06 January 2010

Perfect MacBook Air : WiFi

This could become deprecated once I Leopardize (install Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard) my HP Mini 311 because its stock WiFi card works in Leopard and not in Snow. But while I'm still on Snow Leo; this is one of the changes that make my new netbook a perfect MacBook Air for me.

Since the HP Mini 100TU's WiFi card worked flawlessly in Snow Leopard (when the said Mini was still well and alive - I think I fried it when I stupidly let it run all night to do some torrent downloading), I decided to test drive it on my new favorite, the Mini 311. The 1000's card, a Broadcom4312HMG, wasn't a combo WLAN/BT so I transferred the 311' stock combo card,a  Broadcom4312HMGB in the extra pci slot so I still have bluetooth. Now this extra pci slot only has mounts for full height cards so I used tape to secure the module. See pic below:
Note though that I've already *flashed my unit with the hacked bios F.04 that unblocks or "de-whitelists" the 311's half-height pci slot- because I originally planned to get another Snow Leo compatible WLAN/Bluetooth combo card.


What You Need
  1. Download hacked F14 HP Mini 311 BIOS courtesy of icelord.
  2. HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool SP27213.exe
  3. USB flashdrive - preferrably 2 GB or less (you may experience issues with higher capacities such as 4GB or more)
What To Do - This set of instructions are based from the "hpmini311" google code page. Proceed at your own risk. 
  1. Unzip 3651F14hack.zip. You'll get a folder named "3651F14" inside of which you see a "3651F140.fd" file. Rename this file to "3651.BIN"
  2. Use HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool to format your USB flashdrive to FAT16 or FAT32 and copy "3651.BIN" onto the USB flashdrive.
  3. Plug in your USB flashdrive contating "3651.BIN" file to your Mini 311
  4. Disconnect power supply and remove the battery.
  5. Press and hold simultaneously the "Windows" (the one with the Windows logo on it) and "B" keys.
  6. Still pressing on the Win and B keys (do not let go), connect the power supply and press the Power button.
  7. Count 5 seconds before releasing Wind and B keys. You'll hear beeps and the fan will whir up to faster (if not fastest) speed than usual. DO NOT shutdown your Mini 311 and make sure electricity supply is constant. The machine will shut itself down automatically. I repeat, your HP Mini 311 will turn off on its own when the BIOS flashing process is done. Patience is a virtue or you'll brick your precious 11.6" nVidia ION netbook you paid equally precious dough for.

    And since it's already de-whitelisted (and the Mini 1000 is busted) I decided to rebrand the WiFi card with Apple vendor and product ID's so Mac OS X will see it as AirPort Extreme.

    For what practical ends might you ask?

    Update: Personally, I now think that rebranding should only be done when you experience performance issues with your 3rd party Mac OS X Snow Leo compatible WiFi cards. Among which, wireless N ones are almost definitely subject to performance issues because of the reason stated below. Other cards, b/g, in my experience are not subject to this discrimination by OS X so I don't particularly recommend you to sweat it out if all you want is a functioning b/g WiFi card. If you've O.C.D like me however, or if you're willing to take on the adventure, then by all means rebrand away! - at your own risk of course :D

    Well, Mac OS X is a pretty snobbish operating system or it's actually Apple who designed it to be that way. Aside from closing its support only to specific models and brands of hardware devices it also discriminates between vendor and product ID's. If it's non Apple branded or certified as reflected in it being labelled as "Third-Party Wireless" in System Profier, Mac OS X uses another set of instructions to drive that piece of hardware but there may be limitations. If it's Apple certified/branded, it loads full set of instructions to get the most functionality possible and ergo richest user experience. What OS X uses to identify which is which turns out to be the vendor and product ID's in the device's sprom.
    See chrand's post regarding this about wireless N and connection speeds at insanelymac.

    In my current setup, I didn't have to get antenna extensions since the working WiFi card is placed in the half-height pci slot. The wireless button doesn't work and remains orange - I can't use it to turn of bluetooth which is comes from the stock wifi/bt combo card that has been transferred to the extra full-height pci slot.

    Also the Dell 1510 (which is a Broadcom432B) will work brilliantly and can be rebranded the same way. You can use these ID's: SUBV:106b / SUBP:008d.

    Oh, well so much for being "perfect" huh? ;)

    I'm excited to install Leopard - which is up next on my to-do list for the HP Mini 311. I've already tried Leopard via EFI Vanilla but the machine just reboots all the time. A fellow forumer, mosslack, has pointed out that this is common phenomenon with the EFI booting method but that NetbookBootMaker/NetbooInstaller approach worked fine in his experience.

    EDIT : I installed an Apple AirPort Broadcom 4328 wireless N card.

    42 comments:

    Carlos said...

    Hi, I have Compaq mini 110, do you think that has the same wireless card as your HP Mini 100TU's WiFi card?

    Mark said...

    Hi, I have a 311 which I've just hackintoshed and I'd like to get the wifi working. But I don't have any old netbooks, so I'm probably going to have to order a new one from somewhere. So I could get ANY card. What would be easiest? [I'm well over towards the novice end of the spectrum with all this.]

    LeMaurien19 said...

    If you can go for an Apple AirPort card, then by all means get that one (especially if you're not into rebranding/ROM flashing and all that stuff). Like this one from e-bay.

    Mark said...

    Thanks for the advice. I've just bought one of the cards you set up a link to and look forward to getting out my screwdrivers and having the 311 rolling with wifi not long after it arrives. I'm dead impressed with the hackintosh community, by the way.

    Craig said...

    The BIOS flash method described does not work. I've built 3 hackintoshes and flashed BIOS before but having no luck here. Why?

    Mark said...

    My AirPort card arrived today and I've just fitted it. It is recognised by the machine: System Profiler lists it as [Card Type:] AirPort Extreme (0x14E4, 0x88); [Firmware Version:] Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.91.26).

    The Airport symbol now comes up in the menu bar, but for some reason it can't be turned on. Nothing happens. It can't be switched on in Network Preferences either.

    I've done a bit of a web search, but haven't been able to solve the problem. Any ideas anyone?

    J D said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Vincent said...

    Mark, you need to tape a pin, pin 20 I think - Google which one and how to do this.
    When I use any card (even the stock 4312HMGB wifi card) in the full height PCI slot, I can't boot SL or Windows 7 for that matter. Any idea's why?

    LeMaurien19 said...

    Know what? That happened to me as well, but then I tried again just recently and low and behold it worked! I'm not even taping pins on my cards now.

    Vincent said...

    I just tried again, and it worked! Not a clue though why sometimes it wants to work, and sometimes it doesn't...anyway, I'm typing this from my Macbook Mini! :) Thanks a million for the guide!

    Tim said...

    I don't really get which wifi card I should get. The Airport extreme wifi card 802.11N card you mentioned in a previous post is full height. Will I have to de-whitelist and to hack my bios as well? Or can I just put it in the full height, turn it on and it's working?Anyway thanks for your guide!

    Vincent said...

    If its a full height card you don't need to de-whitelist. The full height is default unlocked, unlike the half height slot.

    Tim said...

    So if I buy the airport extreme LeMaurien19 mentioned in his previous post and put it in the full height slot it's inmediatly working?

    Vincent said...

    It should do, but there was a problem earlier on I think that prevented it from working at first...maybe worth checking out

    Tim said...

    Do you have this wifi card as well, vincent? If not, what card did you get? If yes, what problems occured? It didn't boot or something?

    Vincent said...

    I don't have the Apple airport card, LeMaurien19 did.
    See here:
    http://mymacbookmini.blogspot.com/2010/03/perfect-mini-macbook.html

    I have a full height Broadcom 4318 card off eBay. It works perfectly with no hacking but I did have to re-route the antennas because they weren't long enough to reach the full height slot.

    J D said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tim said...

    So if I want a full height card, i have to reroute the antennas. If i want a half height card, i have to dewhitelist it and flash another bios. Is rerouting of the antennas very difficult to do or is it easy? Otherwise i will go with a half height card..

    Vincent said...

    Well the antennas route through the body and come out a hole near the slot. I opened it up and re-routed it up across the HDD, like a shortcut, so it effectively "cuts the corner". Alternatively, you could buy extenders.
    I'd say that using the half height is probably easier though - flashing/dewhitelisting the BIOS is a very easy process. (so long as you don't interrupt it)

    Tim said...

    So the best option is to buy a Dell 1510 and dewhitelist and rebrand it? I'll search tomorrow for a good deal on ebay. Now im going to sleep. Many thanks for your help vincent! You helped me a lot.

    Vincent said...

    Yep, all you have to do is flash the BIOS using LeMaurien's helpful guide, replace the card, and you're set. OS X will automatically recognise it as an Airport card.
    The ease of this is probably the reason why someone hasn't bothered to find a way to make the stock card work...

    Tim said...

    Ah, thats a pity, now i have to wait 2 weeks for wifi on my 311 :p It isn't needed to rebrand it, is it? Good night!

    LeMaurien19 said...

    @Tim
    In my opinion, rebranding is imperative for Apple compatible wireless N cards because Mac OS X actually discriminates between Apple branded and 3rd party branded cards; it implements a different set of wireless N driver instructions for 3rd party ones while keeping optimized instructs for Apple ones. That's why we rebrand to fool OS X into thinking our 3rd party cards are Apple made.

    Now for b/g, rebranding could be a good route as it gets you that "Apple AirPort Extreme" when you digg inside System Profiler > AirPort. But, based from experience (I did rebrand a Broadcom 4312/4315 b/g card into an Apple AirPort Extreme), doing this on non wireless N cards doesn't make a difference in performance.

    So for me, rebranding non wireless N cards is more of aesthetics. In fact, I think you can well opt to save yourself from the hassle. Rebranding is not for the noobest of noobs, you risk frying your WiFi card if not utterly careful with the procedure. :D

    Tim said...

    So if i take the dell 1510, which is a n card, i should look into rebranding. I will take a 1510 from ebay. Thanks for your help!

    LeMaurien19 said...

    ^Yep since Dell 1510 is a wireless N card, right? And while you're waiting for your card, download Ubuntu 10.04, you'll be needing it for the rebranding procedure.

    Tim said...

    Hmm since I only have a wireless-g router I think its not really necassary to rebrand it. One little offtopic question: my animations are very slow, when opening a minimalized programs then animations stutter. Can this be solved? I've set up my resolution with osx86tools..

    LeMaurien19 said...

    Hmmm, why are you using OSx86Tools? I've never used it again since I've made Snow Leopard and the Mini 311 my main hackintosh...

    Are you following the Snow Leopard on the HP Mini 311 How-To-Guide on this blog?

    Or if you're confused with that guide, you can use the ones on the HPMini311 Google Code page.

    That should give you a rather perfect Snow Leo installation.

    Tim said...

    Yes, I used your guide, but after installing the custom package my resolution was 1360x768 and some areas weren't sharp. For that reason I used osx86tools, that fixed it. Don't you have the problem that animations are stuttering? Like expose and minimalising screens.

    Andrew said...

    where do i put the tape? how much? what kind? im scarred to put tape in my machine. with my luck it will burn up

    LeMaurien19 said...

    About graphics: I've totally no idea how come some of you have graphic issues - it's the DSDT.aml that handles that. All of the installers released for the HP Mini 311, back from theproto upto my releases, contain DSDT.aml that takes care of graphics.
    Other than evil forces deliberately screwing up NVidia Ion for some of you guys, there's no reason I can think of.

    For taping PIN 20 click here

    Andrew said...

    ohh, i meant to hold the half card in place since you used it in the full.

    LeMaurien19 said...

    I used a piece of frosted glassy vinyl (bought from the local hardware) but I reckon a good utility tape should do the trick.

    Anonymous said...

    I purchased the Airport card you posted earlier (BCM94321MC) which is recognised in SL but I'm unable to turn it on.
    I got stock bios F.15 on my 311 which was put on by HP when it went into repairs. Would it be the bios preventing this or does it require any tweaks? I have read that the full height slot should work with stock bios and without tape pin 20.

    Please help...

    LeMaurien19 said...

    First of all, I don't remember posting "BCM94321MC" specifically on this site. It might be included in the HP Mini 311 Google Code Page but I am NOT the one maintaining that site (NOT the owner of that site, only listed a collaborator but I haven't written a single article in there).

    What I do recommend because I've tried them to work myself are only the Broadcom 4312HMG card (from HP Mini 1000) and Apple AirPort Extreme which is based off from the Broadcom 4328 b/g/n card.

    You mentioned though that the card is "seen" by Snow Leopard but cannot be turned on. Now there are only 2 ends to this:
    1) the card you had installed is low powered Broadcom card like that of the HP Mini 110 and Mini 311 stock wireless modules OR
    2) HP's "softswitch" system is mucking with your PCI slots.

    If it's the 2nd one, try booting with a Linux live CD like Ubuntu and if it recognizes your card, that would usually mean it has turned it back on. You can still try with installing Windows and then configuring the proper driver - the goal at this point is to turn on the card. While you're in Windows check Device Manager for the Device ID of your card, and take note of it. Then take off the card and tape PIN20 before re-seating it. Your last hope would be getting a Broadcom43xxInjector.kext (check previous posts).

    If it still does not work, we part ways here. Hit the forums/world wide web. Google is your bff from here on.

    LeMaurien19 said...

    My sincerest apologies to "Anonymous" who posted on 6.13.2010.

    I was wrong and you are right about the BCM94321MC. I didn't realize that the Apple AirPort Extreme N card I've been using for some time is NOT based of the BCM4328 chip, but IS, in fact, a BCM94321MC. I got the card out again last night to prepare for re-hackintoshing my HP Mini 311 which I just got back from the service center.

    So, to recap, the BCM94321MC works. But in my experience, it suffers from 10.6.3 Snow Leo dropped connections. I've now ordered an Atheros AR5B93 Wireless Half WiFi Mini PCI-E card (so I don't have to crack open my Mini 311 to re-wire the stock U.fl - the extension Apple U.fl just didn't cut it for the BCM94321MC, weak signal).


    So to "Anonymous" whom I haven't heard from ever since he posted last 6.13.2010 on this blog, if you're reading this, please know that I am sincerely sorry.

    ~LeMaurien19

    Anonymous said...

    Hi again, no worries we all make mistakes.

    I was alittle confused when you was referring to 4328 when all your images and eBay link shows the BCM94321MC. But I understand where the confusing came from since the device ID is 4328.

    I mananged to get it working by taping pin 20. At first I thoguht my BCM94321MC card was faulty because I was unable to enable the card by using nail polish to cover pin 20. Today I used masking tape to cover pin 20 and is now working fine.

    The reason I went for the full height card is because I have spare antennas from the 3G module which I don't use and I didn't want to use a hacked bios since I just got my 311 back from repairs from a bad bios update.

    All-in-all everything is running fine on 10.6.2 thanks to your guide. Haven't tried 10.6.3 since I get kernel panic during or at the end of the install of HPM311DP_HF5RC3.

    Thanks again for your help and btw your site scrolls smoother with the plain background :D

    Anonymous said...

    Hi LeMaurien19,

    Thanks for the site. I followed every bit of guides here for my mini 311. I even got the Airport Extreme Card for wifi. My problem is, with Airport card on full pci-e and stock card on half pci-e, without battery but on power adapter, I can not boot into SL. However, with battery attached, everything boot fine.

    Can anyone confirm on this problem? Thanks again for the help and guides.

    LeMaurien19 said...

    ^Yeah, I think I encountered that issue with my Apple AirPort Extreme card (full size card).

    I had just reflashed my BIOS with dewhitelisted icelord F.14 back then so battery was not installed, only power adapter. Then I set up my AirPort card, and I couldn't complete boot up. I even thought it was because some Parallels kexts were mucking things up for me bad, but as it turned out, it was just that because I was running straight off of power adapter/electrical source and no battery.

    Just don't use the machine without the battery connected.

    Used Macbook said...

    The lack of a FireWire port seems to assume that the MacBook Air will always live in a perfect WiFi world. There are still some parts of the computer world living in darkness with wired networks. Not only that, but sometimes the only connection you have in common with another computer is the ethernet port.

    Cialis Online said...

    I think I have now all I needed to give my HP mini the Leopard transition. i hope it all goes as planned and I can finally get rid of Windows.

    Byron said...

    Hi LeMaurien19! How are you? well i write here cuz i really need help, since im new to this, i got obsessed lol, and i read a lot, anyways, i managed to install OS X on my laptop HP Pavilion DV6-2150US but i cant, and dont know how to get to work my WLAN Broadcom 43225, or my Ethernet Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E .... and i read this thing about changing the Card... and im scared haha so, i would be reaaaaally thankful if you give me some advice....
    thanks 4 ur time btw this is my email zeusx7@ymail.com

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