Wireless LAN-cards WL24xx
Saturday, 09-Nov-2002 22:00:12 CET
Unofficial information to the Wireless LAN-Cards from ZCom
This page lists some useful information for the wireless ethernet cards
from the manufacturers ZCom and Planet. The cards are based on the standard
IEEE802.11 and use the ISM frequencies at 2,4 GHz (13cm) to transfer
data with 1 or 2 MBit/sec.
Some drivers listed here are not (or not longer) available from the manufacturers.
Drivers for the card (Firmware 1.xx, not 802.11 compliant):
not fully IEEE802.11 compliant (Recommended, stable linux drivers); for kernels 2.0.xx and 2.2.xx
- Linux (2.0.xx) driver with source, I modified the orig. driver source to let linux work with the new FLASH chip
lx-2.2.14-funk.tgz Linuxkernel 2.2.14 (15MB) with driver
linux-2.4.18-WL2420.patch.gz patch for kernel 2.4.18 (original here)
- new wlu.exe for DOS - use only this tool with downgraded cards!
Driver-Archive (old drivers, do not use, but maybe sometimes useful):
for Windows/DOS drivers, old linux driver use the V1.2
boot disk with wl2420 and ne2000 drivers (for linux 2.0.xx and firmware 1.2/1.3)
of linux boot disk (for copying under DOS- linux 2.0.xx and firmware 1.2/1.3)
does not work together with V1.2
does work together with V1.3
Drivers for the card (Firmware 2.xx, 802.11 compliant):
Tool to up/downgrade to V1.3/V2.0x
V2.03 firmware and drivers: IEEE802.11
compliant (Windows ok, Linux and DOS drivers unstable); for kernels 2.0.xx and 2.2.xx
- german documentation - only interesting for german users.
Most information here are for linux but are useful for other systems
Currently we are using Firmware 1.3 here. The drivers for linux are
much more stable than the V2.0x ones and we are using old accesspoints
WL2410 that cannot updated to V2.0x. But the Firmware 1.3 have some quirks.
It is not 100% stable. If you are using only one channel in your area no
problem. If you are using 2 or more channels the cards seems to influence
each other. Sometimes one card is stop working: It does not "hear" signals
from other stations any longer. After resetting the card (linux: wlu
eth0 reset now or sometimes ifconfig eth0 up) it will
working again. Typical failure rate is 1 per day up to one per month. You
can solve this problem mostly by changing the channel one step up or down.
Additionally we are using a "ping script" - It sends pings to the other
host, and if there are no answers the script resets the interface. This
means your line is down for approx. 5 sec. (But this bug is occured here
only if we are using many devices on many different (at least 2) channels!)
Beside of this our air links are more stable than some wire-links here
The linux drivers only are "client" drivers - you can not create a real
Accesspoint with it (roaming feature, and advances testing possibilities).
But you can create AD-HOC connections between two or more linux machines
with no need of an accesspoint.
The cards from zcom (www.zcom.com.tw: ISA card: WL2420) and planet (www.planet.com.tw
ISA card: WL2400) are identical. But here in Germany the cards from planet
are 200DM cheaper. (november'99 prices: 1000DM-800DM) Well, you can
download the drivers from ZCOM and planet too, but here
I have also the old versions, and some drivers that are not released on
their webpage. Most Linux drivers are only available with compiler-object
files (no source), but two weeks ago I got the source for firmware 1.2/1.3
(still for kernel 2.0.x, and I am looking for people that want to rewrite
it for kernel 2.2 :-), I did some changes in the driver (see below-FLASH)
and it is available in the zcom_v13
The current firmware-version is 2.0.4 (or 2.0.3) and this is IEE802.11
compliant - but have many disadvantages: linux driver (and DOS-packet too)
is not stable, does not work with old accesspoint (WL2410) and there is
no update for the old accesspoint available, the new linux driver does
not longer have a signal strength indicator (useful to align the antenna),
you have no longer the security feature (scrambling of data pakets). The
hardware interface is different to firmware 1.2/1.3 - so you need different
drivers in linux. Because of this - at this time I recommend the using
of firmware 1.3. But this is not IEE802.11 compliant, and you can only
buy cards with firmware v2.0. You can downgrade the cards from firmware
v2.0.x to 1.3 (DOS-tool).
But there are 2 problems:
I have also made a special linux-router disk for the WL2420 - it contains
useful tools too (the pingscript, signalstrength indicator script). Users
from outside boerde.de should download the linux
boot disk and change all files in ramdisk/etc to their needs.
the new cards have sometimes other FLASH-ROMS AT29C010 (instead of the
AM29F010), and the older drivers and tools does not work properly with
it - If you try to change the channel (and write it into the flash) the
old tools says "flash write error" and the card is no longer accessable
(dead!). But after 1 day the card is working again - the reasons is - the
tool checks the FLASH-version - and put the FLASH in a info-mode. In this
mode you can read only the FLASH-ROM type from all adresses. The Flash-ROM
stay in this mode forever - "until a reset command is applied or the power
is removed" (quoted from the datasheet) It seems that the power must
be very low to let the FLASH forget the info-mode. Maybe you can short
circuit the pins with alu-foil to let the card reborn faster.
The second problem is - if you want to upgrade from 1.3 to 2.0 you need
to cross 4 lines on the board (see mail
below). But if you downgrade it seems that you do not need to do it. (We
did not need to do it in the past.) I think you need to cross the
lines only if a HFA3824A is on the PCB. (see AMD info
The third problem is - some of the new (but downgraded) cards does not work with accesspoints when the security is enabled. Do not use the security feature if you are using new cards with old accesspoints.
This is a mail from zcom:
Did you upgrade your firmware on the WL2420 v1.2, which the
has an 'ISA VB4.1' print near the RF module? If so, some modification
has to be done on that board for running the v2.x firmware.
good at soldering job, please use the instruction below,
1. unsolder L4, L3, R7, R8, R13, R14.
2. with AWG30 wire, cross connect L3 and L4, i.e., pin 1 of
L3 to pin 2
of L4, vice versa.
3. also cross connect R7 and R14.
1. cut copper stripe adjacent to pin 2 (count from top) and
pin 10 of
the 15-pin RF module connector.
2. reconnect pin 2 to pin 10's original output ( a copper hole
nice place to solder the wire).
Then the VB4.1 board will work with v2.x firmware and talk in
This is from AMD-source of the firmware (radioapi.cpp)
of the reference design. The ZCOM-Cards us the same chipsets and maybe
used this code to create their own driver, so this info is applicable to
ZCOM cards too
* Harris DSSS baseband processor
* Modified programming of the 3824 to invert the Q signal
on transmit and
* ..recieve of DQPSK to comply with 802.11 standard.
Change will effect
* ..the HFA3824A part only. This programming will
have no effect on the
* ..HFA3824 and HSP3824 parts!
* PLEASE NOTE: a radio with a HFA3824A part programmed
with this code
* ..will not be able to communicate with a radio with
either a HFA3824 or
* ..HSP3824 part.
It seems that many different vendors are using the same chipsets for
W-LAN cards like ZCOM. The WL24xx is based on the PRISM I high frequency
chipset from Harris (now Intersil).
Especially for PRISM I AMD created a special
80188 controller the "PCnet™-Mobile".
code for drivers and firmware are available from the AMD website, it
is interesting to see how it is working...(wlan1.zip 7MB contains all that stuff above).
driver for the similar Elsa MC-2 card
External links refering to this page
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