View Full Version : Questions about Burly enclosure purchase

04-25-2007, 06:29 PM

This is my first post on the MacGurus forums, and it's a little long, so please be patient and gentle ... :)

I have a PMG5, 2x2.5GHz, running 10.4.6, which we mostly use as my wife's Avid Xpress editing station. About a year and a half ago I bought the following:

- Firmtek Seritek 1VE4 PCI card (with Type-A connectors) in the PCI-X slot (4) (just today updated to firmware 5.1.3)
- CoolDrives 4-bay hotswap eSATA enclosure

I mostly use the drives for backups, extra storage space (sound libraries and so on). At first, everything seemed to go fine. Then, over the course of time, I experienced the following symptoms in one or more of the bays:

- Loud spin-up noise (whether drive or fan, I'm not sure)
- Randomly disconnecting / reconnecting drives with the occasional kernel panic
- Drives failing to mount after powering up

Basically, it feels like, one by one, the bays are becoming unreliable, not to say dangerous in a production environment, and I'm at the point where really only one bay is stable enough to leave powered on. So, I have a stack of drives in trays (one of which is a Seagate 7200.10, which actually works just fine) and I swap them in and out to that one bay as needed.

I don't think the cables that came with the enclosure are particularly high quality. One of them has had a side metal piece lift off (unglue?) from the cable, so I've stopped using it.

I could do a whole lot more time-consuming component-isolation troubleshooting, but at this point I feel like I'd like to try a new enclosure. Customer support is very important for me, and I've heard great things about the MacGurus team, so I'm looking at the Burly hotswap enclosure.

So, finally, some questions:

- Is there anything in the above that screams "no, the fault is not the enclosure, it's quite clearly the XYZ, and you should do THIS and THAT straight away"?

- While I need one enclosure for backups and personal work, if it's successful, I'll likely want a second to set up a 4-drive RAID0 (probably using SoftRaid) for some HD onlining. Do you recommend I go for another Firmtek, or is another SATA card, maybe the Sonnet, generally better recommended? Note that I won't require to boot from any of the connected drives.

- my Cooldrives enclosure has a circuit board and a single large connector between each (hotswap) tray and the enclosure's bay. Is this a necessary feature of hotswap trays, is it included in the Burly trays, and is it a potential point of failure?

- and thirdly - well, not a question, really, but I'm interested in hearing from other people who have similar systems with a Burly enclosure and can reassure me that it would work well with my components. Particularly anyone who's used it as a video RAID.

Many thanks!

Matt Clifton

04-25-2007, 08:48 PM
Hi Matt,

Welcome aboard. You've come to the right place for Mac hardware suppot, even for stuff that the Gurus does not sell. With multiple variables to hunt down, it can be less than obvious, and down right tedius to nail down the cause, though it sure sounds like a hardware issue to me.

So, let me ask a question or two just to clarify.... Sounds like you have multiple drives working in one bay, yes? Does each of these drives have it's own tray, or do you mean that you swap the known one good tray around to multiple drives, and then use those different drives in the one known good bay?

Or to ask another way...

Assuming drives in bay 1, 2, 3, don't mount, but the drive in bay 4 does.

1. What happens whey you pull the drive+tray from bay 1, 2, or 3, and put it in bay 4?

2. What happens when you pull the drive+tray from bay 4 and put it in bay 1, 2, and 3?

Just trying to rule out if it is bad bays, trays, drives, or some combination of the three - which I would think unlikely. If we can narrow it down, you can also swap cables around to see if the problem moves with the cable.

I can't speak about the Burlys directly as I don't have one, though I know Rick (head Guru) is very happy with them and swears by their relaibility and lack of user problems. I don't do the sort of work that requires multiple drives on a workstation.....so I will leave those sorts of recommendations to those who have first-hand experience.

04-25-2007, 11:17 PM
One really quick warning.

Firmtek host cards do not get along well with Seagate drives, especially 7200.10. I say that because of the tremendous number of support calls we get and because Firmtek themselves say that this is so.

Just wanted to make sure right off we had that on the table. It is getting hard to find current drives that do work with the 4 port Firmtek chipset. That card uses an Intel chip and it got somewhat left behind by more current chips and cards.


04-26-2007, 06:35 PM
Thanks Unclemac, Rick

As I said, I did just update the Firmtek's firmware, and it does seem that, taking the faulty cable and the Seagate 7200.10 out of the equation (that drive did misbehave today, of course, after I posted otherwise), the bays are now behaving themselves (except one which is getting replaced at Cooldrives).

So maybe the system is more stable than I thought. Regardless, I'm still looking at the Burly for a video RAID, and my next decision is port multiplier (which I'm leaning towards) or single channel. Of course, since the Firmtek card I have doesn't support multiplying in any case, and bearing in mind the drive incompatibilities, I'll look carefully at the Sonnet options.

Thanks again for the advice!