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Reader Reports on SCSI PCards/Adapters with OS X Tiger
Reports last Updated: 8/17/2005

This page has feedback to a reader post regarding an Adaptec SCSI PCcard in Tiger. Here's a copy of the original reader mail/posting:

" Subject: SCSI PCcard for Tiger?
In the past I've had good results using an Adaptec 1480 PCMCIA card in my 15" Al-PB to connect a Nikon LS-2000 scanner. I've used VueScan as my scanning software and the widely available beta driver that Adaptec lists on their website. However, since upgrading to Tiger (10.4.2) and updating Vuescan to the latest version (8.2.32) I'm getting kernel panics after I launch VueScan. Otherwise the 1480 card shows up fine at the top of my screen.

Has anyone had luck with my particular combo? I'm not sure if the problem lies in Vuescan or the crappy driver support from Adaptec. Are there any other PCMCIA SCSI/software combos that are known to work in my application?
(I asked if he could check to see if the beta adaptec driver was still loading in Tiger -Mike)

The Adaptec card shows up in my menu bar, so I think the driver works at the h/w layer. (I had asked if it showed up in ASP's list - also wonder if the log would show any errors.-Mike)
I suspect there's a conflict at the SCSI level--whenever I launch VueScan, I get the kernel panic. It's probably a result of Vuescan accessing the SCSI APIs and conflicting with the beta drivers. Ed at Hamrick software suspects the beta driver since in my own experience the VueScan s/w is pretty well written. I'm going to have to try to find a Ratoc Firewire-> SCSI adapter (Ed's suggestion), which is a pain because I recall the PC card being the only working option a few years ago when I last looked into this.
Otherwise I'll have a nice Nikon film scanner (LS-2000) and Adaptec card for sale!
Thanks, Jordan S. "

If any readers are running OS X 10.4.x (Tiger) and using a SCSI PCcard with a Powerbook OK (or have a tip for Jordan), please let me know the details. Thanks.

Reader Replies: (most recent first)

Follow-up from an Adaptec 1480 PCcard owner:

(added 8/17/2005)
" Hi, Mike.
This is an update to my previous reply (8/16 report below).

As promised, I tried at home.
I own a Pismo 10.4.2 Adaptec 1480 with Adaptec 1.0.0 beta driver (from 2002 ...).
First trial failed, no scanner appears in ASP, and Vuescan did not see the scanner. I then tried an external SCSI hard disk, which mounted perfectly (read-write tests OK). I then noted that hard disk SCSI chain termination was set to OFF !!
I checked the scanner and remembered my old AGFA Snapscan needs an external terminator to be used with the G4/533 and a 2930 Adaptec PCI card.

I removed the terminator and BINGO, now scanner appears in ASP and Vuescan (actually 8.2.03) !!!
I tried an A4 scan, no problem ...
I did not try the latest Vuescan version (no need).
It seems 1480 does not need the active termination. (but I assume that the last device on the SCSI chain is terminated? I asked if the scanner had a switch for enabling termination. If not I asked if he saw any data errors, etc. when actually scanning an image.-Mike)
I don't think Vuescan is the problem, so far the scanner must appear in ASP. If Jordan wants to try Vuescan 8.2.03 version, I still have the installer.

I hope it may help Jordan trying to remove/set to OFF the SCSI chain termination. If it helps, I'll be very happy for him !!!
Philippe H.
AWTC Europe
Equipment engineer "

(added 8/17/2005)
" I've been using Ratoc's PCcard SCSI since mac OS 9, and it works great with my Jaz Drive. their Website says it works with many film scanners when using it with vuescan.
Gustavo S. "

(added 8/17/2005)
" There have been a variety of SCSI to USB and SCSI to FW converters on the market over the few years. (there were some early reports here years ago when they first came out - not everyone had flawless operation from some models as I recall, but I've not dug up those old reports. But they may not have been using them with a single device like a scanner. (Some models as I recall didn't support more than one LUN.)-Mike) Most do all the SCSI heavy lifting on their end and make SCSI peripherals look to the OS purely like FW or USB devices.

USB 1.x might be a little pokey for a SCSI scanner if the Nikon really can use SCSI bandwidth but most scanners just don't require the throughput of most hard drives and USB 1.X might prove to be tolerable---my USB adapter typically can run at 1.0 MByte/sec (sometimes a little faster). I've never gone looking for USB 2 converters and can't say for sure how they perform but at least RATOC offers one. (I had an Adaptec USB/SCSI adapter many years ago - it worked ok in limited use but didn't provide termination power for instance so it could not be used with some devices like a SCSI ZIP drive I had IIRC. And for some odd reason it worked better on one of the B&W G3 USB ports than the other IIRC, but that was many years ago (late 1999 I think, but not sure now.)-Mike)

As I recall, there were three or four vendors (RATOC being just one) who made SCSI to FW converters for $80 to $150 which could handle one device each. I tried a couple before I settled on an multiple-device adapter made by Fastware.net called the BridgeIt! which can handle up to seven external SCSI devices at once (four is typically the most I ever use). Transfer rates are usually 15 to 20 MB/sec for hard drives.

I bought the last new unit Fastware had in stock as they were changing business directions back in JAN '03 and were discontinuing the product line. However, I'd bet some units could be found on eBay. I haven't tried OS X 10.4 yet but from 10.1.5 to 10.3 it has worked perfectly with Apple's native FW drivers and I'd assume it would be no different with 10.4.

If Jordan doesn't anticipate needing more than one SCSI device at a time, the RATOC converter is probably the better deal just because RATOC is still active and keeping an eye on Apple.

And one last observation on SCSI drivers (but no solution). In my 7600 I have an Adaptec 2940U which Adaptec adamantly declared they would NEVER support in any way in OS X, PERIOD. Nevertheless, it has continued to run in OS X up through v 10.2.8 without me installing ANY drivers---it just works.
(Apple used to include some drivers for OEM SCSI cards (they used several ATTO models as OEM options as well as some Adaptec models (some were the low-end narrow scsi cards, but they also used an Adaptec 64bit 3950U2B model as an OEM SCSI card option for some B&W G3s) I can't remember now off the top of my head what other OEM models they used and have not checked if they still work with Tiger.
Adaptec originally posted a list of cards they were going to support in OS X (back when apple first released OS X) and had some beta/driver updates for some cards, but those haven't been updated for years as far as I know.-Mike
I don't know what SCSI driver the 10.4 installer might install for a desktop gestalt but NOT for a laptop gestalt, or not. It maybe that Jordan has actually been using Apple's native drivers for some time now without realizing it and Apple has finally dropped SCSI support with 10.4. Or it could be any one of many driver conflicts as previously discussed---maybe removing the Beta drivers would help---or not. I guess what I'm driving at is things may trickier than Jordan realizes---which most other reader comments seem to imply, too. Jordan may need to poke around and consider as many scenarios as he can conceive if he wants his current setup to work.

Considering the value of his time and RATOC's prices, I agree with everyone else that getting a RATOC converter may be the best option for Jordan---especially since other users are successfully using one with VueScan.
Thanks as always for the great site,
Mike E. "

Thanks. One 1480 card user (above) just wrote he installed the beta driver (from 2002) and it seemed to be working but I asked for more info (he mentioned removing a terminator block, so I asked if the scanner was set for termination and if not, if he saw any data errors, etc. during actual scans)

(added 8/16/2005 - see above for his later report)
"Hi, Mike.
I have a 1480 with my Pismo under 10.4.2.
I'll try it this week with my old AGFA Snapscan SCSI scanner (which is normally connected to my G4/533 Digital Audio thru an Adaptec 2930), and Vuescan (don't know the 8.x version, I'll include it as well). So far, the scanner works with Tiger and VueScan on the G4/533, but I had to re-install the 2930 driver from 10.2.x, sometimes not ... not necessarily a matter of permissions, ... unclear for me, but anyway a working scanner is more important than knowing the root cause.

Please tell Jordan not to jump on every VueScan update if it does not concern his hardware. This sometimes lead to problems, specially if he threw away the previous installer !!!
I'll reply from another email, I'm on holiday from this tuesday 'til monday evening (finishing new house before moving on WE, with wife, children, workshop and 11 years of stuff!).
See you.
Philippe H.
AWTC Europe
Equipment Engineer "

(added 8/16/2005)
"Hi Mike,
In response to Jordan S's issue using a Nikon LS-2000 in Tiger:
I have exactly the same setup: A 15" PowerBook, an LS-2000, and VueScan. I've never heard of a SCSI PC card that works right in OS X. The solution is to give up on the direct SCSI connection: I use the Ratoc FR1SX SCSI-to-FireWire adapter. You plug the adapter into one of the SCSI ports on the LS-2000, and plug a FireWire cable into the adapter and the PowerBook. VueScan and SilverFast see the scanner perfectly. It's worked flawlessly with every old SCSI device I've tried, and I've got quite a few. I've been using that adapter since Jaguar and it's still working in Tiger.
Product link:
As always, your site is an excellent resource.
Conrad C. "

(added 8/16/2005)
"Firewire to SCSI adapters are the better choice anyway and just as portable.
-Philip S. "

(added 8/16/2005)
"hi mike, when panther had arrived, i stopped using scsi-pc-cards, it was always like a puzzle to find a working solution, at least for me. ratoc was the only card i would have recommended.

with crappy 10.3.5 i sold all pc-cards (ratoc and adaptec) and bought my second orangelink firewire-to-scsi converter and all probs were gone. no driver needed, built-in support since 10.2 and even no need for the external power-BRICK, thanks to bus-powering. no daisy chain and fast-scsi only, but enough for my pre-usb-era devices.

I don't own a scsi-scanner anymore, so i cannot try the specific problem mentioned, but with jaz, hp backup-dat, lacie dlt and even my good ol' lacie-hd not one problem at all.
regards, oli
for xlr8yourmac.com - the world's best mac-resource-portal "

(added 8/16/2005)
"I haven't used in in ages, but I had purchased a Ratoc Pismo CB31 SCSI PCCard off eBay a long time ago.
I just checked Ratoc's site, and they list the driver as 10.4 compatible:
If all all else fails, Jordan could try to find one of those. I got my pretty cheap if I recall.
Steve "

(added 8/16/2005)
"Hiya Mike,
I have a tip for Jordan. He should consider the Ratoc FR1SX SCSI->Firewire converter. I'm using one with my Epson Expression 800 Scanner and VueScan and it works flawlessly.
I ran into the same problem as Jordan, in that my SCSI card was giving me problems under Tiger, so I made the switch and am very happy. The nice thing is now the scanner is hot-swappable.
David "

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