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.

EVDOinfo.com– 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 EVDOinfo.com 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).

Nationalaccess

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.

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

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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.

Term
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.

Screenshot 09-3
Activation.

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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!

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

Freewifi
I named my network, exactly what it was…

Firewall
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.
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Hey look, free Wi-Fi!

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

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Connected!

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Details.

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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.

Resources
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.

12 thoughts on “HOW TO make a Powerbook in to a Wi-Fi access point!

  1. Hey Phillip,

    Thanks for the great post. I myself am just getting to the point where I am frustrated trying to manage and remember all the passwords for my various wi-fi accounts. Do you know if you already have a Verizon or Spring account if you can just tack the card onto an existing account, or is there a completely separate account process for these cards? I guess what I am asking is if I can just use the card and have that count toward the minutes in my monthly plan that my wife and I use for our cell phones?

    Secondly, which program did you use to get the screenshots that you posted for this blog?

    Thanks,
    Joe B

  2. jb- i think you can get it added to your account, but it is a new number. i am not sure about sprint. i am sure this won’t count against minutes, it’s a flat rate. for the screen shots i use snapndrag on mac os x.

  3. i am having trouble with sharing my evdo over my airport on a pismo 10.3.9

    i can not get the pismo to hand out an ip address to a win xp computer.

    if i manualy set an ip in the airport and the win xp computer then i can share evdo from the pismo to the win xp computer but i can not get the pismo to be a dhcp server for a client computer.

    any sugestions…?

  4. Posting here in case someone else runs into the same problem I was.

    I had sharing all setup but for some reason my Windows XP box could not get an IP from the shared connection on my Powerbook.

    I ended up reinstalling the VZAccess Manager software, this time allowing it to manage the EVDO connections (WWAN?) and the WiFi connections. After that it worked just fine, picking up a 10. address.

    Not sure if that is what really made it worked, but just in case I thought I would post because I was unable to find the info anywhere else.

    Michael

  5. Bravo.

    Just thought you might like to know there was a Wall Street Journal article recently that touched on the various ways network carriers are limiting how you may use their services. Verizon’s BroadbandAccess figured prominently in there — looks to me like you are (already) violating their (outrageous) terms of service:

    ”Verizon Wireless’s BroadbandAccess enables customers to use its cellular network for high-speed Internet access. But the service explicitly prohibits subscribers from using it for Internet calling because “we don’t want people clogging up the network,” says spokesman Jim Gerace. The carrier launched the service in two markets in 2003, but has only recently begun heavily marketing the offering, cutting prices by 25%.”

    Clogging up the network. Oy vey.

    All the gory details here (should be a working public-available link, and be warned, steam will be coming out of your ears by the end…): http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB112985651806475197-lMyQjAxMDE1MjI5MTgyNTE2Wj.html

    -Motts

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