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View Full Version : BEHOLD! the *WI-FI* 8088 luggable!!



Mike Chambers
May 27th, 2010, 11:44 PM
i had been giving this some thought for a few days, and i sat down to actually put it together tonight. i took the Compaq Portable luggable 8088 i got recently and have given it the power of hidden internal wireless.

"BUT MIKE HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE???"

thank you for asking, mysterious voice from nowhere. i took a linksys WRT54G v2 router that i had laying around, and installed DD-WRT ( http://www.dd-wrt.com ) - which i then configured to act as a wireless to ethernet bridge.

i removed most of the router's plastic casing and internally mounted it to the portable's chassis, and it's tapped into the computer's 5 VDC line for juice. (it pulls an absolute max of 1 amp @ 5 volts, so it shouldn't be putting much strain on the PSU.) .... i ran a little ethernet cable from one of the router's ports to the NE1000-compatible card i have in it.

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2633_SM.JPG

^ i removed the antennas, soldered that thin green wire there to where the antenna jacks connect to the circuit board .. which i ran to one of the screws to just use the chassis itself for the antenna.



i'm using mbbrutman's nice DOS telnet client to log into the router to make configuration changes.. pic of it logged into it:

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2636_SM.JPG



some of the ifconfig output:

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2637_SM.JPG



using leetIRC on it wirelessly:

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2631_SM.JPG



where the ethernet cable connects:

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2632_SM.JPG



and here it is all put together and looking rather unassuming, ready to go.

http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2638_SM.JPG

mbbrutman
May 28th, 2010, 05:00 AM
I am in awe ...


This is so bad, so perverted on so many different levels I don't know where to begin. :-)

Anonymous Coward
May 28th, 2010, 05:11 AM
I did something similar with DD-WRT and a WRT54G as a wireless bridge on my 5160 a few months ago, but I didn't go as far as to actually stuff it inside the chassis.

I'd really be interested in finding a cheaper alternative to a WRT54G. Anyone know where to get cheap, compact wireless bridges?

wmmullaney
May 28th, 2010, 05:34 AM
Mike, how much does the metal case affect the range of the receiver?

barythrin
May 28th, 2010, 08:39 AM
That's interesting lol Pretty acceptable hack since you didn't munge up the physical system, and I'm willing to bet a following of other wireless systems will follow. Interestinglyalso you may be able to run some linux apps on your router if it has any additional storage or RAM (not likely on a lot of cheaper systems). I suppose someone could take one of the palm ethernet cradles (it reduces to a very small circuit board itself), integrate that and a bridge/nic then implement an integrated slip wifi connection. Anyone? ;-) Let's get some more first vintage wireless X systems on the net.

mikerm
May 28th, 2010, 09:33 AM
Now you can get some crimping tools and some rj45 ends, drill a hole in the middle of the blank plate and stick a grommet in it so the exiting network cable will stick through there for a more "professional" look, lol.

That's awesome. Thumbs up!

glitch
May 28th, 2010, 09:56 AM
I'd really be interested in finding a cheaper alternative to a WRT54G. Anyone know where to get cheap, compact wireless bridges?

The Linksys WET-11 is a reasonable choice -- runs on +5v, small, uses an RP-SMC connector so you could add an extension pigtail and put an external antenna in one of the ISA slot blanks or something. I've got a few of them at home so I can bring desktops upstairs and work on them. There's a few listed on eBay for $19 at the moment.

Anonymous Coward
May 28th, 2010, 10:11 AM
Thanks, that looks pretty good.

Mike Chambers
May 28th, 2010, 10:53 AM
I am in awe ...


This is so bad, so perverted on so many different levels I don't know where to begin. :-)

yeah i feel kind of dirty when i'm using it. i basically divided by zero with this thing.






I did something similar with DD-WRT and a WRT54G as a wireless bridge on my 5160 a few months ago, but I didn't go as far as to actually stuff it inside the chassis.

I'd really be interested in finding a cheaper alternative to a WRT54G. Anyone know where to get cheap, compact wireless bridges?

you might want to have a look at this page: http://dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices

countless models of routers can work with DD-WRT. i'd probably start by looking that those, and then once you've spotted one with decent specs by a brand you've never heard of it would probably be inexpensive. you also might want to search for wireless routers at http://www.shopgoodwill.com
that site is where i found my 486 canon notejet, and it cost me $2.00 :)

as far as stuffing it inside the chassis, the compaq portable accommodated it so easily, if i didn't know any better i'd have thought it was designed to have the router in there. i was kind of lucky with the machine in that respect.






Mike, how much does the metal case affect the range of the receiver?

i haven't actually been paying attention to how many signals it picks up and how strong they are, but i'm betting the range is very good considering the amount of metal that chassis is made with.






That's interesting lol Pretty acceptable hack since you didn't munge up the physical system, and I'm willing to bet a following of other wireless systems will follow. Interestinglyalso you may be able to run some linux apps on your router if it has any additional storage or RAM (not likely on a lot of cheaper systems). I suppose someone could take one of the palm ethernet cradles (it reduces to a very small circuit board itself), integrate that and a bridge/nic then implement an integrated slip wifi connection. Anyone? ;-) Let's get some more first vintage wireless X systems on the net.

yep, that is another cool thing that crossed my mind. all kinds of software can be cross-compiled for the router, so when i find myself too limited by what that 8088 can do i can just telnet to the router and have some fun. my WRT54G only has 4 MB of flash storage, and 16 MB of RAM though so i don't have too much free space to work with after the installation of the DD-WRT firmware. if i really needed more i could probably downgrade to the "micro" version of DD-WRT which only needs 2 MB, leaving me with another ~2 MB to play with. i'm actually going to look into upgrading the flash chip in the router, or maybe just buying a different one that comes with more space.






Now you can get some crimping tools and some rj45 ends, drill a hole in the middle of the blank plate and stick a grommet in it so the exiting network cable will stick through there for a more "professional" look, lol.

That's awesome. Thumbs up!

thanks! :) that blank plate is actually holding in an IDE card, so i dunno if i want to go cutting it up. i'm actually able to completely close that sliding panel access cover with the ethernet line plugged in so it looks pretty good like that.

linuxlove
May 28th, 2010, 11:10 AM
I want to do this to my PS/2 but there's no power headers or room for it...

I guess a 486 with wifi just wasn't enough? :P

IBMMuseum
May 28th, 2010, 12:04 PM
I want to do this to my PS/2 but there's no power headers or room for it...

For 286-based systems and above (ISA, microchannel, and PCMCIA), IBM did make 2.4GHz wireless adapters that aren't compatible with the standard wireless protocols: http://www.ibmmuseum.com/OhlandL/NIC/Wireless_LAN.html (the PCMCIA adapters are shown on the 8227 link below)...

The adapters could be set up peer-to-peer, or an access point with Ethernet called an 8227 had one of the PCMCIA adapters in it for an uplink: http://www.ibmmuseum.com/OhlandL/8227/8227.html (the 8227 has a 486SX CPU in it)...

I just received a couple more PCMCIA adapters from another VC Forum member to see if I can get a network up to document it...

NathanAllan
May 28th, 2010, 08:03 PM
ooh, Mike you really outdid yourself on this one. You are making me want to do this to my Dolch 386 :) When I can I will, I have plenty of parts to make this happen. It will definitely be an homage to yours, though :)

Great work!

vwestlife
May 28th, 2010, 08:54 PM
http://rubbermallet.org/wifi8088/IMG_2633_SM.JPG

Unless you're missing some panels, I'm equally surprised that Compaq shielded the disk drives, but left the CRT and power supply exposed...

Supposedly the original Compaq Portable also has an unused header on the motherboard for a cassette port that was planned but never implemented.

Raven
May 28th, 2010, 08:58 PM
I made my Panasonic Senior Partner have wireless via an external wireless modem... which happened to also be a laptop configured as a Linux server... I set it on top of the Senior Partner with the lid closed, it was actually quite small looking then, heh. I felt like I was cheating, though.

Also, your Compaq Portable is now a legitimate wireless access point - bring it to some LANs! :D

JT64
May 29th, 2010, 02:55 AM
I just want to say i like your crazy projects, i was thinking of DD-WRT x86 for my old Compaq Contura with a wireless pcmcia and another pcmcia network card and use it as a wireless router, but i suspect DD-WRT do not support the pcmcia cards.

I like how you wired your brain, you must be one of those lowtech guys from William Gibsons novells.
Vintage computer forum must be the home of cyberpunks, if i only new some assembler and analog tech so i qualified :D

JT

sombunall
May 29th, 2010, 10:23 AM
So eehhhh. When are you taking it to an internet cafe? :crazy:

Mike Chambers
May 29th, 2010, 01:18 PM
Unless you're missing some panels, I'm equally surprised that Compaq shielded the disk drives, but left the CRT and power supply exposed...

Supposedly the original Compaq Portable also has an unused header on the motherboard for a cassette port that was planned but never implemented.

yeah, compaq shielded the CRT and power supply too, but i just happened to have the panel removed for the photos. it also had a big shield plate to cover the motherboard and cards, but with a router shoved in there i can't put it back on.

Mike Chambers
May 29th, 2010, 01:26 PM
well, an update.. i kind of bricked the router last night. i was following some modding instructions to wire an SD/MMC card slot into the GPIO of the router.. and i ended up burning off an important wire trace. now it doesn't do anything. derp.

i tried my best to repair it by scraping off the non-conductive coating over the trace before where it got burned off, soldered it in, and soldered the other end of the wire to the resistor the trace led to, but for some reason or another, it still didn't work.

i had another WRT54G though, which i gave to my dad a couple years ago so i am going to reclaim it and give him a netgear replacement that i have. i was looking into just putting DD-WRT on said netgear, and the hardware (CPU and network chipset) is supported, but it doesn't have enough flash memory to hold it. you need 2 MB flash to use the smallest version of it, and there is only a 1 MB chip in there. damn cheap crap.

needless to say, i won't be putting a soldering iron anywhere near this one after i set it up.

basman74
May 31st, 2010, 04:54 AM
Wow - pretty neat hack you got there Mike! Wishing my dad had kept a virtually identical machine many years ago just so that I could try this out for myself.. Awesome! :)

Regards,
Valentin

Mike Chambers
May 31st, 2010, 09:35 PM
thanks for the comments gentlemen. i've got the compaq up and running an IRC server on obso1337.net port 6667.. probably not longer than a day. i just want to see how it does. i disconnect the CRT's power so i don't wear it out just running an IRC server.

linemanduke
June 28th, 2010, 10:18 PM
glad to see one of my children (the compaq) went to do something revolutionary. :ashamed2:

linuxlove
June 30th, 2010, 09:41 AM
Ohai. I just thought I'd copy you :D

Since there's no room in the Model 25 to stuff a router in, I just put it on the top and it works fine.
Since we got a new router, I threw DD-WRT on the old one and did pretty much what Miek over here did with his Compaq Portable.

linemanduke
June 30th, 2010, 09:44 AM
Now it should be noted you shouldn't try this on your own computers. It only works with computers that used to belong to me. Trying on other systems may cause system to crash and burn.

(I'm also the former owner of linuxloves ps2 25)


in other news anyone want to buy a few wifi capable 8086/8088/286 computers? :D

NsMn
June 30th, 2010, 10:13 AM
I'd like two pounds of 8088, and maybe three or four pieces of 286, thank you.

linemanduke
June 30th, 2010, 09:10 PM
I'd like two pounds of 8088, and maybe three or four pieces of 286, thank you.

hmm let me get my hammer do you want your 286s frosted?

driph
April 16th, 2015, 12:18 PM
*Rise from your grave*


Curious, I'm about to undertake something similar with a P70 (using a tiny Hootoo travel router), and I was wondering, are there any other examples of folks performing built-in wireless mods on old IBM hardware in the years since this post was first written? Figure the more I learn about potential hiccups, the better off I'll be once I start digging into wiring up the power supply.