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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Greetings,

I'm wanting to take advantage of auto-unlock with my Apple watch on my cMP 5,1 (running Mojave 10.14.1) and it *SEEMS* like it should be possible based on what I'm piecing together from multiple resources, but it looks like job #1 is to upgrade wifi/bluetooth to support (amongst other things) BTLE and the "Auto Unlock" (WiFi) feature.

Based on the Apple support article - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206995 - it looks like all of this is provided natively via an enhanced/upgraded Airport Extreme card that ships in the mid-2013 (and later) computers.

Does anyone have a known, working recommendation for the best card (Apple OEM or otherwise) to buy that would be a considered a "direct swap" for the OEM/original Wifi/Bluetooth Airport Extreme card that's in my cMP 5,1 and enable this functionality?

Would appreciate any recommendations or insight on the topic. Thanks!
 
Last edited:

bookemdano

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2011
1,418
796
FWIW, I purchased from this ebay seller and aside from having to wait a week or two for shipping, it was a great product and experience. Everything needed for the install was included.

No matter who you buy from, installing one of these is something you really need to take your time doing. The components involved are fragile and you'll need all the finger dexterity you possess in order to get all the antennas connected. I would suggest you read as many posts in the BT 4.0 thread here as you can to get familiar with the procedure.

Don't mean to scare you off, but installing one of these is definitely not just a plug & play process. Apple never intended for the cMP to be able to use a hybrid WiFi/BT card so these kits are basically a kludge to make it work.

The only other thing I will add is that the bluetooth antenna in the cMP is terrible. It's embedded in the back panel near the PCI cards--right where a lot of people have it pushed up right against a wall. In addition, if you've added a USB 3.0 card (or plan to), know that USB3 cables can easily cause BT interference.

Apple Watch Unlock *mostly* works for me, but I also have my cMP up on top of my large desk next to my monitor. I'm not saying it won't work if you keep it on the floor, but just be advised you may have to mess with swapping antennas, adding a more powerful antenna, etc.

Good luck!
 
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bjar

macrumors regular
Feb 20, 2013
232
102
Sugar land, tx
Thanks for this - really appreciate it. The OSXWifi product looks like a 'turn key' approach, which is nice; it is pricey though!!
I ordered this and about 6 months later I started having kernel panics and WiFi and Bluetooth working only sometimes. Removed card and panics stopped. Osxwifi has not responded to my emails. I plan to test it again some day after reseating the card, but haven’t had time. Just putting this out there.
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Great perspective - thank you for that.

I've been reading through the thread you mentioned and have seen so many cards being discussed with so many cables, etc. that it gets dizzying at times as to what the proper/best path is. I appreciate you boiling it down and linking to something known good, as that's a huge help there.

My cMP is on the floor, but is less than 3 ft. away from where I sit at my desk (it's off to the side of the desk, mostly open air setup and not really blocked by anything on either of the 2 sides or front/back) but I will be curious to see how the BT reception proves out to be. Using the existing BT with a headset allows for me to get 15-20 ft. away from my desk before the connection gets choppy - which I was truthfully surprised that I'd get that distance considering the case that the cMP case being what it is. In the end, I'll see what works and then reassess the antennae situation and see if I need to extend it or run it out the back of the cMP for any reason (which I'm hoping not to do).

I'll certainly follow back up here with my experience and note the same in the BT 4.0 thread as well in hopes of helping support the next person looking for the info.

FWIW, I purchased from this ebay seller and aside from having to wait a week or two for shipping, it was a great product and experience. Everything needed for the install was included.

No matter who you buy from, installing one of these is something you really need to take your time doing. The components involved are fragile and you'll need all the finger dexterity you possess in order to get all the antennas connected. I would suggest you read as many posts in the BT 4.0 thread here as you can to get familiar with the procedure.

Don't mean to scare you off, but installing one of these is definitely not just a plug & play process. Apple never intended for the cMP to be able to use a hybrid WiFi/BT card so these kits are basically a kludge to make it work.

The only other thing I will add is that the bluetooth antenna in the cMP is terrible. It's embedded in the back panel near the PCI cards--right where a lot of people have it pushed up right against a wall. In addition, if you've added a USB 3.0 card (or plan to), know that USB3 cables can easily cause BT interference.

Apple Watch Unlock *mostly* works for me, but I also have my cMP up on top of my large desk next to my monitor. I'm not saying it won't work if you keep it on the floor, but just be advised you may have to mess with swapping antennas, adding a more powerful antenna, etc.

Good luck!
[doublepost=1542602915][/doublepost]You know - that was honestly my fear of ordering from them... I was afraid it would go like my experience with MacVidCards - happy to take the money, but nowhere to be found on the support.

I ordered this and about 6 months later I started having kernel panics and WiFi and Bluetooth working only sometimes. Removed card and panics stopped. Osxwifi has not responded to my emails. I plan to test it again some day after reseating the card, but haven’t had time. Just putting this out there.
 
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bookemdano

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2011
1,418
796
FWIW the ebay seller I linked to promptly responded to a couple of questions I had about the install. YMMV but I have no regrets about that purchase at all.

You don't actually need Continuity Activation Tool to get the card working, although you can use that method if you want. But a member here shared a terminal command earlier this year that accomplishes the same thing in one fell swoop (I am sure it's posted in the last few pages of the BT 4.0 thread). The key though to either method is you must disable SIP first. You can re-enable it after you've got Continuity working.

One other thing, just as a heads-up. Every now and then the card will fail to initialize when booting, resulting in no ability to use BT mouse and KB and no WiFi connection (the BT icon in the menu bar [if you've chosen to show it] has a little squiggly line through it). Seems like it used to happen to me more frequently in the Yosemite/El Capitan/Sierra days than it does with High Sierra and Mojave. But when it happens, the only way I've found to fix it is to power off the cMP and do a SMC reset by unplugging the power cable for a minute or so, plugging back in and powering on normally. That always seems to get the card going again.

Like I said, it's rare that I have to do that anymore, but just something to watch out for. Overall, it's an upgrade I'm glad I did.

Also, here are the instructions for installing the card from OSXWifi. Even if you don't buy from them, the instructions will be similar if not identical. I believe people have also posted pics in the BT 4.0 thread somewhere.
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
This is great info - thank you for the time to write it up. I did go ahead and purchase the product you linked from eBay last night and it has already shipped from Hong Kong (with tracking, to boot) so I'm impressed thus far.

As long as SIP can be re-enabled then I'll feel comfortable with the overall process. Doing the hardware work doesn't phase me one bit, but I do appreciate your insight on this specific installation - it's always good to know some "gotchas" going into anything to help ensure (as much as possible) success. For that (and the instructions link), I owe you a beer!

If you had to timebox it, how often are you doing the SMC reset on Mojave? I'm running 10.14.1 right now on my cMP as my daily driver OS and that's what I'd intend for this installation, as well.

FWIW the ebay seller I linked to promptly responded to a couple of questions I had about the install. YMMV but I have no regrets about that purchase at all.

You don't actually need Continuity Activation Tool to get the card working, although you can use that method if you want. But a member here shared a terminal command earlier this year that accomplishes the same thing in one fell swoop (I am sure it's posted in the last few pages of the BT 4.0 thread). The key though to either method is you must disable SIP first. You can re-enable it after you've got Continuity working.

One other thing, just as a heads-up. Every now and then the card will fail to initialize when booting, resulting in no ability to use BT mouse and KB and no WiFi connection (the BT icon in the menu bar [if you've chosen to show it] has a little squiggly line through it). Seems like it used to happen to me more frequently in the Yosemite/El Capitan/Sierra days than it does with High Sierra and Mojave. But when it happens, the only way I've found to fix it is to power off the cMP and do a SMC reset by unplugging the power cable for a minute or so, plugging back in and powering on normally. That always seems to get the card going again.

Like I said, it's rare that I have to do that anymore, but just something to watch out for. Overall, it's an upgrade I'm glad I did.

Also, here are the instructions for installing the card from OSXWifi. Even if you don't buy from them, the instructions will be similar if not identical. I believe people have also posted pics in the BT 4.0 thread somewhere.
 
Comment

bookemdano

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2011
1,418
796
Great! The Bluetooth antenna installation step is the one with the most potential to go wrong, because the tiny little connectors are so fragile. So take extra time to make sure you've got that cable situated exactly where you want it before making the actual connections, and use care when snapping those connectors together. I'm pretty sure the seller sends two of those cables just in case.

Under Mojave I think I had to do the SMC reset step one time, and that was during the beta period I'm pretty sure. I've never been able to figure out exactly what causes the airport card to fail to initialize, but whatever the cause it's not something I fret about because it's so rare and now I know exactly what will fix it (versus when it happened the very first time, I spent a few hours troubleshooting it on the software side, and at one point thought the card had died).

It's been my experience that the card has gotten more reliable with each version of macOS, and it's been great in Mojave. Just know that once you enable handoff (either with CAT or the terminal command) it can take a while (maybe even an hour or more) for handoff features to actually start working. This technology is sort of a black box--hard to know what all it's doing behind the scenes and Apple offers precious little in terms of troubleshooting tools. But in my experience, once you get it working it should stay working, usually through point updates to macOS and sometimes even through the yearly upgrade.
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Good news in that my card should *finally* be here this week, if my tracking-fu proves to be accurate. It's been a bit of a 'wait it out' but I believe it will be worth it. I'll report back once I've gotten the installation done!

Great! The Bluetooth antenna installation step is the one with the most potential to go wrong, because the tiny little connectors are so fragile. So take extra time to make sure you've got that cable situated exactly where you want it before making the actual connections, and use care when snapping those connectors together. I'm pretty sure the seller sends two of those cables just in case.

Under Mojave I think I had to do the SMC reset step one time, and that was during the beta period I'm pretty sure. I've never been able to figure out exactly what causes the airport card to fail to initialize, but whatever the cause it's not something I fret about because it's so rare and now I know exactly what will fix it (versus when it happened the very first time, I spent a few hours troubleshooting it on the software side, and at one point thought the card had died).

It's been my experience that the card has gotten more reliable with each version of macOS, and it's been great in Mojave. Just know that once you enable handoff (either with CAT or the terminal command) it can take a while (maybe even an hour or more) for handoff features to actually start working. This technology is sort of a black box--hard to know what all it's doing behind the scenes and Apple offers precious little in terms of troubleshooting tools. But in my experience, once you get it working it should stay working, usually through point updates to macOS and sometimes even through the yearly upgrade.
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Hi @bookemdano - I did receive my card over the holidays from the eBay seller. Shipment from China took a good long while, but it did finally arrive. You are right - the seller did send two BT antennae extension cables in the box.

After looking over the install instructions available from OSXWiFi, and then looking at the card/kit I received, there are a few items that have popped up as questions, especially since the eBay seller didn't include any "custom USB cable" (unless it's the cable I'm referencing in the picture, please see below)...

#1 - referencing the attached photo, where does the attached cable (red circle) plug into?
#2 - what do I do with the USB connection cable that plugs into the original card?

fullsizeoutput_8b4.jpeg
 
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h9826790

macrumors P6
Apr 3, 2014
15,170
7,488
Hong Kong
Hi @bookemdano - I did receive my card over the holidays from the eBay seller. Shipment from China took a good long while, but it did finally arrive. You are right - the seller did send two BT antennae extension cables in the box.

After looking over the install instructions available from OSXWiFi, and then looking at the card/kit I received, there are a few items that have popped up as questions, especially since the eBay seller didn't include any "custom USB cable" (unless it's the cable I'm referencing in the picture, please see below)...

#1 - referencing the attached photo, where does the attached cable (red circle) plug into?
#2 - what do I do with the USB connection cable that plugs into the original card?

View attachment 815900

Looks like similar to my card.

My card works like this.
image.png
 
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bookemdano

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2011
1,418
796
Hi @bookemdano - I did receive my card over the holidays from the eBay seller. Shipment from China took a good long while, but it did finally arrive. You are right - the seller did send two BT antennae extension cables in the box.

After looking over the install instructions available from OSXWiFi, and then looking at the card/kit I received, there are a few items that have popped up as questions, especially since the eBay seller didn't include any "custom USB cable" (unless it's the cable I'm referencing in the picture, please see below)...

#1 - referencing the attached photo, where does the attached cable (red circle) plug into?
#2 - what do I do with the USB connection cable that plugs into the original card?

View attachment 815900

That connector you circled plugs into the logic board where the cable you mention in question #2 is now. So unplug that cable from the old BT card, remove the old BT card, unplug the other end of that cable from the logic board, then run the long cable from the new Airport card over and plug it in to that spot on the logic board. Make sense? Bluetooth cards (even internal ones) connect to the system via USB, and so what you're doing is using that long cable to connect the BT portion of your new Airport card into the dedicated USB connection for it on the board.
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Looks like similar to my card.

Thanks for including the picture @h9826790 - that helps quite a bit!

That connector you circled plugs into the logic board where the cable you mention in question #2 is now. So unplug that cable from the old BT card, remove the old BT card, unplug the other end of that cable from the logic board, then run the long cable from the new Airport card over and plug it in to that spot on the logic board. Make sense? Bluetooth cards (even internal ones) connect to the system via USB, and so what you're doing is using that long cable to connect the BT portion of your new Airport card into the dedicated USB connection for it on the board.

Thank you @bookemdano - 100% clear now - that is the push that I needed to ensure I understood the differences between what I received and what I was looking at by way of instructions.
 
Last edited:
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Just by way of follow-up on this. I did get the card installed, and it looks like I'm 99% of the way there. Wifi is working just fine and BT is recognized properly, but I cannot get any BT device to pair/connect properly. Any ideas?

Here's what my system information looks like:
BT-SystemInformation.png

I've gone back into the case and double-checked my antenna connections, and even checked for continuity at each connection with my multimeter and everything tested good.

I have gone through the Bluetooth debug menu and reset the BT stack (and deleted the bluetooth plist file as well) and rebooted, but no difference.

BT-SystemMenu.png

The only thing I was able to notice is that the USB cable going from the motherboard into the airport card may be suspect... it feels very flimsy at the solder connections. I used a magnifying glass and snapped a pic of it...

BT-USBCableAtCard.png

To point, I've not disabled SIP and ran the terminal commands for handoff support, etc. I wasn't going to do that until I verified basic operations. However, it does appear that Apple Watch unlock support is being recognized by the system at this point.

BT-AppleWatchUnlockSupport.png

I'd appreciate any insight from the collective..
 
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EightBitWhit

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2018
26
3
Wanted to follow-up on my previous reply above. I removed both the adapter and the airport card and through a bit more troubleshooting was able to solve my problem by the following two procedures:

#1 - desoldering, cleaning up and then re-soldering the USB D+/D- cable connection (pictured above) on the adapter card.
#2 - cleaning up the antenna cable connection.

In regards to #1 - the stock cable connection (again, pictured above) is so flimsy that after a few bends of the cable back/forth during install, the wire must have become compromised at the solder connection and the data connection was not reliable. I used brand new 22ga wire (color-coded at that) and soldered that onto the adapter card and ran that over to the USB pin connector, clipped and re-used the JST header and then soldered that onto my new D+/D- cables and then the BT detection was reliable.

In regards to #2 - after the BT card was consistently seen by MacOS, I addressed the pairing issues by running the card with a separate (i.e, not using the built-in case antenna) u.fl to SMA cable and putting an external 2.4Ghz antenna onto one of the expansion slot covers. Despite the u.fl (IPX/IPEX) extension cable being provided in the kit, I just couldn't get a good enough signal outside my case. So, my Mac Pro now has an external BT antenna and I can roam all over the place with my headset and pairing isn't an issue any longer.

All-in-all, it was a bit of a road to get everything working - I didn't expect to have such an issue with the data and antenna cables, but those wound up being the culprits that kept this from being a "drop in" solution.

BT and Wi-Fi are now rock solid in operation and connectivity. HTH someone else down the line.
 
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bookemdano

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2011
1,418
796
Nice! Sorry I missed your previous message, but glad you got it figured out. I would agree that this particular upgrade is a lot more difficult than it sounds. The good thing is once you get everything stable it should mostly stay that way. Can't remember if I posted earlier that my BT card occasionally craps out on a cold boot (symptoms being that my BT Magic KB and Trackpad don't work). If I plug in a USB keyboard and login then the BT icon in the menu bar is dimmed out with a squiggle through it.

The fix, which has always worked for me, is to shut down and do an SMC reset by removing the power cable. I leave it unplugged for a full minute for good measure, plug back in, boot up and everything is back to normal. YMMV.
 
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isaiahfranco

macrumors newbie
Jul 23, 2014
10
0
Wanted to follow-up on my previous reply above. I removed both the adapter and the airport card and through a bit more troubleshooting was able to solve my problem by the following two procedures:

#1 - desoldering, cleaning up and then re-soldering the USB D+/D- cable connection (pictured above) on the adapter card.
#2 - cleaning up the antenna cable connection.

In regards to #1 - the stock cable connection (again, pictured above) is so flimsy that after a few bends of the cable back/forth during install, the wire must have become compromised at the solder connection and the data connection was not reliable. I used brand new 22ga wire (color-coded at that) and soldered that onto the adapter card and ran that over to the USB pin connector, clipped and re-used the JST header and then soldered that onto my new D+/D- cables and then the BT detection was reliable.

In regards to #2 - after the BT card was consistently seen by MacOS, I addressed the pairing issues by running the card with a separate (i.e, not using the built-in case antenna) u.fl to SMA cable and putting an external 2.4Ghz antenna onto one of the expansion slot covers. Despite the u.fl (IPX/IPEX) extension cable being provided in the kit, I just couldn't get a good enough signal outside my case. So, my Mac Pro now has an external BT antenna and I can roam all over the place with my headset and pairing isn't an issue any longer.

All-in-all, it was a bit of a road to get everything working - I didn't expect to have such an issue with the data and antenna cables, but those wound up being the culprits that kept this from being a "drop in" solution.

BT and Wi-Fi are now rock solid in operation and connectivity. HTH someone else down the line.

I'm a bit stuck here and hoping you have some insight. I know that bluetooth is working since I'm using a Magic Mouse but I cannot get handoff or the unlock with Apple Watch to work. When I attempt to turn on the unlock with Apple Watch it just spins and says "Turning on..."

Any suggestions would be most helpful!
 
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georgia-ctsv

macrumors member
Jul 17, 2019
34
12
Valdosta, Ga.
See my post today. For under $70.00 you have what your looking for.
 
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nnrecord

macrumors newbie
Dec 13, 2019
13
0
Help me, can this be used for my Mac Pro 5.1, I am wondering because the specs are a bit different
 

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