2400 BAUD

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    Awhile back I had bought an external CD burner for a cheap Dell that I was using at the time. It was the HP CD-Writer Plus 8210e. As far as CD burners go, it sucked, badly. It worked across USB 1.1, so it was limited to only 4x write speeds. As time went on I upgraded and the device has remained in my possession, although it was torn apart and the drive is now used as an internal drive. One day I noticed I didn’t have an external hard drive. Then I noticed I had a 40GB hard drive. I also noticed my remnants of the external burner.

    Sparks flew, and soon I was hacking away. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the early setup for the drive. The internal CD-drive was standard IDE internal drive with a USB-to-IDE gizmo and an external power-brick supplied the juice. I had to break apart the IDE connector to get the hard drive to mate with it properly. Then I also had to solder on a standard 4-pin power connector, since they did not line up properly. Surprisingly, it worked! The only thing that remained was a good enclosure. Enter the 2400 BAUD.

    While browsing a local resale shop, I discovered a gem of a find: the Packard Bell PB2400PLUS 2400 baud external serial modem. I didn’t have any cables for it, but for what I was doing I didn’t need any. The modem case is extruded aluminum, perfect for the hard drive to wick away heat. Once I pulled out the internals, I discovered it was just tall enough for the drive, but unfortunately not wide enough for the USB-to-IDE adapter. Creative surgery had to be performed. I had noticed the one part on the adapter, the audio-out port, had nothing else around it. I realized the board was only two-layer (signal and power exist on the top and bottom of the board only), so realizing no essential traces exist in that area, I hacked it off with a band saw.

    I wedged the hard drive in just with some well-placed foam. The back panel was covered up with some plastic from an AOL CD-case. In the below picture the original internals are shown for reference.


    The performance, as you can imagine, is insane. From my tests with a 3GB file, 2400 BAUD managed a staggering 0.74 MB/s. At that blistering pace, the 40GB hard drive would fill up in about 14 hours.

     Some day I hope to upgrade the poor thing. At the very least it needs an upgrade to USB2, and perhaps a substantial improvement in capacity. Some day, but for right now it works as a backup drive to my MP3 collection (which will very shortly exceed the capacity of this drive).