BUSS power 6 pin Firewire- PC Notebook or MACbook only?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Antho, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. Antho

    Antho Guest

    Hi all.

    I am researching notebooks for a group who want full mobility with a small recording rig. This will involve bus power or even battery packs of some description obviously.

    My search is telling me there aren't any PC notebooks which supply BUS power to and audio device via 6 pin firewire. Apparently only Macbooks provide this fabled connector that allows true portability for a mobile studio.

    Is there a pcmcia card or something that can be chucked into a PC notebook that can allow 6 pin FW? This is crucial, we all run PC's and have done so for over 16 years. All the software owned is majorily pc driven, particularly plugins.(and i mean owned, nothing is stolen everything is paid for and i'm not about to give up approx ten grands worth of plugins to switch platform) .

    Second question: is there an option for some kind of small portable rechargeable battery system that would essentially allow any device to run with full mobility?

    The option most appealing now is a novation x station because it runs usb and is a keyboad with two mic pre's in and since isn't firewire....is an option for pc. I'm not too keen on the pre's or possibly the conversion though. I currently run Fireface 800, dynaudio BM15a's and Sebatron and
    other such preamps so i'm no sucker for crappy gear. But at this point the xstation seems ideal just because it will actually WORK with a pc. Also looking at things like tc electronic konnekt 24d, motu traveller / ultralight, and especially the yummy metric halo systems and RME fireface 400.

    I'm amazed at the lack of info about this on the net. But here is the best place i've returned to by far so far for info on the topic of true mobility in a studio. If anyone knows any dedicated mobile recording resources it would also be appreciated. This is something we want to get right into to the point of being pioneers in the field. Just though maybe some others had done a bit of pinoeering before to save some sore feet!

    All the best all.
  2. freesignal

    freesignal Active Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Question 1:

    ^This is just one site and one price, just google or froogle search "6-pin PCMCIA **or Express** Firewire Card" to assist in finding better price and/or brand.

    Question 2:
    Deep cycle car batter(ies) and Charger(s) and a power invertor?
  3. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2006
    the reason you dont find those connectors on laptops is in order to provide stabile power for any length of time would require quite abit beefier power supply... to try to get this from an add-on card is not thesmartest thing you could do... your trying to circumvent the very thing the manufacture is telling you not to do....DUH???
  4. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    Even with the PC card you have to research the chipsets. and that can be tricky. There are some that have the same model number but different chipsets.

    Also be aware that even on Macs when the battery goes down to certain levels, powersaving modes may curtail some services.

    Battery life will be shortened when supplying power to external drives and interfaces.

    I've never attempted to record from my Powerbook without external power.

    You might want to check some of the other music forums for others experiences.

  5. freesignal

    freesignal Active Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    What about PC laptops with a built in 4-pin firewire connector? I've read that you can buy a 4-pin to 6-pin Firewire cable (like to use with a Firepod) and not have any issues. I could see where you could have problems using a PCMCIA or Express card ( <- Two things I know very, very, little about and was just a quick suggestion). However, I don't see how you would have a problem using the 4-pin to 6-pin cable with the onboard firewire port.
  6. Antho

    Antho Guest

    Thanks guys. freesignal i'm looking at that option you linked to as it looks promising.

    Hadn't thought of car batteries. I have an aquaintance who may be able to help there with voltages and setup etc. i'm not great with electronics.

    gdoubleyou, thanks also. I know this is kind of cutting edge stuff...new, as not many people need to record without power and I guess and if they do they may take the standalone field recorder option.

    I'm aiming for more than that as detailed above and I know it has to be possible. No doubt battery life will be shortened, that's a given. But bare in mind, you said it yourself, you've never tried to record without power. I'm not expecting the earth, but I'd like around 1.5 - 4 hrs recording time for btwn 2 - 8 tracks with as many as possible (there are pc laptops that have over 8 hrs battery life, I'll find the link if I can...there's a roundup of them.

    re asking around, cheers. I'm in about four other forums for over just under a decade and everyone for sure has had something to offer thus far, but thats also why I'm here at rec.org. Because it so far is one of the most dedicated forums to recording and has its own DAW section which is very handy.

    demented chord, whadya mean DUH? I asked a fully valid series of questions. What do you mean laptops don't have the 6 pin firewire plug for a reason blah blah and I'm trying to circumvent the purpose of them? All newer macs have a six pin firewire port. and even at least one pc lappy I heard of has a 6 pin. I really wish I'd linked it when I heard about it. Sorry to sound pissed, but the DUH really goes to you in this case cos you really haven't thought it through...
  7. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2006
    i was not suggesting that a 4pin port would'nt work just that the lappy's power supply was not heavy enough to supply long term current to multiport interfaces with pre's.....

    antho go ahead dude and when it doesnt work like you expect let me know...
  8. Antho

    Antho Guest

    Hi demented.

    Thing is, the 4 pin wont work you see? The extra two pins are the bit that actually supplies power to an external firewire device. Maybe I should have explained that but I assumed anyone who answered a question like my original one would know the basics. re: battery power, did you read my bit about lappys that run 8 hrs on one battery? And add to that i will have multiple batteries for the one lappy. that's a lot of potential recording time!

    To tell me go ahead and when it doesn't work to come back and let you know would be a waste of my time because io know I can get this to work.

    that is unfair and all this tells me A) you don't actually know about the subject and B) you are looking for me to fail. I really don't need that kind of advice.

    thanks anyway.
  9. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2006
    i realize that the 2 extra pins are for bus power... the 4 pin answer was directed at the individual who i believed was asking in a general sense if the 4-6 pin cables worked... as they do albeit without the power.... hey i dont care if it works or not i was actually trying to help but my bad... even given the extended capabilities of lithium-ion batteries i suspect your not gonna get my time... especially if your using an interface with 8 pre's more so if your gonna try an external drive... or do you think the internal 5400rpm will suffice??? not know the subject??? well i've never claimed to know it all... but i'm pretty well informed and have had people tell me about the problems they've had....
  10. freesignal

    freesignal Active Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Well, you could use a powered Firewire interface (like a Firepod) and get away with that 4 to 6 pin cable idea, right? You would then just need extra (car?) batteries for the interface and then batteries for the laptop. If you don't mind me asking, what is your purpose for doing this? Better yet, how come you can't get any power where you plan on going/recording? Anyways, Good Luck!

  11. Antho

    Antho Guest


    Freesignal: I want to record in open air environments, some of which there is no power near. I also want to be able to record percussion groups at beaches, and performers while travelling and since I also do production I need the puter for Cubase, editing soft synths etc and also word processing internet and all that. I need to find out if there's any battery systems already existing that provide AC (or is it DC? soon find out).

    Demented, I appreciate you may be trying to help. As I said earlier this is kind of cutting edge $*^t, so I can't expect that many people will instantly know where to go. but I'm also interested in looking forward and trying things people may not have thought of...if not at least just getting an existing system together that actually works out and about.

    i'll try again, third time lucky maybe: there are laptops which provide up to 8 - 9 hrs of battery. Times two batteries thats 16. Cut that approx in half to account for the interface and we have 8 hrs. Shave of a few more hrs for good measure/worst case scenario, and we are still looking at 5 - 6 hrs! Thats great. and far more than enough for a session.
    in a park or on the beach

    8 pre's is probably a bit ambitious. 4 isn't, with some line ins. Heck even two is good but then I may as well look as USB2 options, which seem to be pretty good with portability.

    I've heard of problems as well, it's good to be aware, but I tend to deal with studio / audio related problemos as they hit me. Once dealt with, they aren't a problem anymore. And I'm more interested in hearing real problems from people who have been hit by them themselves, not speculative second hand issues which may arise or more likely will not in this case.

    Technology has come far. i will be extremely surprised if I can't get this happening one way or the other.

    I have a forty thousand dollar 'static' studio..and this mobile studio just needs to be a snippet of that really as long as it can actually function mobile. I'm not sure why i feel the need to defend all this...as it's a decision made and encouragement is always appreciated as well as 'devils advocacy'.

    At least since posting i've found this great little mobile setup for a coupa rackmounts and your lappy on top. Probably go for the middle one for portability...or maybe the large one depending on weight and whether it can be turned 'backpack' or not.

    cheers guys. I do appreciate your words of wisdom.


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