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I'm envisioning a very specific type of wireless networking bridge, one that might not yet exist, or might be built out of unobtainum silicon.

I'm in a situation to need a wireless bridge because I have a MacBook Pro with an unfortunate problem. When the laptop heats up, the airport child-card shorts out and will not work again until the computer is rebooted. And really, given the reason (heat), this also means that I should probably leave it alone for a while to let it cool down, otherwise I get less than 30 minutes of wireless use post-reboot.

And no, it's not under warranty and the price of the repair would be better put towards a new computer, which I can't afford at the moment.

I've been looking at the Linksys WET610N, but it's just too big. I know it requires external power, and it's not something I want to cart around. We have wireless adapters that fit as small USB dongle, so why does a converter have to add so much size?

The initial question is;
Are there any low(er) profile wireless bridge devices that use USB for power so I don't have to be tethered to a wall socket.

And additionally;
Are there any low(er) profile wireless bridge devices that connect to the computer in a similar manner that Wireless USB dongles do? Meaning, they have the connector port, and stick out another 3 or so inches (in this case, out of both the USB port and the Ethernet port), with presumably some kind of flexible cable connecting the two halves.

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I don't get why you're asking for a bridge instead of just going with a typical USB Wi-Fi dongle. You already linked to OWC, they have lots of USB Wi-Fi dongles that work with Macs, as do other vendors. Just leave the internal card off. When you say it "shorts out", do you mean it stops working and you imagine that it shorts out, or do you have any actual evidence of a short (magic smoke, spark, crackle, ozone smell)?

Also, exactly which MacBook Pro revision do you have (use System Profiler to look up the Model Identifier like "MacBookPro1,1")? If you have a pre-unibody MacBook Pro, it uses a standard PCIe-mini card, and OWC and other vendors have replacement cards for prices similar to USB dongles. Buying a real Apple Service Part is safer but could be more expensive, but there are third-party PCIe mini cards that use the same Broadcom or Atheros chipsets as Apple has used, so they are recognized by the AirPort drivers as native AirPort cards. These non-Apple branded aftermarket cards may be less expensive.

Replacing the card yourself requires "intermediate" skill. Not easy, but not too hard. Should be within reach for anyone handy with a precision screwdriver, and is fastidious enough to keep careful track of a lot of tiny screws that are different in tiny ways.

Pro Tip: Macs secretly use Japanese JIS/JCIS cross-recess screws, which look like Phillips to the untrained eye, but are different in critical ways. See and and tell everyone you know.

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Get ready for a comment flood; I suppose "shorting out" was the wrong term to use, but it generally is supposed to mean that the card stops functioning, SysPreferences labels the AirPort connection as "Off", and again, the only way to revive it is a reboot. It's directly related to heat, because I can go for hours off and on using wireless, but as soon as I crank out a Transcode in Handbrake, it'll surely die if enabled (interesting note: it never dies if it's disabled and under high heat). – VxJasonxV Sep 19 '10 at 23:33
One of the reasons I don't want a standard Wireless USB Dongle is because I don't know if it's not actually a Software problem. If I buy a dongle and it's a driver problem, and the dongle gets killed under high heat, I'll have worthlessly blown my money on something that didn't solve my problem. I admit that this seems unlikely, but my point remains that Ethernet never fails, and Ethernet with a device plugged in via USB (for power+AP configuration) doesn't have to be hard. Of course, I dream a lot, hence my reference to "unobtanium silicon". Call it wishful thinking :). – VxJasonxV Sep 19 '10 at 23:36
@VxJasonxV You're right, it's extremely unlikely that it's a software problem :). Even if it were, the USB dongles come with their own drivers and setup/control tools, and don't use the AirPort pieces at all. Also, as dongles are external, they won't be subjected to the heat. – Spiff Sep 20 '10 at 0:15
Answer accepted because you called me out on my over-idealism and brought me back to a completely acceptable result, of which I already knew the answer, but chose to ignore when asking the question, but hey, more rep for you! – VxJasonxV Sep 20 '10 at 6:41

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