I Think I Have a Firewire Issue......

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: Nov 1 2004

This may be a bit lengthy but there is a question at the end of it!

Old system:- Sony Vaio laptop with 1Gb Ram, intel P4 3gHz running XP Home SP3 (downloaded upgrades from SP1), 1 x built in firewire port usually connected to the camera. I also use 2 x Maxtor onetouch via a 2 port firewire pcmcia card, and 2 x Oxford Semicond SATA drives in a single box from those excellent people at Span.

New system:- Dell Optiplex 755 with 4Gb Ram, intel core2duo E8200 2.6gHz running XP home SP3 from OEM disc, 2 x 160Gb internal SATA, generic 3 port firewire card in pci slot. Same external HDD's as above.

Camera is a Canon MVX25i.

Everything has always worked with the laptop system I have been using. HDDs can be connected singly, with or without the camera or all together and I have not had any issues tranferring DV from camera to any of the HDDs (int or ext), or with the laptop 'seeing' any of the drives.

With my new machine I think I have a firewire issue but am open to any suggestions, here are the symptoms:-
The 2 x Maxtor external hdds can be connected without any problems via the FW card.
When I connect the Span box via FW I can see the drives in device manager but they have a yellow highlighted ! over them (message is 'device cannot start'). I cannot see them in 'my computer'. Any amount of HDD/1394 controller disabling/enabling, uninstalling/installing doesn't correct this. The exemption to this is that I have had the odd occasion when the drives have been turned on prior to the PC being booted and they have been picked up and worked fine, only for the PC to freeze when the camera is connected to the FW card. Almost as if the plug and play isn't playing, or the FW card cannot cope with extra things being attached...
The Span drives are always picked up if I use USB (which I can do but would prefer to stick with the FW).
It would seem that I can connect the Maxtor drives without any of these issues.
When I try to capture from the camera to one of the internal HDD's I always get a few dropped frames right at the start of the capture (doesn't matter which tape or where on the tape I capture from). Its like the FW card doesn't react to the video stream fast enough and misses the first few frames.

I have reinstalled all the drivers for the PC (a number of time), and as far as I can see they are the same as those that the laptop is using. The only difference I can find is that the laptop uses a Texas Instruments OHCI 1394 controller and the PC uses a VIA controller.
I am begining to get to the limit of my knowledge (most of which has been learnt from this forum), so to say I'm getting frustrated would be a bit of an understatement.

The drive issue I can live with as they are not my primary capture drives, but dropping frames during capture is a problem (and I suspect that fixing 1 will probably fix them both).

Can I install a TI FW controller or is it hardware specific?
Should I get another FW card - any suggestions as to brand/model?
Are there anything settings I should be checking?
Is there a limit to the number of SATA drives a PC can cope with?
Should I go back to XP SP2 (no problems with SP3 on the laptop make me think not, but maybe SP2 upgraded from Microsoft website is different to SP3 loaded from CD)?

If you have got this far, apologies again for such an enormous post but I've run out of ideas, so any help gratefully received.

Thanks in advance, John

Gavin Gration
Joined: Jul 29 1999

Classic Via chipset problems IMHO - We had a really decent Dual Xeon machine that came with a Via IEEE1394 card fitted - it ran like a pig (dropped frames, failure to work with Decklink etc). Swapped the card for an ADS Pyro - fixed all problems.

Joined: Oct 19 2000

yes i agree a TI firewire card would definalty be something i would try

System 1: AMD X6 2.8, M4A79 Deluxe, 4GB DDR2, ATI HD4870 1GB DDR 3, 2TB total drive space, Matrox RTX 2, Premiere Pro CS4

System 2: AMD X2 5600, M2NPV-VM, 2GB DDR2, Geforce 8600GT 256 DDR 3, 450GB Total drive space, RTX100 with Premiere Pro 2

Camera's: JVC HD200, JVC HD101, 2X Sony HC62

Joined: Nov 1 2004

Thanks for the replies (and for wading right through the original post!!).

My suspicion was that the card was the most likely candidate, but my experience didn't allow me to be 100% confident. The fact you've both come to the same conclusion with no debate means I'll be trying to source a replacement this weekend.....

Meanwhile I can spend the in-between time installing the seemingly endless pile of software (plus updates) that I appear to have amassed over the past 5 years! Still at least I will get the chance to filter some of the rubbish out along the way.

Thanks again, John