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Novatel Merlin u630 Vodafone drivers and configuration tricks

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I have had so many issues with my Vodafone 3G card (Novatel Merlin u630, provided by French carrier SFR) on Windows XP laptops that I thought I would create an help page for other users (I solved the issues).

First issue, with my IBM/Lenovo laptop Thinkpad Z60m

It did not work, the "Novatel Wireless UMTS Modem Secondary Port" device always appeared with a yellow mark.

Hopefully, I found some indications:
1. Insert the Merlin into the PC card slot.
2. Go to Device Manager. Start > Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager.
3. Expand the Modems, the Multifunction adapters and the Ports category.
4. Select the Novatel Wireless UMTS Modem Parent under the Multifunction adapters category.
5. Right click and choose properties from the available menu.
6. Choose the resources tab.
7. Uncheck “Use automatic settings” to manually change the resource settings.
8. In the “Settings based on” drop down menu, choose a configuration that will eliminate the
error code. Usually, configuration 0004 or 0005 will work.
9. Choose OK and YES to further dialog windows.
10. Verify that there are no markings on Modems, Multifunction adapters or Port devices in Device Manager.

I found these hints on this page:
http://www.mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?t=32080

This made the card work in my Thinkpad...


Then, my company was acquired by another company and I got an HP Compaq 8510w mobile workstation.
I could not find the original software CD to install Vodafone Mobile Connect v5 (the one on my Lenovo, that came with teh card), but I did not care because I found the latest VMC software:
http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=template11&pageID=BS_0036&tabIndex=2
I had to understand that Vodafone mixed up MacOS and Windows versions of the software and you had to click the MacOS link to get the Windows software (88MB).

Anyway, the software is here:
http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/SimpleGetFileServlet?dDocName=VF010615&revisionSelectionMethod=latestReleased&inline=0


This version of Vodafone Mobile Connect is supposed to support my 3G card and it even comes with updated drivers for the Novatel U630 card. Cool, they certainly have solved the issues there were with the previous version of the driver (I know a little about Windows driver programming and resource issues may be addressed in drivers).
But I was not able to even use the "resources" trick mentioned above.
Then I remember that when I struggled with my Lenovo and the u630, I already tried updated drivers, that were not working (I had to stick with the drivers shipped on the CD, even if they were outdated).

So I used DriverGenius on my Lenovo to extract the drivers for the 3 devices that the u630 installs in device Manager (Multi function parent device, Modem device and com port device). I then "upgraded" manually the drivers on the HP laptop (actually downgraded them).
And then it worked !... Once. When I rebooted it did not work anymore !

However, here is what happened the first time (before I rebooted):

I did not even have to enter the "advanced modem settings" that are used to connect to my phone carrier "ISP" node (you know the AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP"... stuff. Actually VMC 9 erases this value if you enter it. I guess it "knows" what value to use depending on the carrier you are connected to)

The drivers I extracted are said to be version 1.3.5.1
Actually, you need only the .inf and .cat files. I uploaded them and you can get them from this link.


But after I rebooted, it was still not working!.
Same issue as previously: Novatel Wireless UMTS Secondary Port (a COM port) had a yellow mark in device manager!

I tried to understand what happened.
I re-upgraded the drivers to v 1.3.5.4 (the ones shipped with VMC 9.2.4.7868).
I then modified again the resource settings.
I played a little with all the resource settings and I could diagnose the following:
The second I/O Range is the one used by the Novatel Wireless UMTS Secondary Port device.
Some values for this I/O Range are causing issues, though they are not in conflict with other devices and should be supported.
If you use a "wrong" value for the first I/O Range, then it's the Novatel Wireless UMTS Primary port device (the modem) that does not work anymore.
Sorry I did not write down THE value that was causing issue but I am pretty sure it was 0x02E8-0x02EF (and IRQ 3... The good old Com4 values !)

I tried several settings for this I/O Range. Some of them made Windows re-assigning resources for the WiFi adapter and Bluetooth connection. I finally managed to have a configuration that seemed to work.

I rebooted then...

And when I connected the u630 into my 8510w again, it seemed that Windows re-assigned ressources again (WiFi and Bluettoth got disabled and enabled again), but finally (after approximately 5 minutes), all the devices seemed to work. I had to admitthat the Plug'n'play manager and its handling of resources in Windows (and PnP BIOSes/firmware) is really a great job. Congratulations to the teams that developed these stuff!

Here are the resources used for u630 (Multi function device/Modem parent) at the time I write these lines (I did not reboot yet...)

I/O Range: 02F8-02FF
I/O Range: 03E8-03EF
IRQ: 16
Memory Range: 000DA000-000DAFFF
Memory Range: 000D4000-000D4FFF

And Novatel Wireless UMTS Secondary Port device is on COM6.


Now, we'll see what happen when I reboot the next time...

However, I could use VMC with the u630 and it worked quite well to connect to the Internet, even if it sets the metric for default route to 1 (You know, this is how MS deals with the option "use default gateway on remote nework") which is not what I want (especially when testing while being connected to the internet with a cheaper connection!). I can change the metric with the "route change" command, but I would like to do it automatically... VMC sets the setting by itself it seems. I'll try to see if I can change that.

Ah, and I tried to use VMC in order for it to control the Internet connection when I use my Treo 750v modem (either bluetooth or USB) but VMC does not detect the mobile phone.
Why do I want to do that? Well VMC knows the Access Points for a lot of GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA networks, and I wanted to use the same feature when using my Treo as a modem.
Maybe some new blog for this story... who knows?


Some more resources:

Firmware:
At the time when I write this page, you can download the v14.5 version of the firmware for u630 from this link:
http://www.vodafone.co.nz/personal/plans-services/3G-broadband/latest-downloads/firmware-releases/download-fw-4.jsp


Interesting technical bulletin from Novatel:
TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETIN
Number: TSBU530-002(EC12)
Description Summary: Installation Problem -- Error Code 12
Documented: November 11th 2004
http://www.3.dk/upload/3DataCard/TSBU530_002(EC12%7D.pdf

The actual reasons for merlin u630 problem

I made several suppositions about the reasons for the Merlin u630 modem 3G card issues that caused it not to work with default configuration (aka automatic settings in resources tab of device manager).

After some more investigation I know now that it conflicts with the I/O Range for a serial port. All I had to do then was to change said I/O space used by the multifunction adapter. The one that is used by default is the one that is also used by COM2 and it fails.

One configuration that works correctly and totally (even after reboots) on my HP Compaq 8510w is then this one:
I/O Range: 02F0-02F7
I/O Range: 0180-0187
IRQ 16
Memory Range 000DD000-000DDFFF
Memory Range 000DC000-000DCFFF

All I had to do was to change the default I/O range for the SECOND I/O Range.

I hope it could help some other people...
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Author:vivigatt
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