Apple FireWire case
I have found a use again for the old Apple branded, and manufactured by Lacie, external SCSI drives. I was inspired to convert a case into a FireWire unit one day looking through the store at fwdepot.com. They sell boards that can be added into an external hard drive enclosure to add FireWire capabilities. These boards do not convert SCSI to FireWire, the old SCSI drive has to be junked and replaced with an IDE drive that connects to the FireWire board. The board I selected was the 142AS bridgeboard. for 69 dollars. There is unit a little cheaper (142AV) but space was a concern so I went with what I thought would be the easiest to fit in the case. This is by no means an example on how to save money. I was just interested in converting old hardware into something useful again. I like the fact it has the Apple logo and at first glance it looks just the same as before the change. This drive also has a an internal power supply that allows you to use a standard power cord so you don’t have to carry around an external power brick for your case. Many new 3.5"? and larger Firewire drives use those stupid power bricks. If you need a drive that you can move around easily choose the smaller laptop size drives or get 3.5"? drive that has a built-in power supply. Usually the built-in ones are a little more robust as well.
The first few pictures here document the features these drives have for people who are not familiar with them. I know that at one point they came in 2, 4, and 9 gig sizes.
Taking this case apart is not real difficult as long as you are not in a hurry. I started with the 2 screws on the back next to the SCSI connectors. There are 4 feet on the case that can be moved around to allow the case to stand straight up or rest on its side. For this conversion 2 of the feet need to vacate so the case can be opened.
Taking things slow pays at this point. I had to set the case on its side and pry the top portion away from the bottom. I started at the pry points located at the front of the case and opened that part of the case just enough that it wouldn’t snap back into place. Next I did the same thing on the rear 2 pry points. Then I swung the top portion up like the hood on a car so that the rear was the hinge point. Then I had to pry the rear part a little more for the top part of the case to come off. Take a look at the pictures to see why I had to pry things apart gently.
Now I was into the case and thinking I was home free for removing the old hard drive, I was wrong. The HD is mounted to the chassis from the bottom. To get to those screws you need to remove six screws so you can separate the plastics from the metal chassis. The first four screws are pretty easy to locate but the last 2 are in the mix of wires near the power supply. There is a nice big capacitor in there and I made sure not to test and see if it was still charged up.
From this point things got pretty easy for a bit. I removed the HD from the chassis, and unscrewed the old SCSI connectors from the back of the chassis. As you can see from picture just showing the chassis it looks like there is a lot of room. You can also see the power cable zip tied to the chassis. I had to cut the the cord from the chassis later because of space issues. I also removed the SCSI ID selector cable, it was a nice easy to remove plug. I left the actual selector in place because I had nothing to put in its place. I tried to think of something useful to put there but came up empty.
I wanted to stay away from them but the next part required power tools. Unfortunately I moved recently and couldn’t find my Dremel so I couldn’t cut off these annoying little tabs located on the chassis in the exact spot that the bridgeboard needs to go. (see picture) So I bent them up with a pair of pliers. Not the prettiest way, but it sure was easy. With the tabs bent up I tested the board in the opening and found that the old screw holes from the SCSI connectors did not match up with the holes on the board. I wouldn’t normally use a drill to make the holes on the chassis bigger but I couldn’t wait to get it all done so I used the drill bit to grind away some of the chassis. I need a new drill bit now but it worked. With the bridgeboard in I soon realized I should have mounted the new IDE drive to the chassis first so I had to remove the board and put the HD in followed by the board. I would still suggest doing the fitting of the board before you mount the HD though. In the 2nd picture below you can see the the board directly behind the new HD and I do mean directly. If you don’t put the board in the top opening there is no way you can hook the power and IDE cable to the HD.
To make things appear nice and neat I took apart one of the original SCSI connectors and used it to fill the hole under the bridgeboard.
Once the board is in I just reversed the steps and put things back together. After a few days of use I didn’t like the noise from the fan and the rattling that came from the long IDE cable flopping around in the case. The cable is extra long and comes with the board. It is longer than I needed because the board is designed to be used with 2 IDE devices if you want. I popped the case open again and strapped the thing down real good so it will never move again. While I was in there I replaced the fan with a different one. I could do that because to be honest we have 3 of these cases and I just fired them all up to see which one had the best fan and then ripped that one out and put it in the modified case. The odd thing was how the other case had a soldered on SCSI selector cable and the HD power cord was routed completely different. So I guess that the build process at the factory was not always the same.
The new drive works great. Only problem I have had is trying to use it with 10.2.6 and my Newertech FW Cardbus card on my Wallstreet PB. During my initial testing of the case it refuses to mount on the desktop. If I boot into OS 9 it works fine with the case. Other FW drives I use work fine with this setup so I am not sure why this bridgeboard does not seem to be compatible. Doesn’t really matter since the drive is going to be used at work for backups and will most likely never be used again on my Wallstreet. I did some benchmarking at work and found that using OS 9 was a lot slower than OS X in the transfer of files. (by minutes) I don’t know if this is due to the kind of bridgeboard or the OS in general. I tried on multiple systems and got the same horrible results. I haven’t moved files in OS 9 with FW in a while and the results came as a surprise. I will have to test with some of our other FW drives and see the results.