NOW $700 - PCI PCMCI Slot Card for EVDO REV A connectivity

  • I am hoping other people will find this attractive and join in on the contribution.  Being able to failover instead of another DSL or physical line is very helpful.  Linksys makes a DSL Firewall\Router that can do this for $249.00  (FYI…I am not comparing a linksys to a pfsense!!!)  Just mentioning that the function is available.  Is there any chance that the pfsense could support a PCI card for a PCMCI EVDO card like the Sprint Mobile Broadband Card by Sierra Wireless-AirCard® 595 or the Sprint Mobile Broadband Card by Novatel Wireless-Merlin™ S720.  It would be great because you could potentially use the wireless as fail over or for locations where there is no DSL/Cable you could use it as your primary connection.  Rev A is very fast with average sppeds in good locations of about 1 mbit burstable to 3 Mbit and upload of 400kbit.  Even better is that an unlimited data plan with Sprint or Verizon is only $59.00 a month.

  • I wish…but then I'd want an expresscard one too so I could roam with my mac ;)  Oh well...this is certainly a useful feature, but none of the current devs have this gear (or the contracts that go with them).  Hopefully someone with the gear will be interested in implementing it, I have no idea what this would entail as I've never seen how these cards come up in FreeBSD.


  • @billm:

    I wish…but then I'd want an expresscard one too so I could roam with my mac ;)  Oh well...this is certainly a useful feature, but none of the current devs have this gear (or the contracts that go with them).  Hopefully someone with the gear will be interested in implementing it, I have no idea what this would entail as I've never seen how these cards come up in FreeBSD.


    BTW, offering remote access to a box with this equipment might help generate more interest, but note that since we don't have the equipment, ongoing support will be somewhat hampered.


  • I have a client who has purchased the card and a linksys router for it already.  I might be able to delay deploying it and setup a pfsense with a dsl connection and include the card so that someone could work on it remotely.  By this I mean a dedicated machine.  I would just like to know a time frame…ie  1 month, 2 months because I will have to cover the monthly charges for the card until it gets deployed. $59 a month.

  • Found this:

    Novatel Merlin
    I now own one of the most amazing devices I have yet come across. It's the Novatel Merlin. It's a PCCARD CDPD modem. Using Merlin under FreeBSD is almost painlessly trivial. It looks to the pccard stuff just like an ordinary modem card. You then set up PPP with the script I devised for Sage below, but with the device that the PCCARD daemon assigns, and it magically works. Alas, you don't get the blinking lights like on Sage, but there is a little curses application in the ports called merlinmon ( that serves the same purpose as the windows Opcenter stuff.
    You can fetch the MSCI protocol spec ( used by merlinmon from Novatel.

    The only trick to getting Merlin (or Sage, the external serial version of merlin) to work is setting an MRU of 576 (which is the MRU that SAGE asks for).

    Here is a ppp.conf file fragment that should work:

    set openmode active
    set mru 576
    set device /dev/cuaa0
    set speed 19200
    set dial "ABORT ERROR "" AT\\APPP\r\c CONNECT"

    With this file in place, just say 'ppp inet' to bring up the link.

    Novatel's Merlin page
    Novatel's SAGE page

  • Bill doesn't realize I have EVDO service. I have a Verizon PC Card that should be supported. But I have a 15 Mb cable modem and 8 Mb DSL line at home, I don't really need EVDO in a firewall. Hence, it's a low priority for me, but I'll probably mess with it eventually.

    Upping this bounty will encourage me to start messing with this.

  • I can chip in at least $50 as well. I also have access to a Soekris Net4521 board and a couple of WRAP platforms (though you can't place the card in the WRAP board).

    I also also provide any sort of remote access to the board you would like.

    I've gotten the EVDO card to work on the Soekris before using Pyramid linux. When you plug the card in, it emulates a USB hub with a generic modem plugged into it…. so I think the major trick is to build in USB support into the pfSense image... I have a Pantech PX-500 EVDO Rev. A. modem.

    Thanks guys,

  • I could get $500 put toward this bounty provided the following conditions:

    1. The EVDO would show up as a regular interface, so would be usable for failover, etc. (Pretty obvious, just re-stating this)
    2. I would need to add this to existing PC hardware without built-in PCMCIA or mini-pcie, so it would have to work with a usb modem or PCMCIA/Express card to USB adapter, or (second choice) a pci card or pci-pcmcia adapter.
      I have access to a Verizon EVDO card. If this goes forward I'll work on getting a usb adapter/modem to test with.

  • dotdash, Thanks for adding into the pot.. Seriously, thanks.

    Cmb, How much more motivation would you like? o_O

  • I have a new but old for me since I just cancelled the service, Kyocera KPC650 Verizon Wireless Air Card that I would make available if it could be used for this.  This is a PCMCIA card.

  • I ran into some issues with my initial test and didn't have time to really look into it due to other commitments.

    dotdash, if it is to be implemented, it'll definitely meet #1 of your request. As for supported hardware, I'm not sure how many pieces of hardware we could support, or support well. It's something I'll look into more. Now that this is up to about $600 if it can be done meeting dotdash's requirements, it's definitely a higher priority.

    It'll be another week or two before I can really dig into this again, but I'll post back when I get a chance to look into it further.

  • The USB-PCMCIA adapters like the Elan U111 and U132 look pretty sketchy as far as support on non-Windows and only seem to work with certain models of card.
    My thought is that if someone can get a PCMCIA card running, it should work with a PCI-PCMCIA card.
    I'm going to get a Quatech PCD-B/UPCI-E to test with and try plugging the Verizon card into it. If this works it would be a pretty good solution as the card could be turned up on a Windows laptop, then plugged into the firewall once activated.

  • I am interested in this bounty.  Just need to find a EVDO card to work with.

  • sullrich and I have agreed to split this as soon as I get a chance to start working on it again (maybe next week).

    I also have made contact with someone that can provide some additional hardware for testing purposes.

  • Wow….I thought this one was going to wither away and die.  I don't have a need for the PCMCI option anymore but I will still honor my request.  About time that I contribute anyway.  Definitely something I will be able to push to my clients in the future!!!



  • I have a USB version that might be coming available soon.  I am going to try and get it working there and hopefully it will work in a similar fashion on the pcmcia version, etc.

  • I got the elan P311. It does it's job and shows up nicely as a cardbus slot. I can plug a 3Com carbus nic in and it comes right up. This particular card (low profile) has major fitament issues with most motherboards I tested it with, but whatever, I found a test box where I can manage to get it into one of the slots.
    My test card (Verizon, Sierra Wireless, I think) went out on loan, so I borrowed a Sprint Pantech PX-500 card. No luck. I was thinking it might go something like this:
    But it doesn't seem to find a driver for the modem. Perhaps this card is not supported. I see some errors when booting:
    cardbus0: CIS pointer is 0
    cardbus0: Resource not specified in CIS: id=10, size=1000
    It does detect an NEC uPD 9210 USB controller (ohci0, uhub4, usb5) but no ucom or ugen device.
    It seems that it should show up like a usb modem off of the usb controller off of the cardbus…
    I will have to get the Verizon card back and try with it...
    Tested on a 1.2 beta1 install and on a generic FreeBSD 6.2 install.

  • Joseph Kohan (razor2000 on irc) is sending me a card to test.  I will be starting on this bounty as soon as I receive the card.

  • Any update on testing progress?

  • I never received any hardware.

  • The Verizon card I want to test is still in use for another month or so, but I did 'borrow' it for a few hours. It is not  a Sierra as I was hoping, but a Novatel V620 (I think, don't have the notes handy). Didn't have time to mess with it, but it does not come up correctly. Behaviour is similar to the Pantech. Some preliminary research seems to indicate that people have been able to get the card working under FreeBSD with some hacking. I won't be able to try until I can get the card again. I'm trying to see if I can get yet another card to test in the meantime…

  • I have the hardware to do this and someone willing to send more once the card I have works, just haven't had time to make it happen yet.

  • What is the status of this bounty?  When do pay for the bounty?



  • If it helps, I've got a spare Kyocera KPC650 (with contract), and a PCI-PCMCIA card… and I can put this into a pfsense box that I could provide access to. I just can't send any of this hardware out to you.

  • Sorry but no, that does not help.

  • hmmm..No answer to my question.  Am I missing something?

  • The status is that no one is working on it yet. I may be able to snag the Novatel again to test, but I can't send it off. It's a company card and has to be available in case in case someone is working off-site. Right now, I can't get one purely for testing, so I'm stuck grabbing cards when they are not deployed.

  • I have access now to a 3G sprint USB card.  I plan on taking this bounty.

    Please if you have offered cash towards this please let me know that you are still interested.

    PS: this will also add "dial up modem" support as well.

  • Our bounty still stands. What model of card are you getting? I might be able to get another card to test builds with when this starts rolling.

  • I am still in.  Just let me know when to pay up!  Curious why you went with USB instead of PCMCIA with PCI adapter?  One thing is good is it doesn't take up a slot for a NIC.

  • Alright.  Here's an update.  These mods will require some kernel changes and such so I will get right on this after 1.2 is released.  1.2-RC2 will be released tomorrow so we are very very close to having 1.2 out the door.

  • I think this would be an excellent feature for pfSense.  I have a Soekris net4511 and want to be able to use the Sierra wireless 860 HSDPA card on it.  It's just PPP, that's all.  I made a feature request ticket:

    EVDO and HSPDA cards natively supported in pfSense would be a Godsend.  I can provide the hardware for a month or two if it will get this going.  Soekris net4511, 2GB flash, and Sierra Wireless 860 HSDPA card on Cingular/AT&T.  I get 1.1mbit down 58kbit up on the card in the Dallas TX area.

  • Gents,

    I'd be happy to add to the bounty if this support includes Sierra 875U support as well (same Sierra driver apparently supports 850/860/875/875u anyway)..  Will add another $600 for a "newbie"-ready solution quickly :) with some basic doco!

    It would need to be another WAN port option that can support failover between LAN ports and 3G card.  (What we are doing is failing over between 3x ethernet links and 3G in a mobile situation where there is satellite options etc.


  • Did this bounty ever get completed?  Any updated status?

  • @Sifter:

    Did this bounty ever get completed?  Any updated status?


  • I was reading over at evdoforums and came across the following thread.  This started to make me think.  Would the mini-pci slot on the wrap board support this card once driver support is built into pfsense?  This would be a pretty slick setup, having everything fully contained inside the box besides an antenna.

  • I believe that all the WRAPs, etc have mini-pci slots and the EVDO cards are mini-PCIe cards, and would not fit.

  • Just a bump…unless there is an update......  ;D

  • Edit: I may have spoken too soon. I was looking to come over here from m0n0wall but just realized that the embedded version of pfSense requires 128mb of ram and I only have 64 so unless the solution can be easily ported over to m0n0wall, I will have to withdraw my offer.

    I can add another $100 for a solution that works with a Sprint Aircard 580 (Qualcomm MSM 5500) as a failover solution in case our dsl goes out. It doesn't have to be an automatic failover in my case as the card won't be permanently in the Soekris 4521, it will be manually inserted if the dsl goes down. Of course an automatic failover option would be nice too. ;-)

    I can provide remote terminal  access to the Soekris board and card if it helps.

    Pyramid linux is supposed to have this feature but I have had several issues with Pyramid so I am looking at other distros.


    P.S. By the previous subject line, I am assuming this brings the bounty to $700

  • I don't think anyone monitoring this post gets notified by a modification.  Try posting a new message.  As to your question you might want to direct that to one of the devs.


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