PDA

View Full Version : MacBook Air SuperDrive Work in Powered USB Hub?




teerexx52
Feb 18, 2008, 03:01 PM
I bought a Belkin powered USB hub and hooked my MacBook Air Superdrive to it and it won't work. I was under the impression it would in a powered USB HUB. Anyone share any experiences with me on this? Thanks



gkarris
Feb 18, 2008, 03:09 PM
It has nothing to do with power. As a matter of fact, all computers see it. Apple used a special drive and provide the drivers only on a MacBook air.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/02/09/early_adopter_issues_macbook_air_superdrive_remote_disc_and_install.html

It needs to be hooked up directly to the MacBook Air to work.

For Your Airs Only

For some reason, Apple doesn't support the new SuperDrive on anything other than the Air. There's no obvious physical reason for this; our previous observation that Apple was using a higher powered bus to drive the SuperDrive turned out to be wrong. It uses the standard 500mA USB power, and when plugged into other Macs, it shows up as a recognized USB device (below, plugged into a MacBook Pro).

All that appears to be missing is the software driver. It is possible that Apple is offering the drive as a loss leader convenience for Air users, and doesn't want to support the drive on other systems because it's not making any money on it. If that's not the case, it's simply a mystery as to why the new SuperDrive is Air-only, as a number of users (and employees) at the Apple Store remarked about wanting to buy it for use with another Mac.

The SuperDrive shows up on the Air as the OPTIARC DVD RW AD-5630A (below). There wasn't an obvious kernel extension driver we could find that supports the SuperDrive, although the Air ships with at least two unique Extensions: AppleUSBMultitouch for the trackpad and ApplePlatformEnabler.

dahcheet
Feb 18, 2008, 03:11 PM
It has nothing to do with power. As a matter of fact, all computers see it. Apple used a special drive and provide the drivers only on a MacBook air.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/02/09/early_adopter_issues_macbook_air_superdrive_remote_disc_and_install.html

It needs to be hooked up directly to the MacBook Air to work.

Well that debunks my previous statements in the other thread....

But why wouldn't it work in the USB hub if s/he used it on an MBA?

gkarris
Feb 18, 2008, 03:13 PM
Well that debunks my previous statements in the other thread....

But why wouldn't it work in the USB hub if s/he used it on an MBA?

Because now it's going through a hub. Go to "About This Mac" and you'll see it's now through the Hub instead...

lewisozz
Feb 19, 2008, 06:02 AM
No i doesn't work because i just tried it with my MBA 1.8GB 64GB SSD !!!!

noservice2001
Feb 19, 2008, 02:33 PM
wtf... i have my belking powered hub and a external passport HD and the air's superdrive... and i can't make a CD now :(

there has to be a way to make the burner work.... im using the AIR the burner was meant for... its just not directly plugged into the air.... could there be a USB to DVI converter so i can plug my HD to the video out?

grrrr

teerexx52
Feb 19, 2008, 03:16 PM
What's frustrating is I've head other external dvd burners will work with the air through a hub? Is this true does anyone know?

dahcheet
Feb 19, 2008, 03:26 PM
What's frustrating is I've head other external dvd burners will work with the air through a hub? Is this true does anyone know?

I would assume that would be true. The MBA Superdrive explicitly states that it has to be plugged directly into the USB port on the MBA. All other external drives should be good to go on any standard USB port. Just one of the caveats of the MBA I guess.

profiteor
Feb 19, 2008, 04:15 PM
So after thinking about this a bit, this is my thought process. I've generalized a few things, but most of this logic is consistent with what I do know from my school days.

USB and Firewire drivers attach through hubs. Hubs and hub drivers should be transparent to the device driver; it's all a bunch of recursive hooks through the abstraction layer. You can daisy chain 4 hubs together and have any random, standard device attached to the last hub and it will work, as long as you electrically satisfy the daisy chain requirements (power your hubs, power your devices, etc).

The only time where a driver isn't likely to work through a hub is where you're signaling out of spec via a handshake packet, or some such, that you're a special device. Lots of Windows-only devices that do this sort of thing. Less and less common today, but they still exist. The hub may not be able to pass such a packet.

I suppose it is also possible to have a driver figure out where it is in a USB chain, and just not attach if it's not next to the root of the chain, but that's beyond weird.

Electrically speaking, I don't know if whatever reports negotiated power can report past the 500mA spec of USB. The MBA Superdrive doesn't have to be out of spec; you can build enclosures for drives that have capacitors in them to boost the current, etc, for the spindle motor to come up, past your 500mA limit. But if this were the case for the MBA Superdrive, it'd work anywhere.

I'm inclined to get one of these and try to run it somewhere else using Patchburn as my driver, and see if it works.

There's very little reason to write a driver or make a device that only works with one computer, unless you intend to lock someone into your solution. However, grabbing ye olde random USB Plextor DVD±RW drive in the office, I will confirm that it works with the Air. Even through a (powered) hub.

Terwal
Feb 19, 2008, 04:37 PM
Knowing that Time Capsule is not yet available, are you guys saying that it would not even be possible to access my superdrive plugged into the Time Capsule ?

If not, that would be a shame...

What do you guys think ?

profiteor
Feb 19, 2008, 05:14 PM
Knowing that Time Capsule is not yet available, are you guys saying that it would not even be possible to access my superdrive plugged into the Time Capsule ?

If not, that would be a shame...

What do you guys think ?

Can't really say for 100% certainty, but I don't think it'll work.

dahcheet
Feb 20, 2008, 07:10 AM
Knowing that Time Capsule is not yet available, are you guys saying that it would not even be possible to access my superdrive plugged into the Time Capsule ?

If not, that would be a shame...

What do you guys think ?

Is that even a feature on the Time Capsule? I know you can hook up external hard drives, but external CD drives? Has anyone tried this with an airport with any external drive (not the MBA SuperDrive)?

Kilamite
Feb 20, 2008, 07:14 AM
Airport Extreme Base Station and Time Machine will only support external hard drives.

They are designed to be a server, not another computer.

Phil A.
Feb 20, 2008, 07:27 AM
It's got nothing to do with drivers, and everything to do with power: The MBA external SuperDrive requires more power than the 500ma supplied by a standard USB port (including those on a powered hub). The USB port on the MBA supplies 1A which is enough to power the SuperDrive. Hubs don't so can't. If you want a drive to work in a powered hub, then you need to get one with an external power supply from a third party provider.

dbwie
Feb 20, 2008, 07:46 AM
I would imagine that Belkin or somebody will come out with a specially designed USB hub that has power requirements for the MBA Superdrive and still allow other USB peripherals. Give it time.

Kilamite
Feb 20, 2008, 08:18 AM
It's got nothing to do with drivers, and everything to do with power: The MBA external SuperDrive requires more power than the 500ma supplied by a standard USB port (including those on a powered hub). The USB port on the MBA supplies 1A which is enough to power the SuperDrive. Hubs don't so can't. If you want a drive to work in a powered hub, then you need to get one with an external power supply from a third party provider.

Drivers play their part too. I doubt if you modded a USB hub to provide 1A worth of current and plugged it into any other Mac it would work.

Zembla-NL
Oct 27, 2008, 03:22 PM
Oops. ignore. one down!

Zembla-NL
Oct 27, 2008, 03:27 PM
Time to revive an old thread because it shows up so high in search results and something needs to be said here!

I bought the MacBook Air for its portability. Because I travel a lot. But when I am comfortably at home I connect it to my cinema display, an external harddisk, a keyboard, a mouse, my Ipod, my phone, a printer, and other things as well. Such as a CD/DVD R/W drive. Good that USB hubs exist!

The SuperDrive is not a USB powered drive. It has nothing to do with USB because it deviates from the standard. All it has is a USB shaped connector that happens to work on an USB port. Its is simply a built in drive disguised as an USB enclosure. The impractical consequence of this is that it only works when directly connected to the MacBook Air...and the the MacBook Air has only one USB port.

So. Apple could have built a USB hub into the drive to deal with that but they haven't.

There is a wonderful USB powered alternative available. The LG GSA-E50L. (No I don't work for LG nor do I have an stocks).
It's only slightly heavier. Slightly bigger. And okay. It doesn't look as good. But at least you can connect it to a HUB. To another Mac. To A Linux Based Machine. Or a Windows PC. And it all works. Thankfully. Because thats why one wants a portable drive after all!

And even though the box it comes in doesn't mention Mac or OS X or whatever. The LG works fine on my MacBook Air. Without the need of installing any special drivers. Because it is a standard USB powered drive!

munckee
Oct 31, 2008, 11:03 AM
Can anyone comment on whether the Air drive will work if attached via a USB extension cable? I'm assuming not based on the rest of this thread, but figured I'd ask...

twist2b
Oct 31, 2008, 11:25 AM
Personally I see NO reason that it should only work on air.

But macbook air tech specs at apple:
Play or burn discs directly with the external USB-based MacBook Air SuperDrive. Thin, light, and easy to take with you, this drive is designed specifically for MacBook Air.

* Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
* Size: 139 x 139 x 17 mm / 5.47 x 5.47 x 0.67 inches (L x W x H)
* Weight: 320 g (0.71 pound)
* Requires MacBook Air with available USB 2.0 port


sooooo, w.e
Personally, I think the drive is SEEEXXXYYYY and I would so buy it for ANY laptop I got.

muncke - no, its literally based on drivers that are ONLY on the air. Kind of like how the OS's are only made for each type of mac. If you try to put the AIR os on a MBP it WONT work. Why apple does this on hardware like the superdrive is beyond me. I think they could make alot of money selling those things!

munckee
Oct 31, 2008, 12:15 PM
muncke - no, its literally based on drivers that are ONLY on the air. Kind of like how the OS's are only made for each type of mac. If you try to put the AIR os on a MBP it WONT work. Why apple does this on hardware like the superdrive is beyond me. I think they could make alot of money selling those things!

Thanks, but I mean will it work on an AIR with an extension cable. If it's a driver issue then it might...

PS. with a little handy work, supposedly you can make your Air superdrive work for any mac or PC. See here (http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-all/).

iomatic
Oct 31, 2008, 12:47 PM
As mentioned, there is a hardware hack on the SuperDrive to make it work, erm, better?

I'm not entirely sure why Apple disabled the drive to only work with the Air. I would think it's a relatively cheap, sleek SuperDrive? Or is it? I haven't shopped for one, so I don't know.

If they started selling to the general public, it would mean anyone would be able to pick one up, and Apple would be responsible for writing and updating drivers for it for the supported platforms (namely: Windows), and have to actually support it (phone calls, emails, etc.). I can imagine that becomes added cost competing over the volume of drives available out there, I'm sure of that.

I can see why Apple tied it into MBA owners only. Not for exclusivity, but for cost.

munckee
Oct 31, 2008, 12:53 PM
If they started selling to the general public, it would mean anyone would be able to pick one up, and Apple would be responsible for writing and updating drivers for it for the supported platforms (namely: Windows), and have to actually support it (phone calls, emails, etc.). I can imagine that becomes added cost competing over the volume of drives available out there, I'm sure of that.

I can see why Apple tied it into MBA owners only. Not for exclusivity, but for cost.

Well...no one is MAKING them support it on windows machines. Even if they just kept the drivers up to date to work on their own line (should be relatively easy via software update). Let Windows customers fend for themselves, as far as I'm concerned...

pilotError
Oct 31, 2008, 02:08 PM
This is the real story.

http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-all/

I do know there are other USB DVD drives (Sony?) that will work with the MBA. That might be another option for everyone. There was a guy on EBay selling them. They looked *almost* as nice as the Superdrives, but you could use it in everything.

six.four
Oct 31, 2008, 02:15 PM
Thanks, but I mean will it work on an AIR with an extension cable. If it's a driver issue then it might...

PS. with a little handy work, supposedly you can make your Air superdrive work for any mac or PC. See here (http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-all/).

to answer your question about the extension cable - I would speculate that there should be no problem. There is no extra circuitry - no hub to bypass. The only foreseeable issue is if apple decided to use a proprietary USB cable that extends from the superdrive - which I am fairly certain is not the case.

twist2b
Oct 31, 2008, 02:19 PM
Wow, good hack. easier said then done too! I am surprised...

If you just have an extension for your air it SHOULD still work, the only thing the extension does is take information of more then 1 thing at a time. No actual change in communication really.