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Using Magneto Optical drives on vintage 68k Macs

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
Bernoulli had a second generation in the late '80s and early '90s. It co-existed with Zip for a couple years, and got up to 230 meg capacity in a smaller 5.25-inch size. It's hypothetically nearly as reliable as MO because it (as with MO) has an arrangement where the r/w head doesn't touch the physical storage media.

Though, I've found it's impractical to get running at this point.

To the points about DVD and LD - success and popularity are different things and that was my point. LD was a success because it sold loads of copies over 20 years, even though it wasn't more popular, for the cost and convenience reasons you mentioned.

Recognizing this kind of thing is a rampant problem in vintage-anything. We have this discussion once in a while on this very forum even. A lot of people mistake the popularity of Zip as a sign of failure on the part of all the other options in this market, even ones that lasted longer, were popular everywhere else, or found success in specific markets (like MO and medical imaging and archival) (Unfortunately, the devices having found use in those specific markets is probably part of why they're harder to get in the US -- but MO was popular for home and office use in Japan, so Japan and buying/shipping services therein can be a good resource for MO media.

There were a few JDM kits for the blue-white and various Power Mac G4s, but I suspect the more popular options here were to use USB, use Firewire, or add a SCSI card and use that. Unfortunately, I don't know if going and getting one of those is worthwhile per se because they're not ultra-common even in Japan. You have to either know what you're looking for or accident your way into it, which'll be turbo-expensive for people living in North America.

What's your specific use case for the drive in the G4? Is it just making/transferring data (where USB/FW will be fine) or are you looking into making G4-appropriate restore media that'll need to be booted from?

To be honest, I'm tempted to say DVD-R or CD-R based media is better fit for booting a G3/G4, especially since IIRC these machines are often reputed to work fine with newer SATA based optical drives using something like a SIL3112.

Though, like, in general I do know/get that it's nicer to have the drives be internal when you can. In that case, the only thing I can think of is keep looking for different drives that are set up with their connectors where you need them.

Beyond a certain point (uni-north, I believe, is that point) you can boot USB on some newworld systems (iBook and one of the early ish G4s but not the yikes, some later iMac G3s, the pismo, all PowerBook G4s, that kind of thing) and while it is slow it does work so in theory you can just keep a, like, 32-gig USB stick around for restoring those machines as well.
Well, I did some surgery on the drive cage and ripped off the metal backplate that’s 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch high covering the IDE port of my Fujitsu 1.3GB MO. I’ve successfully set it to slave and it’s on the bus with the DVDR drive. I now have, on one single machine:

- SATA Card with 2TB SATA hard drive

- New Apple Original DVDR SuperDrive

- USB Zip 100Mb drive

- Adaptec SCSI Card with:

   - Iomega Jaz 1GB SCSI

- Fujitsu 1.3GB ATAPI MO Drive

I can use this machine to backup and restore from and to any of these media. Additionally it’s connected to my NAS which supports AppleShare, with 16TB of storage space. 
 

The G4 can boot Mac OS 9 or OS X 10.4.11, and download from the internet directly using TenFourFox, or access files I’ve downloaded from my Windows 10 PC to the NAS. All of my CDs are imaged onto the NAS and I can burn a CD, or write the contents of a CD to any one of Zip, Jaz, or MO and use on any one of a Mac SE through the G4 even. 
 

This is the ultimate in bridging. I realize I don’t have a floppy drive. Don’t fret, I’ve got many 68k Macs with floppy drives, I just copy the disk images using another media and access on the Mac I want to make floppies on. 
 

I also have SCSI external Zip, Jaz, CD (and a Yamaha CDR) and MO drives and can easily move data back and forth with great ease. 
 

I’d also get into the other formats but... this is quite enough. 100mb on Zip is a convenient size for the cost (new sealed disks about $1.5-$2 each). MO is great for making installer media and such. Easily rewritable and cost of between $0.003 and $0.008 per megabyte (depending on size used). It seems faster than Zip, but slower than Jaz. Jaz 1GB is great for capacity, speed, and reasonable cost. 3 packs of 1GB cartridges are about $15, or $5 a cartridge. Right in the middle of cost per MB of MO. They’re not as reliable as MO, but they’re freaking fast. Faster than most of my internal hard drives. Faster than SCSI2SD in most of my tests. 
 

On my test bench I have a keyboard and mouse, a monitor, and a stack of Jaz, Zip, and MO external drives all daisy chained. I connect a Mac I want to test or use to the setup and boot whatever media and OS version I want. Last night I played MYST on an LC475, which I copied over to a 640mb MO disk to try. It worked great. That’s my use case. Just moving data and having fun with it at the same time. 

 

Juror22

Well-known member
I now have, on one single machine:

- SATA Card with 2TB SATA hard drive

- New Apple Original DVDR SuperDrive

- USB Zip 100Mb drive

- Adaptec SCSI Card with:

- Iomega Jaz 1GB SCSI

- Fujitsu 1.3GB ATAPI MO Drive

I can use this machine to backup and restore from and to any of these media. Additionally it’s connected to my NAS which supports AppleShare, with 16TB of storage space.


The G4 can boot Mac OS 9 or OS X 10.4.11, and download from the internet directly using TenFourFox, or access files I’ve downloaded from my Windows 10 PC to the NAS. All of my CDs are imaged onto the NAS and I can burn a CD, or write the contents of a CD to any one of Zip, Jaz, or MO and use on any one of a Mac SE through the G4 even.


This is the ultimate in bridging.
You're my hero. That is a fantastic accomplishment. Thanks for posting so many of the specifics, as well as the MO driver that you used.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
You're my hero. That is a fantastic accomplishment. Thanks for posting so many of the specifics, as well as the MO driver that you used.

Thanks for the kind words. I have since added a dual-core 2.3Ghz G5 to the bridging setup, with an ATTO UL5D PCIe SCSI card, which has my 1GB Jaz drive option, and I added a Fujitsu firewire 1.3GB MO drive to the mix.

It allows faster browsing of the vintage software sites, and better downloads. The native SATA on the G5 also helps with compatibility.

I have since learned that an advantage of the MO disks 540mb and under is that they are 512bytes/sector, which affects compatibility on some things. For example, olePigeon has a Jackhammer card, and his magneto optical disks >540mb don’t work because they are 2048bytes/sector and the card doesn’t support it.

On some of my vintage Mac’s, I want to swap out the internal floppy drive for an internal magneto optical drive. Last year when I found out about magneto optical, I bought whatever drives I could so I would have many options.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
I had a realization about the stack of Fujitsu 3.5” IDE magneto optical drives that I have.

While I could get the drives to work and format disks, I could not get the drives to boot.

Then it dawned on me this morning: FWB Hard Disk Toolkit supports removable cartridge drives AND IDE drives. The FWB driver for IDE drives supposedly supports both SCSI and IDE devices in a single driver.

Theoretically, I could format an MO disk using FWB HDT 4.5.2 and enable support for ejecting the disk upon unmount, and it should work just like my SCSI MO drives.

When I get time and energy I’ll try it out. If anyone has some insight into this before I try it, I’d love to hear it. I’ve never really used any IDE drives on Mac, besides my G4 Digital Audio, where I just used the Apple drive setup.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
Update: FWB HDT could see the drive, but my G3 Mac froze when trying to install the FWB driver to a disk. So I tried booting without the MO extension installed (to avoid any conflicts) and then the FWB Software couldn’t see the IDE MO drive.

However, it was able to see the SCSI MO I have, so I put the target disk into there and tried to install the FWB driver. According to the FWB software, both an ATA/IDE and SCSI driver have successfully been installed to the MO disk. Great! I eject it all and reboot.

The MO disk I want to boot an IDE MO drive has 8.6 successfully copied over to it. However, it does not boot. The drive starts reading the disk on power up, and I can hear disk access, but then the drive light just starts flashing. I get gray screen, movable arrow, but nothing else.

Anyone else have any experience with FWB HDT and removable media ?
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
Not sure what was preventing it from booting before or what I actually did to change things, but it fully boots now off MO disks on this IDE MO drive.

I did a “physical format” using the MO extension, and it worked for booting. I did not get FWB’s driver to work.

However, the drive boots on my 333mhz beige G3, from 1998, but the same disk and drive won’t boot my 233mhz beige G3 from 1997. I wonder what changed on the IDE bus between those two changes.
 

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lobust

Well-known member
Not sure what was preventing it from booting before or what I actually did to change things, but it fully boots now off MO disks on this IDE MO drive.

I did a “physical format” using the MO extension, and it worked for booting. I did not get FWB’s driver to work.

However, the drive boots on my 333mhz beige G3, from 1998, but the same disk and drive won’t boot my 233mhz beige G3 from 1997. I wonder what changed on the IDE bus between those two changes.

Apologies if I am preaching to the choir, but revision A of the beige G3 logic board can't use slave drives, while B can. So I guess there are significant differences to the IDE controller between them...
 

CC_333

Well-known member
Apologies if I am preaching to the choir, but revision A of the beige G3 logic board can't use slave drives, while B can. So I guess there are significant differences to the IDE controller between them...
Yes, but my understanding, based on what little research I've done, is that those differences were mostly in software (the only obvious hardware change between the revisions was the upgrade from Rev. A's Rage II+ to Rage Pro for Rev. B and Rage Pro Turbo for Rev. C).

In other words, the IDE controller is, for all intents and purposes identical across all revisions, but the software that drives it (in the ROM) was improved to allow for slave drives (and presumably to fix software bugs in the IDE controller and elsewhere).

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong!

c
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
Just for clarity here, I’m running my MO drive in master mode using the jumper on the drive to set that.

If I could get my 1997 G3 to boot with Rev C ROM I could tell you the result but so far it does nothing when swapping the ROM.
 

lobust

Well-known member
Yes, but my understanding, based on what little research I've done, is that those differences were mostly in software (the only obvious hardware change between the revisions was the upgrade from Rev. A's Rage II+ to Rage Pro for Rev. B and Rage Pro Turbo for Rev. C).

In other words, the IDE controller is, for all intents and purposes identical across all revisions, but the software that drives it (in the ROM) was improved to allow for slave drives (and presumably to fix software bugs in the IDE controller and elsewhere).

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong!

c

Thanks for clearing that up, I assumed there were physical hardware differences beyond the gpu...

I have a rev A G3 MT so was aware of the A-B differences, I didn't even know there was a rev C until now!
 
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