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Apple Network

Early Apple Airport

Wireless Network Diagram
(This page is not intended for small screens.)
by Vaughn Aubuchon



Here is a summary diagram of an 802.11 wireless computer network, using the early Apple Airport Base Station, 2 Airport-card equipped computers, and a DSL modem (a cable modem may be substituted).

This page attempts to illustrate the current implementation of an Apple Airport wireless network on older Macintosh computers.
A parts list is given, along with representative pricing.

Apple Airport Base Station

Airport BAD Network Diagram

Airport GOOD Network Diagram

Applicable Macintosh Models

Airport Base Station (ABS) Models

Airport Card Install Instructions

Apple Airport Software Set-up

Airport Card RF Signal Strength

Parts List

Email Responses


Airport BAD Network Diagram

Apple Airport BAD Network Diagram

UNFORTUNATELY, the system above DOES NOT work!!!
Forget about the "Hybrid" (ethernet plus wireless) system -
lose the non-functional ethernet.
A Hybrid system is only good if you have a "Snow" base station.

Airport GOOD Network Diagram

Apple Airport GOOD Network Diagram

Stop screwing around - go 100% wireless and
lose the ethernet/ IP/ DHCP problems.

Applicable Early Macintosh Models -
Apple Airport Wireless Network Configuration Diagram

How to add an Apple Airport wireless network to
your older 1999 - 2003 Apple Macintosh computers.

Apple Airport Base Stations

1999 - Graphite refers to color of the top of the earliest Airport Base Station. Firmware = v3.84 (gone)

2001 - Snow (dual-ethernet) refers to the color of the top of its successor, which has 2 ethernet ports.
Firmware = v4.0.9 (gone)

2004 - Airport Extreme - latest and greatest - well-covered elsewhere.
Firmware = v5.5.1 (gone)

Airport Evolution - System Comparison Chart

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Airport Card Install Instructions

Slot-loading iMac Airport Card installation instructions (gone)

G4 Airport Card installation instructions (gone)

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Apple Airport Software Set-Up

First, I did a headquarters online "Software Update" to OS 10.3.7
Connect Via: Airport
Configure: Select DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
IP Address: xxx.xx.xx.xx (your ISP's IP Address)

The iMac was used to program the DSL modem through the Airport Base Station with the local ISP IP.
I achieved success by using the Apple Airport Application -
"Graphite or Snow Set-up Assistant"
Assign Network Name - anyname
Assign Password - 123AB - (five characters suggested for maximum 3rd party compatability).

Use "Internet Connect" to open a connection -
. . . "connected to internet"
. . . "connected via PPPoE"

Later changes can be made with the Apple 10.3.7 Application -
"Airport Admin Utility"

Resetting the AirPort Base Station (Graphite) (gone)

Apple Airport Support

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Apple Airport Card RF Signal Strength

There are two ways to observe your RF signal strength - Menu bar fan and Internet Connect.
The Menu Bar "Fan" has 4 curved bars - 1 bar is low strength and 4 bars is high strength.
The Internet Connect Screen uses a signal strength scale of 1 to 15.
These correspond in the following way -
Internet - Menu
Connect - Bar

  1 ---- 0
  2 ---- 1
  3 ---- 1
  4 ---- 1, 2
  6 ---- 2
  7 ---- 2 - Minimum for reliable, fast communication
  9 ---- 3
10 ---- 3
12 ---- 4
13 ---- 4 - Signal strength I ended up with - ~ 20 feet
14 ---- 4
15 ---- 4

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Parts List

1. Airport Base Station Version 1 (Graphite) - - - - - - $ 98
2. Airport Wireless Cards (2) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $160
3. Airport Wireless Card Carrier for iMac - - - - - - - - $ 40
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL . . $298

A testimonial to the desirability of the Apple Airport Network -
when the Airport cards were new, they were $80 - now, USED CARDS are
SCALPED at $130.
Look around - they can still be found at less than $80 -
$74 - - BRAND NEW
$73 - - BRAND NEW
I found one in Santa Cruz for the original $79. Three miles away.
One local scalper charges $150 for USED cards!!!


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Help Galore !
WOW! Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.
I thought that I would include them here, anon.


suggestion for network

I saw your posting at macintouch and noticed a difference with my setup:

You have the switch between the router (base station) and the dsl modem, while I have my router connected to the dsl modem and then attach my hub to the router. In my setup I have 4 wired connections and one wireless working simultaneously. In your setup there is probably a dhcp server issue, It might actually be the modem who acts as dhcp server. You could try to assign manually an IP to the wireless computer and then turn off DHCP. That might work too (if my theory is correct).





I saw your post on Macintouch. It's not likely to ever work. You need a router with TWO physical ethernet ports, one for the DSL modem, one for any internally wired devices.

Yes, I know the Graphite is supposed to act as a router and share the single ethernet port. Not gonna happen. The simple answer is to buy a simple router at the store and put that in first, the more expensive answer is to buy an Airport Extreme.



Network Issues as reported on Macintouch

One thing to note about your network setup. Depending upon which DSL package you are paying SBC for, you may be only allowed to have one IP address served on your DSL line at any one time. This would a the reason you can't get both machines working at once. Using PPPoE, each time the Airport or your Ethernet Mac boot, they ask for and receive a IP address from the SBC servers. Some low priced SBC setups only permit one request from each DSL subscriber to be active at a time.

One way around this is to setup your Airport to serve addresses both on the wireless side of your network, as well back out on the ethernet side as well. Thus both wireless and wired clients on your home network would be "fronted" by the address obtained by the Airport.

There is an option in your Airport config which allows you to serve DHCP addresses (and do NAT) back out on to your Ethernet port as well as on the wireless segment. Look for that and turn it on. You'll need to reconfigure your Ethernet Mac for regular DHCP (not over PPPoE) to get it's information from the Airport. The Airport continues to get it's address from the PPPoE server on the other end of the DSL line. Your local Macs then get access to the Internet through the Airport (via NAT - network address translation & DHCP).

Note that I don't know for sure this is your problem, but if you've eliminated all other possibilities I would try reconfiguring the Airport and the Ethernet Mac and see if this works. I used to have the same problem. I no longer have my graphite airport so I can't send you screen shots of the config - but I'm sure you can figure it out.

Here's a rough .pdf image of what's going on. I've tried to keep it small. (attached)

Hope this helps.


Only one works, because ...

On your web page, , you can only connect one computer because the ISP only supplies one connection with one IP address for one device. suggests that you configure the wired computer for manual IP addressing, say, at, along with other settings as described.

Another way to share the ISP connection is to modify your network is to replace the Ethernet switch with a router (Linksys BEFSR41 or similar) which will make the PPOE connection using the ISP-supplied IP address. Then turn off the DHCP server in the wireless base station. Set all systems for DHCP configuration. You will then be able to connect multiple, all working at once.

A third option is to substitute any other base station with one with two RJ-45 connections, one for WAN (to the DSL) and one for the local network. Connect the Ethernet switch to the local side of the base station.

Nice drawing. What tool did you use?
(Claris Draw(1997)--> .epsf--> virtual printer--> .ps--> Photoshop--> .gif . . . I know, I know. I'm a very late adapter. I prefer rock-solid functionality to anything that I have to screw with endlessly - as in the monstrous Adobe Illustrator.)



Wireless Reader Report

In response to Vaughn Aubuchon's query trying to get his network to work, with reference to the diagram that he has linked to:

* The ethernet hub/switch's port 1 should be an uplink port with a straight-through ethernet cable, or a standard port with a crosslink cable. The other cables should be straight-through cables.

* The next problem is that there is the router (in this case, the Airport base station) is in the wrong place. The router needs to be directly connected to the cable/DSL modem, or be built into it. The options here are to buy a stand-alone single- or multi-port router, a new cable/DSL modem with router built-in, or a new Airport base station with 2 ethernet ports.



Network Setups

I saw your networking question posted at Macintouch. From a quick view of your network diagram, I would offer these comments.

The mental model I use when working with routers is to remember that each has a WAN side and a LAN side, and that those connect to two different networks. Normally, your ISP is on the WAN side, and your home LAN is on the LAN side, and the router routes packets between those two networks.

In the Airport base stations, the LAN ethernet port and the wireless users are both on the LAN side, and the WAN port is the WAN side. So if you look at your "Bad" diagram, you have your wireless user and your wired user on two separate networks; they won't (generally) be able to see each other.

A more normal setup would have the WAN side of the base station connected to the DSL modem, Then the hub/switch connected to the LAN side. The wireless users continue to be logically on the LAN side. Now your wireless user and your wired user are on the same netowork, and the router is routing packets from both of them to the WAN network (your ISP).

You you to configure the WAN side of the base station to talk to the DSL modem. That's left as an exercise for the reader(!). There are several ways to do it, and your ISP has picked one that you must follow. In the instructions that they sent you when you signed up there will be some talk of either "PPPoE" or "DHCP". You have to programthe base station to match.

Hope that helps. Of course, it looks like you've found another way to get it going already, but you never know when you'll have to set up another one of these.


Even in the final wireless configuration, it wasn't easy.
Rev. 1 Base Station (old instructions for old system software - no good.)
Version 2 (silver) Airport Card
OSX 10.3.7 - not intended for installing ancient hardware
It finally started working when I wandered upon that last, vague step - Access Control -
Click on the "This Computer" button.
Glad I don't have to do this often.
Thanks again to all who contributed.

802.11b - 11 Mb rate
802.11g - 54 Mb rate
Apple Ethernet Configuration
Build an Apple Wireless Network
An easy Apple Macintosh integrated DSL wireless - DSL ethernet network
Apple Airport Connection Diagram - Network Schematic Diagram

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Vaughn's Other
MACINTOSH Related Pages

* Airport Configure

iMac Models

Mac G4 Models

Mac Hardware-Software

MacBook Models

New iMac Migration


Although the author has tried to be as accurate as possible, errors and mis-statements are possible.

I could not find an illustration like the above. So, I drew this summary diagram of this hybrid ethernet and Apple Airport wireless network, to help myself understand the inner workings of the system. I hope that it helps you.


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This Vaughns Early Apple Airport Network Configuration
Diagram was last updated on 2019-06-15.