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Troubleshooting Color Classic drive—need help

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Posted on Monday, September 18th 2023 by Enzdude to r/VintageApple | 21 points

Alright, so let me run down this Frankenstein of a connection attempt. This hard drive is from my dad’s college computer, a Macintosh Color Classic. It used to work just fine a few years ago until the Color Classic would start flashing the floppy disk question mark. So now I’m trying to see if the drive is working. It spins just fine in the Color Classic. I have it connected to my 15” 2010 MacBook Pro, running macOS 10.14, vía a USB to DB9 cable (which macOS recognizes), which has a DB9 to DB25 connector on it, which then has a DB25 to 50-pin SCSI adapter on it I got off Etsy, which is plugged into the drive. 4-pin molex power comes from an IDE adapter I bought before I realized the drive is SCSI. Right now the drive will spin initially when given power then spool back down. Like I said, it stays constant in the Color Classic but the Color Classic doesn’t recognize it either. I need input here.

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@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by Howden824 | 19 points | Reply

The USB to DB9 is for serial, not SCSI so it won’t work.

@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by mustagcoupe | 7 points | Reply

You are attempting to read a scsi drive with a USB to serial adapter. This will not work and you may have fried something in the drive. If you want to read this drive you will need to find and buy a USB to scsi adapter which are rare and expensive or use a Mac with SCSI (either built in or a PCI card) which basically limits you to powermac G4 or older.

If this is a Conor brand drive they have a notorious defect where the rubber bumper for the read write arm turns gooey and melts to the arm locking it in place. You pretty much have to open the drive to unstick it which may not work and/or may ruin the drive.


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 2 points | Reply

Ah, I didn’t know Serial couldn’t do SCSI. We actually do have a Power Mac G4 but I didn’t see any native 50-pin SCSI ports on it. The drive brand is Quantum.


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by mustagcoupe | 5 points | Reply

Built in OR PCI card. You can buy an add in scsi card for around $15-20 on eBay if you are in the US. The Adaptec 2930CU should work, it is one of the SCSI cards apple offered as a factory option. Make sure it's the 2930CU, the 2930U is the PC version. It will probably say for Mac somewhere in the listing.

The 2930CU SCSI card offers both an internal and external 50 pin scsi port. If you use the internal one all you need is a 50 pin IDC style internal scsi cable and it should show up when you boot the G4 if it works. You could also have a scsi termination issue but that's its own whole thing. If you run into issues "Scsi termination" is something you should Google.


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by DryReplacement4610 | 0 points | Reply

G4 dont have scsi, G3s were the last w scsi


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by mustagcoupe | 3 points | Reply

And if you actually read my comment I said either built in OR a PCI card. G4s will happily accept a cheap scsi card.


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by DryReplacement4610 | 1 point | Reply

I admit my oversight and extend my excuses. I missed the scsi card part indeed

@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by dummptyhummpty | 2 points | Reply

If you’d want to ship the drive to me (California), I can try and read it in my PowerMac 9600. Maybe someone closer to you can help too.


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 2 points | Reply

I’m on the exact opposite side of the country in NC. It would be impractical but not entirely off the plate to do that.


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by dummptyhummpty | 1 point | Reply

Understand, just offering as a last resort.


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by DeliciousIsopod909 | 1 point | Reply

I'm in Rhode Island and have external SCSI cases and various Power Macs.


@ Thursday, September 21st 2023 by wotmp2046 | 2 points | Reply

Where in NC? I’m in the Charlotte area and have plenty of Macs with SCSI.


@ Friday, September 22nd 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 1 point | Reply

Check your DMs.

@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by Dry-Satisfaction-633 | 1 point | Reply

You really want to fire up the drive under OS 9 or earlier if that’s even a remote option. OS X can make file system alterations that don’t affect operation when using OS X but can royally knacker the file system under older systems. Pretty much all beige Macs have integrated SCSI, “colored” G3 systems and newer require the addition of a PCI SCSI card. As mentioned by others the Adaptec 2930CU is a cheap card that will do the trick.

If that’s not viable for you and you don’t care what’s on the drive so much as want to know whether it’s good or not then something like an Adaptec 2940 in a PC will give you the option to load up SCSI diagnostics before booting an OS so it doesn’t require a supporting OS to do its job. This is important because it gives direct access to low-level format the drive and update its table of defects so you won’t be writing to unusable areas on the disk. You will of course need boot floppies for your CC if you nuke the drive but that’s another matter altogether. Welcome to the rabbit hole :D


@ Monday, September 18th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 1 point | Reply

I mentioned in another reply I do have a Power Mac G4 which currently has 10.4 on it but can run Classic Mac OS. What I’ll likely do is order that PCI card and slap a drive with Mac OS 9 in the G4 and get it working.

@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by 486Junkie | 1 point | Reply

You'd need SCSI to Parallel converter, a parallel cable, and a Parallel to USB adapter.

I'm beginning to think a SCAI to IDE and USB IDE adapter would do something, but I doubt it'll work.

Another idea is to find an external JAZ drive that uses SCSI (look inside first) that connects via parallel and get a parallel/SCSI to USB adapter and cable to connect between the two.

The setup you're using is a serial connection, not parallel.

Or since you have the correct adapter connected to the drive, get a parallel cable that has 25 pins on both ends and get a parallel/SCSI to USB adapter.

@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by componentswitcher | 3 points | Reply

for sure don’t put it on carpet because static could kill the board on it


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 1 point | Reply

Duly noted.


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by sqqop | 1 point | Reply

Saw that and my heart sank. Super risky to put any kind of static-sensitive electronics on a carpet. Related: Don’t put active electronics on an ESD plastics either (they’re somewhat conductive).

Hopefully the serial adapter wasn’t doing the full +/-15V RS232 signaling. That would be pretty rough on SCSI lines. Luckily many, especially the more modern ones, don’t do anywhere near that spec.


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 1 point | Reply

If it makes you feel better, the bare drive wasn’t sitting on the carpet. It’s in that plastic slide-in enclosure that goes into the CC.

@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by fergatronanator | 1 point | Reply

I had to do this recently with my Fireball external HDD from my dad, and hooked up the drive to a powerbook 5300c and dragged the files over to that, then unplugged the drive inside that which is IDE and plugged it into my PC using an IDE to USB adapter and used Transmac to get it off the HFS partition to windows. Haha!


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by fergatronanator | 1 point | Reply

Also the other comment is correct about the drive head sticking, see

@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by chrisdaun | 2 points | Reply

I had a color classic with a drive that would either hang the system before boot up or spin up and then down and show the floppy icon.

I opened up the drive and the rubber bumper that the drive head sits up against when parked was sticky and wouldn’t let the head move.

I put some electrical tape over the sticky part and the drive works but I don’t recommend doing this as you can permanently ruin the drive.


@ Tuesday, September 19th 2023 by Enzdude (OP) | 2 points | Reply

Yeah that’s why I haven’t cracked it open yet. That’s a last resort.

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