No more PCI?

A little while ago I picked up a Magma 4-slot expansion chassis. It came with a PCI host adaptor and worked straight away with my old G5. As it can hold up to 4 hard drives, I recently bought a couple of SATA drives to put in it.

I also recently snagged a 2.93 GHz Macbook Pro with an ExpressCard slot. So after some technical enquiries and a tip from a guy at Magma that the various host adaptors were about to jump in price by $100, I bought an ExpressCard host adaptor. It works really well.

The long-term plan is to buy some second-hand Pro Tools HD cards and have a very powerful mobile system. For now, I can't afford that, so what to do...

Great, I thought. I'll put a RAID controller card in the expansion chassis and I have a mobile hard drive. Except that such cards are not supported under OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard). I need that OS to run the copy of Pro Tools 9 I just bought. It seems that since one cannot buy a Mac with PCI slots an more, there's no need to make any PCI products work with anything past Leopard, the last OS that runs on machines which have PCI slots. Thanks to Magma, we can have PCI slots working with the newer machines and OS, but beyond Pro Tools one struggles to find any cards that will work.

I have seen a few PCI to PCIe adaptor cards which act as a bridge between newer style PCIe cards and PCI slots. Whether they would work or not, who knows?

Does anyone know? It would be nice to keep those drives in the chassis and use it for something until I can get Pro Tools HD.

Out of disk space

Last year I got a computer for free, courtesy of a computer lab upgrade at work. The arrival of the dual G5 prompted me to postpone the purchase of a Macbook Pro. I still want to go there, but one of the older ones with two Firewire ports and an ExpressCard slot, to make a schmokin' portable recording system (just snared another 16-channel converter).

When I got the G5 I pulled the drives out of my old G4 and put them in. They worked straight away.

Those are 120GB drives because there was some issue about G4s not being able to handle anything larger as an internal drive (or so I read at the time). I decided to partition them and set up RAID 1 sets for each partition. Recently, OSX informed me that the system partition has less than 1GB left. How did that happen? Once upon a time, 25GB was huge!

It's all those photos and Lou's music collection. (I must use iPhotoDiet again!)

Our old Sony 17" CRT monitor ($800 in 1999) has been dying a lot too. The screen fades to black, and then may or may not come back some time later. So we bit the bullet during the weekend and went to a computer store. Just $224 later, I had a 19" widescreen, 2 500GB hard drives and little SATA-to-ATA/Molex adaptors.

Well, I thought I'd just partition the disks and then clone them using CarbonCopyCloner. The problem is that the G5 has only two drive bays. There are third-party solutions to that, but the one still has to power the extra drives. I don't want more than two drives in the machine, but if I'm going to clone the existing ones I need to temporarily have four powered and connected.

Well, connecting wasn't a problem. I have an old SATA RAID card from the G4 which handles the data connection. The problem is how to power them.

One of those third-party solutions relies on the use of the older IDE power connections found on some SATA drives. In the G5, a drive in one of the drive bays can be powered from the SATA power connection (in fact, that's the only way). But if it has an IDE power connector, at least one of those third party solutions can be powered off that. It must be parallelled to the SATA power connector.

So I thought, great! I could do that. And if worse comes to worse I can use the old G4 to power the extra drives.

Well, of course, the new drives don't come with IDE power connectors. Almost none do these days. But the computer shop has IDE to SATA power adaptors. The only problem is that the IDE power connectors on the old drives are male, and so is the connector on each adaptor.

I ended up putting the SATA RAID card in the G5 and removing another PCI slot backplane to run the SATA cables out the back because I wanted to close the G5's case. The fans go psycho when the plastic shield is removed (don't know why, but as a red LED comes on I assume it's intentional). I pulled the G4 along side (remember it has no hard drives in it since I moved them to the G5) and powered the new drives off its hard drive power loom using the power adaptor cables.

The I had to frig around with Disk Utility to partition the drives and configure them as RAIDs (here's a tip: partition both drives the same, and then create the RAIDs). The second partition wouldn't be RAID-ed for some unknown reason until I went to the fifth partition and worked my way backwards!



A vanity publishing venture of David Rodger, sound production teacher and wannabe PHP developer