Wireless LAN-cards WL24xx

Matthias Weingart

Saturday, 09-Nov-2002 22:00:12 CET

Unofficial information to the Wireless LAN-Cards from ZCom and Planet
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.

Driver software

Some drivers listed here are not (or not longer) available from the manufacturers.

Drivers for the card (Firmware 1.xx, not 802.11 compliant):

  • V1.3-firmware: not fully IEEE802.11 compliant (Recommended, stable linux drivers); for kernels 2.0.xx and 2.2.xx zcom13_AT29C010_02.tgz - 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)
  • wlu.zip - new wlu.exe for DOS - use only this tool with downgraded cards!
    for Windows/DOS drivers, old linux driver use the V1.2 drivers
  • Linux boot disk with wl2420 and ne2000 drivers (for linux 2.0.xx and firmware 1.2/1.3)
  • Image of linux boot disk (for copying under DOS- linux 2.0.xx and firmware 1.2/1.3)
  • Driver-Archive (old drivers, do not use, but maybe sometimes useful):
  • V1.1C does not work together with V1.2
  • V1.2 does work together with V1.3
  • Drivers for the card (Firmware 2.xx, 802.11 compliant):

  • 130TO203.ZIP 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
  • another Linux-driver
  • Experiences

    Airnet-Docs - german documentation - only interesting for german users.


    Most information here are for linux but are useful for other systems too.
    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 directory.

    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.

    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". The source 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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