About PCMIA USB 2.0 Cards....

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solidius

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I have a Toshiba Satellite that I bought RIGHT before USB 2.0 was put into every system, so I purchased a Tech Gear Usb 2.0 pcmia adapter. I've been using it for my external burner and at one point for my usb wireless network adapter(until I got a pcmia adapter). Anyways, I just bought a new Smartdisk 60gb Firelite External Hard drive, and it will not run if its plugged into my PCMIA USB 2 card, BUT it will run fine if I plug it right into my laptop's built in usb 1.1 slots. But USB 1 IS SO SLOW.

Everything points to NOT ENOUGH POWER running from the pcmia card. So my questions; is this card defective or is this normal for a pcmia adapter? (Or is it just because I didn't spend $70 on an adapter?) My usb network adapter got power from it just fine, but I understand that I hard drive uses alot more power. So am I just STUCK having to use the old USB 1.1 slots on my laptop or do other pcmia cards run more power through them for such devices as this? Thanks in advance!
 
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I don't know from experience, but I'm sure a more expensive card would have more power output. However, if this is a drive that uses an AC adapter, it shouldn't be drawing any power from the USB port at all.
 

JohnWill

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Does the drive have a dual-headed USB cable to draw power from two USB connections? That's how the extra power for 2.5" drives is normally handled, both of mine work that way. If not, running a 60gb 2.5" drive on a single USB connections power is very marginal, and will frequently fail.
 

solidius

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It only came with a single head usb cable. I'll have to try to find one with dual heads though. Does that mean that ANY usb 2 card I buy will have problems running this drive, as far as POWER goes?
 

JohnWill

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Probably. I'm actually surprised that you got any USB port to run the drive, most 60gig drives draw considerably more than 1/2A at +5V, which is what the USB port provides. I know my 60gig 2.5" drive won't run on a single USB connection. I suspect that on the ports that do run it, you're running very close to the edge.
 
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If the drive is meant to be an external drive (as in, not just a laptop drive in an enclosure), then it should not consume as much power as a normal 2.5" drive.
 

JohnWill

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You'd think that, but then for all the 2.5" drives I've seen, you'd be wrong. :D I actually do have one 20gig 2.5" external that will run on most USB ports with a single connection, but most won't.
I don't know from experience, but I'm sure a more expensive card would have more power output.
Actually, the USB specification is for 0.5A at +5.0VDC from each port, so the price of the USB card shouldn't enter into the mix.
 

solidius

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Well this particular brand/type of external hd makes its selling point on not needing any kind of power supply. I've contacted support for my USB card and they are telling me that it may be my laptop not sending enough power to the cardbus. BUT it send enough to the regular USB port so why not to the card bus? The thing is I spent twice as much on this drive so I didn't need a power adapter, and I have HALF the space of a regular external. I might as well just take it back and get the bigger/cheaper maxtor 100gb drive since I still have to have power run to it.
 

JohnWill

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From the FAQ:
My FireLite (USBFLB) will not power up when connected to my PC or laptop.

Some computers do not provide enough power through the USB port to fully power the FireLite. If your computer’s USB port is not able to supply enough power, you may experience one of the following:

The FireLite will have a blinking light, but will not show up in My Computer.
The FireLite will frequently disconnect, appearing and then disappearing from My Computer.
You hear the drive repeatedly spin up and down, but it never installs or mounts properly.
The computer may freeze when the FireLite is connected or accessed.
Windows may not recognize the device to install the correct drivers.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions, you may have a power issue. We have included an auxiliary cable with your FireLite USB drive. If your computer has a PS/2 (Mouse/Keyboard) port:

Turn off your notebook or desktop.
Connect the PS/2 Auxiliary power cable to your computer. You can plug in your mouse or keyboard into the back of the Auxiliary power cable.
Connect the USB cable directly to your machine, not through a hub or other device. If you are using a desktop computer, use one of the USB ports on the back of the computer.
Now having both the PS/2 cable and USB cables connected to the computer and FireLite, slide the switch on the back of the drive from the ‘USB’ position to the ‘EXT’ position.
Turn back on your computer.
If you do not have a PS/2 port on your computer, you will need to use an external power supply, SmartDisk model number ACFLB. This is a 5 Volt, 2 Amp center-pin positive adapter.
 

solidius

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So I found a Western Digital 80gb external for only $10 more than the firelite, so I thought I'd give it a shot just to see; and it runs GREAT off of my USB 2 cardbus NO EXTRA POWER NEEDED. I guess this firelite just isn't as good of a portable drive, even though smart disk basically ONLY makes these kinds of hd's. Oh well. I'll just return the firelite for my money back and be MUCH HAPPIER with my 20gb larger drive that actually does what its supposed to. Thanks for your help anyways!
 

DaveBurnett

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You need to be aware that the TOTAL current for a PCMCIA/Cardbus card is also 0.5amps and that includes the power for the card itself. I have a bus powered scanner that works fine on a native USB port, but needs extra power when used via a cardbus USB card.
You can check the power required for the disk as it is printed on the top of the actual disk inside the case.
 

JohnWill

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IMO, any disk running on a single USB connection is running on the edge, since even the most power efficient disks require about 2-3 watts, which is all the USB port is capable of supplying.
 

solidius

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Just out of curiosity, where would you buy a dual headed USB cable? I tried to google it, just to see how they worked, but I couldn't find anyone actually SELLING it. It must be a pretty rare specialty item or something?
 
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Usually they ship with the drives (mine did), never seen them for sale as a separate item.
 

JohnWill

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I searched for one for a friend, and I never did find one. Like kiwiguy, both of mine came with the drive enclosures I purchased. I built one by hacking a USB cable apart for the guy we were searching for.
 
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