Laptops and SCSI?

OK comp geeks out there, heres my issue. I’m a sound designer/composer for theatre which means I spend my life running back and forth between my recording studio and various theatres around town editing sound cues and music to fit to time, etc…

I currently own two Dell MiniTowers both of which have SCSI host adaptors so I basically write all my work to an external SCSI hard drive and then leave one computer at the theatre, and one in my studio and just put the drive in a briefcase and take my work back and forth. The Hard drive issue is serious here, since I deal with massive amounts of multitrack audio (a typical project usually takes up 3 to five gigs of HD). Storage Drives and ZIP stuff aren’t really an option. I need high speed read/write drives. And I don’t just use the SCSI drives for transfer. They are the primary drives for my work, I find that readng and writing multitrack audio is best left to a drive that doesn’t have to share cycles with and OS and operational utilities.

Anyway… this set up is functional, but after spending the last 2 years packing up my big ass desktop PC and carting it around the world, I’m kinda over it. I’m wondering if I could accomplish the same thing with a laptop. Is there a way to fit a a laptop with a reasonably fast SCSI host adaptor? or somesort of converter (USB to SCSI?) that would allow me to continue working in the same manner I’m used to, but with out the big ole box?

In case this effects your thinking, I’ll also need a USB sound card for I/O, and probably a USB mouse since I can’t stand the little touch pads.
thanks in advance…

USB is WAY too slow for a SCSI drive.

Well, Adaptec does make a USB>SCSI device, but they admit on thier web site that its too slow for mid-high range applications. You would need something more like this

Is FireWire an option for you? You can find it in laptops, and you’d just need to install a card in your stationary PCs…the drives are screaming-hot-fast, too.

Yeah, the Adaptec 1480 kit that mblackwell pointed out is what you want. It’s a PCMCIA card with a very small SCSI port (and special cable).

For what it’s worth, my mom just bought one to use with a CD-R, which requires a high sustained transfer rate, and it works great. She didn’t even have to call me to install the drivers. :slight_smile:

And also for what it’s worth, before that, she bought a different PCMCIA SCSI adapter called a Bus Toaster, but the documentation was awful and I couldn’t get the damn thing working with Windows2000, so I told her to take it back and get an Adaptec.

couldn’t you get a scsi pc card?
firewire is another option as mentioned.

Regardless of interface issues there are substantive real world differences in how fast a laptop based data collection system is going to work in the real world vs a minitower based solution. If your throughput needs are such that IDE with DMA enabled won’t cut the mustard you need to be careful before committing to a SCSI PC CARD based alternative. A PC Card SCSI device is not going to necessarily work as efficiently as a minitower PC based SCSI setup. Whatever you get make sure you can return it without penalty.

Thanks for the help you guys!!! I appreciate it. Firewire was a thought I’ve had, but I know very little about it and I also currently already have several SCSI external drives and CDR Writers, so I’d hate to have to buy all new gear when the old stuff is working fine in the studio half of my set up. What about a firewire/SCSI adaptor? is there such a thing? if i could buy a firewire equipped Laptop then get a FW/SCSI converter (if such a thing exists) would that not be faster than a PCMCIA/SCSI adaptor for a laptop?
again, thanks for the help

Oh yeah, there are FireWire-SCSI converters, from many different manufactures, like Belkin. Their site lists a converter at $125, but I’ve seen 'em for $99 or less; poke around. Since FireWire is such a screaming-fast method of sending data (up to 400 MB/sec), you shouldn’t (but don’t take my word as gospel here) have the same problems with it as with a USB-SCSI converter.

Thanx Max, i think I’ve found the soloution to my probleim thru your advice. The nice thing about your plan is that I can gradually phase out the SCSI stuff, as i can afford to, but for a relatively affordable $100ish, I can have sort of an intermediate step. It doesn’t seem like firewire is going anywhere, especially if it is as fast as you say, seems like it’ll be a while before there’s any realisitc need for much faster transmission than that. So in the mean time I’ll get a firewire ready laptop, and retrofit it with the SCSI adaptor. Then later, when I can afford to do so, I’ll over haul the at home system with firewire too, and be good to go!!!
Thanks bro…

How are your finances? There’s always the Sun Ultrabook with fast/wide scsi built-in, 3 scsi drive bays, 16-bit, 48khz stereo sound, and 10/100mbps ethernet built right in.

It can be yours for the low, low price of only about $12,000. :slight_smile: