NEC ND-6500A Slim DVD

2004-08-26~2004-10-19  Hans-Jrgen Reggel

Using Slim Notebook DVD writers as external devices is not very common. But the drives have standard size and interface, so all you need is an appropriate enclosure. I built my first drive by replacing the CD-RW drive of the Plextor PX-S2410TU with the Toshiba SD-R6112 2DVD-R drive. My current model is the NEC ND-6500A.

This article is sort of incomplete, because I did not have the time for extensive tests. But before it's rotting another eight weeks on my harddisk, I put it online just as it is right now.

The Drive
The NEC ND-6500A is an 8DVDR, 4DVDRW, 2.4DVD+R9, 24CD-R, 16CD-RW Slim CD drive. The dimensions are 12812912.7mm at a weight of 190g. The connector is a 50-pin Slim-ATAPI interface with PIO 4, Ultra DMA 33. The drive identifies itself as "_NEC DVD+-RW ND-6500A, Rev 2.22" and is recognized by the auto detection of Nero without major problems, including the DVD+R9 option. The maximum speed is displayed as 4, but when an 8 media is inserted, you can choose between 2, 4, 6 and 8.
The read performance is as expected. Nero CD-DVD speed showed a perfect graph from 3.33 read to 8.07 read (average 6.04) with a recorded 4.30GB DVD-R media.
A blank DVD-R media has 4489MB (4.38GB) available, while a dual layer DVD+R9 media has 8152MB (7.96GB) available. In this case, the "well-rounded" figure "9" is off by 1. In the meantime, prices for dual layer media have dropped constantly, but it is still chaper and faster to use two regular DVDs. But there might be occasions where it is more convenient to have the data on one single media.
I saved one logfile from writing a large compilation consisting of 1572 files having a total of 4461MB . The DVD was written at 4 speed in 16 minutes 34 seconds (inluding lead-in and lead-out), the data verification took 10 minutes 14 seconds. I did not use any faster media or dual layer media, yet.
But the 4 speed is fast enough for my usual one DVD while taking a shower and one DVD while taking breakfast when I am staying in a hotel. Like this, I can backup 8GB data without wasting time.

The Enclosure
The main reason for choosing the enclosure was availability and pricing. Although many manufacturers offer Slim CD enclosures, they are not very popular amongst resellers. I was lucky enough to find one at my favourite mail order discount at a reasonable price (29.90 Euro).
The DeLOCK "Thinny" measures only 13714522mm with the power switch sticking out 2mm to one side, and the line out sticking out 2mm at the back. The PCB with the ATAPI to USB 2.0 bridge attaches directly to the drive, while most of the PCB slides directly under the drive case. Like this, it only adds a couple of mm to the length and about 3mm to the thickness. The controller is a Cypress CY7C68300A-56PVC, vendor ID 04B4, product ID 6830. The drive can be powered via the flat mini-USB connector. In case of limited host power, you can use the included Y-cable with USB type A plugs labelled "Data" and "Power", or connect an AC adapter the DC power jack. The power jack requires a 3.4mm/1.3mm plug supplying 5V with center positive polarity.
There are only two minor issues: The power switch sticking out at the side does look very unprofessional and the USB Y-cable either requires two USB ports close to each other or an extension cord, which is not included.
Other Options
Deltron builds enclosures with built-in rechargeable Li-Ion cell. Like this, it can compensate for insufficient host power by charging the cell during idle times. Mapower offers an enclosure with USB 2.0 and FireWire dual interface. If you open your eyes, you will notice that many other enclosure manufacturers have at least one model for Slim ATAPI devices. The prices seem to be in the range from 30 to 80 Euro.
I read that some combinations of drives and enclosures will not work properly because the master/slave settings do not match. I had no problems with my contestants so far.
For some drives there are four different Firmware versions available for Master, Slave, Cable Select and Inverse Cable Select mode. In case you have trouble with your drive, just check whether the enclosure has jumpers to set or check whether there are different firmware versions available for the particular drive.

Hans-Jrgen Reggel    2004-08-26~2004-10-19