Handoff working on Hacintosh

| by Ken | in Technology Add comments

One of the main reasons I wanted to wait to build the Hacintosh with MacOS 10.10 is the promise of Handoff.  I find that I sometimes start looking for info on the phone but then get to a point where the small size is just too constraining so I want to switch to the computer.  I end up e-mailing myself a URL.  How primitive!  Being able to handoff a URL from the phone to the computer would be way better.  The ability to make phone calls on my iPhone using the computer, what Apple calls Continuity, seems neat but that’s a nice-to-have, not a feature that I’d use often.  (If I am at the computer, odds are good that I am going to use the landline rather than the cell phone to make a call – nothing like a quality landline with zero delay, zero garbling, and zero signal drops.)

Unfortunately, after I got the Hacintosh working, Handoff didn’t appear to be working.  I was disappointed, but I had lots of other stuff to deal with at the time.  Now, it’s finally time to get back to trying to get that working.  So what is it that might be preventing it from working?

Well, the first snag I discovered is that my Hacintosh doesn’t have WiFi.  Why would it – it is a desktop computer with a router next to it.  There’s no point to WiFi.  Except apparently, for Handoff, this is a requirement.  Also, the ancient Bluetooth dongle I had was just too old to be useful.  Oh well.  So time to get some new hardware.  I got the latest IOGear Bluetooth dongle and I got a WiFi card that is known to work well in Hacintoshes, a TP-LINK TL-WDN4800.  I installed them in the computer and rebooted and…  nothing.  Most importantly, in the System Information application, under Bluetooth, it said “Handoff Supported: No”.  Hmph.

After some more digging I discovered that while the MacOS may recognize the Bluetooth device and be able to do Bluetooth like things with it, since it isn’t a native Apple Bluetooth device, it won’t work for Handoff.  But fortunately, the experts at OSXLatitude are on the case and have come up with a hack to get it to work.  I read through most of those 50 pages of posts and tried all manner of suggestions in that post.  But no matter what I tried, I just could not get the status to change to say “Handoff Supported: Yes”.

Meanwhile, I started wondering if the WiFi was going to work either.  I mean the signal seemed to work and the network connection seemed to work but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have success with Handoff with that card.  And more searching eventually led me to discover that you could get the WiFi and Bluetooth that Apple uses and put them on a card.  I don’t mind doing a little hacking for my Hacintosh, so this post seemed up my alley.  That post is 6 years old, though.  So I wanted some more recent information.  I dug some more and discovered that you could get the latest Broadcom cards that are meant for Mini-PCI slots in a laptop and you could actually install them in a PCI-E card slot in a desktop computer by using an adapter card.  And the adapter cards come with antenna to make it even easier.  Well, this is looking pretty good.  I discovered that there is a company that sells the full kit including mini-PCI card, PCI-E adapter, and antennae all ready to go.   And finally, I discovered that a similar device is available from Amazon for $59.99.  (NB: between the time I purchased and got to write this post, the item is no longer available – the link may still work but it will bring you to a page with other Fenvi items, not the one I purchased.)  That should do it!

The seller originally sent me the wrong card in the box that was labeled correctly so I had to return it and try again.  And did you know that when you get a wrong shipment from an Amazon Marketplace seller, Amazon doesn’t provide an exchange option?  The only choice is to return and order new.  The result is the same, but the fact that there are multiple charges to the credit card and that if there was low stock, I wouldn’t be given any preferential treatment for having received the wrong one, just seems wrong.

Fortunately the second one that arrived was exactly right.  And all I had to do was install it.  Snap it into place in the PCI-E slot, attach the USB cable from the card to a motherboard USB header socket, and power up the computer.  “Handoff Supported: Yes”!!  Then I did the rest of the setup to get hooked in to WiFi enable settings, etc. and it works beautifully.

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