Getting the Hardware
If you go into your local electronics retailer, it’s unlikely you’ll find mini-PCI wireless cards on the shelf next to the other wireless client adapters. But a Froogle search for mini-PCI 802.11 brings up plenty of options, although at prices much higher than you’d expect (or want) to pay.
An alternative to paying top price for a mini-PCI card is to “harvest” one from a product that uses one internally. I compiled Table 1 by digging through my past product reviews and you can use it as a starting point in your hunt for less-expensive wireless mini-PCI cards.
|Belkin F5D7130 802.11g Wireless Network Access Point||Broadcom BCM94306MP||QDS-BRCM1005|
|Buffalo Tech WBR-G54 802.11g router||Broadcom BCM94306MP||QDS-BRCM1005|
|Buffalo Tech WLA2-G54 AP/Bridge||Buffalo Tech WLI-MPCI-G54 (copy of Broadcom BCM94306MP)||QDS-BRCM1005|
|Buffalo Technology WLI-USB-G54 AirStation 54Mbps Wireless USB Adapter||Buffalo Tech WLI-MPCI-G54 (copy of Broadcom BCM94306MP)||QDS-BRCM1005|
|Buffalo WZR-RS-G54 AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Cable/DSL Router-g with AOSS||Buffalo Tech WLI-MPCI-G54 (copy of Broadcom BCM94306MP)||QDS-BRCM1005|
|D-Link DI624||Atheros-based 11g||KA2DI624SA1|
|DrayTek Vigor 2900G Broadband Security Router||Based on Conexant’s 802.11g PRISM GT chipset||N/A|
|Gigabyte GN-A17GU 802.11g Access Point||GIGABYTE GC-WIAG-101 (Atheros’ AR5002G chipset)||JCK-GN-WIAG|
|Linksys WAP54G (original)||Broadcom BCM94306MP||PKW-WAP54G|
|Linksys WRT55AG||Atheros-based 11a|
|Linksys WRT54G (original)||Linksys WM54G (copy of Broadcom BCM94306MP)|
- PKW-WM54G (original)
|Linksys WRT54G (variations)||Revised January 28 2005|
None. Radio integrated onto main board
|NETGEAR WG602||Zcom XG-600 (PRISM-based)|
- PY3WG602 (original)
|SMC SMC2870W||AirVast Technology WN360g (PRISM-based)||QDWWN360G|
|USR 5450 AP||GlobalSun (based on Texas Instruments’ TNETW1130)||07J-GL2454MP-0T|
|ZyXEL ZyAIR G-2000||ZCom XG-601 (Conexant PRISM-based)||M4Y-XG-600|
|ZyXEL HS-100W HomeSafe Gateway (w / wireless)||ZCom XG-601 (Conexant PRISM-based)||M4Y-XG-600|
|Table 1: Products using mini-PCI cards|
An 802.11g wireless router is a good choice for harvesting, since it will still function as a non-wireless router when you remove the card, or even just an extra switch if you don’t need a router (just disable its DHCP server). But you may have to search on eBay to get older versions, since current versions of popular bargain-priced routers such as D-Link’s DI624, NETGEAR’s WGR614, and Linksys’ WGT54G all have integrated radios (part of the reason why they’re so inexpensive).
TIP: Vendors usually add a version number (example: WGT54Gv2 or similar) to the product’s model number when they make a significant design change. However, retailers generally only stock by base model number (example: WGT54G), so if you’re buying on-line, you won’t know what you’re getting until you receive it. Fortunately, manufacturers usually do show the version number somewhere on the product box. So if you make your purchase at a brick-and-mortar retail store, you can verify that what you’re buying is the model you need.