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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 8th April, 2007, 04:20 AM
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Please! Firewire (IEEE 1394a) help -- as in HELP!

I'm desperately hoping some knowledgable person can shine some light on my problem -- seems absolutely crazy to me!

I've been using an external Firewire/USB2.0 cabinet containing an NEC 3550A DL burner with an IEEE 1394a cable for many months with no problems at all. I've been using the I/O strip Firewire port on my ASUS A8V Deluxe board (WinXP Pro).

All was just ducky until I recently upgraded the HSF on my A64 2X 3800+ processor -- it got warm too easily. I had some problems getting the system running again and it turned out that the video card (9600XT) and a 5 port NEC USB2.0 card had shifted so that their rear contact lands weren't making reliable contact.

Naturally, I discovered the problems one at a time, due to the system consistently having boot problems. However, when I had the system booting properly again (many consecutive failures), I discovered it no longer detected my Firewire NEC 3550A. This had always worked flawlessly (turn on power-> system detect and reports in "My Computer" and in Windows Explorer and utilities would report presence thereof).

I tried connecting the drive via Firewire to a different computer and it detected normally. I concluded the PCI contact problems had managed to kill the I/O strip Firewire port and ordered a PCI IEEE-1394a card (5 port including 1 internal) to replace it. That PCI card arrived (VIA controller) and I installed it Saturday evening.

Guess what -- although the new PCI Firewire card was correctly detected and installed by WinXP, it is exhibiting the identical problem. When I turn on the NEC 3550A, the system doesn't detect it.

However, while playing with it I discovered that if the drive is already powered during system boot, then even though the system doesn't acknowledge its presence, if I turn it off, the system generates the two tone "disconnect" sound -- just as though everything was normal except I'd failed to perform a "safe" disconnect. (Then went back and discovered the identical behavior occurs with the I/O strip Firewire port.)

Note: This two tone alert absolutely doesn't occur if I apply power and remove power after the system is booted, only if the power is already applied during system boot. After boot, applying and removing power is completely ignored.

I tried one last thing with the NEC 3550a, and that is to connect it via the PCI NEC USB2.0 card instead of Firewire (ordered a cable specifically for it's mini-5 pin connector at same time as the Firewire PCI card -- just in case). Everything behaved exactly as it should.

So if the external drive is detected correctly via a USB PCI card, why would it be ignored via an IEEE 1394a PCI card? (Unfortunately, I've no other Firewire devices to try, but as I said, it works perfectly with a different computer -- detected normally at power up, and reported and accessable via the usual mechanisms.)

One last note, I've one older WinXP sysem installed on this machine and a second boot just installed two weeks ago. The identical behavior is reproducable on both boots.

Please, what could be happening?
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Last edited by TrevorS; 8th April, 2007 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 8th April, 2007, 01:57 PM
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That is very strange. My thoughts where that maybe the driver became Firewire driver became damaged during the repeated reboots, but if you have two installs that does not seem so likely. Another thought is that perhaps the Firewire strip is conflicting with something else, such as an IRQ maybe?

I would try running a linux live CD to see if the ports are working for that, or maybe a fresh OS install, just to be sure that the hardware is OK.
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Old 8th April, 2007, 02:40 PM
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The optical drive exists in Device Manager but not in My Computer.

I've seen this before, the registry settings for the optical drive have become corrupt, effects both internal and external drives.

Jump into the registry (Start-> Run-> regedit).

Browse to this location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Contro l\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318} is the seventh one down it will say "DVD/CD-ROM DRIVES" on the top line of the right pane.

Open the multi-string vales by titled double clicking "UpperFilters" and "LowerFilters" (if its there, not always, varies between drives) and delete the value data.

Then close regedit and reboot the machine.

Let me know how that goes.
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Old 8th April, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rondog
The optical drive exists in Device Manager but not in My Computer.
Unfortunately, I don't see it under Device Manager either, but I'll double check that case where the drive was powered while booting, whereupon the system made those two tones when I shut the drive power off.

(...)

Just retried that specific case with both boots and via both IEEE 1394a controllers (onboard and PCI) and Device Manager shows both IEEE 1394a interfaces, but does not show the 3550A drive. It DOES show the two EIDE attached optical drives (as always). I left the Device Manager screen open with the optical drive list displayed and powered down the 3550A external module. The Device Manager display flickered as though it was changing something, but the optical drive list content remained the same -- as did everything else as far as I can tell -- got the two tone disconnect signal though.

I then tried repowering the drive, but there was no answering flicker in the display manager screen -- no flicker when I again powered off the drive either.

(...)

I've just discovered the Device Manager flicker coincides with it adding a second 1394A network adapter to that portion of the list (making a total of 3, onboard Marvel LAN, onboard VIA IEEE 1394a, PCI VIA IEEE 1394A). All three are reported from boot when the 3550A is left unpowered during boot.

Don't know if the second Firewire controller not being reported from boot when the 3550A is pre-powered is indicative of any particular problem -- does seem a little odd to me, but I've no insider knowledge.
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Last edited by TrevorS; 8th April, 2007 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 8th April, 2007, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Favu
That is very strange. My thoughts where that maybe the driver became Firewire driver became damaged during the repeated reboots, but if you have two installs that does not seem so likely. Another thought is that perhaps the Firewire strip is conflicting with something else, such as an IRQ maybe?

I would try running a linux live CD to see if the ports are working for that, or maybe a fresh OS install, just to be sure that the hardware is OK.
I checked for interrupt request conflicts (normally signalled by a yellow exclamation point in Device Manager), but none were reported. But still, I wonder if it could be some sort of card or slot conflict? What's seems further peculiar is the observed behavior with both IEEE 1934a interfaces is identical (both have VIA controllers). If one had gone defective, surely the other wouldn't mimic it?

When I installed the Firewire card, I did swap its position with the modem card which is now in the very bottom slot (they are adjacent). The modem was subsequently detected and reinstalled correctly by the system following boot. I should go back to the board manual and see if ASUS indicates anything peculiar about the slots, though I would have thought the worst difference would be in the form of interrupt assignments -- wouldn't a problem be reported by Device Manager?

(I guess if the onboard IEEE 1394a "lost" its ability to interrupt due to PCI bus "trauma", and the PCI card cannot get control of one, the resulting symptoms would be much the same.)
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Last edited by TrevorS; 8th April, 2007 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 8th April, 2007, 11:13 PM
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Stating the obvious, check the pins on the cable. Could be damaged, resulting in making partial connection (two-tone upon disconnect) but no love according to Device Manager
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Old 9th April, 2007, 12:30 AM
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Chk in computer management> storage> disk management, windows may just not be assigning a drive letter...
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Old 9th April, 2007, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captinhector
Chk in computer management> storage> disk management, windows may just not be assigning a drive letter...
But the drive doesnt appear in Device Manager.
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Old 9th April, 2007, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rondog
Stating the obvious, check the pins on the cable. Could be damaged, resulting in making partial connection (two-tone upon disconnect) but no love according to Device Manager
Well! The situation is now resolved, though not solved. Inspecting the 4 pin mini led me to wonder why the pins were shoved alll the way down to the hump in the case (seemingly touching) -- especially as I'm used to seeing pins located more centrally and the mating connector was certainly central (though no pin holes of course). So I just slightly raised the pins above the hump (still far from center) and tried again. Still didn't work, though there was definitely more resistance this time against pushing in the plug.

I then found some connector drawings on the net and discovered the pins are SUPPOSED to be at the bottom of the plug -- right down to the hump (they are insulated from it). So I tried reconnecting the drive to the other computer with another cable and found it is no longer detected properly. It appears my slight adjustment of the pin position resulted in damaging the mating spring contacts, so now the IEEE 1394a side of my module is effectively dead -- (insert appropriate expletives here!).

In any case, that kills my one and only IEEE 1394a device and restricts me to USB2.0 communications with the drive (hence resolution without solution -- thank heavens I ordered that cable). Oh, well -- it was fun to run Firewire while it lasted.

So, thanks for thinking about my problem and for the suggestions. If I ever have another firewire device, I'll try swapping the Modem and Firewire cards and see if that enables device detection.
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Last edited by TrevorS; 9th April, 2007 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 9th April, 2007, 10:07 PM
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Is a Firewire interface on a drive faster than USB 2.0?

I usually found that it is not.
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Old 9th April, 2007, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuknow
Is a Firewire interface on a drive faster than USB 2.0?

I usually found that it is not.
The USB2.0 spec is actually greater than 1394a, but since my personal experience of USB2.0 performance is that it's heavily dependent on PC loading, I wondered if 1394a would be different (better integrated). As it is, I can't say whether it's any different, but it was working quite well supporting my NEC 3550A drive.

Turns out there is a fullsize 1394a socket on my module so if I were to order a suitable cable, I could continue playing. However, it would probably cost more to ship than the cable is worth -- so given the drive is up and running via USB2.0, for the time being at least, I'll probably let it slide. See if I get the itch again.
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Last edited by TrevorS; 9th April, 2007 at 10:41 PM.
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