[conspire] 802.11g chips, miniPCI to PCI, connectors, bundles

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Sep 26 11:30:19 PDT 2007

Hi, Daniel.  Per your excellent suggestion, I went to Halted to shop. 
Yes, they do have some relevant stuff still in stock.  I bought
something I _might_ use, for only $12.50:  A fairly generic miniPCI to
PCI adapter card (goes into a host's PCI bus, accepts miniPCI cards).
I'd like to consult your opinion on further purchases.

The particular part I've so far bought has one semi-serious problem:  It
has a blank backpanel PCI faceplate, without anywhere for antennas to
connect on the back panel.  That is a drawback, but at least it _should_
function otherwise with any miniPCI card, and is very cheap.
Presumably, you would _somehow_ connect from a pin on the card (whatever 
card one uses) to some coax cable, and thus to an antenna.  I have some 
qualms about practical problems with cross-connections -- see also

o  One question is what miniPCI WiFi card to buy.ng /etc/bootparamsi 
o  Another is whether I should buy one particular bundle Halted offers.

Your opinions would be valued.

Halted currently stocks three miniPCI WiFi cards.  Of course, plenty
other models are available elsewhere, such as Intel 3945.  (This is an
area of Linux driver support I haven't researched lately.  My casual
current prejudice, having not done research, is that Intel 3945 is the
best-compromise current production WiFi chip used in miniPCI cards,
from the perspective of Linux users.)

Halted stocks:

o  Conexant Prism World Chipset,802.11A/B/G, 14-17.5 dBm, $49
o  Atheros AR5004 Chipset, 802.11A/B/G, 17-18 dBm, $55
o  Conexant Prism Javelin Chipset, 802.11B/G, 17dBm, $45

(If the Conexant chips' descriptions, above, turn out to unusably vague,
I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.  They're transcribed verbatim
from Halted's signage.  Better data can no doubt be gleaned from the
cards themselves.)

The second of those two miniPCI cards (Atheros AR5004) is also 
available premounted in a slightly different miniPCI to PCI converter
chassis, one with an BNC antenna connector on the PCI card back panel,
and a connector cable from the Atheros card's antenna pin to the BNC
connector on the PCI back panel.  In one sense, this is a very tempting
bundle, because (aside from possible driver issues) everything just 
works without worry about finding exotic connectors or crossconnects.
I'm guessing that one would simply add a run of 50 ohm coaxial cable, 
of appropriate length, with BNC conectors on each end, and put an
antenna at the far end. 

That bundle probably would total to about $100.  (I'm not
price-sensitive on this matter.  I'm willing to spend money to avoid
hardware hassle.)

I remember there being considerable dissention and flamage about
Atheros, a proprietary HAL that includes excessively large amounts of
functions that are not required to be obscured by FCC regulatory law, a
reverse-enginnered open source driver or two, lawsuit threats, and a
BSD v. Linux licence-modification scandal.  I didn't follow this
closely, but the screaming could be heard from a distance.

Once again, in no way am I suggesting I pick only from the
above-described parts.  They're merely the first hard data I have on the

(One of the advantages of the Bay Area Wireless User Group of blessed
memory was that it was a treasure-trove of information about connector
gotchas, antennae, and the comings and goings of commercial bundles.)

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