I have a similar problem as discussed in http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?t=25368.
My ipw2200 deactivates itself every now and then with the message "ipw2200: Failed to send CARD_DISABLE: Command timed out.". This is like when the kill switch (on the notebook) is pressed. When I switch it back on, the chipset resumes its function after a few seconds.
I use the beyond kernel, and unfortunetly putting "firmware" into /etc/mkinitcpio.conf and recreating the image does not seem to work for me.