HOW TO make a Powerbook in to a Wi-Fi access point!

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In Make volume 03 we showed you how to make a “stomp box” – a device that uses a high speed EVDO wireless access card and Wi-Fi to create a mobile wireless access point. But, if you have a Mac Powerbook with PC card slot and a EVDO card you can make the same thing, broadcasting free Wi-Fi for anyone around! Here’s how…Card

What is EVDO?

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, so I picked up a Verizon EVDO high speed access card. Just pop it in a Mac or or PC in the PC card slot and you’re off. This card let’s me access the web without needing a Wi-Fi hot spot at speed around 400-700k usually.– EVDO or Evolution Data Only,Evolution Data Optimized, often abbreviated as EVDO, EV-DO, EvDO, 1xEV-DO or 1xEvDO, is a fast wireless broadband access (3G) without needing a WiFi hotspot (a common misspelling is EDVO). You are the hotspot. You can have fast internet access, anywhere. No need to find a hotspot. For example, get high speed internet access in a car, train, clients, anywhere you can open your laptop.

Also, 1xEVDO is based on the 1xRTT standard. 1xRTT is basically available wherever cell phone coverage is and can give you 2-3 times dialup speed (both Verizon and Sprint offer this). Typical speed is 60 – 100K upload and download speeds. So, even if you are NOT in an EvDO area, you can still access the internet (learn more about 1xRTT vs. EVDO).

Here are the specs on my card…(I wish it didn’t have a picture of some corpo ENRON looking fellow on it, but anyway..)

Kyocera KPC 650 Passport 1xEVDO PC Card (KPC650)

  • KPC650 is a next-generation 1xEVDO PC card
  • High-speed wireless data access of up to 2.4 Mbps
  • Dual-band receive diversity and high-performance antenna design allows for higher data rates and improved coverage

You see, I was getting really tired of paying for 4 different Wi-Fi accounts and airports/other places always having ones not on the “partner list” and dropping $4 to $5 for a quick dose of access. The service for the EVDO card ranges from $50 to $80 month, corporations often have employee deals, so if you can get it through where you work, you might hit the $50/month range. The card can be as low as $20 from the folks- I haven’t used them, but this is what it says on their site:

$19.99 (after $100 rebate) for PC Card, and Activation Fee: $20 for 2 year or $35 for 1 year contract. Monthly Fee: $79.99 – here.

The coverage, so far has been great too- but I also travel mostly to the major cities, here’s a coverage map (and more info).


So far, it’s been amazing. I now bring my laptop everywhere, even getting a lot done in the car! The time before a flight, the taxi and bus rides from the airport, I’m really getting a lot done.

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iChatting and Skyping, stuck in traffic.

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Some testing on a tiny Sony Vaio.
In MAKE volume 03, we showed you how to urn your car into a Wi-Fi hotspot, then use GPS and webcam input to map your current location online and auto-generate a photo travelog. It’s a fun project, so if you like this- you might want to check it out as well.

If you subscribe to MAKE you can view this right now for free in our digital edition here.

You can also buy this cool box, from Junxion too.

Now, if you have a Powerbook with a PC card slot you can do the same thing, just get the card, load the software and share the connection.

Why share?
Sharing your connection is not only a lot of fun, but extremely useful. I was traveling with my wife last week and she was able to play Second Life, check email and use my connection from here Windows machine, just like any other Wi-Fi hot spot. We’re both paying for this, why should she need to buy another account for Wi-Fi just to log on.

It’s also really useful for public transportation- if you have a long daily commute on a train or bus, you can get everyone on the internet as they commute. There have been a few stories of people sharing their connections on trains, be the hero!

Originally, this was going to be a slightly complex HOW TO, but in the last day Verizon released drivers for Mac OS X. So the process of turning your Mac in to a Wi-Fi access is quite simple now. In fact, for old Mac pros, this is just internet connection sharing- super easy.

Other way…no longer needed.
Previously, you need to “hack” the drivers to swap out vendor IDs and rebuild the kernel extension cache to get this card to work. If you’re interested, the HOW TO for that is here.

There’s no reason to use this method now as Verizon have specific drivers, but it’s good info. You also don’t need this specific card, but all my EVDO geek friends said it was the best.

Ingredients for this HOW TO

  • Apple Powerbook 15″ or 17″ (PC Card)
  • Verizon EVDO card, I use the Kyocera KPC 650 Passport 1xEVDO PC Card (KPC650)

Installing the Mac OS X software
Assuming you have the card, download and install the Mac OS X drivers from Verizon from here, you’ll need your assigned phone number.

The only bad news is that the Mac version doesn’t have the built in text messaging like its Windows counterpart- but I’ve yet to really need that.

[Note] Windows has internet connection sharing, but I haven’t had much luck getting to work, so for now- the Mac HOW TO is what I could write up for now. If anyone can confirm this works, let me know.

Install the software. Here are some of the things you can expect to see.

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The software can detect and use the other devices on your system, I’m not sure if it’s required – but I chose the last option (both).

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Interesting, it detected some driver differences (I had hacked up the old drivers) but it still worked.

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Device detection.

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Both networks work, the Quick2Net is when there isn’t NationalAccess- good for email and some browsing.

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Once the card is installed, any new towers will be downloaded.

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And press connect! We’re on!

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Here’s a what the UI looks like, web opens Firefox for me, mail opens mail, the only thing you really need this app for is signing on and off.

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I went to this site and used their test, here are the results…

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Not to shabby, this is in Seattle, WA.

Sharing the connection
Now it’s time to share this connection!

Open System Preference and choose Sharing.
For some reason I need to click the connection pull down twice for Airport to appear, but it did. Check off Airport.

I named my network, exactly what it was…

Also turned on Personal Web sharing on services and Firewall.

Getting on
Now that I’m broadcasting my wireless, hop on any Mac, PC, Linux Wi-Fi enabled device.
Hey look, free Wi-Fi!

A smart warning, I could easily be logging packets, and so could others. In fact, this is a good mobile honey pot set up.



And lastly, another test, same speed.

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Here we are at the airport sharing my connection, my wife was able to play Second Life perfectly.

EVDOInfo is pretty much one of the best and only places that has all I needed to get going. Post up any others in the comments too.
Verizon support for the Kyocera card.


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