Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Teacher

Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

After spending a total of 3+ hours on the phone with AT&T (up to tier 3) support, and another 2 hours with Dell support, it seems that there's an issue with the use of this PCMCIA card and this new laptop model.  After plugging in the card, the computer will freeze - no BSOD, no error logs, no warnings, pop-ups, nothing.  The freeze occurs whether or not the AT&T Communication Manager is running or not, the Sierra Wireless Watcher program is running or not, after installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling these programs and the associated drivers.  The laptop is brand-new, running Windows XP SP2, all drivers up-to-date.  The Aircard works fine in other computers, including Dell Latitude D620, the predecessor model to this one.  I can use the AT&T service tethered to my cell phone, and that works fine.  Booting the system using selective startup with all services/ini files disabled does not make a difference. 
 
There are other reports of this on the internet, including one in this forum (http://forums.wireless.att.com/cng/board/message?board.id=pccards&message.id=9035#M9035).
 
Because I was able to get a connection that lasted for almost a minute before freezing the system, AT&T determined that the card is "fine" and the problem is not covered under warranty.  They wouldn't exchange the 881 for an 881U or 875U, despite my ability to show that a USB-tethered cell phone works just fine.  As such, AT&T just lost my business.  If anyone has a PCMCIA Aircard working on a Dell D630, or has figured out why there's a freeze problem, please post it here.  If there are no solutions, avoid AT&T PCMCIA cards in Dell Dx30 laptops at all costs.
 
-Craig
Message 1 of 15 (12,884 Views)
Teacher

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

I had a dell 600 and it did this same thing except it was on and off. I uninstalled the PCMCIA drivers and downloaded new ones off the dell site and it helped it on and off. Eventually it always locked up. My buddy that works on computers indepth told me theres somthing with dells where they are not compatable with the air cards. He said somthing along the lines that the computer locks out the PCMCIA drivers or somthing like that. Needless to say I sold my dell and bought a new laptop. Now I have another problem. On the edge network I get static in my speakers so I had to cut the connector off a end of headphones and plug it into the jack for it to stop.
Message 2 of 15 (12,802 Views)
Master

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

How long have you had this card? 
Message 3 of 15 (12,790 Views)
Teacher

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

I've had the card for 3 months, and it worked flawlessly on 5 Dell laptops in our group - D600, D610, and D620 models.  It's the two-week old D630 that it doesn't work on (from the first time I tried it).  It's not a defective card, nor is it a defective laptop, but there's an obvious incompatability.  AT&T just wouldn't work with me on swapping out the hardware from PCMCIA (which doesn't work) to USB (which does work, at least for a tethered cell phone).  -Craig
Message 4 of 15 (12,784 Views)
Master

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Looking at this from at&t's perspective if the card works as intended with all of the other equipment you mentioned then the problem really seem to point to Dell.  If you were still within the 30 purchase period it would be much easier to do an exchange no questions asked.  I'm not sure what the phone number is but there is a direct line to the warrantly exchange department and you might try and plead your case there.
Message 5 of 15 (12,780 Views)
Teacher

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Thanks for your reply - I did call the warranty department, but didn't come to a resolution.  Dell is saying their PCMCIA slots meet compatability criteria, and other things in the slot work just fine (a Verizon aircard, for example).  From Dell's perspective, the problem is the card.  From my perspective, I'm stuck with a card that doesn't do what it's supposed to do, and given the choice to replace the card or replace the laptop, it's not much of a choice - the card loses, as does the ongoing monthly bill from AT&T.  The warranty department and the business customer care group wouldn't even SELL me an 881U or 875U aircard without a new activation and new service with a committment.
 
I think that PCMCIA cards are on the way out, and that express and built-in WWAN cards are the wave of the future, and that nobody wants to deal with these little issues.  It's just unfortunate that we couldn't come to a mutual solution.
 
-Craig
Message 6 of 15 (12,773 Views)
LCT
Scholar

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible



doerrmann wrote:
 
I think that PCMCIA cards are on the way out, and that express and built-in WWAN cards are the wave of the future, and that nobody wants to deal with these little issues.  It's just unfortunate that we couldn't come to a mutual solution.
 
-Craig



Well, actually they can...At least for you.  Dell does sell an internal WWAN card for the D630.  You could just get one of those.  Personally though I agree with the other posters, since it works on many different computers but not this model I would say that it's a problem with the computer and not really AT&T's fault. 

 


I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s positions, strategies or opinions.
Message 7 of 15 (12,759 Views)
Teacher

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Not really AT&T's fault - agreed.  Not really Dell's fault - can we agree on that, since other PCMCIA cards (aircards and others) work without issue?  Either way, the combination of the two doesn't work.
 
The point of my post was that unless someone can post they they have a Dell Dx30 and an AT&T PCMCIA working well together, that other options need to be explored - USB, internal card, etc.  I'm not trying to villify AT&T or Dell, but rather to help anyone else avoid my current position of being stuck in the middle between them.
 
The WWAN card is nice, and probably outperforms all the other options, but it can't be shared among group members like a PCMCIA, express, or USB card.
 
-Craig
Message 8 of 15 (12,755 Views)
Contributor

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

I am having similar issues but not with AT&T.  In my organization I maintain about 85 Dell D-620’s and 50 Dell D-630’s.  I have been experiencing the same issues with the computers locking up.  The lock ups are hard and require the power to be cycled.  The original Aircard that I was using was the Sprint Pantech PX-500.  I moved all users to the Novatell Merlin S720 from Sprint and that did not help.  I still experience lock ups with the new cards.  I recently purchased two Verizon Sierra wireless cards and they also cause lock ups.  The computers run fine when the cards are not inserted and as far as I know no one has experienced any lock up when the cards are removed.  My organization has in excess of 2200 laptop computers, nearly all from Dell.  My area is probably the only one that has a large number of mobile air card users.  From speaking with other administrators they have not been experiencing any lock up problems.  So I have pretty much narrowed it down to the PCMCIA interface.  I recently put a Dell D-510 and a D-600 in service to test the air cards with these units and after a few days we have not had any issues.  But it is still a little early to tell.

I have tried many different approaches without success.  The problem I have is that the computers may boot up fine 3, 4 or 5 times without a problem, sometimes even more.  Then there are those times that the computer locks up as soon as the PCMCIA slot is powered.  I have had computers that lock up 20 or more times at boot up and then suddenly it boots fine. I also have had computers that boot fine most of the time and then lock up when in use.  There is no pattern so it is very difficult to determine the cause.

There is also another issue that appears to be involving both the D620 and 630.  The PCMCIA interface dies.  This has occurred with about 16 of these laptops within the last few months.  With Dell on site we have opened these computers and have found that the ribbon cable that connects the PCMCIA cage to the motherboard is coming loose.  On 3 of these occasions the PCMCIA cage was defective and had to be replaced.  The others only needed to have the cable re-seated.  This seems to help with the lock ups for a short period of time but they do start again.  I recently received back one of these same computers and I have not opened it so I’m not sure if is a loose cable again.  I will post my results when I open it.  The loose cable may be the cause for the intermittency of the problem and possibly even the cause for PCMCIA cage to fail.

As a last note, I have spoken with other agencies that use other brand laptops in a similar fashion with identical air cards and they have not had any trouble.

Message 9 of 15 (12,129 Views)
Contributor

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

I am having a very similar problem with a dell latitude d630.  I have at least been able to create a temporary work around.  If I go into device manager and disable the dell wireless 1390 card, my lockup problems go away.  Normally I get my dell laptops with the intel wireless cards, and I have no problems.  This time for some reason I decided to save a few bucks and get the dell wireless instead.  This appears to have been a poor choice.
Message 10 of 15 (11,454 Views)
Contributor

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Ps.  This lockup problem occurs with a verizon pc5750 card as well.
Message 11 of 15 (9,715 Views)
Former Moderator

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible



doerrmann wrote:
After spending a total of 3+ hours on the phone with AT&T (up to tier 3) support, and another 2 hours with Dell support, it seems that there's an issue with the use of this PCMCIA card and this new laptop model.  After plugging in the card, the computer will freeze - no BSOD, no error logs, no warnings, pop-ups, nothing.  The freeze occurs whether or not the AT&T Communication Manager is running or not, the Sierra Wireless Watcher program is running or not, after installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling these programs and the associated drivers.  The laptop is brand-new, running Windows XP SP2, all drivers up-to-date.  The Aircard works fine in other computers, including Dell Latitude D620, the predecessor model to this one.  I can use the AT&T service tethered to my cell phone, and that works fine.  Booting the system using selective startup with all services/ini files disabled does not make a difference. 
 
There are other reports of this on the internet, including one in this forum (http://forums.wireless.att.com/cng/board/message?board.id=pccards&message.id=9035#M9035).
 
Because I was able to get a connection that lasted for almost a minute before freezing the system, AT&T determined that the card is "fine" and the problem is not covered under warranty.  They wouldn't exchange the 881 for an 881U or 875U, despite my ability to show that a USB-tethered cell phone works just fine.  As such, AT&T just lost my business.  If anyone has a PCMCIA Aircard working on a Dell D630, or has figured out why there's a freeze problem, please post it here.  If there are no solutions, avoid AT&T PCMCIA cards in Dell Dx30 laptops at all costs.
 
-Craig


Dell will be releasing a BIOS update in late May to address this issue specifically.  In the meantime they have confirmed that the issue can be resolve by disabling the Dell Wireless 1390/1490 WLAN card in Device Manager. 
Message 12 of 15 (9,664 Views)
Contributor

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible

Do you have a link to the dell website or anyplace where dell has publicly confirmed this or a place where we can watch to see if the bios update that fixes this problem has been released?  I know that I can keep going to the dell drivers section and checking for new bios downloads, but I thought that they may have a page somewhere that is like an bug track or something like that.
Message 13 of 15 (9,659 Views)
Expert

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible



terrymcdonald wrote:
     Do you have a link to the dell website or anyplace where dell has publicly confirmed this or a place where we can watch to see if the bios update that fixes this problem has been released?  I know that I can keep going to the dell drivers section and checking for new bios downloads, but I thought that they may have a page somewhere that is like an bug track or something like that.

     This may be what you are seeking.
***Source***
...URGENT DRIVER UPDATE - Wireless 1350, 1370, 1450,1390, 1490, 1500 & TM 1300...everything clean with the card disabled in the bios...Information tab of the Dell wireless WLAN card utility and post...1350, 1370, 1450,1390, 1490, 1500 & TM 1300...
11/17/2006  |  (Dell Community Forum)

 
This release is based on the A14 release, and adds support for: Inspiron 1525, Inspiron 1526, XPS M1530, Precision M2300, Latitude D530, and Desktop systems supporting the Dell Wireless 1505 WLAN Mini-card. Download this driver if you reside in the United States. This release supports the Dell Wireless 1350, 1370, 1450, 1470, 1390, 1490, and 1500 series Mini Card, MiniPCI and PC Card devices (not USB).

Fixes and Enhancements
 
     This release is based on the A14 release, and adds support for: Inspiron 1525, Inspiron 1526, XPS M1530, Precision M2300, Latitude D530, and Desktop systems supporting the Dell Wireless 1505 WLAN Mini-card.
     The Dell Wireless WLAN Card has the following features:
  • IEEE 802.11a operation (5-GHz frequency band)
  • IEEE 802.11g operation (2.4-GHz frequency band)
  • Network data rate of up to 54 Mbit/s
  • Unscheduled Automatic Power Save Delivery support
  • Cisco Compatible Extensions v4 support
  • IPv6 support
  • Smart card authentication support, including authentication during single sign-on
  • Dell Wireless WLAN Card Utility for managing your wireless networks, running hardware tests, and getting wireless network-related information
  • Wireless Network Connection Settings tool for connecting to advanced infrastructure networks
  • Wireless Network Wizard for connecting to basic infrastructure networks and ad hoc networks and creating ad hoc networks
New for this release
  • Draft IEEE 802.11n operation (2.4-GHz frequency band and 5-GHz frequency band) with a network data rate of up to 270 Mbit/s for 40 MHz bandwidth channel and 130 Mbit/s for 20 MHz bandwidth channel
  • Corrected an issue with the Disable Upon Wired Connect advanced property
  • Added Support for the Dell Wireless 1505 Draft 802.11n WLAN Mini-Card

NOTE: The Wi-Fi Catcher feature is not supported with the Dell Wireless 1505 Draft 802.11n WLAN Mini-Card on the following systems: D820, M65, D420, and D620

The Dell Wireless WLAN Card works with any IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi CERTIFIED wireless router/AP or wireless client network adapter
 
NOTE: Not all Dell Wireless WLAN Card models support IEEE 802.11a (5-GHz) or IEEE 802.11n operation.
The Dell Wireless WLAN Card works with any IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi CERTIFIED wireless router/AP or wireless client network adapter.
Message 14 of 15 (9,653 Views)
Highlighted
Former Moderator

Re: Aircard 881 (PCMCIA) and Dell Latitude D630 - Not Compatible



terrymcdonald wrote:
Do you have a link to the dell website or anyplace where dell has publicly confirmed this or a place where we can watch to see if the bios update that fixes this problem has been released?  I know that I can keep going to the dell drivers section and checking for new bios downloads, but I thought that they may have a page somewhere that is like an bug track or something like that.


To the best of my knowledge Dell has not made any official announcement.  The A09 BIOS update (Beta) did resolve the issue on my D630.  As I stated earlier, this update will be available in late May. 
 

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