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Adding Wi-Fi to my Mac Colour Classic

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Since my SE/30 Wi-Fi Mod was somewhat successful, I decided to apply a similar technique to my Colour Classic (I’m not a total Mac hoarder, I only have these two!). Here’s the result:

 

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(my Colour Classic is a Mystic with a 575 logic board, but this technique should also work on a stock Colour Classic)

 

If you’ve got an SE/30 with a network card, then you’ll know that it is in fact 2 cards connected by a ribbon cable – this made my original Wi-Fi conversion easy as I could just re-arrange things inside the case. However, network cards in the Colour Classic butt against the case, so you’re restricted if you want to attach a Wi-Fi antenna.

 

One solution would be to modify the network card itself – i.e. de-solder the RJ45 jack and replace it with an antenna. However, to me it seemed a travesty to butcher a vintage expansion card. Instead I came up with a non-destructive solution which involved mounting the antenna in the RJ45 port itself:

 

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Voila!

 

The idea here is that the Ethernet connection feeds into the mac via a thin cable – and then the Wi-Fi signal feeds back out to the antenna (genius, I know...). I found these thin Ethernet cables on eBay, so I ordered a 1-metre one for just a few dollars:

 

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I stripped the wires off one end, and then I removed the plastic from the middle of an RJ45 jack using my Dremel:

 

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I crimped the cable back into the jack – but this time feeding the cable downward instead of outward. Then using some Epoxy Putty, I placed the antenna mount inside the jack. You need to work quickly as the epoxy putty sets like a rock in just a few minutes:

 

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With some fine sandpaper and a lot of patience, I got it looking pretty clean. A lick of paint:

 

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Now for the other end of the cable! The Vonets Wi-Fi card comes with some extra little bits for making your own connection:

 

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There are 6 pins on the Wi-Fi module for you to use:

 

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I soldered the 4 TX and RX wires from the ethernet cable onto the correct pins. The remaining 2 pins are for 5v power and Ground, so I soldered on another wire for the power. Here’s the finished assembly:

 

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I piggy-backed the Wi-Fi module onto the ethernet card using a 15mm M3 screw, nut & spacer:

 

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The final problem to solve was how to get power to the Wi-Fi card. I could use the same trick as my SE/30 project, whereby I pulled the power from the Molex drive cable using a splitter – however one nice thing about the Colour Classic is that you can easily slide the motherboard in and out via a single connector, I didn’t want to lose that.

 

I noticed that the LC PDS slot on the motherboard was a bit longer than what the network card required. After a bit of research it turns out that there are 2 LC PDS connectors – a 96-pin connection and a 114-pin connection. I found the pinouts for the LC PDS slot on the Interwebs and lo-and-behold there is a free 5v+ and ground connection in the unused holes. I marked them using a Sharpie:

 

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Here’s the ethernet card and Wi-Fi module fully connected:

 

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With bated breath, I powered on the Mac expecting fireworks – but everything worked perfectly! The link light came on the Ethernet card, and you can see inside from the blue lights that the Wi-Fi card has power!

 

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Obligatory IP address screenshot

 

Here’s my 2 Macs with their Wi-Fi Antennae :)

 

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Love this one too, nice work! :approve:

 

What are the dimensions of that card if the RJ-45 connector is desoldered for hardwiring? I'm wondering if it's small enough to use with a MicroEN/SC in a PB150 hack?

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Byrd, anything TCP/IP works without a hitch between the Macs - but my initial testing of AppleTalk has been a fail. I believe the issue is related to my Telstra router not forwarding the extra packets that AppleTalk uses.

 

I've blown my Mac budget for this month, but next month I might try getting my hands on an AirPort wireless router - I believe all of these will correctly deal with the AppleTalk TCP/IP packets.

 

For now I use Netpresenz FTP server to transfer files across the network.

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Thanks kerobaros. The back panel was salvaged from the same LC 575 as the motherboard - I shaped it to size using a Dremel and some sandpaper.

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Love it! I'm going to do the same to my Mystic and SE/30... Already have one vonets in-hand..

 

@ants ...Any chance you are still working on the menu bar WiFi extension for Mac OS 7/8? It would be amazing if there was a WiFi menu like on modern Macs.. I would try to make one myself but I haven't the first clue about developing on MacOS7 :scrambled:

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Hey @hfrazier, I'm still planning to give it a go. I've been slowly learning the Macintosh Toolbox and building a few network libraries which I've put on GitHub.

 

Just so hard to find the time, but hopefully later in the year!

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@techknight the board has an inbuilt web server, so you can program it via a web browser.

 

I also believe it supports Telnet commands, but documentation on this is scarce.

 

So, the Mac should be able to change settings by issuing Telnet or HTTP commands to the board's IP address.

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@ants Nice!

 

My VM300 somehow bit the dust.. Probably ESD when I was playing with it. When I get another I'll see if I can figure out some of the telnet commands!

 

This is all I can find for the telnet info... the fiddler screenshots are helpful.

 http://www.vonets.com/download/VM300/Operation documentation of control apcli0 memory hotspot via telnet.pdf

Is there any other info you've been able to find or maybe any notes you have to share? I'm a software dev as well, although I know nothing about coding for System 7! :rambo: 

 

I wonder... if I could write a webpage with some netscape 4/iCab compatible javascript that one could open locally on the mac and it could act as the management interface for the VM300..

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Hey @hfrazier. Did you try a factory reset of the VM300? You do it by shorting out pins 5 and 8. See this link: http://www.vonets.com/serviceView.asp?D_ID=213

 

Great find with the telnet info - it looks like that pretty much covers all of the commands. In regard to a Javascript implementation, I think that only HTML5 WebSockets supports non-HTTP requests - which I presume is well outside the scope of an ancient Mac browser. Alternatively you could issue HTTP requests to the web UI? But that could be super messy.

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@ants Unfortunately that didn't work. No LED's light up at all :scrambled: but that's good to know! Thanks!

 

Ordered a two more today, should have em on hand in a week or two, I'll see what I can do then.

 

Also, yeah, mucking with the HTTP reqs might be messy, but you never know....

Edited by hfrazier

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Ok, so I've had some time to play with this new VM300. It looks like it might not be that difficult to do. I've used Fiddler and Postman to probe and play around with the commands it will accept. Here's what I have so far:

 

Login:

HTTP POST /goform/login
Body: username=admin&z999=z999&password=admin&Login=&platform=pc

Successful login returns:
<html><head></head><body onLoad="top.location.href='/home.asp'"></body></html>

Failed login returns:
<html><head></head><body onLoad="top.location.href='/a.asp?error'"></body></html>


Get WiFi List:

HTTP GET /goform/get_web_hotspots_list

Returns (after 5-10 seconds) a list:
SSID MAC:ADDR CHAN RSSI ENC SECURITY ETC


There's a bit more involved in setting the AP, but this is a start...


Oh, and Restart Device:

HTTP POST /goform/SystemCommand
Body: command=reboot&SystemCommandSubmit=Restart


 

 

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Sweet! Great work. Well there's a definite possibility of writing a HTML & JS solution. Did you try sending an Accept header with your requests? I wonder if the VM300 can return other response types such as XML or Json?

 

e.g. Accept: application/xml or Accept: text/json

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No, I’ll have to play with it some more!

 

(Also I’m sure you figured... all ports were closed besides 80 so no telnet. :()

 

Oh, but there is also a serial header on the board. Not sure what that will get us though! Probably just a little bash prompt...

Edited by hfrazier

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