Re:You're not worthy (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23258568)

Come join the the 21st century...I don't think anyone (other than "white box" companies) make beige boxes any more. I think everyone has (followed Apple) to black for desktops and gray/silver for laptops.

Black is the new beige.

Re:You're not worthy (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273946)

Where can i get my hands on a black apple branded desktop system?

I missed that in the many recent releases of apple equipment.

Re:You're not worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23242758)

If apple wanted you to have verizon access... they would have built it in. If it's not there, you don't need it.

Besides, if you want a computer that you can modify then you don't deserve to own a Macintosh.

Nothing to see here. Go back to your boring gray PC please.

If apple wanted you to have verizon access... they would have built it in. If it's not there, you don't need it.

Besides, if you want a computer that you can modify then you don't deserve to own a Macintosh.

Nothing to see here. Go back to your boring gray PC please.
Oh, you are another a mac fanboy doesn't to scratch his little toy, you use your computer just for porno and chat ^_^

Re:You're not worthy (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23254602)

Wow they have them in gray now? Good-bye beige, time to upgrade!

Terms of service (1)

ruin20 (1242396) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241566)

it's nice to be truly wireless, till he reads his TOS and realizes that his EVD0 connection is limited to web pages and even the unlimited plan has a bandwidth cap.
From their TOS [vzw.com] :

Examples of prohibited usage include: (i) server devices or host computer applications, including continuous Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections, or peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications that are broadcast to multiple servers or recipients such that they could enable âoebotsâ or similar routines (as set forth in more detail in (iii) below) or otherwise denigrate network capacity or functionality; (ii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections; (iii) âoeauto-responders,â âoecancel-bots,â or similar automated or manual routines that generate amounts of net traffic that could disrupt net user groups or e-mail use by others; (iv) generating âoespamâ or unsolicited commercial or bulk e-mail (or activities that facilitate the dissemination of such e-mail); (v) any activity that adversely affects the ability of other users or systems to use either Verizon Wirelessâ(TM) services or the Internet-based resources of others, including the generation or dissemination of viruses, malware, or âoedenial of serviceâ attacks; (vi) accessing, or attempting to access without authority, the information, accounts or devices of others, or to penetrate, or attempt to penetrate, Verizon Wirelessâ(TM) or another entityâ(TM)s network or systems; or (vii) running software or other devices that maintain continuous active Internet connections when a computerâ(TM)s connection would otherwise be idle, or âoekeep aliveâ functions, unless they adhere to Verizon Wirelessâ(TM) requirements for such usage, which may be changed from time to time. By way of example only, you may not use a Data Plan or Feature for web broadcasting, or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices.
They go on to talk about thier "Unlimited Plan"

If your usage on a Data Plan or Feature that does not include a specific monthly Megabyte allowance or that is not billed on a pay-as-you-use basis exceeds 5 Gigabytes per account line during any billing period, we reserve the right to reduce throughput speed to a maximum of approximately 200 Kilobits per second for up to thirty days.

Re:Terms of service (1)

Listed1st (1281294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242236)

I would have loved to use a Sprint card, as it really is Unlimited, but was only able to get maybe 250kbps download speed in my area. True, true, the Verizon card is about as restricted as they come! They've revised it to where it's now their "5GB Plan" (Or $39.99 for a whopping 50MB) Wow!

Re:Terms of service (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242262)

Guess he should've got the Sprint plan instead.

Maybe it's just me.. (1)

h.ross.perot (1050420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241662)

.. but when I see hack jobs like this I can applaud the user for trying but the crap workmanship is appalling. Gee, buy a decent soldering station.. Sorry, off my soapbox.

Re:Maybe it's just me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23243352)

I can do a better job soldering with the crappiest iron, but you're right, a decent station makes life so much easier. In spite of having cut off way too much insulation, he melted it on almost every solder. Looking at the ones he didn't melt it too bad, you can tell he doesn't even use a wire stripper. It looks like a rat chewed the insulation off. Disgusting.

Nice. (2, Informative)

widderslainte (121941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23241852)

Sacrifice wi-fi? Isn't it already missing an ethernet port? Nice way to make it worthless in an office, or even a home LAN for that matter.

No more CDMA in AUS (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23242194)

This may be off topic but it is funny because just a few days ago the CDMA network in Australia was shut down for good. If America wants to stay ahead in the wireless broadband race it better start upgrading its network.

Re:No more CDMA in AUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23244274)

Why would america want to stay ahead in some ephemeral race? So we can brag our phones are better? I run a sprint broadband connection and while I can't get torrents as fast as I can on fios at home it's certainly not any problem doing anything I want to do online. I'm not sure that an equipment rollout would be worth the cost.

Re:No more CDMA in AUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23246656)

It looks like AUS is moving back not US falling behind. CDMA is a superior technology (I am assuming you are comparing with GSM). Europe just happened to standardize on GSM because they thought CDMA wasn't even possible (even in theory!) -- Qualcomm proved them wrong.

BlackBerry 8703e and Mac? (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23243004)

Anyone have a solution for tethering via USB with Sprint PCS? I've been looking at the Air but so far the lack of this functionality is a showstopper.

Trade it in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23251232)

Trade that 8703 in for an 8800. Use Bluetooth and buy Sprint's phone-as-modem ($70/month, sorry) service. It's a little slower than tethered USB but Sprint's network is slow enough that it hardly makes a difference.

This way, you're still "wireless." And, unlike the star of this article, you haven't sacrificed any of the Air's scarce connectivity options or voided your warranty.

And in a month... (1)

511pf (685691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23244650)

And in a month the guy would have had a 3G iPhone he could have tethered to easily and automatically via Bluetooth. He should have waited.

CCDN (1)

ccdn (1282562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23264560)

I think it is time to get the macbook air. -ccdn
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