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minihack minihack is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Default Guide for 3g plus A-GPS with Mini 9 - 04-21-2010, 06:39 PM

Easily Configure Your WWAN equipped Mini 9 in OSX - for Mobile Broadband and A-GPS

One of the main reasons for me to get a Mini 9 was that my MacBook is a bit big sometimes for travelling and I fancied a project. The idea of having mobile broadband, wifi, bluetooth and a basic GPS in one package was too tempting.

There are a few posts on how to get broadband etc. going, but I thought an all in one to set-up the 3G bits (and a package to do it) might be useful. So here goes.

1. Get your mobile broadband configured.

I hate contracts and had a USB dongle from 3 (UK) that is pay as you go, so I took the SIM from that and put it in my Dell Mini.

Then take the "Dell Mobile Broadband" modem script from my zip file and drop it in the location shown below:

Then go into System Preferences/Network. and you should see something like this:

Note that there appear to be 2 Dell Modems. There is really only one, but it has two ports: one for the Mobile Broadband and one for the GPS function [or at least that's how I look at it!]. It is a good idea to get rid of the second one from the Network pane and just keep the first one there. So highlight the second one and then click the "-" key at the bottom to remove it.

Then you can go ahead and click to highlight the remaining instance of "Dell Wireless 5530 HSPA Mobile…" and configure it according to your chosen broadband provider. A couple of screenshots below show the settings for "3 UK". For 3 I did not have to provide DNS, and only had to input what you see - but for some providers you may need to add some different bits and pieces.

Note that in the "advanced" settings you select for all providers "Other" as "Vendor" and "Dell Mobile Broadband" as the "Model". Also remember to tick the "show modem status in menu bar" option as that is the easiest way to connect.

When you are done with these settings, click "Apply" and you are done.

If you know your reception is okay then go ahead and try it out by going up to the menu bar and choosing "connect". If all goes well you will hook up fine.

This method unfortunately does not show signal strength and you may need to remember what website you need to go to to activate top-ups as the modem script we are using is generic, but if your SIM has no credit on it, odds are it will only let you visit the Mobile Providers website until you put some on there!!!! For me I know to go to "" when I run out of credit, but I advise you to find out where you need to go to keep topped up and bookmark it!

*The "Dell Mobile Broadband" script should work for all providers, but feel free to try the 3 UK script if you wish - my current experience (May 2010) is that the Dell script with settings as shown in the screenshots works excellently.


This can be a pain with lots of terminal scripts etc. I took a while head scratching and built upon the knowledge out there to provide a simple way to get this going.

Basically, take the Services folder from my package and drop it into the pathway shown below (i.e. /Users/yourusername/library). If you already have a "services" folder there, then make sure you don't overwrite, but instead just drag the contents across.

When you have done that just double click each workflow to open them up. Automator will open to show you the contents. Then simply click "Save". This should make the system recognise the fact that there are new services now installed.

Next download Google Earth and GPSUtility and put them in your "Applications" folder.

On restart your Mac should recognise that you have added the two new services. So, go from any application, or the finder up to the menu bar, select the main Menu entry (eg "Finder" if in Finder, "TextEdit" if in textedit) and drop down to services. You should see "Turn on GPS" and "Turn off GPS".

Using the A-GPS feature

First, disconnect your mobile broadband - if you have wifi, you can leave that on.

Now select "Turn on GPS". When you select "Turn on GPS" it starts my service workflow which first resets the modem, then pauses for 20 seconds - to get the modem in a stable predictable state - and finally turns on GPS and automatically then starts GPSUtility. You can tell that the service is doing something as there is a little spinning gear wheel in the menu bar. When the gear wheel stops spinning the service will have started GPSUtility and it should be receiving data from the WWAN card.

If you are in an area where there is good 3G reception, and have some cell phone masts around you then it'll find your position in a minute or so. Don't expect it to work indoors, so pop into your garden or get near the window.

If you want to you can now switch your mobile broadband back on with the little telephone icon from the menu bar.

Once GPSUtility gets a fix on you, your bearings will appear in the boxes of GPS Utility and the little button "Earth" goes from grey to active. Click it and Google Earth opens and as long as you are on line (with wifi or Mobile Broadband) it zooms in on your location - cool!!!

When you are done playing remember to select "Turn off GPS" from the services menu. GPSUtility will shut down and the WWAN GPS card will reset. It seems that it does not at that point reset the card completely though as the Mobile Broadband, if on, stays on.

I have found that the Dell "Dell Mobile Broadband" script with settings exactly as shown in the screenshots gives great results whatever network is being used. So although I have included an alternative script that 3 users could try, I actually recommend sticking with the Dell one. The 3 script in the package was the connection script my old USB dongle used and I have just copied and included it as something you could try if (only if) the Dell script does not seem to work well for you.


Before assuming this doesn't work and changing settings as set out below, make sure you are in an area where there is good 3G reception and go outdoors with your Mini. No point in messing with settings if you are trying this in a cave.

If the services show up okay in the menu bars and just don't work, remember that they only run if you start with your 3G modem off. So disconnect mobile broadband (leave wifi on is okay).

If you still have problems then it is likely that you may have configured both 3G and GPS to the same port. I am pretty sure the first of the Dell modems in the network list is USB port "62" and the second is "64". So if you followed everything to the letter it should work okay. However, if by mistake - or because you set the 3G up long ago - you chose the same serial port for the 3g Broadband and the GPS you will find that it is impossible to connect both at the same time. You have two choices, either reconfigure your Network to be on the second Modem or open up my Service scripts in automator and replace "62" with "64" and "64" with "62" in the terminal scripts, but do it manually rather than using "Search and Replace" as each script has both numbers in them! The scripts aren't long.

I think it is very important to remember though that the A-GPS provided by mobile phone mast triangulation is not as good as a proper satellite based GPS. It works as a nice toy, and comes free for Mini 9 owners having the 5530 card. It might even help you get around on foot in cities, but I don't believe (though haven't tried) that it can really work as a substitute for full on SatNav.

I'd be interested to hear others experiences though.

I hope this has helped some of you.

I have put a little video up on YouTube- GPS using 3G modem showing how easy it is to turn stuff off and on once the steps above have been completed.
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