Legacy SCSI to current Mac - how?
September 10, 2010 5:28 AM   Subscribe

What are my options for connecting a bunch of legacy SCSI devices to a current Mac?

I have a bunch of older 25-pin SCSI devices (film scanners, inlcuding a Polaroid Sprintscan 4x5, Polaroid Sprintscan 35mm and an Imacon). These are currently attached to an old G3 PowerMac which has an old Adaptec 1394 SCSI card in it. However, it's dog slow and I need to retire it.

I currently have a 2007 Core Duo iMac and a new 8-Core Mac Pro on order and I would like to find a way to connect these devices up. Either through a PCI SCSI card on the Pro or (preferably) a firewire/usb adapter on the iMac.

What are my options here?
posted by unSane to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (sorry, the Adaptec card is a 2906, not a 1394 - got confused by looking at Firewire specs! I have two of them, in fact).
posted by unSane at 5:30 AM on September 10, 2010

I would be wary about using a bridged solution (i.e. a USB/Firewire adapter) because then you're at the mercy of whatever level of protocol support the chipset provides, and they might only support the more common configurations like hard drives and CD/DVD-ROMs.

In order to answer the speed question we need to determine what flavor of SCSI the devices support (see table here.) Since they're using a DB-25 connector that rules out any of the 'wide'/16 bit varieties, leaving only SCSI-1, Fast SCSI, Ultra SCSI, and Ultra2 SCSI. Your current 2906 supports SCSI-1 and Fast SCSI, which means that unless the devices support Ultra or Ultra2 they are already running at their fastest possible speed, and if that were the case then I'd say just reuse the 2906 in the new Mac Pro. If you can look up the specs of the devices and they do support Ultra/Ultra2 then it would make sense to buy a new PCI SCSI controller.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:26 AM on September 10, 2010

And of course there's the question of OS X support since I'm assuming that the old system currently runs OS 9? In that case you'd want to research the driver situation.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:29 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Yep, they are all fast SCSI or SCSI-1 and the issue is the driver for the 2906. It was originally built into OS X around 10.1 but it looks as though the last supported system was 10.4. Adaptec are no longer producing Mac SCSI drivers... there is one which works with Leopard and a 2930 card but for how long, who knows?
posted by unSane at 6:34 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: It looks as if this RATOC card might do the job.
posted by unSane at 6:41 AM on September 10, 2010

Yikes. In that case maybe a bridge isn't such a bad idea. This one explicitly says it supports film scanners, so maybe there's hope. You'd then just need the right adapter (although monoprice seems to have them for much cheaper.)
posted by Rhomboid at 6:47 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Yep, the RATOC adapter might work but it doesn't daisy chain, which is a bit of a pain, but not exactly fatal. The card looks like it needs a bit more configuration.
posted by unSane at 6:50 AM on September 10, 2010

On non-preview, that card looks like a better idea, especially since you can connect all the devices at once instead of the bridge which would only allow one connected at a time, unless you bought a bunch of them.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:51 AM on September 10, 2010

Will OS X even support those scanners?

SilverFast will evidently do the 4x5, but costs $400.
posted by schmod at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: One thing I noticed on the spec page for the RATOC:

"Does NOT fit MacPro or PowerMac G5 (Dual 2GHz、Dual 2.3GHz、Quad 2.5GHz)"
posted by jalexei at 7:13 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Ed Hamrick's Vuescan will do the Polaroids and Hasselblad/Imacon's Flextight works for the Imacon.
posted by unSane at 7:21 AM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Oops, well spotted jalexei. Maybe the adapter then.
posted by unSane at 7:22 AM on September 10, 2010

I've used two of these SCSI -> FW adapters to pull data from beige-box Macs when AppleTalk was giving me grief (and the Macs still worked).

Only used it for HDDs, but worked great. No drivers or anything.
posted by now i'm piste at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2010

Get yourself this Atto Card its damn pricey but it works like a MOFO. I have recently hooked up a 8MM Tape back system from the early 90's and it didn't even blink.
posted by boomcha76 at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2010

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