Jump to content

Installing 3G EVDO Card into MacBook Air


  • Please log in to reply
28 replies to this topic

#1
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
I'm typing on it now. I've successfully installed an USB727 Verizon Aircard INSIDE my MacBook Air. It required removing the Airport/Bluetooth Card, but considering I never used them, i'm not troubled by it. Best part is my USB port is free and clear.

Now my Air truly is Wireless!

I'll be posting photos and a walkthrough of every step I took, from where I learned of the extra USB lines to cramming it all inside. InsanelyMac will be home to my Q&A as well as general discussion & idea sharing thread. I'm always looking for better ways to improve the mod!

The Page is UP! Check it out!

http://www.getlisted..._Resources.html

Attached Files



#2
munky

munky

    Agent of Evolution

  • Retired
  • 2,901 posts
  • Location:The Land of Hairy-Arsed Highlanders
good skills :P

#3
Orea

Orea

    Formally, FragileMac

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 375 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Formally, FragileMac
Now thats hawt. :D

#4
sdelano

sdelano

    InsanelyMac Geek

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 107 posts
Rad! If only you could keep wifi it would be wonderful..... Good work though!

What are the monthly charges on one of those things?

-sdelano

#5
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
It was either replace the Airport, or replace the Hard Drive. I picked the former!

I do have to say though, I've got a new respect for the engineering of the Macbook Air! The clearance is amazingly tight, and the pieces incredibly precise! Verizon is $59.99 monthly (If you also have their cell phone) Sprint (Same card, model U727) IS $59.99 no matter what, $49.99 if you call a few days later to cancel (The retention department gives you $10 off per month!).

I would have gone with Sprint, but didn't get a good signal in my home, so Verizon it was (Sprint has unlimited usage, Verizon is 5GB)

#6
EVDOguy

EVDOguy

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Just Joined
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
Nice work!

One issue that you may have, unless you are in a REAL strong signal area, the built-in Airport/WiFi antennas are not tuned for EVDO frequency and may not give you great results when in a normal or weaker signal.

There was a project a year ago that did the same thing with a Mac Mini:

Current Intel Macs Already Support 3G / EVDO - EVDOinfo.com

Both projects prove that built-in 3G (EVDO or HSDPA) is possible on the current line of Macs. Just waiting on Apple to offer the option, so we don't have to pull out the soldering gun :)

#7
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
Welcome EVDOguy! Yes, the macs all have Excellent support for EVDO, (This particular USB727 does require drivers until the next update) Using the USB720 (Which has a Mini PCIe Card) I replaced the Airport in my MacBook and MacBook Pro and had full control (Could see signal strength and all). While the antennas aren't tuned to the CDMA frequencies, they are definitely better than nothing! If I don't have them hooked up, the poor signal goes nowhere, having them hooked up at least gets something exposed where the aluminum shell isn't in the way.

Like I mentioned in my page, I have taken a performance loss, but with the Verizon Coverage in Salt Lake City, I don't have any problems at all. An ideal situation would be to grab an EVDO antenna from a DELL or Sony that support it, then put that in the Air in place of the Airport antenna. But honestly, I'm not seeing a performance hit severe enough to justify all that extra effort!

I may very well end up building several more, they are just so perfect for taking on the road, But my sales guys would have to really step up their numbers to deserve one!

#8
tnkgrl

tnkgrl

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
@Listed1st.com

I'm wondering why you used electrical tape instead of Kapton tape - the adhesives in electrical tape degrade over time and are sensitive to heat - not the best thing to put inside the MBA. Kapton tape is heat and abrasion resistant - it's also a lot thinner (it's Teflon coated mylar, essentially).

Anyway, it's unfortunate about the WiFi and BT - but really, kudos on the mod!

I don't have the guts do to something like this to my MBA despite doing some crazy mods myself: http://tnkgrl.wordpr...l-02-hsdpa-mod/

#9
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
Thanks for the advice! I actually remember you page from when I first was researching installing a Mini PCIe into my MacBook Pro!

I'll be installing an SSD later this week, I'll switch the tape when I do so!

#10
jkfritcher

jkfritcher

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Just Joined
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
Awesome job. I've considered doing something similar with a MBP, although so far, I've been fairly happy with an ExpressCard option.

One potential problem I see though is it appears that you connected the power leads to the external USB port. If you plug a high-power device, like an external hard drive, into that port while the data card is connected, you could easily overload the port and have the USB controller shut it down. Might be worth it to find an alternate point to tap power to avoid that.

#11
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
I considered that, and test it as well. You'll have to remember that the MacBook Air's USB Port is considerably higher powered than most, as it's designed to power the external SuperDrive. I've used the port while online without any problems. One thing I may not try is burning a DVD while uploading online, that would be about the highest drain on the port, and could very well zap it!


There is one big disadvantage with putting the mini PCIe Aircard (From the USB720) inside the macbook, when I did that, the system would not sleep. It would instantly wake up from what I believe was USB activity!

I had 2 options to overcome this: 1 was to cause the Macbook to hibernate when the lid was closed, rather than safe sleep, the 2nd (What I ended up going with) was using the Mtron SSD (Mobi3000) as it would boot astonishingly fast! The only downside to that was with the SSD, the system would NOT resume from hibernate! It would freeze! So basically every time I used my system, it would have to be a cold boot (Still amazingly fast with the Mtron SSD)

#12
giffut

giffut

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 13 posts
Great mod!

You might be interested by these findings: http://www.maushamme...ms/mba/USB.html

There are several unused USB ports on the Macbook Airs logicboard, so you could attach your EVDO device there.

#13
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
That's actually the discovery that inspired me! (I have a link to him as "Anonymous Explorer" at the very top of my page). I saw that post on Engadget a while back. That's what made me decide to buy an Air, because I knew that this mod could be done! The reason I still accessed the only port was to power the device. I didn't want to hunt down a power source, and as he says in his findings:

"Be aware that there is no over-load protection for that +5v power -- that regulator is an additional part that isn’t included in the ICH-8."

So I figured I'd play it safe(er) by using a port i knew was ready to handle USB power. Fun stuff!

#14
THEHAWKs

THEHAWKs

    The UnKnown Leader

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 171 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:N.Y.C
Is There Anyway To Do This MOD With Out Removing The Airport/Bluetooth Card.

#15
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
The only reason I had to remove them wasn't that they would interfere, but rather I had NOWHERE else to put the EVDO card! I suppose I could have taken the hard drive out, but...well you get the point. The tolerances are so incredibly tight, there really was no room anywhere! A smaller EVDO Modem might allow for some more creativity, but as of now, no go.


I use my system mostly for in-house business presentations which require the internet, so having a sleek, thin MacBook air without any USB cards hanging off the side is much more visually appealing. The main thing I'm happy with is still being able to use the only USB port!

#16
THEHAWKs

THEHAWKs

    The UnKnown Leader

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 171 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:N.Y.C
I Really Want To This MOD But I Would Like To Keep The Airport/Bluetooth Card In :)

#17
Hmmm_greenie

Hmmm_greenie

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Just Joined
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
Hey I was wondering one thing. If you have the power for the EVDO card wouldn't that mean that you also could not use the optical drive for the MacBook Air. The reason I ask this is because doesn't the drive draw excess current already and thats why it only works when directly connected to a MacBook Air? And without the airport bluetooth card the only way to install software that you have on CD for example would be to use the USB ethernet adaptor?

#18
jeffberg

jeffberg

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 51 posts
Does anyone make Bluetooth EVDO modems? That seems like the best in-warranty solution. Just keep the evdo modem in your bag or pocket or something.

#19
mapnet

mapnet

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
WOW, very impressive! I'd like to see this done with a GSM card. I've always used GSM devices because of the worldwide coverage, and faster data rates (7.2 Mbps down over the latest edition, HSUPA - faster than most home internet connections). It would be difficult to make the SIM card removable without opening the case, since some sort of slot would have to be carved in the side for that, but most people with GSM data cards have dedicated lines for them, so that wouldn't be a big deal. This is definitely a step in the right direction though.

#20
Listed1st.com

Listed1st.com

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 74 posts
Excellent point Hmmm_Greenie!
What I have found is that the Superdrive, while requiring more current than the typical USB port, the Superdrive's current while reading is not that much, it's when you fire up that laser to write a DVD that the current is peaked. I have no problems reading CDs while I'm online.
The nice thing is, the EVDO Card doesn't use very much power when it's dormant, so simply logging off (And turning off auto connect) I would imagine you'd be able to burn a DVD just fine. I haven't tested it, though I probably will, and I'll keep this thread updated!Another thing I have found, is that the USB ports have limited overload protection.
From what I understand, they are designed to cut out of there is too much power draw (I've seen this in Windows, a little error pops up "Power Surge on USB Hub").But as far as the CD-Rom running to install programs? Not a problem at all.

JeffBerg:
The closest I've seen are the Cradlepoint WIFI routers. http://www.evdoinfo....t/view/2301/64/ You will find they offer a batter powered model, which converts your EVDO or GSM card into a portable Wifi hotspot. I actually used the MB800 in my car for a time, broadcasting "Listed1st.com Mobile Wifi" everywhere I went.
Problem is, it was not reliable enough for me. Very often the CDMA card had disconnected, I'd open my Macbook for a presentation and have no net. I'd have to log onto the router, reset the connection, then proceed with my presentation. not very suave. But if that's not an issue for you, it's your best bet.
No matter what, it seems bluetooth devices tethered don't perform nearly as fast. I was reading some of the comments on the different website hosting my mod, and it was mentioned that most bluetooth phones, for example, are EVDO Rev 0, not Rev A or B (The faster type) so speed is limited considerably.

Mapnet:
I don't see why it wouldn't be possible, the only thing stopping anyone would be the size of the USB cards. I'm afraid I didn't research the different cards, so I wouldn't be of any help there!

The only other way possible I see to do this mod would be to remove the speaker unit (It's on the opposite side, full height of the battery)





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

© 2016 InsanelyMac  |   News  |   Forum  |   Downloads  |   OSx86 Wiki  |   Mac Netbook  |   PHP hosting by CatN  |   Designed by Ed Gain  |   Logo by irfan  |   Privacy Policy