Photographer Peter Phun shows you to build an external firewire dvd burner

If you're using an older Powermac, like my "souped up" 9500, you can still enjoy some of the features of superdrive like watching DVD movies on your old desktop.I am making an assumption that you have firewire ports on your computer or have capability to do so by adding it via PCI cards.

You can burn data DVDs much like you would CDs but realistically your old computer wouldn't be able to handle the cpu intensive job of authoring video DVDs or if it does work for video authoring, it slows to a crawl.

The real advantage of an external superdrive is that you can share this dvd burner with your other Macs. As long as those computers have firewire capability and its supporting drivers, you should be able to read CDs and and if you're able to install DVD player software on those computers, you can watch movies on them. To burn data DVDs, however, you will probably need Roxio's Toast.

To author DVD videos, you will need a DVD authoring software such as Apple's DVD Studio Pro or some other third party software out there like Toast Titanium 6. iDVDs only work on dvd burners which are installed within the internal bus of desktops.A company called Other World Computing found a hack for iDVD to work on external superdrives like this but Apple put a stop to it, so now this company sells their own units with their own DVD authoring software.
  1. You need to install a Apple DVD player software. There's directions on how to install one version here. The help applications on this link are all free downloads.After you've successfully installed the software, in this case version 2.7, then you can proceed with buying and assembling your superdrive.
  2. I bought a 3.5"/5.25" external firewire enclosure for around $30 (on the internet) this one is as generic as they come.It offered 2 ways of connecting to Macs: IEEE 1394(firewire) and USB 2.0.(requires OS 10.2)
  3. Shop around for an ATAPI/EIDE (internal) DVD-R, DVD-RW(Apple only supports the "-" minus format. Actually when I connected the external superdrive to my computer and launched Toast Titanium and popped in a DVD +R disk, it refused to mount the +disk, so STICK WITH the DVD-Rs or DVD-RWs
  4. Here's what the drive looks like in its generic-looking firewire enclosure. It has its own power cord which plugs into the surge protector and a firewire cable which plugs into the back of your computer.I picked up the SONY DRU-510A dual format superdrive for $170 ($30 mail-in rebate) from Staples.I'm sure just about any of those internal DVD burners will work. Just make sure it writes to DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs! It's too early to tell how this Sony performs but based on my previous experience with a Yamaha CD burner, the 8 MB buffer may reduce my burning worthless coasters.
    inside of the external firewire enclosure

  5. Assembly of the superdrive into the enclosure was a piece of cake. Only 3 cables to attach. The enclosure comes with 3 wires, they all look different from each other so you can't mistaken one for the other.The power cable which is white goes into the right most jack in the back of the superdrive. Then the IDE BUS cable goes into the middle jacks of the superdrive (even I couldn't confuse this, it's the thick flat one with countless pins). Finally the audio cable goes into the left most jack on the back of the drive.
  6. Then all that's left is closing up the firewire enclosure and that's all going to depend on the one you buy. Basically you're just closing it up to make sure it looks pretty. The enclosure I bought is basic and gets the job done.
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