Tray load Imac: ? workable Firewire hacks ??

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Joined: Oct 17 2006
Posts: 84

Hello:

I have about 12 Imac tray loader 333 G3s that seem to all have defective trayload CD-ROM drives.
I would like to re-use the place where the CD-ROM was to customize/add a set of jacks on the front panel (firewire + USB 2 if possible).

Has anyone successfully made (or found a ready made)a plug-in adater of some sort to convert the plug where the CD Drive plugged in to a useful pinout or plug for incorporating firewire jacks, etc. ? A pinout to interconnect with an external hub would work if the resulting added plugs could have bootable cd-drives connected to them (via an enclosure or other interface).

Ideally, I would like to be able to have a nice looking front panel with at least 1 fire wire plug where an external firewire enclosure for a bootable CD-Rom Drive, or even bootable Superdrive could then be plugged in.

This G3 Trayloader Imac model has no fire wire ports, and I plan to re-sell many of them. Adding an inexpensive firewire port where future owners can add their own firewire enclosures, or USB 2 enclosures (hopefully) is an inexpensive alternative to trying to replace the tray load cd drives with used ones that are hard to come by at very low wholesale prices.

I do not know enough to be able to troubleshoot those drives.I am fairly handy with soldering irons, etc. but I have no clue on the circuitry to be soldered for such a project, or even if this concept can be implemented economically.

Plan B would be to try to add the firewire connection onto the existing processor board or somewhere else if someone could give fairly detailed instructions on how to accomplish that. The replacement processor upgrades available for these models have firewire added to them. I just do not know how much modification was needed to add those fire wire ports (new circuit board completely, easy to tap into places for the sockets .... who knows?)

Any ideas how to hack this Mac to add fire wire bootable drives???

David Johansson

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David Johansson
DHJ'S LLC
1 person computer services co. in Pryor, OK.
[http://360.yahoo.com/dhjsllc]
G4 AGP 450 Sawtooth
1 Gig Ram 80G HD + Tiger
"Darkside:" Dell Inspiron 9300; 512 RAM, 60 G HD Win XP
Also Trayloader G3-333, EMac-700mhz

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moosemanmoo's picture
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Joined: Aug 17 2004
Posts: 686
At minimum, it would take an

At minimum, it would take an intimate knowledge of the iMac's Mezzanine connector and all the appropriate signals (either PCI or direct to the processor), getting a Firewire controller and all the required hardware for that added, and there's also the fact that the 333MHz iMac mezzanine slot isn't on it, there's just contacts for pins that would have to be soldered on.

USB 2.0 would requre about the same effort. There is only USB 1.1 on the iMac G3s.

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Jon's picture
Jon
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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The cost of doing the convers

The cost of doing the conversion would be significantly higher than just purchasing a slotloader with FW built-in. Also, as USB is generally CPU bound, a 333MHz G3 doesn't really have the power to push data that fast. Slower machines can do FireWire at 400MB/s because FW uses a dedicated controller chip. It may be possible to work out a FW hack, but then you'd have to hack the iMac firmware to recognize it and more. A $50 slotloader is a way better investment overall. Replacing the defective drives would be ok, ifyou could source a good supply of cheap ones.

For hack value, this would be neat. From a business/resale point of view, it makes no sense.

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Jon's picture
Jon
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Also, how are the drives defe

Also, how are the drives defective? It's well known that older drives have trouble reading burned CDs. Do regular mass-produced CDs work?

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Joined: Oct 17 2006
Posts: 84
CD-ROM Condition Information

Several of the drives would not even open when the front panel open button was pushed. A couple would open, but the drive would not spin with a disk in it. One would try to spin up to speed, but it would take 3-4 tries and still not spin up to speed. 1 tried to work ... but instead scratched up a cd.
The new in box original drives are too expensive (and would continue the limited ability to read noted trait ... not acceptable for the $ of a new drive.)

The safe bet as a reseller is to assume that all are bad and explore options to cost effectively remedy the lot. However I may find out there are a couple that just need a simple fix (unplug and replug the drive, or upon re-installing the operating system they begin working, etc.) if I am lucky.

A troubleshooting tree relevant to these drives in the trayload environment would be quite helpful if there is one out there.

Althoug this next inquiry should probaly go in a different forum, I will append it here: Any specific brand and model number recommendations/listing for non-apple drives that would be plug and play as replacements (requiring no new drivers, case modifications etc.) would be quite helpful.

Thank you.

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David Johansson
DHJ'S LLC
1 person computer services co. in Pryor, OK.
[http://360.yahoo.com/dhjsllc]
G4 AGP 450 Sawtooth
1 Gig Ram 80G HD + Tiger
"Darkside:" Dell Inspiron 9300; 512 RAM, 60 G HD Win XP
Also Trayloader G3-333, EMac-700mhz

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Joined: Sep 23 2005
Posts: 316
firewire tray loader...

the only way your going to get firewire on a trayloader is with a Sonnet Harmoni G3 processor upgrade:

http://www.sonnettech.com/product/harmoni_g3.html

(600MKz G3+Firewire port)

NO USB2 would be possible on the tray loader.

And the Harmoni Proc upgrade is $299.95

/Bill

EDIT: also, with regards to the drives, it is usually just the laser that goes bad. i do not know of a source for the lasers, but they may be replaced fairly inexpensivlet... also, the trayloaders are standard laptop drives with a header board plugged into them, and if cosmetics are not an issue, they can be replaced with a laptop drive.

for instance to install tiger on my 333 iMac i swapped the laptop drive (DVD Burner) from my Mac Mini into the iMac because i didnt have the tiger CD's

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Jon
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One issue with Apple drives i

One issue with Apple drives is that while they use a standard plug to the adapter board, it may be on the wrong side or upside down compared to regular laptop drives.

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Joined: Oct 17 2006
Posts: 84
Closing Post

Thank you for the infromation on possibly adding a firewire port to teh trayload Imac G3.

I was aware of the harmonic upgrade ... but could not justify the $$$ in units to be re-sold.

The laptop DVD burner is an interesting idea ... if I knew of a generic (read low $) but easy to install (read without having to load drivers, etc.) drive available.

The cosmetics would not be a large issue given the target market.

I will see if I can test whether the laser or other component failed in the existing drives. I may borrow the laser from some other PC CD-rom drives I have about as an experiment.

Thank you again for all the technical detail, advice, and ideas.

David Johansson

__________________

David Johansson
DHJ'S LLC
1 person computer services co. in Pryor, OK.
[http://360.yahoo.com/dhjsllc]
G4 AGP 450 Sawtooth
1 Gig Ram 80G HD + Tiger
"Darkside:" Dell Inspiron 9300; 512 RAM, 60 G HD Win XP
Also Trayloader G3-333, EMac-700mhz

iantm's picture
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Joined: Apr 2 2005
Posts: 709
netboot

for old tray loading iMacs with bad optical drives, the best way to treat them is as dumb netboot boxes. I've seen this done with a fair number of these machines. A local survey company here in PGH uses a bunch of tray load iMacs, a G4 tower running os x server, a switch, netboot and filemaker to do what they need.

Tray loading iMacs sans optical drive are still useable. As for resale value, even fixed I don't think a tray loader is going to sell for more than $50. Look at what they're selling for at geeks.com .

Standard laptop drives will work though.

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