Man, you jogged my memory! You do need to download firmware for the card to work, and you have to download them manually. You can get the firmware from http://ipw2200.sourceforge.net/firmware.php
You'll want the newest version, version 3.
I extracted the files in the archive to /lib/hotplug/firmware, although some some sites suggest /lib/firmware. That should clear up the firmware issues, and that should get you working.
I'm sorry about that man, it has been months since I did this, and I totally forgot about the whole firmware issue. My bad. Hopefully this catches you before you recompile another kernel!