Anyone tried using cheapo FireWire drive bays?

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bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

When I was at the Stratford computer fair last Saturday there was a stand selling two types (of no-name) external FireWire drive bays for £49 each.

Each could take 3.5in HDD, but one was compact and the other was full size, with a removable facia, to accomodate an optical drive (DVD writer, say) or a caddy for a 3.5in hard disk drive if you wanted to get fancy.

I was sorely tempted, but their not having a known brand put me off.

Be keen to know if anyone has bought any of these cheapo FireWire bays, and what sort of experience they've had with them.

Bob C

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

I bought one today (Sunday), and I'll be taking it back next week!

No brand on it but the model is an HD-377, and when you look at the outer packing, you'll see that the case breaks apart by pushing four lugs - there is a caption on the diagram saying, "Please use pen cap push".

This is the smaller of the two units I described, the one that holds only a 3.5in HDD and isn't big enough to instead take a 5.25in optical.

Why is it going back?

Well, it doesn't work properly.

1/ When I tried to copy to it three large files (AVIs), I got an error message saying that one of the files hadn't been copied, and the drive just disappeared from the system.

2/ When I tried to read a large file from the drive (an AVI file, of course), the system locked up.

3/ I was unable to format a 120GB drive properly. It barfed when I tried to format the entire disk but did allow me to create a partition smaller than that (I choose 80GB), but then barfed when I tried to create a second partition to use the rest of the free space.

And, yes, I was using a known good FireWire cable and I did check that the HDDs I was using were okay (for instance, I was able, when the 120GB drive was later installed in the PC, to format the second partition, and then I reformatted the drive to its full size with no problem).

Bob C

cstv
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Joined: Jul 26 2002

just out of interest Bob, what chipsets was the firewire-IDE bridge?

mark.

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

I had no way of telling.

Bob C

cstv
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Joined: Jul 26 2002

oh... now i understand why it's going back...

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

Good news!

I think there is about to become available a number of ADS Pyro 1394 drive bays at a knock down price - only about £15 more than for the naff no-name drive bay that I bought at the computer fair last week - and that takes no account of the £2 entry fee I paid last week, plus the £2 I paid again today when taking it back (I did get the £49 back without any hassle, fortunately), or the cost of petrol for the two journeys!

And I KNOW that the ADS bay is a good un - which, for sure the no-name bay I bought was not.

Just wish I'd known about this last week, cos that way I'd have saved me a LOT of hassle!

Anyway, I won't have absolute confirmation until Tuesday (though I think this DEFINITELY is going to happen) but when I do get that, I'll give full details - making sure I order some for myself first, of course, before people here snaffle the lot!

Trouble is I am going to be frantically busy over the next few days (at least), so if I've not posted anything by Tuesday, I'd appreciate someone firing a rocket in my direction to remind me.

Cheers

Bob C

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Datavision? perchance?

These are fine, but they're two port, not three as it says on their website. (They claim they will be changing the website any moment now.) [ EDIT: NOW DONE. ]

They're also the short versions, not the long version ADS introduced to take the longer optical drives (like the A03) without poking out the front.

Still, these are undoubtedly a good deal.

(I expect this is ADS clearing old stock before bringing out a range of FW800 cases. Just my guess, that last bit. )

[This message has been edited by mooblie (edited 04 July 2003).]

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

I wouldn't bet my house on it but I'm pretty sure that the shorter two-port models are more recent that the longer three-port models.

ADS didn't introduce a longer model to accept bigger optical drives, it introduced, for reasons I don't understand, a shorter model that struggled to accommodate existing drives such as the Pioneer A03.

The other difference, I think, is that the two-port model may have a better FireWire chipset than the three-port.

Bob C

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

quote:Originally posted by bcrabtree:
I wouldn't bet my house on it but I'm pretty sure that the shorter two-port models are more recent that the longer three-port models.

ADS didn't introduce a longer model to accept bigger optical drives, it introduced, for reasons I don't understand, a shorter model that struggled to accommodate existing drives such as the Pioneer A03.

The other difference, I think, is that the two-port model may have a better FireWire chipset than the three-port.

Bob C

My money is on simple economics - it must be cheaper to produce a two port device, and even... a shorter case must be cheaper too?

I guess that is also why they went to the current "curvy" model, with further savings coming from its external soap-on-a-rope PSU, no "feet" on top (less good for stacking), no front mains power switch, etc....

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

rongrover
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Joined: Jun 1 2002

Hi, What are you calling cheap?
I purcahsed 3 of the 3 port ADS fire wire drives from PC World ( and they never sell anything too cheap!!!! ) about 10 months ago for £69 each. Previous list price had been £125. I have seen these units advertised at around the £70 mark quite often, various suppliers in Micro-Mart.

I have however not seen any 2 port units?

All the best, Ron.

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

£42.55 ex VAT?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

rongrover
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Joined: Jun 1 2002

Maybe the ones you have seen are different to those Bob is refering to? He said £15 more than the £49 he paid, ie £64.

I think that the interesting bit that has come from this is that it seems ADS have changed their spec somewhat?? I have not notice this happen.

Ron.

DVdoctor
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Joined: Apr 1 1999

Make sure it will support drives over 120 gig. Some of the older chip sets will not allow you to have the new big drives
John

PaulD
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Joined: Aug 31 2002

Hi
£58.50 to be precise. (Compared to £90 for the last FW case I bought).
Ordered from Datavision late yesterday morning, its just arrived.
Its got 2 FW ports, and is several mm short of a full CDs-worth of case, so the drive will stick out the front.
It auto-configures itself for CD or HD use, but there is a utility supplied in case of problems in its auto-config.
I'll do a benchmark once I've got a disk installed....
Regards

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

John,

Do you mean OVER 120GByte?

I've got one of these here and it works fine with a Maxtor 120GByte, but that, strictly speaking (and especially if you are NOT a maker of hard disk drives) is not actually 120GByte.

Bob C

quote:Originally posted by DVDoctor:
Make sure it will support drives over 120 gig. Some of the older chip sets will not allow you to have the new big drives
John

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

Oh, and yes, it was datavision that I was referring to!

My suggestion is fill your boots while you still can!

Bob C

DVdoctor
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Joined: Apr 1 1999

correct OVER 120, Seems that the Oxford 911 chip set does not support the 160 and 200 and 250 etc drives, again from what I have seen, this is why here in the US prices on some of the firewire enclosures have dropped quite a bit Might not be the case here but might be worth checking
John

David Pearson
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Joined: Nov 20 2000

Just to note that one of the Datavision drive bays turned up in the post today, and [edited 26 July - having just installed it!] I find that it's a "Mark II" - shorter, 2 port, and with a built-in rather than external power supply, but not the latest case design with the switch at the back and the external power supply - I didn't know they'd made that many varians! Anyway, it's just fine...

[This message has been edited by David Pearson (edited 26 July 2003).]

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

Last night, I emailed Tim Liggins of Datavision to see if he still had product I could buy, and to my astonishment, he said, yes, and seemed a bit disappointed that sales hadn't been brisker.

I'm definitely going back for more - and I don't even need another bay at the moment, but they are such useful things to have that I want one or two on the shelf ready for use.

For instance, my son's going to uni soon (results permitting), and I'll probably have to buy him a laptop - but I can keep costs down and still provide him with a DVD burner if I opt to put one in a FireWire bay, rather than have a low-profile internal model.

The other likely use if for backup. Having reviewed PowerQuest's Drive Image 7 for our September issue and found that it works perfectly with FireWire hard disks (and across the network), I'm now thinking of using a FireWire HDD to do full-drive backups of a bunch of PCs at home - my main "office" PC; my wife's desktop PC; and my younger son's desktop PC.

Not to do so now strikes me as kind of stupid.

I can understand people holding off if they want to use HDDs bigger than 120GByte, but these bays are great for making the most of your DVD burners - you can just move the burner from PC to PC as needed (or just switch cables if the PCs are close together).

Bob C

David J
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Joined: Nov 23 2000

I bought a USB2/FireWire enclosure from RL recently. No manufacturer's name evident.

Initially it would only show as USB1, but worked - albeit slowly. Once or twice it logged in as USB2, but that soon disappeared for ever.

So I tried FireWire. Looked great for a short time and DV speed tests looked encouraging. Then the folder structure disappeared to be replaced by a short list composed mostly of box characters rather than letters.

Very foolishly I ran CheckDisk to see what came out. Since it was XP Pro, it refused to run until the next boot. I then forgot about that and carried on with something else.

Next time I started up, CheckDisk ran and trashed 35Gb of fairly useful material in the blink of an eye. I now have an impressive collection of FILE0000x.CHK files and no useful data.

I am now VERY suspicious of external drive enclosures. Can I really trust the ones recommended above?

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

David J,

My advice is stick with well-known, branded enclosures such as ADS.

Bob C

David J
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Joined: Nov 23 2000

To be fair to RL, with whom I have now spoken, they say that they have sold thousands of these and have had very few problems except for the issue of Master/Slave.

It seems that a possible cause of my difficulty is that XP Pro partially tolerates a mis-set master/slave jumper setting on such drives. Unfortunately, if not set to Master, results can be unpredictable, as in my case. A real gotcha.

Since all appeared OK initially with the initial Slave setting, I naturally assumed it didn’t matter too much. Big error, it would seem.

I will certainly stick to mainstream manufacturers' enclosures in future, though.

Be warned !

Clive Holtham
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Joined: Jan 13 2001

I recently bought a 160Gb Western Digital drive, but using a no-name, no-fan enclosure could only get 128Gb out of it (for the well-known reasons), and also had some concerns since the previous hard disk had died in this enclosure.

I bought the latest ADS external Dual Link firewire/USB (DLX-185), and this immediately gave me the whole of the 160GB, plus in general a lot of confidence due to its construction and fan.

Clive Holtham