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1/25/02 Friday's News: Story DetailReturn to News Page


Reader Reports on 24x (or faster) IDE CDRW Drives
in ADS Pyro Firewire Cases

(Note: Problems may also occur with >24x rated drives also - like the Lite-On 40x.)
Updated: 1/29/2002 for note on Pryo Bridge Firmware flasher
Updated: 4/22/2002 for notes on different Pryo case/bridge models
Updated: 10/4/2002 for notes on ADS CD Firmware Utility

Update - ADS Pyro Firmware Update/Modifier Utility: (from the 10/4/2002 www.xlr8yourmac.com news page)
A reader that was having the typical problems with most Lite-On drives (typically 24x and faster ones) in Pyro cases wrote to say that there's a firmware update/modifier utility on the CD now that solves the problem. (The fix is usually a firmware change as noted in the past here in articles and database reports. Requires a PC to run however.) I assume this is a recent change as I did not see this on my Pyro case CD included with my spring 2002 drive. (The latest Pyro cases have an external Power Supply, earlier ones like mine have the PS inside the case).

" Mike,
I posted this in the forum regarding my ADS Pyro case and my Lite on 32123s 32X CDRW, but just wanted to send you a copy too.
I was able to get a hold of ADS tech support and as expected they emailed the firmware utility right out, but it was PC only.
However, this utility is actually included on the CD that came with my case. It's called the "Drive Mod Kit" and is a utility from Oxford Semiconductor.

With the drive connected, what you do is this (if you have the driver CD, there is a PDF on there saying the same thing):

1) Install the "Drive Mod Kit"
2) Restart
3) Launch the "FWUpdate.exe" from the install location
4) You're presented with two options: "Update Firmware" and "Modify Firmware" Click modify. Here you will see a bunch of options/info, just click the "Advanced" button in the lower corner
5) On the next screen, click the checkbox that says "report drives with non-standard sigs" (or some thing like that I can't completely remember).
6) Click OK, then the previous menu will come back up.
7) Click "Update" in the upper right
8) Quit the app, disconnect the drive, power cycle for 5 seconds, then reconnect. The drive will now work as it should of in the first place.

The app can also update the firmware if need be. The drive mod kit contains the Oxford 911 firmware from "Jan 2002." ("911" folder in the install location) I asked tech support if that is what I should apply as well and was told the Jan 2002 is the latest and to update it if I wanted, just make sure the option above was checked.

The firmware that was listed in the FAQ is indeed missing a DLL (at least under XP Pro). After installing the Drive Mod Kit though, it worked, but was very old compared to the Jan 2002.
(As I noted in a forum post and the older article here on Pyro case problems - that firmware update was actually an older version, I believe for the older cases, not the later ones.-Mike)

So really anyone who has bought one of these cases and has the Drive Kit 4.1 CD has all they need to set up the case. You just have to dig for it in one of the sub directories many levels down. Too bad they don't make this more public.

My case is working great though. I've burned a few 650MB CD's at full speed with no errors.
Thanks and I'm off to post a compatibility report.
Eric P"

Older Info follows - note that this is before the latest Pyro cases with external Power Supplies. Firmware mentioned below may be only for older case bridge boards - contact ADS tech support if in doubt)

(from the 1/29/2002 www.xlr8yourmac.com news page)
Not everyone with an ADS Pyro Firewire case reported problems with 24x drives, but some did. (See the reports in the drive database here below in this article.) A reader sent an email yesterday [1/28/2002] with comments on a firmware download (PC only) from ADS that may solve the problem for owners that have issues with 24x drives completing burns in the Pyro case. (Note: Later reports in the news/database here noted some had similar problems with some brands of 32x and 40x drives - Lite-On seems to be the most common as far as problems, although a TDK 40x drive owner also noted the issue, but since it's a 40x12x48x it may be based on the Lite-On mechanism.)
[Note - I have seen problems with a 40x12x48x Lite-On CDRW Drive in several Pyro cases - as have other owners of fast Lite-On drives in several brands of FW cases (not just the pyro). This may be some firmware (drive) issue with the Lite-On drives, but even the latest (as of 4/22/2002) 40x Lite-On firmware did not help that issue with 2 Pyro 3 port firewire cases. (Intermittent failure to recognize the drive, tray not ejecting, worked sometimes when powered up and other times not. IDE cable was checked/replaced - pin one/red stripe was on the PS side of the drive, etc. - and I am not alone in seeing this problem as more readers in April 2002 also noted the same issue with the 24x, 32x and 40x Lite-On and TDK CDRW drives - see below for a (PC) firmware update that some Pyro case owners noted that helped - but ask ADS if that flasher is the right one for your case - it may be only for a specific bridge/firmware version of the Pyro case.)

Notes on Pryo Case/FW Bridge Versions: The problem with fast CDRW drives and the pyro case may be only with the earlier 3 FW port models (not the later Oxford911 bridge based cases). Reportedly the 911 bridge (newer) cases have only 2 firewire ports, where the original model (with older/slower Oxford bridge chip) had 3 firewire ports as shown in this older review w/photos of the original Pryo case. (A reader said the newer boxes will have a label noting 2 ports over the original comment of 3 ports on the box. two readers have also said they had 3 port models that had a 911 bridge, although the 2 port models are the best way to assure you're buying the latest/911 bridge case version.)
(previous reader reports follow)
Note - If you have a problem with a fast CDRW drive in a Pyro case please let me know if it's the 3 firewire port or 2 port version. If it's the 3 firewire port version if you can, check the Oxford chip on the bridge board to see if it's a "911" marked version. If the case is a 2 port model, make sure the IDE cable is twisted 180 degrees so that the red stripe is on the same side as the Power Supply connector on the CDRW drive. (this is noted in a leaflet in the 2 port Pyro cases.). (The problem reports below did not note if they had the 3 port or 2 port versions of the case.)

" Mike -
I just upgraded my 8X Sony Spressa CD-RW to a Lite-ON 24X. Guess what - it does not work - the drive hangs and never finishes the burn. After waiting on hold for 30 minutes (not toll free) the technician said they have been having reports of 24X+ drives not working in the Pyro Case. He had me check if my firmware was October 2000 - and it was.

They have a flasher to correct the problem - but of course it is Windoze only. I told him their largest market for this product is Mac users and he agreed and said a Mac Flasher has been requested by their Tech Support people and is supposedly in the works. He did email me the Windoze Flasher. Since I bought the case at COMPUSA I am hoping they will let me use a Sony PC with firewire to flash it ...
You can download it here:
[Link not working - see below for direct download link-Mike]

Incredibly it is actually an earlier version of the firmware - March 2000. Perhaps someone else with easier access to a PC with firewire can give it a try ...
He later wrote

Mike -
Success!!! I put a firewire card in a PC at work and flashed the Pyro case back to the March 2000 firmware .... My first attempt was using Toast 5 under OS X and burned at 24X on a 16X certified disc. There was a brief pause then the message in Toast went from Writing to Finishing and it completed successfully .....

It appears my iDisk is only working with Mac's and I was trying to download it on a PC .... The original link should work for Macs and for PC's use:
[NOTE - readers said the download file is missing a DLL file. See later info above regarding firmware updates. For Pyro Oxford900 bridge based cases (only) (the early/much older model than current cases w/Oxford911), a reader has mirrored the oxford900 firmware update (actually older version) at http://www.plasticwonderland.com/march_firmware.sea -Mike]
The instructions are included in the self-extracting zip file ...

If any readers that have had the problem are able to flash their bridges let me know if it solves your problem. (If you're not having a problem do not apply any updates. The latest Pyro cases are reported to have the Oxford 911 bridge; the firmware noted above is for the previous model.)

After a reader repeatedly reported problems with several brands of 24x rated CDRW drives in his Pryo case in the drive database, I asked for other owner reports with the Pyro and 24x drives. (I didn't think this was a common issue, since the Pyro has been the most popular case for CDRW drives in the past). I received about 10 replies so far, one noting that the latest Pyro cases have the Oxford911 bridge, unlike the earlier models that used the earlier Oxford chip. (However even ATA/3 rated bridges [16.6MB/sec interface] are more than fast enough for CDRW drives) The details page has the comments from the emails I've been able to read so far, but I also suggest that owners post a drive database entry if they hadn't already, so that future searches of the database will find those reports.

" I posted a reader report a few months ago about a Que 24x10x40 CDRW in an ADS pyro case. I can burn cd-r's and cd-rw's in the case from OS 9 and OS X. I have successfully burnt both data and music cd's. I do all my burning from Apple-supplied tools. In iTunes, the max speed that I've been able to achieve is about 12x using 16x media. I always leave the burn speed set at "maximum" within iTunes. Using disc burner, I have obtained 16x rates using 16x media. The only coaster I've ever burned was a disc that I inadvertently smudged on the burn side prior to a burn attempt.

My setup is a Key Lime iBook, 320 mb of RAM running OS 9.2.2 and OS X 10.1.2. Under OS X, I have used the Que drive when the iBook was plugged into a power outlet and when it was running on the battery. Under OS 9, I always plug the iBook into the power outlet.

Let me know if you need any more info, or if you would like me to perform some diagnostics.

" Mike,
I've had great luck with pyro drives, I put a TDK in one for myself, I put a Sony 24x in a friends, and another friend has a Pyro with the next 32x TDK (before that he had a 24x10x40) all of them worked perfectly with Toast and with Disc Burner (once updates were released)
Shawn "

" I have a G4 with 400mhz AGP, with 10.1.2 with 9.2.2 as well 576megs of ram. My pyro has a Plextor 24/10/40A. Burns at all speeds in the finder in X and in iTunes in X and 9.

Burns excellent in Toast Titanium 5 in X and 9 GREAT!
Shawn F. "

" I am using the TDK 24/10/40 in an ADS Pyro case. Burns perfect with Toast 5.

My system is a G4-533 with 1.5 gig of memory running 9.2 with a 40 gig Maxtor and a 40 gig WD.
Mark "

" i throw my QPS Que! 24x10x40 into a new ADS Firewire oxford case and it works fine in os x using toast 5.1.1 and 10.1.2 but under os 9.2.2 and toast 5.1.1 it doesn't work. Dunno why. i'm currently looking for a patch if there is one.
Lyle F. "

Not sure what mac model he has or why OS 9.2.x would not work (assuming the Apple FW extensions and Toast FW support extension are enabled. Also there have been several different Que IDE 24/10/40 drive mechanisms used in the last 6 months (noted in the FAQ and drive database reports - original models used Sanyo 1500BP drives which now have native iTunes/DB support in OS 9 and X. Later boxes had a different mechanism used based on owner reports. Apple System profiler (use OS 9's version) as well as toast should report the drive mechanism used.

" I am using a Que 24x10x40 (Sanyo mechanism) in my ADS Pyro case. I have never been able to REALLY burn at 24x. Toast indicates that it will burn at 24x but the countdown timer actually counts seconds that are 1.5 seconds long so that it really burns at 16x. If I burn it at 16x, the countdown timer works as expected. I didn't know if this was a limitation of the ADS case or the Que drive. I haven't made any coasters yet. I'm using a Mac G4 500 MP gigabit with OS 10.1.2. By the way, this combo works with 9.2.2 full speed at 16x as well but takes MUCH longer (I estimate about a 10x burn speed) if I try to burn at "24x." I don't know what's up with that.
Steve S. "

" I have a QPS 24/10/40 CD-RW that I picked up at CompUSA about 6 months ago in a Pyro FW case that works beautifully. Now if I could just get my $70 rebate I am still waiting on!

G4/400 (AGP)
OS 9.2.2 and OS X 10.1.2
Toast 5.1.1

iBook 2001
OS X 10.1.2
Toast 5.1.1
C. Posey "

" I have a 24x Lite-On in a Pyro case and it works, mostly.
On the Pismo, OS 9:
Recognized by iTunes and Disc Burner, but wont burn.... reports back with some error.
Works great with toast, BURN-Proof is great. I did a speed check, and when I burn an audio CD of MP3's, my sustained rate isn't nearly enough to burn at 24x, but with BURN-Proof enabled, I still haven't had a coaster yet.

On the Pismo, OS X:
Everything works, plain and simply. Toast 5.1, Disk Copy, iTunes, all of it works flawlessly.

I also have a B&W G3 rev. b. This is not quite such a happy story. The case does not even show up in ASP. However, I think this is a problem with my machine. My 8x Sanyo that was in this case previously was acting flakey, but after replacing in with the Lite-On, I am now thinking that it was probably the G3 with the problem. I am considering getting a PCI firewire card, but my setup is sufficient as of now.
Glad I could help.
Keil J. "

There have been several reports here in the news and drive database in the last year noting that PCI Firewire cards solved problems some B&W G3 owners had with the onboard FW ports.

" I've got the Pyro case with a 24x10x40 Que drive mounted in it. It worked great with my old Lombard Powerbook G3 and a Newer FireWire-2-Go card, although the card limited the bandwidth for the drive. Just before Christmas, I upgraded to a new iBook 600 MHz, 256 MB RAM, 20 GB hard drive. The drive works flawlessly, although I haven't burned any faster than 12x. I haven't really tried burning any faster, I just noticed that that's the speed iTunes burns at. Perhaps I'm hitting the bandwidth limit of the bridge chip in the Pyro case?
Eric "

Even the original Pyro bridge should not be a limit for any CDRW write speed (Even if ATA/3, that's 16.6MB/sec and should not be a limit for CDR burn rate transfers.)

" Mike,
I recently unmothballed my ADS Pyro drive case (which had been sitting empty for some time) and installed one of the QPS 24x CD-RW drives that CompUSA had on sale awhile back. (I had mothballed the drive quite awhile back, after having had a hard drive installed in it that I ended up loosing data off of several times)

After installing the QPS I attempted to use the drive and found that while I could get CD's to mount on the desktop, they would sometimes just disappear (often in the middle of a file copy from the CD, with an accompanying error message)

Being frustrated at having had problems with unit since I had gotten it, I went ahead and called ADS (even though I think it was technically out of warranty) to see if they could do anything for me. I spoke to a tech there and explained the problem. The tech asked what version of firmware I had on the board and I told him that it was the March (2000 ? 2001 ?) firmware. He then said that I had an older version of the board that they had had problems with and it needed to be replaced, and that they would replace it free of charge.

I also asked him if the problems I was having had anything to with the issue of having the unit's Firewire interface plugged in, but not having the unit turned on. ADS used to have a warning about this on there website (and I had done this - before they ever issued a warning) - saying that doing so could permanently damage the unit (and if I recall correctly, that it might even damage the Mac) This notice, for whatever reason, has been pulled from their website the last time I looked.

I sent my Firewire bridgeboard in a little before Christmas and got it back a replacement about three weeks later - and it works beautifully !
Randy W.
he later wrote

BTW I forgot to mention - my new bridgeboard uses an Oxford 910 chipset I believe - and I have burnt 40 copies of a project onto 16x CD-R media @ 24x speed using the QPS drive in the ADS case. Worked flawlessly.

Using ADS' Mode Selector Utility the unit is listed as:
HW Version: 00500A
SW Version: 010483
Firmware Date: October 25, 2000, 12:45:50
Dual 800, 9.2.2 "

The early Pyro case power off issue (if left connected) was noted in the news here a year or so ago (and maybe still in the FAQ). They removed that warning later from their FAQ after they revised the case design. (from the description, I'll bet they added a diode to the bridge board, but that's just a guess.) I hear the latest Pyro cases use the Oxford 911 bridge based on a report above.

" My brother tried to use his Lite On drive that came in his currently available [G4] 733 and it failed to write every time. We ended up making the DVD we bought external instead and leaving the lite on internal.
Eli B. "

I think the OEM Lite-On drives in new Macs are 12x write speed models.

" Just to let you know, I bought a Sony CRX175A1 CD-RW 24x/10x/40x and tried it in the Pyro Case. No go. I thought it might have been the Case, so I was going to return the Sony and buy something else. Maybe I should try a new case?
Dave "

Not sure if Dave's problem was just iTunes/DB support (the standard apple files do not support the 175 drive, but the FAQ's CDROM/CDR section has modified files from a reader.)

" I have not noticed any problems other iTunes incompatibility with my QPS 24x (Sanyo mech, I believe BP1500). I am using it in a Pyro case connected to a Dual 800 and also used it with an iBook.
Mark N. "

Related Articles: See the Firewire topics page (links below and above in the header) for FW case kit build guides and links to the searchable drive database.

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