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Quadra 950: Optical Drives

This ended up being a tour-de-force. CD-ROM after CD-ROM failed me and I nearly gave up a few times. Turns out that not all CD-ROM drives will work peacefull.... who am I kidding? Apple has always stuck with proprietary hardware.

There's some great things to learn here when trying to use a non-Apple SCSI CD drive. I think the most important is that you cannot expect 100% functionality. That and you may well need to hack your drive to stop the tray locking; or hack the code to correctly support your drive's locking mechanism.

HP C4343A SureStore 6020i

DSC06102So, I bought a CD drive off eBay. Listed as an old HP SureStore Writer, 50-pin SCSI. PC/Mac Compatible. The Quadra 950 had been off (and unplugged) for days and, instead of turning the machine on and ensuring I had a known-state to base my upgrade from, I dug straight into the upgrade. I opened it up and installed the drive. I put it on the SCSI cable right next to one of the 2 hard drives already installed.

Once back together, I applied power and ... crap ... the flashing-question-mark-on-disk of death icon. OK, it cannot find the boot volume? Maybe my SCSI IDs are conflicting or some-such. So, I take the CD drive back out and .. nope .. still the flashing-question-mark icon on boot.
flashing disk of death

It chimes, the hard drives spin up and think a little, then nothing, just the flashing icon. I remove the PRAM battery, zap the PRAM (although only one chime-reboot), take out the PPC card, the real RAM and then disconnect the power supply from the motherboard. I try the second SCSI bus (there's another 50-pin socket under the power supply) to no avail. Whilst doing all of this I notice that I already have the VRAM upgrade! No need to buy more.

But.. nothing... have I trashed the logic board? The SCSI cable? Has the addition of a faulty CD drive killed the other two SCSI drives? I'm at a loss. It's 2am and I choose to sleep on it.

The next day, after a stressful day of reading up on other people's posts with similar symptoms, I return home to test it all out again. I reset the PRAM with 4-chimes (it seems that one chime restart isn't enough for some cases) and try a new PRAM battery. Most articles point that without a proper voltage from the battery, the motherboard will get very confused and behave erratically. I find that replacing this and fully resetting the PRAM does not work.

DSC06106During the day, I purchased a floppy drive, floppy disks and another SCSI cable from a PC shop in the city. The cable only had a total of three plugs on it, so I plugged one end into the motherboard, the middle into one of the two disks and the existing terminator on the end. Presto... the bloody disk booted. It seems that, in my efforts to install the CD drive, I've fractured/damaged/destroyed the original SCSI cable. This cable had bends, folds and twists in it already, so I can only imagine that I've fractured the wires inside those folds when I was manipulating the CD drive into position.

Do you get the flashing question mark or just a grey screen?
The root cause here ended up being a fractured, old and tired SCSI cable.
Replacing it got my Quadra booting again.

Either way, it was a relief to find the machine booting again. I threw the CD drive in the bin as it wouldn't even power up anymore and found another on eBay. Do be careful when buying crappy old HP hardware to stick in rare, somewhat fragile, vintage Macintosh machines!

Update: It turns out that non-Apple SCSI CD-ROM Drives get their trays locked. As found out from trying the second drive below, Apple only wants you to use the eject button or drag-to-trash on the desktop. They try their hardest to prevent you from ejecting the disk manually to prevent data issues.

IO-Data RX4420

My second drive arrived... it's an IO-Data RX4420 from Japan. An Australian seller had it and it's a relic from the same era as my Quadra. It's in an external case that runs on the 110v Japanese standard. I didn't feel like voltage converters and the like, so I ripped it out of it's case (put that aside for safe-keeping) and attempted another internal install.

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I set the SCSI ID to '1', knowing that one HDD was '0' and the other was '2'. All installed and ready to go, I booted the machine. For the first 10 seconds I could happily press the eject button and the tray would pop out. Once on the Macintosh desktop, the drive stopped ejecting! Pressing the eject button would cause the drive to attempt an eject, I could hear the motor humming, but the tray would not move. The tray had been locked!

Ok, Mac OS has locked the drive? Is this punishment for a third-party unit? After a little googling I came to the conclusion that you must have third-party drivers for third-party CD-ROM drives. Needing another driver also means that if I ever want to boot from this drive then I'll need a floppy boot disk with the drivers copied on. As that my drive was Japanese and made in 1999, I assumed that I was nearly out of luck to find a relevant Macintosh driver... googling was resulting with nothing.

I then stumbled across Third-party Optical Drive Support. It explains how to edit your Apple CD-ROM Extension to support any CD Drive. I downloaded ResEdit and gave it a go.

cdrom-ext-1 cdrom-ext-3 cdrom-ext-2

As per the instructions I dragged the extension to the desktop and duplicated it (command-D) as a backup. (Note that shift-command-3 takes screenshots on the System 7 and MacOS 8.) From here you need to open the extension in ResEdit, navigate to "DRVR" and then the first driver in the list marked "42". Select it and then choose Resource -> Open in Hex Viewer. Edit the offsets as mentioned in the link above. When editing, make note of the next data block (7e09 in this case.) Highlight the data block you're trying to replace and start typing. Everything will shift around... but once you've typed in 4 characters it should be back and you should have your new value in the correct spot. Always compare the next line again to audit your own changes. If required, you can go to Resource -> Revert this resource to undo all changes, or command-Z to undo the most recent edit.

I saved the extension and dropped it back into the System Folder. Unfortunately, upon restart the boot process froze whilst trying to load extensions. Was the base MacOS 8.1 "Apple CD-ROM" Extension ever going to work with my drive? I attempted to upgrade to "Apple CD/DVD 1.2.2" as it was mentioned to work with "older Macintoshes." Note that you can get all the drivers here. After throwing the extension in, I rebooted without the mod. No go... Apple CD still indicated that the drive was not responding. So I modded it and rebooted... same result, freeze during extensions load. I held down shift on the next try and booted without extensions. After verifying the resource hacks on the driver, I decided that 1.2.2 was a no-go. 1.3.1 failed as well.

Hindsight: At this point I was using AppleCD to test if the drive was working. As that the tray was locked, I had not put a CD in. I'm wondering if it was working (as it was showing in SCSI Probe) and I just needed to jimmy the thing open.

I gave up... seems I need a real Apple CD Drive to get MacOS 8.1 going... Using Yahoo Japan (and my limited Japanese), I searched once more for the model number of the CD Drive and found out that the company didn't support it under MacOS at all. There's also product information from IO-Data here that never mentions MacOS (thank you again Web Archive!). Apple clearly states that you'll need a third-party driver. There's discussion here on 2-chan where it seems that a user has asked about compatibility, tried it and never responded... can't be good news.

Or is this really the end? I then found a link here with third-party one-size-fits-all cd-rom drivers. The indicate that CD Sunrise works with 99% of CD drives. To get it to work, one must download the archive from that link, extract it somewhere and drop the extension on your system folder. Didn't work...

And now the rabbit-hole continues. Here's a link with a crap-load of drivers to try... I installed Apple CD 5.3.2 and then followed the hack described here. Low and behold it was the same hack as I'd done on 5.4.2. ... No good....

cdrom-ext-applecd cdrom-ext-fwb cdrom-ext-fwb-2

Trying the FWB CD-ROM Toolkit 2.3.1 gave me a little bit of hope. It could see the drive but it told me that I needed a driver to do anything with it. I didn't really have any ideas on what to do next.

Since I had the network going, I started copying games over to the Quadra. One was a CD image and needed to be mounted by the Toast 4.1.3 application. It turns out that Toast comes with its own CD driver extensions? Prior to testing these, I opened Toast and it instantly saw the drive and happily gave me device information. Clicking the eject button had the same effect as the physical button on the device; it tried to work but was locked. At this point I started to wonder if it was really locked... So I stuck a screw-driver in the pin-hole to eject the tray. It jumped out. I then closed it and tried to eject from Toast. It worked. What's going on here?...

Based on this good news I dropped the Toast CD Reader extension into the extensions folder and rebooted. The CD Drive was locked, so I forced it open and slapped a CD in. It mounted the disc onto the desktop. It seems that the tray-locking mechanism just hates Apple. I attempted to eject the CD from the desktop and the drive was locked! I had to physically force-eject it again. For good measure I tried the CD Sunrise driver again. It also worked!

Urgh... I now had a good-enough working CD Drive. I now wonder if the previous HP drive actually worked. It may have just been suffering the same tray-locking symptoms. The Apple drivers (un-modified) may have also worked, if only I'd bothered to try and force a CD in the drive. I'll go back and test this when I rebuild the machine on fresh HDDs.

Either way, the locking meant that the drive was still highly unusable. There's gotta be a way to disable the tray-lock mechanism. Should I break the drive open and remove its ability to lock itself? It should be as simple as disconnecting a plastic pin somewhere in the mechanism... or is there a driver that does the proper 'unlock' prior to eject?


Although I had success with the second CD Drive, I had already accidentally won an 'official' Apple SCSI drive for AUD$10. It's an NEC, so it's not as 'official' as I had expected (no Apple logo on it.) The model number is NEC CDR-1410A. I checked the SCSI ID configuration and saw that it was set to ID '3' (J0+J1). I pulled the second jumper to set the ID to '1'. Prior to shutting down the Quadra, I disabled CD-Sunrise and enabled the original Apple CD-ROM extension... should work right? It's an Apple CD-ROM drive!

Plugging the cable in, I booted the system and the SCSI device did not show in Apple System Profiler under Devices. It was half-way along the SCSI chain, and the hard disks still worked fine. Shutting the machine down, I inspected the cable and jumpers. The internal termination was on! So.. it seems that if you have a device mid-way with TE enabled, it'll only knock out that device? I thought it'd then block the rest of the chain too!

I grabbed a pair of tweezers and removed the TE jumper. Booting back up, the device now showed in Apple System Profiler. I could even eject the tray. I grabbed a MacOS 8.5 CD I had laying around and inserted it. Nothing. Not even the standard CD action of "is there a disk inside me?". On a hunch, I re-enabled CD Sunrise and disabled the Apple CD-ROM Extension. I manually (although not forcefully) ejected the CD for good measure and rebooted.

Once back at the desktop, inserting the CD saw MacOS 8.5 appear as an icon. I then tried the eject button on the drive to no avail; it was locked. Fortunately, this time that was expected. You should not be ejecting mounted disks. For fun, I dragged the mounted CD icon to the Trash and watched the bloody CD eject the tray, offering me a warm CD. How wonderfully frivolous when shit just works.

DSC06239 DSC06242 DSC06243

All for fun, I then disabled CD Sunrise... This meant that all CD Drivers in the Extensions list were disabled. The drive still worked. At this point I decided that black-magic was at play and I had no chance.

Just for good measure, I returned to the Mac Driver Museum : Disks and noticed that there was an NEC Speedycd v5.31a driver. Note that these are also actually downloadable from the official NEC site also!

Upon installing the driver it turns out that my model isn't supported. I installed the driver anyway and restarted the Mac. The SpeedyCD utility seems to cache random "often used" files to your harddisk to 'speed up' CD access. Interesting theory... Otherwise the software added no extra functionality.

Since it is now working, this is the drive that will carry my Macintosh into the multimedia age! (although in the dark ages, it seems, I need better lighting for my photos!) I'll try booting off it tonight. I want a fresh install of MacOS 8.5 on my new HDDs, which all appear in another post shortly.

Booting from a non-Apple SCSI CD-ROM

Some CDs aren't bootable and your Macintosh will never boot from them. You'll therefore need a floppy bootdisk relevant to that CD. Find an image and then learn how to make a boot disk on a windows machine here. You may also need to copy drivers over for non-standard CD drives. CD-Sunrise is usually a pretty good bet.

I had originally expected the NEC drive not to boot, but the MacOS 8.5 disk I put in there tried to boot on a restart. It didn't get far as the is for genuine PPCs only, not upgraded 68ks.

It turns out you can install 8.5 on the machine... but I'll create a new article on that. If you want to do it now then see the instructions here.

Apple PowerCD

I couldn't resist this item when I saw it on eBay. It's nearly a discman, but you actually need the base to make the whole thing function. It turns out that half of the required 'brains' to even spin the CD are in the base! There's a forum post here that details this more.

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This thing is pretty! It's smaller than I expected. It's not too heavy either. It played a burnt audio CD flawlessly through both the 3.5mm audio jack and the A/V output cable. This cable has Stereo RCA Audio leads and composite video, the video being for PhotoCDs.

It also came with software: Kodak PhotoCD (CD), Apple PowerCD software (CD) and a driver floppy. I'd purchased the Apple Design speakers, which sound great for their age with this unit! My test audio CD was non other than the soundtrack to The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour: Fat Man And Team Fat, The ‎– 7/11.

There was no SCSI cable, so I had to find one online... eBay was only offering results from the USA. The cable required is a DB-25 SCSI to Centronics 50-pin. These are chunky and heavy and old. Be careful not to buy a parallel printer cable... they look very similar but only have a 36-pin Centronics plug on the other end!

The cable arrived and was a nice length to allow the PowerCD to be placed under the monitor. Everything fitted together well and I suppose I'd really fluked buying the correct cable. Note that this (like eSata) needs to be configured, plugged in and set up prior to booting your Macintosh. SCSI is not plug-and-play!

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The display on the unit changes to 'data' once the Macintosh initialises it. First boot saw a disk mount to the desktop, but AudioCDs would do nothing... zero recognition. I then remembered that the drive came with software and installed the AppleCD CD Player. On reboot, inserting an Audio CD made finder crash in MacOS 8.1! What the hell... I haven't since gotten an Audio CD to work. Since the install, unformatted floppies also now make Finder crash. Yey!

I used the PowerCD to install MacOS 8.5 (of which I actually have a legit copy of!) The internal drive kept throwing data errors (blaming on drive speed vs. error correction capabilities vs. scratches) and so, although it took over 50minutes, I switched to the PowerCD for that authentic experience!

I had no further luck with MacOS 8.5. I had to install the Apple CD Player to get the application to work with the drive and it would see data CDs fine... Audio CDs would cause the system to lock up though. It actually turns out that MacRumors has a little hint that 'getting it to work with Macintoshes of the day was tricky'. I wonder what I have to do to make it function...

It turns out that the Apple CD Player is not the way to go... the PowerCD Installer installed PowerCD Audio (under the Apple menu) and this is to be used. I gleaned this information from the PowerCD User Manual. With this open, inserting an Audio CD and hitting play also causes Finder to lock up! I wonder if there's software updates somewhere? Here they are, and also over here. Thank you Macintosh Garden!

The drivers did no good... they're the same as the version on the floppy that came with the PowerCD! The installer locked up trying to install the PowerCD Extension, I assume it was still in use? A reboot made it obvious that the drivers had uninstalled. So I reinstalled from the download once more, rebooted, inserted an AudioCD and everything locked up again.

Final test... remove the internal CD drive... maybe the PowerCD only ever expects one CD drive on the machine. After the huuuuge wait from a cold boot (too much RAM! 256mb makes the machine take minutes to switch on), the same scenario occurred. Who cares... no more Audio CDs. For fun, I connected the internal drive again and threw the Audio CD in there... no lockups, but no response at all... didn't mount, could easily eject.

todo: test CDROM Toolkit.

Further References:

Pioneer DVD-303S-A

As you can glean from the model number, this is a DVD drive. It was reported to work with A/UX installs and so I purchased one from an Australian seller on eBay. It's a slot-loader and makes some pretty cool noises.

DSC06470 DSC06472

MacOS 8.6 hated this drive. I still need to test CD Sunrise and Toast Extensions, but it wanted nothing to do with it on the base drivers. Meanwhile, A/UX found it and installed perfectly!

Quadra 950 CD-ROM Case Bezel

The case doesn't allow the easy insertion of a CD-ROM Drive. You'd have to destroy the face-plate to mount the drive directly. Due to this, I whipped open Tinkercad and designed up a new bezel.

cd-bezel cd-bezel-2 DSC06207

Find more information on this here.


About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
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