Make your own 5.25" optical drive enclosure - ideas?


#1

Like many here, I have a collection of half-height 5.25" optical drives sitting on the shelf. A few are in USB-interface enclosures, but many are not. As progressively fewer PC’s even come with 5.25" drive bays, I had planned to put more of these drives into external enclosures.

Shopping around recently, it seems (and I should have known) that the supply of these enclosures, especially at a reasonable price, has practically dried up. There are >$50 models from Vantec, Bytecc, OWC, and Addonics. Also a generic smooth aluminum $30 enclosure that gets uniformly lousy reviews. There is also a flood of 2009-vintage HP external drives that can be had on eBay for $20, rebadged LiteOn SATA drive included. I have one of these; it’s a bear to open (at least, with intent to reassemble) without minor damage but it does do the jub, albeit at USB 2.0 speeds.

There is no shortage, however, of cheap USB-to-SATA adapter cables and power supplies. I have used one these in a pinch, but can’t see plugging and unplugging such contraptions repeatedly. It would be nice to have something with more mechanical stability.

Lately I’ve been noticing product listings for storage boxes that fit empty 5.25" drive bays. Based on the pictures, they appear to consist of a sleeve in which a drawer slides in and out. They come in metal and plastic-and-metal varieties. I don’t have one to play with, but was wondering if (with a little modification to the sleeve) a 5.25" drive might fit inside the sleeve. This would give an enclosure-like appearance, and an attractive place in which to anchor the USB-to-SATA and power cables.

Failing that - any other ideas for a do-it-yourself 5.25" optical drive enclosure?


#2

I also looked for an enclosure and I failed to find one that is reasonably priced that could be obtained easily. No idea about a do-it-yourself one.


#3

There’s at least one more €/$ 50.-- enclosure : Raidsonic IB-550StU3S with eSATA and USB 3.0.
But it’s hard to get. Used to be on eBay. Still available in NL and DE at few shops.
This is its product page ( which is only accessible by searching for IB-550StU3S, it’s not in/on the menu anymore ) : http://www.raidsonic.de/en/standards/searchresults.php?we_objectID=456
And there is also Delock 42484 with USB 3.0 (sparse availability, around €50 - 55.-- when in stock) : http://www.delock.de/produkte/F_196_5-25_42484/merkmale.html

One thing to keep in mind when buying is the (implementation) quality of the USB 3.0 to SATA bridge. Speed and sleep states. Sometimes drives (optical and hdd) are put to sleep after just a few seconds of inactivity causing enormous slowdowns when trying to access them. And also when doing a shutdown or boot of your box.

I have 6 DVD burners in the box, of which I want to use 2, maybe 3 again. At the moment I’m also looking for good quality enclosures (max € 25.-- a piece). € 50.-- is just ridiculous.
Anything more and I’m better of buying a ready-to-go external blu-ray drive like the Pioneer BDR-209EBK for € 75.-- and throw out the drive.


#4

The Delock 42484 is current sold in the US under the Bytecc brand, for about US$44.


#5

That’s awesome. Even when adding 19% or 21% sales tax, an EU product is cheaper in the US. Shows how much ripping off there is going on here.


#6

So I was in the arts & crafts store with my wife this weekend, and was struck by a pile of pretty shoebox sized photo storage cases, made of thick cardboard. It occurred to me that these are almost exactly the size of your average 5.25" drive enclosure (perhaps a little of the tall side, but not a big deal).

I have a bunch of USA-to-SATA converters and power supplies; some of which are bare PCB’s orphaned from small drive cases. I bet with a little time and experimentation I could make appropriate cut-outs into one of those shoeboxes, cram all the electronics and cables inside, drive some screws through holes in the cardboard, and line the inside with aluminum foil; thereby producing a perfectly acceptable drive enclosure. Hmmm.


#7

Now that sounds interesting, if you do it we would love to see some pics :iagree:


#8

If I go through with this project, will definitely post.


#9

Beware of the Delock 42484 external 5.25" HDD/ODD enclosure! I am having a hard time with using them as optical disc drive cases: While reading works properly, I get errors when writing to CD and DVD.

With two different optical drives (LG BH16NS and Pioneer BDR-S09XLT) mounted in two different Delock 42484 cases connected to two different computers (older Intel P35 Chipset (USB 2.0) and newer Intel Z270 (USB 3.0)), neither Nero (12.5) nor Imgburn were able to write on CD’s (Nero behaves like it writes to CD, but no data is written (but simulation = off!), the CD is still usable. Imgburn quits with “no additional sense information”).

Writing to DVD creates a coaster with the Pioneer S09 drive, while with the LG drive, both Nero and Imgburn work.

For any reasons, writing to blu ray discs works with Nero and Imgburn (but the enclosure is picky about which USB connector is chosen. With the wrong ones, I get an “Invalid address for write” error).
Sometimes I also encountered disconnects from the USB host. I first thought of some power settings of Win7 sending the USB host to sleep. But I suspect it’s the old Via VL700 USB3.0 to SATA converter that is used in those Delock enclosures, that is causing all these troubles…!


#10

Whoa! That certainly gave me a start, as a couple of months ago I had bought its evil twin in the USA, the Bytecc ME-535U3 and hadn’t even opened the plastic wrapping. So this morning I did…

I mounted a random LiteOn DVD burner from the shelf (HP 1170r salvaged from its own branded enclosure) and connected it to a USB3 port using the supplied cable. Just wrote and verified a data CD and DVD without a hiccup using Nero 16.

You might just have a flaky USB port on the enclosure’s bridge board. Or, there are firmware/microcode improvements that the Bytecc version has.

I have definitely run into USB interface flakiness with optical drive enclosures; especially with BD-R. For instance, a USB 2.0 Vantec NexStar DX in which Pioneer and LG Blu-Ray burners would intermittently fail to be recognized by the host computer. I checked the voltage on the power supply leads, used different cables, checked the bridge board for cold solder joints … nothing helped. FWIW my Plextor 891-SAF-Plus DVD burner is running happily inside this same enclosure without a single complaint. Go figure.


#11

I wonder, if your Bytecc ME-535U3 box uses the same USB3-SATA bridge chip. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any info on the net.
I just wrote an email to Delock Germany. Hopefully, they can provide a firmware update to that old Via VL700 bridge chip.

Update: I just found out, that the ByteCC ME-535U3 box uses the same Via VL700 and that I am by far not the only one having these problems:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817145090&Tpk=ME-535U3 (see under reviews)
Reminds me somehow of the old VIA Chipset crap back in the days of Pentium II !!


#12

Yeah, I see the Newegg reviews are all over the place. I’m not surprised, really; Bytecc is basically all over the place anyway. I bought this enclosure off the store shelf for a good price (now I know why, heh). Had I seen those reviews first I might have spend the extra $15 for the Vantec, but overall their hardware is only marginally better.

If you want to pursue a firmware fix and Delock is not helpful, I have found the www.station-drivers.com to be an excellent source of extremely rare drivers and firmware for stuff like this. It can be risky too, as you may have no idea whether the firmware you download is older or newer, better or worse - and if designed for a different hardware implementation it can have unintended consequences. As an example, I successfully used it to obtain Asmedia firmware for an mSATA-to-USB enclosure that was positively incompatible with Windows 8/10. The enclosure worked after that, but throughput was cut in half and the activity LED no longer functioned.


#13

I wrote Delock a few days ago, if they could provide a firmware update to the Via VL700. They contacted the manufacturer of the Delock 42484 box, but unfortunately, even the manufacturer is not able to do so.
Regarding that problem, I contacted Via directly 3 days ago, but they have not answered yet…

@schuster: I have 3 of these Devil’s, sorry Delock boxes and all of them show the same errors. You must have had more luck with your ByteCC ME-535U3 box.


#14

I have not done extensive testing on the Bytecc but, as previously posted, an initial check failed to turn up such a major flaw as you (and others) have been having - or those reviewers on NewEgg having flawed Bytecc models. In any case, I checked the store receipt, and I am past the 90 day return period at Micro Center, so I’m stuck with it anyway :wink:

I’m sure there are numerous different hardware variations on this theme with differences that are both obvious and not. Especially with the bridge board and power supply.

As an trivial example, this Bytecc enclosure (and to some extent, the similar Vantec models) have come in USB 2, and more recently USB 3 versions; each brand using very similar cabinets for newer models. There have been 3 different hardware versions of the cabinet, all affecting the power supply connection:

  1. Wall current (AC) plug input, as with a PC power supply. RF NOISE GALORE
  2. External power supply with 5V/12V custom (and fragile) DIN connector
  3. External 12V power supply with coaxial connector - my preference.

So imagine the differences inside, even among samples that superficially look identical.


#15

Here is one handy fellow’s solution to this situation:


#16

I got fed up with looking, and decided to ditch the idea of an external closure entirely.
So I ordered a USB 3.0 to SATE / IDE converter from Ugreen at eBay (seller: ugreen_flagship_store).

Received the converter last Friday, and so far I tried 2 DVD burners with it. >The LG is working perfectly in Arch Linux and Windows 8.1 with reading and burning. The BenQ (Philips in the photo) is not recognised at all. Not by my motherboard, not by Windows, not by Linux. I tested both drives connected to the USB ports in the I/O block at the back of my motherboard (USB 2 and 3), the USB ports at the front of my PC case (USB 2 and 3) and the USB ports of an USB 3.0 PCI-e extension card.

This will tide me over until I find a (used) enclosure or a batch of external burners on sale so I can chuck out the drives.

Still have to test the other 4 DVD burners. But it’s a bit boring, so I take a break.

P.S.
There are similar converters from Inateck, and others. Ugreen and Inateck converters are also available from Amazon.


#17

I have a couple of those BYTECC ME-535U3 and I would advise avoiding it (looks like it’s out of production
anyhow). I don’t remember what the specific issue was, but I’m pretty sure it was fairly useless when doing
quality scans. It would stop in the middle of the scan. I tried updating the firmware and I managed to brick
the thing.

It may not be what the original poster is looking for, but I highly recommend this:

The one I linked to does not come with the power supply. I actually happened to have a couple laying
around that fit perfectly. If you do need the power supply, they sell the same exact item with AC adapter
for $21.99. If you use your own adapter, its just $9.99. Hell of a bargain. Works perfectly with optical
drives, and I’ve used it with many different ones. It fits securely and is extremely convenient if you have
many drives. Again, I know it’s not what you guys are looking for, but if you don’t want to spend $50
on the Vantec, this is likely your best bet. ASmedia chipset.

If you’re looking for a USB 3.0 IDE/SATA Converter, I’ve had success with the one sold by Inateck (also on
Amazon). I tried a couple of IDE Optical drives and they worked. I just lent it out, but when I get it back,
I’ll be happy to test my BenQ drives with it. Model # UA2001. It uses a chipset I had never heard of: Innostor.

Lemme know if any of you want me to test something out.


#18

Wow, I had no idea it would place that huge amazon thing in the message. I simply cut and paste the
URL. In any case, it’s not a referral link or anything.


#19

The postings about this enclosure said that the optical drive could read but not write.

This product seems to still be in production, as I see fresh stock on the shelf (and its Vantec cousin) every time I visit Micro Center.

Neither of these is particularly high quality, and with today’s prices it’s a non-trivial investment especially if it does not work for you. Despite superficial similarity there seem to have been many different hardware versions of both brands over the years, so it can be a real crap shoot.

FWIW I have two of these, purchased over the counter in the last year, and have no issues. YMMV.