• Hello, Guest! Welcome back, and be sure to check out this post for more info about the recent service interruption and migration.

Introducing (and interest check) AirTalk: Wireless plug-and-play LocalTalk dongles

jupo

Well-known member
I'd like to throw in my interest here. I'm thinking I probably need 4 of them, with shipping to the USA. I already have a Shiva bridge between a localtalk segment in the back room and the rest of my ethernet/wifi LAN... but I do have some lonely Macs without ethernet that live in different rooms of the house, and this should be the perfect solution to keeping them connected both to the other localtalk Macs as well as to everything else on the LAN thanks to the existing Shiva bridge.
 

jkheiser

Member
I ordered a rainbow set and look forward to their arrival, but I just learned something about our home network that has put a serious damper on my enthusiasm. Our setup is an Orbi mesh system running in AP mode with a wired backhaul between two units. According to some testing I just performed with Mini vMac’s LocalTalk emulation, there is a barrier between the two Orbi units: an AppleShare client running in Mini vMac on a MacBook Pro connected wirelessly to the main Orbi unit (RBR50) cannot see an AppleShare server running in Mini vMac on a MacBook Pro connected wirelessly to the Orbi satellite (RBS50). If both MacBook Pros are connected to the same Orbi unit, however, the LocalTalk network between the two Mini vMacs is functional.

I was hoping to use AirTalk to get a handful of classic Macs connected to each other, but they are spread out around our house and there’s no way to control which Orbi unit they will latch onto.

Any ideas from the smart crowd here?
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
According to some testing I just performed with Mini vMac’s LocalTalk emulation, there is a barrier between the two Orbi units: an AppleShare client running in Mini vMac on a MacBook Pro connected wirelessly to the main Orbi unit (RBR50) cannot see an AppleShare server running in Mini vMac on a MacBook Pro connected wirelessly to the Orbi satellite (RBS50). If both MacBook Pros are connected to the same Orbi unit, however, the LocalTalk network between the two Mini vMacs is functional.

Do the Orbis have any options regarding IGMP (proxying/snooping?)
 

jkheiser

Member
Do the Orbis have any options regarding IGMP (proxying/snooping?)
Yes, it appears they do, but the controls for it are unavailable when operating in AP mode. I will try switching to router mode and see if that helps. Hopefully it does not blow up my network! The Orbi is an astonishingly hostile example of consumer electronics.
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
There seem to be quite a number of people complaining about Orbis not doing multicast properly (or at all), and Netgear in all the threads I could found just said 'put in a ticket', which is less than helpful. :/ Seems ridiculous in 2022 where things like mDNS rely on it...
 

techknight

Well-known member
Dang. Thanks to Dana's twitter post, I just now learned this was actually a thing.

Where can i buy them? Do you have a store setup?
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
Where can i buy them? Do you have a store setup?

At the moment, I'm just going through this thread in order contacting people who have expressed interest. There's no shortage of boxes or, as far as I know, the parts to make more—the only thing that seems to have been affected so far by the semiconductor supply issues is @tashtari's wonderful PIC, but I've got a good stock of those, with more arriving.

What I do have a shortage of, however, is logistical skill :). So I'm contacting people as fast as is consistent with me actually getting the packaging right and sending the right people the right number of boxes. If you'd like some, I'll drop you a PM when I'm ready to send them out, probably, at the rate I'm going at the moment, in a week ish.

There will be an open Trading Post thread later, once I've got to the end of the thread, if it doesn't keep expanding...
 

techknight

Well-known member
At the moment, I'm just going through this thread in order contacting people who have expressed interest. There's no shortage of boxes or, as far as I know, the parts to make more—the only thing that seems to have been affected so far by the semiconductor supply issues is @tashtari's wonderful PIC, but I've got a good stock of those, with more arriving.

What I do have a shortage of, however, is logistical skill :). So I'm contacting people as fast as is consistent with me actually getting the packaging right and sending the right people the right number of boxes. If you'd like some, I'll drop you a PM when I'm ready to send them out, probably, at the rate I'm going at the moment, in a week ish.

There will be an open Trading Post thread later, once I've got to the end of the thread, if it doesn't keep expanding...

Ahh ok... well color me interested in some depending on price. I love this project only just now discovering it.
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
Ahh ok... well color me interested in some depending on price. I love this project only just now discovering it.

They are £23 each. In fact, it's been a couple of pages since the last recap/summary post, so for those just tuning in, here's the details:

This is AirTalk. AirTalk is a dongle that extends a LocalTalk (or PhoneNet, or equivalent) network over WiFi.

67424678066__F47AB47E-7036-45AC-B044-2F3417D76AF3.JPG

It's basically plug and play: you tell it what WiFi network to connect to through the Chooser, and then you just go. All the AirTalk dongles on the same WiFi network can see each other and all look like they're on the same LocalTalk network, and so everything plugged into the LocalTalk port of those dongles can see each other as if the dongles were joined together with LocalTalk cables.
index.png

(this is the old icon; the new AirTalk icon, by @LaPorta, is prettier, but I didn't have a screenshot handy)


It requires no software on the Mac or LocalTalk device to use it, the Chooser extension only sets it up, so it will work with things like printers or routers as well as with Macs.

You can also network with (at time of writing) the beta of Mini vMac, though I'm sure this code will make it into production sooner or later. (Though this has a few caveats, mostly around speed).

It has a serial port, where you can either plug in a printer cable to a single LocalTalk device (Mac, printer, router, whathaveyou) or plug a LocalTalk or PhoneNet box in to add it to the end of a whole LocalTalk network. It can either get its power from Micro USB or from an ADB passthrough.

RenderedImage.jpg

AirTalk is not intended to be a highly tweakable or mysterious tool for network nerds or software engineers, but as user friendly and plug and play as I can make it. The AirTalk firmware is currently open source, and the hardware will be as soon as I get around to making the design available. It's not currently available, but for inertia reasons, rather than ideological ones.

So much for the sales bumf, what're the downsides?
  • You obviously lose some speed compared to "wired" LocalTalk. How fast it is depends on a lot of things. but all my testers managed to get it to work at at least half wired LocalTalk speed, and most significantly more. I get about 90% of wired LocalTalk speed, but I obssessed over building my WiFi network.

  • WiFi limitations: Decent speeds require decent WiFi signal strength. AirTalk does not do 5GHz WiFi, only 2.4GHz. It does not support WEP or WPA Enterprise, because the first is unsafe and the latter suggests you're plugging this into a corporate network which sounds like a bad idea. It supports WPA(2) Personal, and while it will connect to unencrypted networks, this is not a supported configuration, and you shouldn't do it unless you have absolutely no other choice. Your WiFi needs to be handing out IP addresses over DHCP—if you haven't deliberately turned this off it probably is—and it needs to be able to pass multicast. Nearly all modern WiFi does.

  • AirTalk is not a LocalTalk to EtherTalk bridge. If you have more modern OS 9 Macs with AirPort cards on the same WiFi network as AirTalk machines, they will not be able to see each other. There are good reasons for this, unfortunately.

  • AirTalk is not a generic serial/RS232 extender. If, for example, you have a non-LocalTalk printer, you can't stick two AirTalks between the printer and the computer and expect it to work. There are plenty of options for this already, I believe. AirTalk is a wireless networking dongle.

  • AirTalk is not a modem emulator. It will not allow you to connect to, say, an IP network using emulated PPP. It will, however, let you connect to an IP network with MacIP (using something like @mactjaap's MacIP stuff or Apple IP Gateway) at LocalTalk speeds, which is probably faster.

  • If you only get one AirTalk, you will be basically limited to networking with Mini vMac at this point.
AirTalk dongles are £23 each. I'm currently working through the thread for people who have expressed interest. You should get a PM from me when some are ready for you. I'm trying to get them to people in the order they contacted me as much as possible. Please bear with me—this isn't a commercial operation, and I'm unused to running product logistics. And thankyou all for your interest and support :)
 

yves

New member
Hi @cheesestraws – I would also be interested in four AirTalk dongles including shipping to mainland Europe and here Germany to be exact. Seeing forward!

BTW great idea and skill-set.

Cheers, Yves
 

supportingit

New member
AirTalk dongles are £23 each. I'm currently working through the thread for people who have expressed interest. You should get a PM from me when some are ready for you. I'm trying to get them to people in the order they contacted me as much as possible. Please bear with me—this isn't a commercial operation, and I'm unused to running product logistics. And thankyou all for your interest and support :)
Holy cow macman. Cheap as chips. I'll try and contain my enthusiasm for a golden deal, can I order 4 of them please? No rush. Cheers!
 

Anonymous Freak

Well-known member
Add me to the list for four, please! Now to find a mini-DIN-8 to DB-9 to connect one to my Mac 512k, and to 3D print some cases to match the machines they'll be connected to... (And rig up some ultra-short serial-and-ADB cords for PowerBook use.)
 

ScutBoy

Well-known member
Just a note on an issue I had with my setup - I have a Shiva Fastpath 5 that was sitting between my LocalTalk network and the machines serving things on the Ethernet side. I couldn't see any of the shared resources until I tweaked the Shiva; it was eating packets. I tickled a few things around UDP and multicasting in the Shiva config, and then things started working. Of course, I didn't record exactly what I did. If it's an issue for someone else, let me know and I can go back in and figure out what I did.

I can imagine if you have VLANs or something else managing traffic in your setup you may see something similar.
 

Attachments

  • AirTalk.jpg
    AirTalk.jpg
    2 MB · Views: 17

techknight

Well-known member
They are £23 each. In fact, it's been a couple of pages since the last recap/summary post, so for those just tuning in, here's the details:

This is AirTalk. AirTalk is a dongle that extends a LocalTalk (or PhoneNet, or equivalent) network over WiFi.

67424678066__F47AB47E-7036-45AC-B044-2F3417D76AF3.JPG

It's basically plug and play: you tell it what WiFi network to connect to through the Chooser, and then you just go. All the AirTalk dongles on the same WiFi network can see each other and all look like they're on the same LocalTalk network, and so everything plugged into the LocalTalk port of those dongles can see each other as if the dongles were joined together with LocalTalk cables.


index.png



(this is the old icon; the new AirTalk icon, by @LaPorta, is prettier, but I didn't have a screenshot handy)


It requires no software on the Mac or LocalTalk device to use it, the Chooser extension only sets it up, so it will work with things like printers or routers as well as with Macs.

You can also network with (at time of writing) the beta of Mini vMac, though I'm sure this code will make it into production sooner or later. (Though this has a few caveats, mostly around speed).

It has a serial port, where you can either plug in a printer cable to a single LocalTalk device (Mac, printer, router, whathaveyou) or plug a LocalTalk or PhoneNet box in to add it to the end of a whole LocalTalk network. It can either get its power from Micro USB or from an ADB passthrough.

RenderedImage.jpg

AirTalk is not intended to be a highly tweakable or mysterious tool for network nerds or software engineers, but as user friendly and plug and play as I can make it. The AirTalk firmware is currently open source, and the hardware will be as soon as I get around to making the design available. It's not currently available, but for inertia reasons, rather than ideological ones.

So much for the sales bumf, what're the downsides?
  • You obviously lose some speed compared to "wired" LocalTalk. How fast it is depends on a lot of things. but all my testers managed to get it to work at at least half wired LocalTalk speed, and most significantly more. I get about 90% of wired LocalTalk speed, but I obssessed over building my WiFi network.

  • WiFi limitations: Decent speeds require decent WiFi signal strength. AirTalk does not do 5GHz WiFi, only 2.4GHz. It does not support WEP or WPA Enterprise, because the first is unsafe and the latter suggests you're plugging this into a corporate network which sounds like a bad idea. It supports WPA(2) Personal, and while it will connect to unencrypted networks, this is not a supported configuration, and you shouldn't do it unless you have absolutely no other choice. Your WiFi needs to be handing out IP addresses over DHCP—if you haven't deliberately turned this off it probably is—and it needs to be able to pass multicast. Nearly all modern WiFi does.

  • AirTalk is not a LocalTalk to EtherTalk bridge. If you have more modern OS 9 Macs with AirPort cards on the same WiFi network as AirTalk machines, they will not be able to see each other. There are good reasons for this, unfortunately.

  • AirTalk is not a generic serial/RS232 extender. If, for example, you have a non-LocalTalk printer, you can't stick two AirTalks between the printer and the computer and expect it to work. There are plenty of options for this already, I believe. AirTalk is a wireless networking dongle.

  • AirTalk is not a modem emulator. It will not allow you to connect to, say, an IP network using emulated PPP. It will, however, let you connect to an IP network with MacIP (using something like @mactjaap's MacIP stuff or Apple IP Gateway) at LocalTalk speeds, which is probably faster.

  • If you only get one AirTalk, you will be basically limited to networking with Mini vMac at this point.
AirTalk dongles are £23 each. I'm currently working through the thread for people who have expressed interest. You should get a PM from me when some are ready for you. I'm trying to get them to people in the order they contacted me as much as possible. Please bear with me—this isn't a commercial operation, and I'm unused to running product logistics. And thankyou all for your interest and support :)

Out of curiosity, I wonder if the firmware could be capable of possibly speaking to Ethertalk networks, like netatalk on a Pi or an appleshare server.
 
Top