Networking a PCI based legacy Mac


I'd like to start this article by boasting about my lucky find this week. I went to the waste disposal site on Monday evening to chuck a load of cardboard into the recycler (hey - I'm green!). As I was leaving I noticed a PowerMac Performa 5400/180 dumped amongst the pile of old televisions and stereos. Now, they don't like you taking electrical goods away for health & safety reasons, but fixing Macs is one of the things I do for fun and I figured I could at least get some parts out of this bad boy.

Anyway, I quickly had it away in the boot of my car and soon fired it up. Apart from a flat PRAM battery (for which I had a spare) and freezing at startup (cured with Disk First Aid), this baby runs beautifully. It has a 180MHz PowerPC CPU, 1.6GB HDD, 32MB RAM Floppy Drive, 8x CD ROM, TV Tuner (yes, you can watch the telly on it!), Composite Video Input, Modem and a PCI slot.

Now if only it had a network interface.....

Well, that's easily sorted as it has a PCI slot. All I need is a Mac compatible network card (that doesn't cost the Earth). As it happens the Realtek 8129 chipset is Mac compatible (shame the 8029 isn't as I have a pile of those). So I stuck one on order with my suppliers. I chose a Dynamode NC-100TX-R because it was the cheapest (about a fiver). It comes with all manner of drivers including Windows, Netware, DOS and Unix but no Mac driver. Not a problem as Realtek themselves provide Mac drivers at:

http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/downloads1-3.aspx?series=16&Software=True#16Others

Some modification was required to fit the card into this Mac. As it's a generic PC card it comes with an angled backplane as below:

But I need it to fit into a non-angled (flat) slot. So out come the pliers and two minutes later that nasty angle is gone!

So I drop it into the PCI slot....

Fire up the Mac, install the driver obtained from the Realtek website and bingo-bango, networked at 100MB/s !

What fun !

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