Macbook Pro Retina 2012 Wi-Fi Upgrade

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) System Board. The Broadcom BCM94360CS Wi-Fi/Bluetooth adapter with 802.11ac is at the lower left, next to the fan

The Apple Macbook Pro is generally thought of as not too upgradeable but since my MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) is past its 8th birthday, I’ve had to do a few mods and repairs to keep it going. I bought the computer new in 2012, with the 2.3 GHz Core i7 (i7-3615QM) and 8 GB of RAM.

Though it is showing its age, it’s still adequately snappy. Currently, I have three partitions on the SSD with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20241, macOS Catalina 10.15.7 (19H2) and (the unsupported) macOS Big Sur 11.0 developer beta 10 (20A5395g). My 2012 Macbook Pro Retina Geekbench 5 (MC): 2588 score is only marginally lower than the 2020 Apple MacBook Air “Core i7” 1.2 Geekbench 5 (MC): 2944.

Because I use a Windows Boot Camp partition, I am hoping that Apple will release one more 16″ Macbook Pro with a Comet Lake i9-10980HK before the switch to Apple Silicon Arm Macs.

Over the years, I’ve upgraded the SSD from 256GB to 1TB, replaced the keyboard after a coffee spill, realigned the lid after dropping the computer, replaced the battery and today (and hopefully last), I changed the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth adapter to a Broadcom BCM94360CS so I could get 802.11ac speeds.

Speedtest with Macbook Pro (Retina 2012) BCM94360CS Wi-Fi adapter, the same speed I get with the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

With my mesh network anchored with an Asus RT-AX92U (#ad), I was only able to get <30-60 Mbps downloads on Wi-Fi with the stock BCM94331CSAX adapter (802.11n) compared to >200 Mbps with the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (#ad). In late 2012/early 2013, Apple added 802.11ac capability to the Airport/Bluetooth board which is a simple drop-in replacement for the 2012 802.11a/b/g/n board. The part number for the board is BCM94360CS or similarly, BCM94360CSAX. I bought mine on eBay.

Riding a Bike on the Golden Gate Bridge

In this video, I’m riding my bike south towards San Francisco around the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. I used a GoPro HERO3+: Silver Edition to capture the video. The occasional clicking sound is the downshifting of my Campagnolo Chorus Ergopower controls.

In the video poster frame, you can see the water just outside San Francisco Bay in the gap between the orange barriers. That doesn’t help my acrophobia, especially knowing that there is a 227 foot drop to the water. And it’s only blocked by a temporary Cyclone fence.

There’s almost always a constant wind off the Pacific Ocean, blowing across the bridge to the east . This year, the bridge authority retrofitted the railings to withstand 100 mph gusts. Now, when the wind is >25 mph, the new sidewalk railings emit a deafening hum that can be heard miles away. Add the sound of cars and trucks three feet away going south at 50 mph, it’s not a wonderful experience.

I just try not to look to the right.

Easier Cycling Uphill – Modifying a Campagnolo Chorus Rear Derailleur

Campagnolo Chorus Rear Derailleur with medium cage

When I go on my bike rides, for some reason, I set a goal to climb 3000 feet (914 m). With the combination of my age (67.74 years) and weight (194 lbs, 88 kg, 13.86 stone), it started to get harder for me to turn over the pedals on steep (12%-15%) grades.

I’m riding an Eddy Merckx Professional frame with 2015 Campagnolo Chorus components. I set it up with an 11 speed Campagnolo Chorus compact crank with 50/34 chainrings and an 11-29 Campagnolo Chorus cassette, which had the lowest gear at the time. The wheels are Mavic Open Pro UST rims, Campagnolo Record hubs and DT Competition Double Butted spokes.

In the 11 speed range, Campagnolo is now offering a 11-32 cassette (11–12–13–14–15–17–19–22–25–28–32). I thought that the lower gear on the new cassette would make climbing easier but the maximum sprocket size for my Chorus rear derailleur with the short cage is 29 teeth. Campagnolo has a rear derailleur technical document with the specifications. (PDF)

Campagnolo makes a medium cage for the 2015 (and later) Chorus rear derailleur (p/n RD-RE102m, see page 19 of this Campagnolo parts document), so installing the medium cage would enable me to use the 11-32 cassette.

Campagnolo 11-32 Cassette, Chorus rear derailleur medium cage, short cage

With the medium cage derailleur, 11-32 cassette and a new longer chain, I’m no longer killing myself to go up the 12%-15% grades, though the difference wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be. I could probably also accomplish a similar effect by losing 15 lbs.

Bill Evans on a Denon DP-2000 Turntable

Monster Cable Alpha 1 Cartridge, missing stylus

The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”

– Alex Gregory, in The New Yorker.

The last integrated amplifier I had that had a phono input was a NAD 3020. I gave it away one of the times that I moved because I had two or three other amps.

I still have a Denon DP-2000 turntable that I got from Kenny sometime in the 1980’s. There’s a Monster Cable Alpha 1 cartridge mounted on the Denon DA-50 tonearm. The Alpha 1 is a low output moving coil cartridge (0.3 mv), so Kenny also bought a SOTA Head Amplifier. Such is the era of my HiFi equipment.

When I thought about setting up the Denon with my NAD 317, I tried to take a closer look at the condition of the stylus of the Apha 1. There wasn’t one. Through years of moving the turntable, even with the tonearm tied down to the arm rest, the stylus had disappeared. (“That’s why we can’t have nice things.”)

Even the idea of low end high end stereo components has lost its interest. I bought an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge. When I attempted to mount it on the Denon headshell, the Ortofon cartridge was too wide. I bought an Ortofon SH-4 headshell.

The NAD 317 doesn’t have a built-in phono stage, so I needed a phono preamplifier. After a little research, I settled on the ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier.

After finally getting everything to work, the sound was a revelation. I have been listening to streaming audio (Google Play, SiriusXM, Spotify) through a Sonos One. The sound always seemed compressed or canned – maybe the electronic processing to get the sound out of that little speaker bothers me. In comparison, the sound out of the NAD, Denon and KEF RDM Two speakers (SP3254) is clear, open and deep.

Though that Alex Gordon New Yorker cartoon is often quoted by cynics and audiophiles, the sonic results do seem to be worth it.

Bill Evans – Montreaux II record album playing on a Denon DP-2000 turntable