Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

SATA Switches – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 6

Monday, December 8th, 2008
Posted in Hardware · Tags:

I thought I would update an old series of posts I had about hard disk drive selectors. The previous solutions I had covered were all for IDE drives. Although you could buy adapters for them to work with SATA drives it isn’t worth the effort in my opinion. Indus Technologies does make SATA selectors that allow up to 4 drives, but they are quite expensive (their cheapest model is $179.95). Rumor is that they had a patent on IDE HDD selectors and that killed the RomTec Trios and the Trios II, as well as the Combox (which seems to have finally sold out on eBay). I’m not sure if they hold any patents that would prevent anyone from legally making any SATA selector products or not.

I was able to find a device called the SATA Switch also known as the SW-SATA2X4.

SATA Switch SW-SATA2X4

SATA Switch SW-SATA2X4

Here are some of it’s features:

  • Uses a 3½” bay
  • Supports SATA II (thus is SATA I compatible)
  • Supports up to 4 drives
  • Controls the drives by only powering the one selected
  • LED to show which drive is selected
  • Can be locked with a key to prevent someone changing drives
  • Costs only $89.99

I haven’t been able to figure out the original manufacturer of this device, but it’s being sold on a number of sites.

I’ve also come across a guide on how to make your own SATA HDD Switch. The author also sells this homemade device for $29.95 and has another version that supports switching between 2 sets of RAID 0 or RAID 1 drives for $32.95. It doesn’t have LEDs or a button to press, it works with a toggle switch (although you might want a shield for it so you don’t accidentally bump into it).


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors

Fellowes 5-Button Optical Mouse With Microban Review

Monday, May 7th, 2007
Posted in Hardware · Tags:

I’ve only had it about a month and the back button (on the top left side) is already broke. Its stuck inside and I can’t get it out. :/ I really like 5-button mice as it saves me time from having to move around to click on back and forward. I usually prefer having the mouse4 and mouse5 buttons on opposite sides, but this mouse seems rather confortable with them on the same side next to each other.

Item # 446360
Manufacturer # 98913

Featuring built-in Microban® antimicrobial protection, this mouse delivers advanced optical technology for powerful control and accuracy. With 5 programmable buttons (including a scroll wheel), included Fellowes Easy Point Software and easy USB connectivity, this mouse is great for any Windows® 98SE, 2000, Me or XP user. Manufacturer’s 3-year warranty.

Fellowes 5-Button Optical Mouse With Microban

Guess I’ll find out if that 3-year warranty is legit or not.

I emailed Fellowes’ Tech Support and even though I didn’t have a tracking ID for the package I still had the original email and responses I sent in. They were nice enough to send me the replacement, even though they said they never got the mouse.

Ergonomic Keyboards and Mice Links

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
Posted in Hardware · Tags: ,

I’ve had these in my bookmarks for a long time and figured I’d share my collection.

Enablemart – This seems to be a third party seller but I’ve yet to find out who makes all the equipment they sell
3M Ergonomic Products – Notable is the Ergonomic Mouse that looks kind of like a joystick
Kinesis Corporation – Another third party place that sells ergonomic items (they have chairs also)
Perific – Their main product is the Wireless Dual Mouse
Evoluent – They are known for the VerticalMouse
Contour Design – Best known for the RollerMouse and the PerfitMouse (Contour Mouse)
Combimouse – Combination Keyboard and Mouse
Adesso – They make a lot of products
Aerobic Mouse – Looks a lot like the VerticalMouse except it has a plastic area to hold your hand
Nohands Mouse – Control your mouse with your feet
Zero Tension Mouse – seems like a mix between the VerticalMouse and 3M’s Ergonomic Mouse

Seems like a lot of good ideas are out there, but I’m still not sure if keyboards have seen enough innovation. I’ve seen vertical keyboards and some other weird ones on these sites. Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 looks nice but I could do without the zoom feature. Do people really need zoom that much? I’ve seen zoom buttons even on mice. I think having a mouse nib (like those on some laptops) would make more sense instead. I’ve gotten to the point I can’t stand mice with less than 5 buttons either. One problem is some keyboards layout the Insert/Home/Page Up/Delete/End/Page Down buttons differently. And some also make the Enter button bigger and move the backslash and pipe button.

Off-Table Track Mouse

Thursday, February 8th, 2007
Posted in Hardware · Tags:

4d scroll mouse
The mouse has three buttons, one that works like a gun trigger that can work with your index or middle finger. The trigger button is a regular left click, the button on the top left is like a middle click and the one on the top right is a right click. Of course you can change these in windows to what you want. The trackball needs to be pushed down a little to work properly, but thats no big deal. Like all trackballs, you can remove it and clean it when its needed. These devices come with a USB or PS/2 connector. No CD came with the device, and it uses just regular mouse drivers. It claims its compatible with Windows 95 version B/98/ME/NT/2000/XP, I’ve only used it on XP though. It comes in handy for presentations or when you don’t want to use a regular mouse on the desk. One thing I’ve noticed is that the box design could use some better graphics and better spell checking, there were several typos on the box.

Alternatives and Summary – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 5

Sunday, February 4th, 2007
Posted in Hardware · Tags:

Alternatives

If you can’t find one of these devices or are just curious about alternatives here are a few. You can use a multi-boot system and either set that up on a one or more hard drives and partition it how you want. Another alternative is to use removable hard drive bays, but that can end up being more expensive as you have to buy a removable case for each drive and then have to deal with swap them in and out. There is software that can change what partition is set to be active. I’ve tried Acronis OS Selector and a few free alternatives, but didn’t like any of them since none of them worked right.

Apparently http://www.industechnologies.com sells HDD selectors as well but they don’t seem to be as nicely designed as the reviewed items here. Some PC cases also feature hard drive selection.

 

Summary

I’ve owned the NickLock, Romtec Trios and the Combox and I personally recommend the Combox (which is what I currently use). It’s a great device and the best solution as far as setup goes. Although the Trios II is the next best device and the only choice if you to run two drives at the same time. I don’t know who owns whatever patent Romtec/Troyka seemed to infringe on though, but it’s a shame that they went under as their devices were very well designed. But I suppose it’s a niche market.

You can also make these much more complex, for instance if you setup a multi-boot on one of the drives or if you setup a removable hard drive in combination. Why buy or build more than one computer when you can have the setup you need all in one. Plus the fact you don’t have to mess with any boot loader or any software and have each hard drive completely isolated. So if you want a testing station (for beta or demo software), a tweaked game PC, a work computer or multiple operating systems, you might look into getting a HDD selector.

Although, there are times when you might need different OSes running at the same time, or computers with different hardware for testing, but if that’s the case you can built a few computers and set them up on a KVM or use VMware Player.

Since writing this summary, I have added a Part 6 that covers SATA selectors. However, I have not tried out any of the SATA selectors yet.


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors