Firewire cable incompatibility... how can a cable be incompatible with a Mac? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 3 Old 01-28-2010, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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So, I've been using Firewire on my computer (PowerMac G4) for a long time. I have multiple external hard drives and a dual layer DVD burner connected via Firewire 400, and one drive using Firewire 800 (on a seperate controller board). Everything works very well.

Recently, I had need for more Firewire 400 cables, so I bought a couple on eBay. They were cheap, only $2 each, shipped. I bought two. They're five foot cables. They have a clear insulation, and the ends have "1394" and the Firewire logo molded into them.

When they came in (from Singapore...), I connected a hard drive to my computer using one of them, but it was not recognised. I wiggled the connector, etc - but nothing. I tried the other cable. Still nothing. Then I borrowed a cable off another computer, and tried that one - it worked perfectly. Switching back to the new cable, still nothing. My conclusion - two defective cables.

I emailed the seller with my problem, and got this response:


We had marked this on our listing.

Notice:Not for MOTU Traveler MK3,Apple Firewire and Sony iLink's harddisk data transfer.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

So, my main question is... how is this possible? How can a Firewire 400 cable be incompatible with hard drives, or with Macintosh computers? It's a *cable*. A six pin to six pin Firewire 400 cable. What could POSSIBLY prevent it from working at all when used with a Macintosh computer? And I'm not even using power over Firewire - all my drives have their own power supplies. Are there different standards for Firewire cableing depending on the device? I've never had this problem before, even with cheap cables - Firewire has always just worked fine for me.

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post #2 of 3 Old 06-17-2010, 07:58 PM
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If you have two cables, one that works and one that does not. Check the pin outs of both cables. Of course if you do not have magnifying instruments, this is probably impossible since I use stereo microscopes for this kind of inspection.

I think I posted a thread about a bunch of different firewire cables that worked and did not work on a PC. They were standard FW.

I found that some cables would test perfectly for continuity yet somehow not work. Inspection of the actual contacts in the connecter indicated that they were "burried" in the cast plastic mold so that they did not articulate properly. I tried correcting this with extensive "micro surgery" with no success - so I never determined why those cables did not work.

I was surprised to find two different pinout patterns. One cable type basically took a cable pair and reversed their pin positions. So one cable type was "parallel" and the other was "crossed."

Both types appeared to work on PC. Perhaps MAC is pickier.
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post #3 of 3 Old 06-19-2010, 03:55 PM
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I have never liked the 4 pin connection as the 6 pin connection is much more robust.

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