USB HDD enclosure to DVD connector

This is a “why didn’t I think of that?” idea. [Alec] needed a way to connect an IDE DVD drive using USB. Rather than order a connector he pulled the circuit board out of an old USB hard drive enclosure and connected to his DVD drive. Bang, recognized and running.

This will prove extremely handy if you have a netbook without an optical drive. We’ve used Unetbootin to move Linux ISO images to a thumb drive in the past. In addition to getting around the lack of an optical drive, this saves burning the data to a piece of plastic. But, you should be able to use this with a Leopard retail DVD instead of a 16GB thumb drive for a Hackintosh conversion. That means you could install Leopard on a netbook without needing a Mac to transfer the disk image to your thumb drive first.

123 thoughts on “USB HDD enclosure to DVD connector

  1. I actually have thought of this myself, and used it several times. I would recommend caution if you intend to boot from the drive, though. Some USB->IDE adapters can’t be seen by BIOS.

  2. Yeah I do this myself when doing installations on my netbook which doesn’t have a optical drive. I always leave the DVD insitu in my pc too, makes the cabling a bit of a nuisance.

  3. yea this is not that new of an idea, I saw someone doing it in a shop years ago and I have been doing it so long I have no idea where my enclosures actually are (if i didn’t throw them away in the move)

    oh well, if you didn’t know you do now

  4. Old news, but a handy trick to know.

    Interesting note: Some can use two devices.

    I have one somewhere that can deal with having a master and slave device… only downside is it would slow to a crawl if you used a device while the other was doing something.

  5. I’ve been using something like this for a while… makes burning stuff easy as well as recovering data from a dead pc.

    Unetbootin is easy to use though, so the need for a plug in burner isn’t as key. It does have issues at time with some distros… usually end up doing it manually with syslinux

  6. I’ve done something very similar to this to recover a broken external HDD. I disassembled the drive, popped off the old USB/IDE bridge, and popped another one on. Worked a treat, and I recovered the data, then put the new bridge back in my toolbox for the next time.

  7. I recently broke the windows install on my netbook and managed to save all my stuff by taking the hdd out, taking apart a portable external hdd i had, and putting my netbook hdd on the usb adaptor instead so i could take off my stuff, then simply installed Fedora with Unetbootin.

  8. I have to do this all the time. This is hardly any type of hack.

    If you guys consider that a hack, how about this. Now use that stupid IDE to USB connector to connect up to an infected hard drive and load VM with many different virus scanners all on a different VM and scan with each to clear out the infection.

    Still not a hack, but more of a hack than the original topic.

  9. well often times there is a led on these things, so you could wire it up to a arm9 and make it blink

    (you could do it with an arduino but then that would just bring the haters out)

  10. you probably didn’t think of it cuz you had 10 bucks to buy the one that did ide, sata and notebook sized ide. This isn’t a hack…this is just repurposed hardware…not changing a thing of how the usb connector works.

  11. I do this all the time, in fact if an external hard drive is the same price as an internal one of the same size, I’ll buy the external one and gut it for the converter. I don’t consider this a hack myself, but I’m not going to complain about bringing this option to people who hadn’t thought of it. btw I have an arduino and it blinks an led, what’s so bad about that?

  12. Wow. Maybe it is just because I work in the computer field, but I read this thinking it was painfully obvious. Like Drusso said, IDE (Parallel ATA) drives, whether CD ROM or Hard Disk, have always used the same connectors, what would make a hard drive any different than the CD drive?

  13. that’s precisely what I did to load my legit copy of os x onto my netbook. Not having another mac around, there was simply no alternative to os x’s disk utils to make the thumbdrive method work. If one did have another mac, I think you can do it w/ at least an 8gig drive though, not a 16.

  14. Not really hintworthy.

    On a side note; some bridge interfaces may or may not work in this fashion. When a company configures they bridge chip sometimes they won’t have all the various IDE-ATA-ATAPI features enabled.

    Any number of companies sell usb and firewire bridges with the board in a small container that are specifically designed to plug into a bare hard drive or optical drive.

  15. “I suppose if you want to ruin a perfectly good enclosure to make an external USB to IDE adapter…”

    depends, I know the last one I got was so cheap (10 bucks) and so poorly designed (you couldnt put a 3.5 inch drive in a box labeled 3.5 inches)that I didn’t care

  16. to give it hack-cred: the board I pulled from my 3.5″ external HDD (which worked perfectly with the SATA-DVD drive) actually has the ability to do eSATA, it looks like you just need to solder the connector (usually a through hole part, easy)

  17. yep, that’s how my old laptop reads dvds.
    like nicholas said: not all chips used in external enclosures will necessarily work. some may only somehow work: ok for reading but watch for buffer underrun while burning.
    your dvd won’t fit in the old enclosure, but an old external scsi-case will do.

  18. It would be cool if you could just add an IDE cable to an existing enclosure and use the CD as the secondary device :)

    On a side note, when will we get thumb drives that act like bootable CD drives? I hate burning CD’s for no reason.

    Even better if it was a SATA/USB thumb drive.

  19. lot’s of comments in here, probably because anyone who is even remotely into computers, has an ide,pata,sata adapter. they are cheap and more reliable. raise your hands if you have more than one. (raises hand)

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