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Reader Report: Firewire External Cases for IDE Hard Drives:
By Sean Mitchell
Published: 1/17/2000
(Last Updated: 8/25/2000)


** Important Note ** As mentioned here earlier - Maxtor 5400 RPM drives are reported to not work in the Clubmac and Macally cases. See reports in the Drive Compatibility Database. I have used Maxtor 7200 RPM 10/20/27/40GB drives in my Clubmac case fine, but always verify drive compatibility before you purchase a case kit. ADS case kits are said to work with 5400 RPM Maxtor drives, based on reports - see the Firewire Articles page here for a very detailed review of the ADS Pyro Case. Also see updates below including a note from Clubmac on changes in their current Firewire case.


Updates and Additional New Info:

(Added 8/25/2000 - email from Clubmac)

" Hi there.
Nice article regarding FireWire and IDE drives.
I just wanted to update some of this items mentioning ClubMac.

The currently shipping ClubMac enclosures for both HDD and CDRW use the same bridge board as the MacAlly CA-805FWH, though ClubMac supplies native FireWire drivers and partitioning software from Indigita and MacAlly supplies drivers and software from Prosoft. As the picture below shows, this has not always been the case. Earlier ClubMac enclosures used a different bridge. On the earlier bridge, the FireWire ports are closer together.

ClubMac currently ships Radialogic Storage Master with all it's FireWire drives. Indigita Software is no longer available from ClubMac.

Earlier MacAlly Software - MacAlly originally shipped the same teal colored CD bearing Indigita's name as ClubMac still ships with its enclosures. This CD contains both software for hard drives and software for CDRWs. The hard drive software is Disk Control 1.0.1, which installs El Gato's FireWire Disk Control 1.0.1 extension. The CDRW software installs the Indigita SIM, which consists of three extensions, FireSCSI Enabler, FireSCSI Support, and FireSCSI expert (the expert file. like Apple's FireWire support extension, will not show up in Conflict Catcher). It also installs Indigita's SCSI bus scanning utility. You can actually use the SIM as a driver for your hard drive provided you use a SCSI formatting utility to install a driver on the disk when you first install it. In my testing, I was able to install a driver on the disk using Silverlinging. Even then, Apple's Drive Setup refused to initialize the drive, although the program did detect it on a phatom third SCSI bus created by the SIM. Perhaps because my 8500 does not have built-in FireWire, Drive Set Up could not even see the drive when using it under a native FireWire driver like Disk Control, Radialogic, or HD SpeedTools. (see below)

ClubMac no longer supplies Indigita's software. Radialogic Storage Master is now supplied.

You can order the Indigita CD by itself from ClubMac for $24.99. There are two part numbers. The HDD part no. is I230 1004. The CDRW part no. is I230 1005. I ordered the HDD CD, but it contained both software for both HDDs (El Gato's disk control 1.0.1) and CDRWs (the FireSCSI extensions).

ClubMac no longer supplies Indigita's software. Radialogic Storage Master is now supplied. Part Number P420 1002 (Retail Version)

The Software - The Pyro kit does not include software to format or partition an installed hard drive. It does include native FireWire drivers, which ADS calls "enablers". The enablers in my kit were two extensions, FireWire Disk Support and FireWire RBC Support. These were part of El Gato's Disk Control v.1.1, so ClubMac would seem to provide a more complete package, since it includes the Disk Control formatting and partitioning utility (on the Indigita CD) and ADS provides a later version of the FireWire drivers but without the utility.

Again, ClubMac no longer supplies Indigita's software. Radialogic Storage Master is now supplied.

Great article! You may want to take a look at Radialogic's software. Works great for us. Some great things coming down the road.

Mike Anderson
Product Manager - Storage, Media and Cables
ClubMac / Pacific Business Systems
http://www.clubmac.com "

(Added 6/19/2000 from a post on the main site news page

Clubmac Firewire Case/Maxtor 60GB HD: Although the Clubmac (and Macally) case have had reports for some time that 5400 RPM Maxtor drives did not work, a reader notes that the 60GB 5400 RPM drive worked fine in the Clubmac case:

"Mike,
just a quick note regarding your section on the Maxtor 5400 rpm drives not working in the ClubMac firewire enclosure.

I am using the 60gig 5400 rpm drive in the ClubMac case and it seems to work just fine for both my G4 and my Lombard powerbook with newer firewire 2 go pc card. I wouldn't exactly call it blazingly fast, but I am able to capture DV without dropped frames on both setups, so it is as fast as I need it to be.
Dan"

I'm asking Dan to post an entry in the Drive Compatibility database noting this.


(Added 6/15/2000 from posts on the main site news page and info from the Drive Compatibility Database.)

The following comments are regarding Firewire/IDE cases in general. FYI: This article originally dealt with the Clubmac Firewire case (one of the first to appear as a kit). However be aware that the Clubmac case is probably identical in design (same OEM mfr) to other cases sold under other brand names, but is not the same as the ADS Pyro case based on owner reports. However the firmware revision of any case can also affect compatibility (one PB Firewire owner reported needing an update to his ADS case after he applied the recent PB firmware update from Apple).

Re: MacAlly Firewire Case for CDs & HD: In reply to the earlier post, a reader writes regarding what was advertised as a combination CD/HD Firewire case kit:

"Hi Mike,
A quick note about your FireWire case notice. Macally has a case listed on their products page that works with both IDE and ATAPI stuff. Specifically listed is compatibility with 3.5" HDD, 5.25" HDD, Zip, LS-120, CD/CDR/CD-RW/DVD. The downside is that when I emailed them asking when it would be available the response was:

'We never carried CA808FW and probably never will. However we do carry CA-805FWC, CA-805FWH, and CA-405FW.'

We can hope that universal boxes like those will be available soon.

Another Tip: Onvia has the Macally CA-805FWH for $115.66 and free shipping. I spoke with them last night and they had quite a few available. Subtract coupon code "1000026" for $25 off and it becomes $90.66 delivered.

...Take care,
Roger Bull "

As of the time of this post - the 808WF case is still listed at their site as 'coming soon', but Macally replied with this answer on the case:

"CA-808FW was a case only accepting HD without software only for distribution purposes. NO LONGER AVAILABLE (DISCONTINUED). "

The problem with firewire case kits is that often times the same case made by an OEM in the far east is sold by many companies - who may not know all the compatibility details. (And the OEM source can change designs, firmware revs of the bridge, etc. over time.) Readers have told me Clubmac claimed their case was not Maxtor drive compatible - despite the fact since day one I have used 7200 RPM Maxtor drives fine with it in 10GB, 20GB, 27GB and 40GB sizes. There were reports early on noted in the Clubmac Firewire case article [this article, see below] that 5400 RPM drives from Maxtor did not work with that case. It's also said the case is the same as the Macally one - but I have no proof of that and Clubmac could change their source at any time. If you have assembled a firewire case kit please post an entry in the drive compatibility database and note in the comments the details of your case and drive.

And don't forget my comment on the dubious cost benefits of building your own CDRW drive from a firewire case kit. If you buy a fast (8x/10x) IDE CDW drive and the case it's often almost as cheap to just get a Sony 10x/4x/32x firewire retail drive ($399). Other completed Firewire CDRWs may be even less (8x or 4x models). That way you avoid any hassles of compatibility with cases/CDRWs and get a software bundle and support to boot.

Reminder on Firewire Case Kits and ATAPI Devices: [Note -see the later update on Macally's cases. And note as mentioned in the Clubmac case article, 5400 Maxtor drives are reported to not work in that case, but my 10, 20, 27 and 40GB 7200RPM Maxtor drives were Plug and Play - despite reader reports that clubmac says Maxtor drives don't work. Perhaps they've changed OEM vendors for the case. Bottom line is get verification for any drive you plan to use. ] Paul J. Tetreault, Jr. wrote asking I post a reminder that most Firewire case kits will not work with other than hard drives. MacAlly sells both HD case kits and CD/DVD/CDRW kits for this reason (at least that's what they list on this page). As mentioned here back in the April 25th news, the Firewire/IDE bridge needs to be programmed for ATAPI device mode for support of CD/DVD/CDRW, etc. drives. There were however some reports that Toast 4.1's firewire extension allowed CD drives to work in Firewire cases, but I can't say from personal experience if the Clubmac case works with only the Toast 4.1 extension (I have no IDE CDRW to test with the case). The first reports of the Toast 4.1 extension working were noted in the May 18th news based on reports in the Drive Compatibility database. Depending on the bridge chip in the case and its firmware, the Toast 4.1 extension may not work in all cases with all CD/DVD/CDRW drives however. If you have tested this, please post an entry in the database with details on your CDRW drive and case brand. Paul's working on a detailed article on Firewire cases that should be published soon.

(Added 5/18/2000 from report on the main site news page)

Clubmac Firewire Case/Toast 4.1 Report: A Clubmac Firewire case owner reports that Toast 4.1 (5/15/2000 released update) allows the IDE CDRW drives to work :

"Mike
I have my G4 400 and a Clubmac Firewire case for my Ricoh 6x4x24x CDRW working just fine with Toast 4.1 It is very stable and I have had no problems with writing to different formats including audio formats.

Francisco D. Vergaray
Boeing Space and Communications
International Space Station - Grafix"

See our Mac Drive Compatibility database for other reports. If you've added a drive to a Firewire case, enter your report!



(Added 2/25/2000)

Here's a few photos of the case taken during my assembling a Maxtor Plus40 drive into it:

Firewire case photo

Case internals

Rear View of case

Firewire Adapted/Plus40 Benchmark Performance: These are only pure benchmarks but they show what the drive is capable of:

Firewire control panel perf test results

The ATTO Tools Benchmark shows performance as a graph (from 0-8MB file size). Note the  very flat write performance. The ATA/3 (16.6MB/sec max spec) interface is a bottleneck for this drive as shown in my review of the Plus40 in a B&W G3 with ATA/33 onboard IDE controller:

ATTO Toolks Benchmark Results

Final Cut Pro Capture to Plus40 in Firewire Case: A reader sent word that his Maxtor Plus40 drive mounted in the Clubmac Firewire/IDE case worked fine for Final Cut Pro capture:

" I was most likely the first to find out about the maxtor 27 gig drive not working in the clubmac external firewire enclosure. I got an RMA to return the clubmac firewire case yet held onto it long enough for the success story "here" regarding the Maxtor 40 gb and was able to purchase the drive at a local Costco (seattle) for $279+state tax. (doubt any are left!). Anyway... without much work at all i was capturing via Final Cut Pro to the 40gig clubmac firewire combo....

After capturing a 20 minute clip I am pretty confident all is well. I made a few cuts and tried to get it to drop some frames.. but couldn't make it fail. So I think we are safe to assume this drive in conjunction with a bridge to firewire is fine for DV editing -in my config :-) Its not to say that one of the smaller partitions (of four that I made) would behave differently... but considering the density and speed of this drive... and that the limiting factor is the firewire to ide bridge being the bottleneck... I think all is well.

config. OS9, FCP 1.2.1, QT 4.1 on an imac DV SE with 196mb of ram.
waiting for my new G4/500 :-)
cheers,
Jake Danilchik "

I believe DV is only about 3.8MB/sec rate, but good to know the drive works well. As I noted the other day - I saw 14MB/sec writes that were flat as an ironing board (no sags/spikes that could cause dropped frames).

(From the Feb 23, 2000 front page news)

Maxtor Plus40 Performance in Clubmac Firewire/IDE Case: The Maxtor Plus40 drive worked plug-n-play in the Clubmac case connected to my G4/AGP (sawtooth) system. It also worked fine with the iMac DV. (I took some photos of the case and install for readers that are interested - only a few minutes from start to finish.) The Firewire/IDE adapter is only EIDE/ATA-3 (16.6MB/sec theoretical max, similar to a Beige G3 onboard IDE performance). ATTO Tools v2.3 benchmark shows the drive peaking at just over 14MB/sec (read/write), with sustained reads at 11.76MB/sec and sustained writes at 14.11MB/sec. The write curve was flat as an ironing board at 14MB/sec from 512K to 8MB file sizes. Since the interface is holding back the Plus40, I'll likely install one of the 27GB drives in the case and save the 40GB for a controller that will let it perform up to its potential.

(From the Feb 22, 2000 front page news)

$112.95 Firewire/IDE Case: After the report of the new Maxtor 40GB working in the ClubMac (part number C104 9025) Firewire case I decided to order one. Their regular price is $149.95, but I called to ask if they would match the Buy.com $112.95 price (SKU 10241966 - still backordered) noted here two Thursday's ago. I spoke to Jennifer at ClubMac who said while current supplies last they would match the price (reorders of new stock could have a different price). The fastest way to get this price-matching is to call Jennifer at 800-217-9153 x4797 and mention Mike/AccelerateYourMac! [Update: a reader said that ClubMac is now out of stock on the case (as of 5:00 PM). Not sure they will match prices on the backorders but you can ask. I knew this would likely sell out their stock shortly after the posting.]


Maxtor 40GB Drives & Firewire/IDE cases: Sean Mitchell, author of the original article on Clubmac's Firewire/IDE case just reported the Plus40 Maxtor drive does work:

" Mike,
Yesterday I bought the new 7200RPM Maxtor 40 GB harddrive. I plugged it in to the Firewire case and it woked.

Note: When installing the drive in the Firewire case make sure the drive is on Master, not slave.
Note: Make sure two jumper caps are used to set the drive to master not one jumper cap. [ The drive ships set as a master so you should not have to make any jumper changes. The one jumper on my drive seems to be the key (J50) - the other is horizontal and not sure it really does anything.-Mike]

Also I have some new information about the Firewire case:
- the firewire to IDE controler - is only ATA IDE 2 or 15 MBytes max. Bus transter rate.
- it only supports 40 pins not the fat 80 pins used on ultra 66/33 drives
The UltraATA/66 cables are only 40 pin connectors but are 80 conductors in the cable- the extra conductors are for better shielding.-Mike]
( the above means that regaurdless of how much faster apples firewire software gets the drive will never perform as well as it does on it's native IDE bus)

The answer to this problem is to buy harddrives with native Firewire interface.
[All of the external firewire drives for sale I have seen are really IDE or SCSI models using adapters. (Several insiders wrote to say there are *no* native firewire drives yet).-Mike]

note: Do not use any beta version of the mac os when formating the firewire drive, it might cause problems when you try to reinstall the harddrive, from the firewire case, inside of the computer
...Sean"

In most cases I've seen, if you switch an IDE drive from even a PCI IDE controller to onboard IDE, you have to reformat the drives (PCI IDE controllers look like SCSI to the Mac). Not sure on these Firewire/IDE adapters, but you might have to reformat the drive if you put it on the internal IDE bus.

Brad Chatellier writes he had mixed results with Maxtor DiamondMax drives :

"Hi Mike,
While I have not attempted to use a Plus 40 drive in a Club Mac enclosure I have tried a DiamondMax 36 and a 40. Neither worked. Had no problem with Maxtor 18 and 27GB drives though. A tech buddy of mine hypothesized that it was a firmware issue, but I'm not sure (since the limitation seems limited to Maxtor drives). I don't know.

I drove seven hours yesterday to Miami and back to snatch the last two DiamondMax Plus 40GB drives in Florida. Had to swing by CompUSA to get their ad flyer so Best Buy would lower their $299 price to $249. It was worth the trip!
-Brad "

I asked Brad to see if the Plus 40 would work in the case. I assume his 27GB drive that did work was a 6800 series (the ones currently on sale) but I've asked to verify this. Another reader reported the Clubmac case did not work with a 5400 RPM 27GB Maxtor as noted in the update to the Firewire/IDE case article. I'm still looking for reports from any owners of the 40GB DiamondMax Plus 40 drive that have tested it in a Firewire/IDE external case.

(Previous Update Follows:)

Sean replied to my mail asking for more info such as the Clubmac part number (A reader later sent a note they now have a web page for the item):

" Mike,

The item number for the IDE enclosure is:

C104 9025    Clubmac Clear firewire Closed Case w/Software
C104 BEZEL    Bezel and a 4 feet firewire cable
    Note: the bezel comes in different colors

New Information: I Have found out that a IDE CD-ROM drive an also be placed in to the Firewire Enclosure. There are drivers for the IDE CD-ROM drives on the included software CD with the Firewire enclosure. "

Note - one reader said he could not get a Maxtor *5400RPM* 27GB drive to work with the case, but that a Quantum drive did. [A reader later said the 7200 RPM model did work and there are reports of the 40GB Diamondmax Plus 40 working as well.] He said that Clubmac commented they use Quantum and IBM drives with the case in their completed drive models. There may be an issue with some Maxtor drive models working with the Firewire/IDE adapter used in this case.


[The Original Article follows:]

Reader Sean Mitchell sent a report of using an external Firewire hard drive case with IDE hard drives:


" Recently, I purchase ClubMac's firewire enclosure. The enclosure come with a CD from INDIGA Software Release 1.4, 6" firewire cable, and instructions for installing a bare IDE hard drive.

There is this disk control application that comes on the software CD called Disk Control 1.0.1 that allows you to:

  1. Format a firewire drive
  2. add passwords to firewire drive
  3. Bench test a firewire drive

Installation:

First, Installed the Firewire hard drive software form the CD. Following files are placed in the extensions folder:

FireSCSI Enabler
FireSCSI Expert
FireSCSI Support
FireWire Disk Support
FireWire Enabler
FireWire Support

Second, I Installed a Quantum Firebird EX 6GB IDE drive in to the firewire enclosure. Note: On the built-in IDE bus of my computer the drive read data at about 9.9MB/sec, wrote data about 19.1MB/sec and the average access time of the drive was about 12.7ms.

Third, I Plugged in the the firewire cable to the drive then to the computer. It did not matter if the firewire hard drive enclosure was turn on before or after the you connect the firewire cable to the firewire port on the Mac.

Fourth, I launch the app called Disk Control 1.0.1 and formatted the firewire drive to a HFS Plus volume. A second or two later the Drive mounted on the desk top.

Performance:

I ran a bench test using the the Disk Control 1.0.1 application. The following are the results:

Large files:

  • Read: 12.83MB/sec
  • Write: 12.64MB/sec

Small files:

  • Read: 3.30MB/sec
  • Write: 6.53MB/sec

Average Access time: 14.96ms

Cost: This enclosure costs about $149, a bit too much.

Final note. The drive seem to perform well. You have to use a unformatted Hard drive in the firewire enclosure becasue you have to format the drive the first time you use it in ether DOS, HFS, or HFS Plus. "





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