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Article: Pimp My Drive

by on July 12, 2004

People who have used Macs for years usually have accumulated a few extra peripherals over the years, only to retire them when they start using a new Mac that lacks a SCSI port. There are a few options for recycling that old technology with newer hardware. In our situation, we took an old ClubMac SCSI CD-ROM case (the CD-ROM drive eventually found a home in an old Mac) and converted it into a FireWire hard drive.

Original CaseFirst, we opened the case. This required unscrewing a pair of screws and sliding off the outer plastic shell. Next, we removed all traces of the old SCSI interface – the two Centronics connectors unscrewed easily from their mounts and were removed, along with the SCSI ID changer. The RCA output jacks were also removed, since they would only be useful with an optical drive.

Blue 'Lens' and screenWith the case gutted, we decided that the old beige color scheme had to go. By buying a can of Krylon’s Fusion spray paint for plastics (glossy white), we were able to spray paint all the plastic pieces of the case to match the rest of the Mac equipment on the desk. Krylon says that the paint bonds to the plastic and is chip resistant – so far, it’s been pretty good. After two coats and letting it dry, the little “accessories” to the case were re-attached (the rubber feet/bumpers and the power button).

Unfortunately, the LED lens was missing before we started this project, so we had to look for something to diffuse/soften the bright green LED light. Some dark blue translucent plastic (from a broken CD jewel case, no less) was glued to the backside of the front bezel, creating a blue-green power light. As for the big gaping hole where the CD-ROM drive used to be, a spray-painted screen was attached to improve airflow, but still give the case a “finished” look. Other options could’ve been translucent plastic, or something else (bezels from a 5.25″ drive bay would not work).

Opened CaseObviously, the next step would be to make this a FireWire drive. We purchased a speedy IBM/Hitachi 160GB ATA hard drive with an 8MB buffer from Other World Computing and mounted it to the bottom of the case (the case originally was designed to house a hard drive or an optical drive, although we didn’t have a hard drive bezel). We used Miglia’s Catalyst ATA/FW converter as a bridge between the FireWire and ATA interfaces. This converter utilized the Oxford 911 bridge, similar to many other FireWire cases. It also attached to the case in one of the old openings for a Centronics connector, so no holes had to be drilled or cutouts had to be made.

By following the simple instructions, we connected all the proper cables, utilizing the existing power supply, and were ready to go. After turning it on, and connecting it to a Mac, the hard drive appeared on the desktop and worked just like any other drive.

By doing this, we reused existing equipment, created a more flexible external case than many others (it can be used with a hard drive, DVD burner, or other ATA drive in the future), and don’t have to carry around a power brick. The case is also well-ventiliated, keeping the 7200 RPM hard drive cool. Being able to have a custom case, and cut down on clutter is what makes this project a great one.

The Finished Product

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