Netgear MA401, Windows XP and WPA - Step-by-Step

Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

I've just succeeded in getting a couple of Netgear MA401 PCMCIA
wireless adapters to work under Windows XP using WPA (WPA-PSK in my
case). I thought it might be helpful to others to outline the
step-by-step procedure for doing this since the Netgear drivers and
firmware don't support WPA at all and I searched for quite a while to
find a solution. The usual warnings apply: don't do this if you're
not comfortable with any part of the process and I'm not responsible
if you accidentally turn your MA401 into a Christmas tree ornament.

The process (in brief) is:

- install Linksys WPC11 drivers
- use Intersil's WinUpdate to update the card firmware
- install the WPA hotfix for Windows XP
- install WPA-enabled drivers

It's common knowledge that the MA401 uses the Intersil Prism II
chipset. Most of the information on updating the firmware I got from (this is an excellent page and
also outlines how to do this under Linux)

Things you'll need:

WinUpdate - this is Intersil's Windows utility for updating the
firmware on Prism II-based cards. I got it from but it can
be found in a few places.

Firmware files - there are two files you need, a primary and a station
firmware file. I got them from but Jun Sun's
page lists several other sources. Although there are multiple firmware
files, the ones I needed to update my cards were:

pk010101.hex - this is primary firmware version 1.1.1
sf010704.hex - this is station firmware version 1.7.4

Drivers for the Linksys WPC11 v2.5 from the Linksys website. I had to
install these drivers instead of the Netgear drivers to get WinUpdate
to communicate with the card properly during the firmware upgrade.


I'm assuming you already have the Netgear card and its drivers
installed. You need to go to Device Manager, right-click the Netgear
card, choose Update driver, choose "Install from a list or specific
location", select "Don't search. I will choose the driver to install",
click Have Disk and browse to where you extracted the WPC11 drivers.
In the WPC driver setup files there's a WinXP directory with a
LSWLNDS.INF file that you should select. You should see "Instant
Wireless Network PC Card V2.5" listed as the driver to install. When
you continue with the driver install, you may get a message saying
that the install process is going to update the firmware on your card.
Click Cancel when that message appears and close the Linksys firmware
update utility if it opens. When the new driver is installed you'll
be able to run WinUpdate and update the firmware.

Download and install WinUpdate. Open WinUpdate from the Start menu
under Prism Test Utilities. It should list the "Instant Wireless
Network PC Card V2.5" under Valid Adapters and will probably have
selected the adapter automatically. If not, highlight it and click
Open Adapter. In the bottom part of the window, click the Add File
button and select the primary firmware file (in this case called
pk010101.hex) and then repeat the same process to add the station
firmware file (called sf010704.hex). You should now see both files
listed in the window with a small P and S icon beside each file.
Confirm that the versions (1.1.1 and 1.7.4) show up correctly and then
click Continue. WinUpdate will do some quick checks to make sure the
firmware and your card match. If you get any strange errors here make
sure you stop and resolve them before continuing. I got errors at
this point before using the Linksys drivers, so make sure you've done
that. If WinUpdate doesn't find any problems you'll see an Update
Information window that lists information about your card like it's
Platform, MAC Address and current firmware revisions. Below that will
be the paths to the new firmware files. If it all looks okay, click
on the Update button and the firmware will be updated. You'll see two
windows, one after the other, that say "Flash Update in progress..."
and when they are both gone you should see a message that says "Update
successful". To confirm that you card has been updated, go to the
Tools menu and select Query Firmware Version. You should see primary
firmware at 1.1.1 and station firmware at 1.7.4.

In order to use WPA with Windows XP you need a hotfix from Microsoft
or you need Service Pack 2 installed. The hotfix is called "Windows
XP Support Patch for Wi-Fi Protected Access" and I got it from here:

Install the hotfix (it doesn't require a reboot in my experience).

The last step is getting WPA-enabled drivers for Prism-based cards. I
found several but the ones I'm using are for the NetGate NL-2511CD
PLUS wireless card described here:

The drivers themselves are here:

Run the DriverSetup802.exe installer from that download and it should
install the drivers and .inf files needed. As with the Linksys
drivers, you'll have to go through the manual installation and point
to the driver you want to use. Instead of clicking on "Have Disk"
simply uncheck "show compatible hardware" and scroll the manufacturer
list to "IEEE 802.11b" and click on it. Select "IEEE 802.11b WLAN
network adapter PC Card". After the drivers are installed, it's
probably a good idea to restart the computer.

After a restart you should be able to open the Windows Zero
Configuration utility (through "View Available Wireless Networks" from
the system tray icon for your adapter) and select WPA-PSK or WPA from
the Network Authentication menu and TKIP from the Data encryption

This process has worked for me with two MA401's so far. I'm going to
try the same process with a couple of Prism-based USB adapters next.


3 answers Last reply
More about netgear ma401 windows step step
  1. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Thanks very much for your detailed guidance on this process. I walked
    through each step with success until I tried to flash my card with the
    firmware update using WinUpdate.

    WU told me that the firmware files were written for different
    platforms. My MA401 has the 8008 Platform. I searched around for more
    current firmware for that platform, but I couldn't find anything more
    current than the firmware I already have. I guess I'm out of luck!

    I'm currently bidding on the Linksys WPC11 version 4 card on eBay.
    This card has a firmware update from Linksys that enables WPA support
    on the card.

    Thanks again for your posting! At least I learned a lot about wi-fi
    cards in the process!!


    brought to you by
  2. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    I just tried to update my MA401 firmware and I also encountered the
    same problem you have. But I just give it a try to update the station
    file only for 8008 platform, s1010701.hex. Then follow the rest steps.
    The MA401 card works well right now with WPA support.

    You can download the file here.,
    which is the station file for 8008 platform.


  3. I do have a Netgear MA 401 with primary firmware 1.0.7 and station 1.3.6.

    The related files should be pk010007.hex and sf010306.hex.

    Looking for related update firmware files.

    Any tip os welcome.

Ask a new question

Read More

Firmware Netgear Windows XP Wireless Networking