Cardbus for your Powerbook 3400c or Kanga G3!

I became suspicious that the Powerbook 3400c might be easily modified to be 32 bit cardbus compliant after reading in the hardware developer notes Apple published that the controller for the PCMCIA slots was a Texas Instruments PCI1130 which is cardbus compliant. I also read on O'Gradey's Powerbook Page that some Japanese users had found that the 2400 series might be modified to be cardbus compliant. I found that MCE was modifying Powerbook 2400, 3400, and 3500 series to be cardbus compliant for $99. I searched the web high and low to find anymore information on this modification, as I didn't want to pay $99 for what I was sure was a very simple modification. One of MCE's satisfied customers put up an interesting web page on the 2400's modification, and was very positive about it. He had an anonymous e-mail from another engineer who had done a very little testing on a 2400 that made me even more excited about it. I posted questions to every news group and every mailing list asking about making the 3400c cardbus compliant, but received no answers. Brooke Gravitt gave me his old ADS Technology USB cardbus card. Unfortunately, it wasn't working. ADS Technology is a good company though, and they replaced it for me, even though it was probably out of warranty and even though I had no documentation on it at all. It finally came, so today, March 29, 2000, I finally got a chance to try my ADS USB cardbus card in my Powerbook 3400c, and it works! I was able to use a USB card to download SmartMedia cards used in my digital camera with no problems. It worked every bit as well on the 3400c as it did on my Wallstreet Series I. I am using Mac OS 8.6. Other readers have since confirmed the same results with the Kanga 3500 series as well.

How do I make my Powerbook 3400c to be cardbus compliant?

  1. Go here, and download the USB Card Support 1.3.5. or the new USB Card Support 1.4.1 which has been patched to install on any Mac.
  2. Install that software.
  3. Restart your 3400c.
  4. Go to the Energy Saver Control Panel and under Advanced, disable processor cycling and maybe "Turn off power to inactive PC cards."
  5. Plug in your ADS Technologies USB card in the top slot.
  6. It should appear on your desktop.
  7. Use it.

In other words, the 3400c is already cardbus compliant as far as I can tell!


I find that if you boot the 3400c with the USB card in place, it doesn't seem to recognize it. It seems that you must put it in after booting. I also note sometimes I lose my ethernet connection when I'm using the USB card. I'm not sure what causes this yet.

If you can test any other cardbus cards on your 3400, please drop me a note , and I'll include them in a list of cards that work on this web page. I also am convinced that the original G3 (Kanga, also known as the 3500) is cardbus compliant. If you can verify that, I'll put that in this web page. The Powerbook 2400c is probably also cardbus compliant. If you can verify it, I'll be glad to include your test results here too.

Late Breaking News:

I have recently discovered that the actual card cage in the 3400c is not the one specified for cardbus. The PCMCIA card cage is missing a ground plane between cards, and it is just slightly smaller than the one specified for cardbus. This makes two issues possibly a concern for 3400 users.

I suspect that MCE may be putting in the correct card cage, but they have not responded to my e-mail, and perhaps I shouldn't ask. If you are interested in more information on this issue, I suggest you check the PCMCIA web site and if you are interested in replacing your card cage, perhaps AMP is the place to look.  


As of this date several people have reported in with what works and what doesn't in the way of USB peripherals.

What Does Work
What Does NOT Work


I acquired a VST Firewire CardBus card last week, but have had no success with making it work in my wife's 3400c. It works just fine in my Wallstreet. I notice that MCE is selling the Ratoc firewire card with their upgrade. MCE claims that their upgrade is compatible with all cardbus cards. I notice that the VST card has what looks like a connector that would connect with the card cage shield, and that I can't make it fit in the upper slot on the 3400c. I am suspicious that having a cardbus compliant cage may be crucial with this card. The 3400c doesn't even recognize that a card has been inserted. I'm trying to get a sample of an AMP cardbus mechanism and connector to try out. I'll update the page as I find out more.


I read on comp.sys.mac.portables of someone who bent a pin on their PCMCIA card slot on their 3400c by trying to put a USB card in it. I have had a lot of reports of people having a hard time plugging in cardbus cards, so the physical size is an issue to be addressed. My 3400c had a flaky motherboard such that I had to put shims under it in order to make it so that it would work. Eventually that fix didn't work anymore, probably partly due to plugging and unplugging PCMCIA cards, (even though most of which were not cardbus cards). I suspect that the extra stress on the motherboard caused more of the chips mounted with ball grid arrays to pop loose somewhere, although I don't have proof of this. I now have this replaced this motherboard. If all goes well, I'll try and find a source for a cardbus card cage that I hope will be easy to mount in place of the present card cage. In the mean time, I've found that you can use a dremel tool to shave the cardbus cards down so they will insert nicely into the card cage. I suspect you could also carve on the card cage instead of the cards.


It appears that OS 9 doesn't work with the cardbus software.  I have not tried to figure out what is causing the problem.  If you do, I'd be glad to post your findings here.

I also determined that the firewire hard drive I was using to test the firewire compatibility had other problems and wouldn't mount on a Pismo or a G4 cube although it would work on my Wallstreet powerbook, so it is possible, even likely, that the firewire cards may work.  I cannot easily test this now, because I upgraded to OS 9.  If anyone finds any other information, I would be glad to post it here.


Dan Palka has had some very good success with VST's firewire cardbus card and OS 9.2.2. You can see his description of how he did this on his site here.


I have word that the extensions for USB that ship with OS 9.1 are what you want to use if you are using that OS. (Do not use the USB Adapter Card Support 1.4.1.) You will need to extract them with Tomeviewer.


I take no responsibility for any consequences that happen as a result of how you use information on this web page.  I suggest that you use the services of MCE if you have any concern.  I have recently had a very good experience with them, and am glad to recommend their services to any and all that come along.