T41, Intel 2915ABG, WLAN LED always off [fixed]

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yak
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T41, Intel 2915ABG, WLAN LED always off [fixed]

#1 Post by yak » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:03 pm

Hi,

some time ago I bought an Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG WLAN MiniPCI card for my T41 (see my sig.). The card works like it should except that the WLAN LED under the LCD of my ThinkPad stays off all the time.

Now if you know a bit about ThinkPads you probably think you know the reason, the card wasn't supplied by IBM, it's probably a genuine Intel card. Well, that's what I thought too but I have some reasons to think otherwise:
1. The PCI SUBID shows that this is an IBM card.
2. The eBay auction of the card said it's from IBM.
3. There are ASM and FRU identifiers on the card (well, on the sticker).

The PCI-ID of the card as reported by Windows is:

Code: Select all

PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_4224&SUBSYS_10138086
The w29n51.inf file as found in the drivers package downloaded from IBM lists this ID as:

Code: Select all

IBM 2915ABG mPCI 3B High-Band ZZH
Note the IBM in the front, there are other IDs in this file with Intel, Dell, Fujitsu and others in the front.

Maybe there's something wrong with the LED itself? Any thoughts how to check this (I have a multimeter and stuff like that)?

Any comments appreciated.

TIA,
yak
Last edited by yak on Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2 Post by ThaDon » Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:58 pm

Hi Yak, are you able to test with a previous WLAN card to verify if this is specific to your IPW2915 or not?
T42P 2373-HSG

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#3 Post by yak » Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:19 pm

Unfortunately no, I bought the laptop without WiFi (it didn't have one originally, listed by IBM as wireless upgradeable) and this Intel card is the only I have.
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#4 Post by yak » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:21 am

The FRU of the card is 93P4239. On a german forum somebody said that this is the cause and it would work if I had FRU 27K9938. This is strange because both are Intel 2915abg cards. What's the difference then?

Maybe somebody has this FRU 27K9938 card? Could you tell me its PCI-ID (can be seen in device manager in details tab of the wlan card)?

I've read the miniPCI specs and there are two LEDs available on the connector (pins 11/13 and 12/14). I've measured the voltage on one of them (pins 11/13) while the WLAN was working but there was no current. The other ones are on the bottom side of the card so it's somewhat harder to get there with the multimeter. I've measured the resistance on both of them while the laptop was off, nothing in either way meaning there is no diode (LED) connected. Does anybody know if these pins are utilized by ThinkPads?
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#5 Post by yak » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:12 pm

Ok, I just couldn't sit doing nothing about it. So, I took the laptop apart and started analyzing the way the WLAN LED works.

The LED itself is on the inverter board inside the LCD housing. There is also a resistor on this board and after that, the leads go straight to the system board through the LCD ribbon cable.

If you look at the LCD connector on the system board, the relevant pins are pins 1 and 5 on the back row (LPT port side) where pin 1 is the inside one (battery side).

These two go through the system board straight to MiniPCI connector pins 11 (anode) and 13 (kathode).

This means that the system (BIOS) has no way of influencing the WLAN LED other than configuring the WLAN card.

Now back to my ipw2195abg card. As I said before, I've measured the voltage on MiniPCI pins 11 and 13 and the result was 0V. Then it turned out it was true only while the WLAN was active. After deactivating, the multimeter showed about 2.5V. So I've measured the current between both pins and the ground. This time I got 3.3V on pin 11 when the WLAN was active and 0V when inactive. Pin 13 showed 2.5V all the time.

Knowing all this I've separated pin 13 from the card and connected it directly to GND.

Now the LED is on when the WLAN is active (and off otherwise). I'm not sure if it should blink if I transfer the data (don't know if this is supported by this WLAN card model) - it doesn't. Maybe that's even better, a constantly blinking LED could be irritating.

Maybe this is a way to get WLAN LED working on all unauthorized WLAN cards, I don't know.
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#6 Post by cmarti » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:35 pm

:Nice:

You should try it with a non IBM card. :D
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#7 Post by yak » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:43 am

Yea, I would if I had one. :)

I've just tried it with Linux and the ipw2200 driver (standard Intel 2200 and 2915 driver for Linux). You have to set the led=1 option (which is normal for all ThinkPads with these Intel cards according to ThinkWiki) to make it work. The LED nicely blinks there too so I guess it works exactly like it should (like I said, I have nothing to compare with).

In case of Ubuntu, you may want to add this to /etc/modprobe.d/options:

Code: Select all

options ipw2200 led=1
to make the LED work every time you boot.
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#8 Post by yak » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:57 am

Now I'm quite sure my card is not an IBM one. It's probably a genuine Intel card that has a changed PCI-ID (it can be done, the ID is stored in EEPROM on the card) and a small FRU sticker on top of the original one.

I've even found photos of the same card with the same stickers:
Top, Bottom

Mine had the spares, assembly and intel serial numbers covered with a FRU 93P4239 sticker.

Luckily it was relatively cheap.

So, I guess I'm first to find a way to make the WLAN LED work with an unauthorized WLAN card (at least any Intel 2915ABG card).
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#9 Post by user17600 » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:07 pm

Interesting... I have this same card in 3 Thinkpads: a T40, a T41 and a T42 (replaced a sometimes-functioning 2200) and all of them light the LED without having to resort to any kind of tweaking. Light goes on and off with activation/deactivation of the card. Now my work T42 with the original 2200 card, the LED flashes (? when active ?), but with the 2915 is on steadily all the time. I did have to beat the 1802 thing the first time, maybe that has some bearing? Mine are *not* IBM versions for sure...

EDIT: And this is true for WinXP and Kubuntu 7.10, which run on each of the machines. So it's prob not an OS thing.
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#10 Post by yak » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:04 pm

Hmm, that's interesting. Anyone else with a non-IBM 2915ABG? Any LED issues?
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#11 Post by bill bolton » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:33 pm

yak wrote:So, I guess I'm first to find a way to make the WLAN LED work with an unauthorized WLAN card (at least any Intel 2915ABG card).
Your solution seems to have something to do with specific card and/or ThinkPad you've got rather than being a general problem, as there is usually no particular issue with the WiFi LED working with any Intel WiFi card that a T4x will has been ecouraged to recognise!

Cheers,

Bill B.

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#12 Post by yak » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:08 am

Yes, I think you're right. Without further research on other cards we will never know, maybe my card was just broken :).
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#13 Post by yak » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:25 pm

I think I finally know what's going on. Let me summarize the whole topic.

The ThinkPad's WLAN LED is connected directly to the MiniPCI connector on the system board. The pins used are:
11 - LED1_GRNP
13 - LED1_GRNN

Now, this MiniPCI pinout description marks pin 13 (LED1_GRNN) as "RF Silent input". You won't find anything about this meaning of this pin in the original MiniPCi specification. This pin is used in notebooks with a "radio kill" switch to tell the WLAN card to turn itself off. The original MiniPCI specification didn't include a pin for this functionality so one of the LED pins was later reused for this. If a card with this feature is installed in 4x ThinkPad, the WLAN LED won't work because ThinkPad expects ground (GND) on this pin.

Since the pin 11 (LED1_GRNP) works as expected, passing GND to the pin 13 of ThinkPad's MiniPCI connector fixes the "always-off" LED problem.

One has to remember to pass GND to the ThinkPad only, not to the WLAN card. My measurements proved that the "RF Silent" signal is active low so doing this would be equal to switching the radio off on a notebook with such a switch. The card simply wouldn't work.
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#14 Post by chrisp » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:34 am

yak wrote:
Knowing all this I've separated pin 13 from the card and connected it directly to GND.
how did you do this, exactly?
Thanks
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#15 Post by yak » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:49 am

chrisp wrote:how did you do this, exactly?
I've used a knife with a sharp tip to cut off the 13th pad on the card from the rest of it. I've made a scratch right above it. Then I've used a short wire and soldered one of its ends to the separated pad and the other one near the one of the big notches on sides of the card (you know, the ones used to keep the card in the slot).

A slightly better idea would probably be to solder together pins 13 and 15 (they are next to each other). Pin 15 is a CHSGND (chassis ground) which presumably is same as the system ground. This would first have to be checked with a multimeter thou. If true, simply joining them would be much easier then the wire solution.

I would do it but I don't have time to open up the laptop again and I didn't thought about it when I was doing the fix.
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#16 Post by yak » Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:26 pm

Me again.

I opened my notebook again to check the CHSGND solution. Unfortunately it won't work. The pin is unconnected on both WiFi card and system board. This conforms to the MiniPCI specification, section 2.5, LAN connector pinout, which says: "This pin [15:CHSGND] must be left as No Connect in order to meet IEEE 802.3 and 802.5 electrical isolation requirements".

However, I had an even better solution. I decided to document it along with all my WLAN LED findings in ThinkWiki, here's the link:

http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Problem_w ... h_WiFi_LED

Hope somebody finds it useful.
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#17 Post by frankiepankie » Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:56 am

I am trying to fix the WiFi led on my T40.

Already did the 1802 hack, so i can use the card, but now i want to get the LED working.

I cutted the 13th pad loose from its electronic board, so it is only connected to the thinkpad, and attached a wire to the 13th pad, and to the ground.

The Wifi led is burning, but keeps burning forever!!! Even if i disable the wifi card in windows XP (right click > disable)

???
Last edited by frankiepankie on Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#18 Post by aaa » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:25 am

The Atheros led is controllable via software. I've done it on Linux, no idea how to do it on Windows though.

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#19 Post by frankiepankie » Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:13 pm

aaa wrote:The Atheros led is controllable via software. I've done it on Linux, no idea how to do it on Windows though.
Doesn't work with Ubuntu 7.04 liveCD
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#20 Post by yak » Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:05 pm

Did you measure the voltage on the pin 13 before you cut it off?
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#21 Post by frankiepankie » Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:11 pm

yak wrote:Did you measure the voltage on the pin 13 before you cut it off?
Yes, always 2.5V.
It didn't matter if i had the WLAN card on or off.
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#22 Post by yak » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:32 pm

That's good. This tells us there is a "kill radio" feature on pin 13. Now, you say there always is voltage on pin 11 (as you have it connected along with GND to the LED). This means that the light is either controlled by software in some way or it is normal for this card. Remember that the MiniPCI standard defines two LEDs (the other one on pins 12 and 14 which, unfortunately, are on the underside of the card when it is mounted). Maybe the first one indicates that the card is powered on only.

Some more tests would be required. If you have skills to test it, it would be nice if you could contribute.
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#23 Post by frankiepankie » Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:31 am

I am not going to measure the pins on the underside of the card.

I have to completely dissamble my T40 to reach that pins.

And only for a silly LED it is not worth the pain of unscrewing my baby :lol:
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#24 Post by fatlen » Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:03 pm

Hi yak,
I find out a 2200BG, and i change the PCI ID already.
I have same problem now.

I try to test the pin11 signal with oscillograph and i find that pin 11 have pulse wave when data are transfer. It means that pin 11 can driver wifi light blink. So i try to find out how to connect pin 13.

I try compare IBM 2100 wifi card, the singal of pin 11 is same.
But pin13 is low for wifi on, and high for wifi off.

So i guess the pin13 circuit of INTEL 2200 have small difference with IBM 2200.

Would you can find the IBM 2915 for compare with your 2915?
Or get a picture to compare.

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#25 Post by sarbin » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:53 am

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Re: T41, Intel 2915ABG, WLAN LED always off [fixed]

#26 Post by AbsolutelyFreeWeb » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:59 pm

Hi, I had an intel mini pci 3b 2100 card and decided I buy an intel 2915 abg for my T42 2373-4WG.
After flashing bios with one saying T42 slic 2.1 with no1802 installing the new card I'm having issue with the wifi led.
I then removed the bios, and went with the no1802 CD, but LED was still not working.
So, took a voltmeter and checked pin 11 and 13 on the new card. Pin 11 is 3.33V and pin 13 is 2.54V.
So, i switched back to the 2100 card and checked again Pin 11 is 3.33V and pin 13 is 0V
This is all according to what is mentioned above, except:

My wifi led is not working with the 2100 card now either.
Before checking my old card, I did the cover pin 13 and connect the board to ground, that did not work. It showed as if the card was disconnected by hardware switch (which does not exist on a T42)

I was thinking the no-1802 may have turned off the wifi led. Does anyone have the source code? I'd like to add an undo option to it.

Then that it could also be that I have upgraded bios to the latest, it is currently 3.23 (last available) or some driver conflict.

I could test my assumption by unplugging cmos I guess, want to avoid that... EDIT: So I reset the cmos by removing the battery (it reset the clock, but not the boot order, however it made 1802 error appear again), I downgraded the Bios to original, I re-installed the OS, I have my old card inserted, yet have not been able to get the wifi LED working again. :oops: :eek: I'm planning on replacing the screen, hopefully I can check if the LED has died somehow. Still cannot believe it's hardware, it stopped working when I changed bios.

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