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MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?

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Bob Cole
MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 10, 2010 at 5:38:29 pm

For my MacBook Pro, I have an ExpressCard with one USB and two Firewire ports. (I bought this because I thought that the laptop could not simultaneously handle Firewire in from the deck and Firewire out to an external drive.)

When I edit on the road, I use a Sony M25U HDV/DV/DVCAM deck, and a firewire hard drive for media.

When I plug the deck into the built-in Firewire400 port on the right of the laptop, and plug the hard drive into the ExpressCard, all the laptop can see is the hard drive.

When I reverse that (i.e. plug the deck into one of the ExpressCard's Firewire ports, and plug the hard drive into the laptop's own Firewire port), the laptop can see both devices.

Two questions:
1. Why?
2. Should I be concerned that my Firewire ports are getting flaky? Everything works, but it gives me qualms that it only works with this one set-up.

I just started using a Kramer DV Line Protector in the middle of the hard drive-to-laptop cables. Whether I use it or not, the same situation I've described occurs. But I didn't use it until recently, so I wonder whether I induced a problem some time ago, because I was used to hot-plugging Firewire devices.

Bob C
MacBookPro (model 4,1 in System Profiler)
Intel Core 2 Duo
2.5 GHz
4GB memory
FCP 6.0.6


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Michael Sacci
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:30:59 pm

Does the deck work ok if the HD is not hooked up. Try with the card in and out (but nothing hooked up.

As long as the deck or HD is not dropping out while working I would worry to much about it. B



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Bob Cole
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:44:31 pm

Since posting my "solution" of swapping firewire ports, and without changing cables or moving anything a millimeter, I found that the problem is intermittent. Identical setup that worked an hour earlier. (Hard drive worked, deck no longer was recognized.)

Then I swapped firewire cables to the deck, and suddenly it worked. So I swapped back to the old firewire cable, and it still worked.

Last time this happened, I used my Sony Z1 as the "deck" and all was well. This trip, I'm taking a couple of DV cameras just in case. Maybe I should pack some clay tablets as well.

Thanks!

Bob C



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John Lawrence
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:44:34 pm

Hi
have you tried FireWire 800 to the drive?


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David Hunter
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 11, 2010 at 3:12:02 am

I have a Macbook Pro top-of-the line as of a year ago. I also used a Firewire 400 connector for my external Maxtor when editing on the road. The same external drive was more reliable as far as mounting on an office IMac. The coming and going of Mac's firewire ports has been an issue that is very Googlable. I found the same maddening issue. I think somehow it is an internal voltage issue.

And when the Macbook Pro decides not to see through its Firewire 400 for a while there is no amount of trickery that will work. I was going nuts searching all the forums for people's insights beyond the usual change cables, re-start, blah blah, disk utility...blah blah...

This is STILL an issue that Apple has never owned up to.

I moved on to the MacPro but I know there are times when I will have to haul out the MacbookPro again...it IS an internal hardware issue by all evidence.


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John Lawrence
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:41:07 am

I meant instead of the expresscard: use FireWire 800 to the drive and 400 to the camera deck. Also: I'm a Neanderthal still on SD but I think firewire400 may have problems with HD.Also external port could be wonky which happened to
my LaCie
John


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Bob Cole
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:23:18 am

[John Lawrence] "have you tried FireWire 800 to the drive?"

Yes, and when I am having problems, that does not seem to improve matters.

Bob C


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Richard Martz
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 12, 2010 at 1:42:46 am

I wanted to be sure that I protected the integrity of my firewire ports so I do a few things to do that. Pushing cables in and out repeatedly can shorten the life of the firewire port. I use a powered firewire hub as well. Use short cables. I found a place in California that had a bunch of 18 inch cables that were very affordable. And now every thing works fine, the stars are aligned with the fabric of the universe.

Richard Martz
MagicMartz Media

Final Cut Pro HD
Kona LH
After Effects
PhotoShop
Illustrator
Lots of other Fun Stuff!


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John Lawrence
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 12, 2010 at 5:20:09 am

Phew, that's a relief. California sounds OK.Can you tell
me does the 17"MBP have 9 or 6 pin 800 FireWire port?
Apple stores in UK sell LaCie 1 metre cables for £ 20.00
which is a lot if you get home and it's the wrong size.
John

TripleU Productions
156 Chapter Road
London NW25NA UK
+44(0)7801997194
http://www.tripleumovies.com

underground filmmaker


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Bob Cole
Re: MacBook Firewire ports inconsistent -worry or not?
on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:44:01 am

[Richard Martz] "I use a powered firewire hub as well. Use short cables. I found a place in California that had a bunch of 18 inch cables that were very affordable"

Okay - Richard, I'm listening, because it sounds as though you are consistently having success with something that a lot of people are succeeding with only intermittently. Could you please tell us the specific model of powered hub, and where you got your short cables?

btw: the single most effective (but not always) step I've found is to plug everything in, before turning the laptop on. No "hot-plugging."

btw2: I think you're right about the fragility of the plugs themselves. I wish my HDV deck had more than one connector; many drives do.

btw3: I've learned that there is a quicker way to determine whether your firewire connections are good, than starting up FCP. Go to Apple/About this Mac and use the "System Profiler" to look at the firewire ports. Here's the kicker: even when my firewire ports are working, the information in System Profiler is inconsistent. When the deck's firewire connection is working, System Profiler always tells me the name and characteristics of the Sony HDV deck; but even when the hard drive's firewire connection is working, it only sometimes will tell me the name of, and details about, the hard drive. Is that weird or what? I mean, I KNOW the name of the hard drive, but why the inconsistency?

Bottom line: I'm going to try Richard's setup. But if my results are still inconsistent, is there any way to diagnose where the problem is, deck or hard drive or Mac? I'm thinking, "Mac."

Bob C


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