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PB Expansion Bay Hard Drive Kit
Build Your Own Expansion Bay Hard Drive & Save $$
by Mike
Published: 4/14/2000


Before getting into the how-to, I'd like to summarize the Pros and Cons of building your own expansion bay storage versus an external portable drive like a Firewire model. By installing your own hard drive in the expansion bay kit, you save about $150 (as of Spring 2000) over the completed kit cost, and you get to choose the drive of your choice. You'll also know how to replace the drive if you want to upgrade it in the future. Satisfaction of doing it yourself is another reward.

(Note: All prices shown here were accurate as of the date of publication (April 2000). Prices change often so always check for current pricing on components or completed drives.)

  • Lower cost than most Firewire portable drives (if you build it yourself)
    (when this was written in early 2000, VST's FW Portable 18GB drive was $829.95 vs Exp. Bay Kit/18GB HD = $534 )
  • No cables to carry or mess with.
  • No desktop space used (fits inside the Powerbook).
  • Faster than portable (bus powered) Firewire drives.
  • Excellent way to backup or offload the internal drive for infrequently used files.
  • Good for trying different OS's (Linux, new OS versions)
  • Security. Sensitive or private files can be locked away and not stored on the internal drive.
  • Great way to re-use an internal drive after an upgrade.

  • With Lombard/Pismo, you can't use CD/DVD drive simultaneously (Wallstreet/Mainstreet models have two media bays). This means you can't do CD based installs to the Exp. Bay drive except by making a CD disk image.
  • Can only be used in PowerBook of course (unlike Firewire drives).

If you buy a pre-assembled expansion bay HD, the price is near the cost of the Firewire portable drive). However that's what that this article is for, to show you how you can save over $$$ by doing it yourself.

This article uses a Toshiba 18GB, 1MB cache model purchased from OWC. The Xcarét kit was bought directly from MCE for $149.95 (April 2000) - shipping is extra on both items.

For the Lombard/Pismo models, the drive should have a max height of 12.5mm or less (IBM's current 25GB model is too tall, but their 32GB model is 12.5mm high, with 5400 RPM speed and 2MB cache). [The IDE Articles page has Powerbook install guides and performance tests on the IBM 32GB and 20GB Travelstar drives too.]

Getting Started with the MCE Expansion Bay Kit

To the right is a photo of what you get with the Xcarét Expansion Bay Kit. The nylon zippered carry case is padded to provide better protection during transporting and storing the finished drive. An installation guide and users' guide is included, both thin but adequate with illustrations.

Tools You'll Need:

* Small Phillips Screwdriver
* Cup to store small screws during assembly
* Anti-static wrist strap (recommended)

Of course you'll also need a 2.5" notebook hard drive.
Excaret Kit

The expansion bay kit comes the the bottom cover attached and a bag of additional drive screws inside. removing the screws on the metal bottom plate allows removal of the metal base.

The photo at the right shows the expansion bay kit that has been disassembled in preparation for adding the Toshiba 18GB drive. Make sure you store the very small screws in a cup or other container to avoid losing them (a lesson learned from experience, as it's easy to brush them off the work surface accidentally). The Toshiba 18GB drive is shown in the background. Note the small green circuit card at the back of the black plastic expansion bay case.
All parts ready

One end of the black plastic housing part of the expansion bay kit has a small, thin green circuit card containing the IDE connector to internal Powerbook expansion bay connector. Lift it out of the black plastic housing and attach it to the hard drive as shown in the photo at the right. The photo shows the connector not fully seated yet, to provide a better view.

Observe the orientation in the photo when attaching the circuit board to the hard drive (the manual has a reminder). Note the relative position of the large PB interface connector in relation to the bottom of the drive.This is to ensure the assembled circuit board/hard drive will mount properly to the baseplate with the circuit card attached.

If you get it reversed, *carefully* remove the circuit board from the drive and try again.
Attaching HD connector

Next Step: Mounting the Hard Drive to the Baseplate
Yes - show me!

No, take me back Home.

Index of Powerbook Expansion Bay HD Project

Intro | Mounting the Drive | Finishing the Case | Formatting the HD | Benchmarks

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