Seems like everyone is going wireless these days. I would think that in the near future, even RJ45 Ethernet ports will start to disappear from computers and laptops.
Getting Internet connectivity on the Amiga has never been easy. The last of the classics were being sold in the mid 90’s, just before the Internet and World Wide Wide popularity explosion of the late 90’s.
However, it was easier to get an ethernet connection than it was to get a wireless connection. With the release of the prism2v2, the 3c589, and atheros wireless drivers on Aminet, there was at least some support for the chipsets, if you could get the hardware.
Amiga 600 and 1200 computers had an advantage in that they had the old-style PCMCIA connectors. Amigakit sells a wireless PCMCIA card certified for the Amigas with PCMCIA connections, and the software to set them up. This is probably the easiest way to go if you want the least amount of work to set things up as well as knowing you have a compatible card. It requires a working PCMCIA connection though and that’s only the 600 and 1200.
Besides the rebadged card sold by Amigakit, here a a few other cards that can use one of the 3 drivers above:
3com Etherlink III
There are plenty more but I’m not going to list them here. The list above are the most common and are cheap on places like Amazon and Ebay.
There is another way to get wireless connetivity, but you have to have an Ethernet port first. There are solutions for all other Amigas though. Read on:
If you have a big box classic Amiga, with an ethernet card (like the A2065, HydraNet, X-Surf, etc), you’ll get an ethernet port. Also, some USB connections can use a USB->Ethernet adapter with the Poseidon USB software. Other classic boxes can use the PlipBox on the Parallel port for slow-ish ethernet, and on the cheap too! The only current problem is that the plipbox seems to be a DIY project. At least I haven’t seen anyone building them for sale to the public. But even an Amiga 1000 could use this, assuming there is a TCP/IP stack that supports the machine in question.
Now that you have at least an ethernet connection of some kind, the answer is to get a cheap Wireless bridge. This is a device that “bridges” a wireless connetion with an ethernet connection. There are a few devices on the market that do this cheaply. The ones I used came from Ebay for about $20 USD each. The Vonets wireless bridge is small, fairly fast and handles encryption protocols in hardware, freeing up the host computer from having to do it (I’d read that the pcmcia cards may need to use some cpu on the amiga to handle some advanced protocols).
Here’s a picture of the device:
This device has two connections on it: One is an ethernet connection to your Amiga, and the other is a USB connection, only used for powering the device. If your Amiga doesn’t have USB ports for power, you can attach it to any powered USB connection. I believe you can even find some A/C power adapters for this purpose. Many powerstrips now include USB ports for recharging devices too.
The downside to most Wireless bridges is that configuring them isn’t easy for an Amiga. Some devices, like the belkin wireless bridge I once tried, can be configured via a web interface. It needed a new browser capable of CSS though, so IBrowse and others wouldn’t do the job. On Classic Amigas, use NetSurf or the 68k OWB port to configure.
The Vonets I showed here was only configurable via Windows using a proprietary bit of software (use the software on their install disc). I’m assuming that most people have access to a Windows PC, which is why I’m suggesting this option. The unattractive, yet simple UI wizard will show the list of Vonets connected, then the wireless SSIDs found, and ask for the protocols (it usually guesses right), and prompts for any passphrases. After it resets, it’s good for use anywhere that the particular SSID is reachable.
For my home, I know the SSID isn’t going to change so I feel comfortable setting this up once and then using on my Amiga. My Amigas only see an ethernet connection, not a wireless connection with protocols, passwords, foreign chipsets, etc.
My NextGen Amigas (the Eyetech AmigaOne XE and Micro-A1C) were simple to set up to use this on their built-in ethernet ports. I’ve also used this on my Amithlon laptop without problem. For the laptop, it has the WindowsXP partition that has the Vonets software, so if i ever take the laptop somewhere else, I can quickly log into windows, change the wireless settings, log back into Amithlon and I’m set!