Ideas on DIY Multibay External Firewire HD Enclosure

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by setasai, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. setasai macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2005
    Title says it all. I'm attempting to build my own external harddrive enclosure.

    Here's my brainstorm...

    -Cheap case w/ slots for 8ish harddrives probably 5.25 bays.
    -Put harddrives in removal rack enclosures.
    -Use a bridgeboard system so a motherboard isnt needed.
    -power supply somehow triggered by a switch and maybe individual switches per bay.
    -firewire w/ daisy-chained harddrives to my Imac.

    Any of this seem possible? I have like 4 externals right now and its annoying to have so many cables and individual boxes stacked on top of each other. I'd like to make those portable as they should be and make a home rack harddrive system without making it a full blown computer w/ motherboard and Cpu and ram and all that fun stuff... just a bigger expanded drive enclosure. The ones i've seen online run for 300-500 and thats just for a 4bay system.

    Plus if i get this working right I should be able to expand it to even more drives later.

    Links to possible parts would be fantastic since I have no idea where to start.

    What do you all think? Am I crazy?
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I don't think you'd be able to do this as inexpensively as you think. :(

    You might locate an option or two here.

    I did a quick search, and so far, haven't found a SATA to FW800 interface. Only stumbled on PCI/PCIe/... The closest thing I know of for up to 8 bays (5.25"), uses IDE internally.

    The enclosure itself would be doable. Use 4 or 5 bay hot-swap cages, as they fit into fewer 5.25" bays. For example, a 5 bay unit will fit into 3*5.25" space. There is even one available at newegg that has individual Power(switch)/Indicators per drive (4bay unit).

    Here is an example of a SATA to FW800 Bridge Adapter. Can operate 2 drives, and is a bit expensive, as you would need four of them.

    Personally, I'd go for an eSATA card, and something like this. Fast, and inexpensive for the speed. It also allows you use RAID, and any drive you wish.
  3. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Well Dat Optic makes a lot of very nice enclosures that feature your choice of FW 800 interfaces and using either SATA or IDE drives in sizes up to 8 drives. An 8 drive FW800 enclosure is at

    I picked up a couple of their 4 drive enclosures to get rid of seven single drive enclosures I used to use old IDE drives in for backups as few places had multi-drive enclosures using FW800 that worked with IDE drives. These are at and are really nice quality. BTW- for some goofy reason, Dat Optic has a subsidiary also online called Cal Optic which sells the same products but usually for less (the four bay I used is $15 less at Cal Optic- ).

    Anyway, that is another bunch of enclosures to consider as I really agree with nanofrog in that by the time all is said and done, a DIY enclosure cost would probably be not that much cheaper really- and probably would not approach the quality of one that was designed for the purpose from the start. But hey, different strokes and all- and I definitely agree with the idea of combining drives into these type of enclosures. Much, much cleaner and I am very glad I did!:)
  4. setasai thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2005
    Actually... looking at those ... not bad...

    Maybe it would just be easier to buy one. In the end I just thought it wouldnt be too hard but cost wise i suppose its similar.

    I'm surprised those bridge boards are so expensive. I'd expect it to be cheaper. Might even be cheaper if i had bought 8 enclosers and gutted them for their boards.

    More experiences w/ 4+ bay enclosures would be fantastic.
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Building yourself is a nice way to save money, if it's practical. I like, and do, use DIY when it suits my needs. :D

    I recently ran into the same situation when looking for a SAS expander, as it was an option to me. Not readily available, and tend to be very expensive. :(
    It turns out cheaper to buy an enclosure with the expander built in. ;)

    In your case, it seemed to me that the readily available options were a good value for the money. :)

    Good Luck. :)
  6. super_kev macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2005
    I was searching for FW400 to IDE/ATA bridge boards (like that DATOptic FW800 board) but I didn't find any... does anyone know of some that you can purchase somewhere? Preferably ones that support 4 drives.
  7. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I must be missing something here because a simple Google search for "firewire to ide bridgeboard" turned us a whole lot of them, so maybe some of them will help.

    One right off the bat was
  8. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    New way to do it

    I know this is an old thread. But just figure out a new way to see 5x HDD on my Firewire port via a SINGLE connection :) pretty cool.

    You need a port multiplier bridge

    then connect this bridge to this PM support FireWire | USB bridge

    That is now FireWire port will see five drives...

    Now if you want it to be USB3.0 connection, you can do this
    Use the same PM bridge base on SiI-3726 but with eSATA port

    Use this USB3.0 to eSATA support Port Multiplier

    Now your USB2.0 and USB3.0 port will see FIVE drives.

    I tested and confirm with the new reMB

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