Thursday, April 3, 2008

USB to FireWire Adapters

Probably the most common question that people ask me at my job (at www.usbfirewire.com), is "Is there a USB to FireWire Adapter", and hence our site name "www.usbfirewire.com", they should indeed be asking us.

So, the answer? Yes and no.

Yes, there is a USB to FireWire adapter.

No, it's not for every use under the sun.

So, what's available? The USB to FireWire adapter, the only real adapter that's available on the market - see link here. (http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/527950.html). The adapters is made for a specific type of computer (currently, only works consistently with Windows XP), and it's for downloading video from a DV camcorder like the Sony Handycam DCR-HC30. It works great, and is so easy to use. Windows XP has the drivers built in and it works with the most common video editing software packages like Microsoft Movie Maker, and Pixela imagemixer 2. It's also notable to point out that some higher end software packages don't allow you to download DV via USB (Examples: Adobe Premier, Final Cut Pro), so it won't work with those.

What won't it do? Well, to be concise, anything else. It's not made to transfer data from a hard drive. It's not made to work in the reverse (ie, a FireWire port to a USB camera). It's not made for an iPod (although we did have one person who said they got it to work with it). It's also not made for Mac. Vista testing is underway, but it works one day, and the next it doesn't. It has been very hit-and-miss, so we're currently saying it's not compatible with Vista. it's also not for every camera out there. Check the compatibility list from the link above. The list is directly from the engineers who built it and tested it with them. You'll notice that the list is a bit outdated and may work with your newer cameras that we haven't formally tested yet.

What alternatives are there if I want to download video, but don't have a FireWire port?
This is a great question. There are several alternatives, such as a FireWire card for desktop computers, or for laptops. Both of these options are cheaper than the above option of our adapter cable. You'll need to buy a card that's built for your desktop (probably a PCI card, but you'll also want to know if you need a slim form-factor card). If you have a laptop, you'll probably need a PCMCIA or PCMCIA Express card. PCI Cards, will general start at under $20/each, while PCMCIA cards generally start at just under $30/each. A quick Google or eBay search should give you the results that you're looking for.


Lastly, we've been getting a lot of questions like this "Can you just send me the driver for your cable?". I thought this was kind of an odd request, so when people started asking, I started digging. I found out that a company had started selling a cable that goes directly from USB to FireWire, without any chip inside of it to convert the data from USB to FireWire. I have no idea what their cable is for, and when I e-mail the companies who are selling it, they have no idea either. I, personally, wouldn't dare to plug one of my FireWire devices into one of these because I realize the possible implications of it. What if it's not wired correctly? They two different protocols, so how can it work? These are questions that no one has been able to answer yet, but I invite anyone to comment and let me know how this product might be useful.

I hope this puts and end to some of the confusion surrounding USB to FireWire adapters. If not, let me know and I can elaborate more on specific points.

-Rick

Rick is the co-owner and head of technical support at www.usbfirewire.com. He helped start the company over 8 years ago. While his degree has nothing to do with his job "Bachelors of LAS - Spanish, from Wichita State University, 2005), he has worked in the cable industry for over 10 years and has had experience in developing new products for the cabling industry for the past five of those years.

6 comments:

Andy said...

Your link:

http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/527950.html

is broken.

Do you know if this adapter is still available?

Rick Wessley said...

Hi Andy,
unfortunately, this adapter was discontinued a few years ago. It was made by Pixela corporation out of Japan. They designed the chip, and the assembly, so we were totally at their mercy. I still get regular requests for this item, but unfortunately, none are available.

rob furness said...

My question is data related, not video. i have a macbook pro with 2 dead USB ports. however the fw port works fine. Can i use the firewire port to connect to some kind of hub that gives me my USB ports back. It is so annoying i can't plug in a thumb drive?

Rick Wessley said...

Rob - that's a question that I hear regularly. Unfortunately, there are not USB to FireWire converters for data. The easiest way is to simply upgrade your drive, and then transfer the data from your old drive to your new one (perhaps with an old computer with FireWire). Another options would be to use a Mac with Thunderbolt, which can be converted from FireWire. Apple has a Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 converter on their website. If you don't have a Firewire 800 drive, you can still use the adapter, you'll just need a FireWire 800 to FireWire 400 adapter.

Apple adapter Link: http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD464ZM/A/apple-thunderbolt-to-firewire-adapter?fnode=51

Rick Wessley said...

Ah - forgot to post the adapters on our site!

FireWire 9pin to 6pin adapter
Link: http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/rr-cfbextr-9602.html

FireWire 9pin to 4pin adapter
Link: http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/rr-9m4f-05.html#RR-9M4F-05

Roel Bobis said...
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