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Old August 27th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #1
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PCIe Expresscard Reader (Front Bay) for PC or MAC Desktop

Has anyone been successful in installing one of the various front bay PCIe Expresscard readers into a desktop and have it work correctly - i.e. fully functional hot swap with the SxS cards? I have installed one in my office workstation - Dell XPS 730x running Windows Vista 64 and my MxR cards will hot swap using the USB portion of the device but with the SxS cards the computer needs a reboot everytime you put a new card in. Once rebooted it works very well with fantastic download times (6 GB in 2 minutes on a test run). There is supposed to be a workaround by going into Device Manage and doing a "Scan for new hardware" but this does not work on my Vista system. There are various theories as to why hot swap won't work on Desktops (either MAC or PC) - the operating system people point the finger at the firmware people and vice versa - but there apparently has been no resolution in either Windows, MAC or Bios. Meantime the customer is left with the choice of either downloading into their laptop with an Expresscard Port or using the USB route with the Sony adaptor which is much slower. Of course, if you figure the much longer download times with USB you still save time by rebooting the computer for each new card. The one I am using is in the attachment.
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PCIe Expresscard Reader (Front Bay) for PC or MAC Desktop-pcie-expresscard-bay.bmp  
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Old August 28th, 2009, 01:45 AM   #2
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I've been using one from Synchrotech for over a year now. The work-around I'm using is boot my PC with an SxS card in, and never shut the machine down - put it to sleep instead.

This way, with each new card, I don't need to reboot my PC; it's enough to use Device Manager scan for new devices function each time I unmount a card, or mount a new one.

And yes, it's very fast!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 05:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
I've been using one from Synchrotech for over a year now. The work-around I'm using is boot my PC with an SxS card in, and never shut the machine down - put it to sleep instead.

This way, with each new card, I don't need to reboot my PC; it's enough to use Device Manager scan for new devices function each time I unmount a card, or mount a new one.

And yes, it's very fast!
When I use Device manager - right click on My Computer or Disk Drives for that matter and "Scan new hardware" - it does do it - but doesn't affect the card - it is still inoperative until I reboot the computer. The fact that you can do that on a Vista 64 bit (same as mine) probably relates to a different BIOS (I have a Dell XPS 730x system). I just can't seem to get around the reboot. Are you saying that if you have two or three cards to download that you can use the scan hardware between each card and then the new card is recognized? If that is the case is has to be my BIOS.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 06:09 AM   #4
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Yes Barry - provided my PC (self-built around the Asus P5W DH Deluxe mobo, and with a couple of BIOS versions already) has been first booted with an SxS card in the drive, I can mount any number of cards without re-booting. It's very important though that when removing one card, I need to scan for hardware changes as well (it then removes the old card's mapping to a drive); after inserting a new one - I have to do it again, and it maps it to the same drive letter again.

If I didn't 'scan for HW changes' after removing a card, the new one would be recognized as a device, but its content would not - Vista would either see the previous card content, or ask prompt me to format the new card. I guess what is lacking is the "eject" (unmount) and "mount" functions for the PCIe bus...

It's a bit cumbersome, but well worth the increase download speed advantage over USB!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 08:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Yes Barry - provided my PC (self-built around the Asus P5W DH Deluxe mobo, and with a couple of BIOS versions already) has been first booted with an SxS card in the drive, I can mount any number of cards without re-booting. It's very important though that when removing one card, I need to scan for hardware changes as well (it then removes the old card's mapping to a drive); after inserting a new one - I have to do it again, and it maps it to the same drive letter again.

If I didn't 'scan for HW changes' after removing a card, the new one would be recognized as a device, but its content would not - Vista would either see the previous card content, or ask prompt me to format the new card. I guess what is lacking is the "eject" (unmount) and "mount" functions for the PCIe bus...

It's a bit cumbersome, but well worth the increase download speed advantage over USB!
Thanks for your protocol Piotr - I thought I had tried that in my various permutations and combinations of "Scan for Hardware Changes" but maybe I didn't - I always tried scanning on remount - I am at office now and don't keep the cards here but will try this on Monday. When I look under "My Computer" it always shows the drive whether there is a card in it or not (SxS icon memory card) and if I click on it it tells me to format the new card even if there is no card in the device. If your workaround doesn't work for me then it is probably a difference in the BIOS of our two systems.

By the way - I assume you mean (under Vista) by scanning for new hardware is to go into Device Manager and right click on either "Computer" or "Disk drives" and "Scan for Harware Changes".

Thanks for your advice.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry J. Weckesser View Post
When I look under "My Computer" it always shows the drive whether there is a card in it or not (SxS icon memory card) and if I click on it it tells me to format the new card even if there is no card in the device.
Same here, Barry - this is why you need to unmount this drive first. Unfortunately, PCie doesn't offer this option (other than with Device Manager; when it scans for hw changes, and the drive is empty, it should disappear).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry J. Weckesser View Post
By the way - I assume you mean (under Vista) by scanning for new hardware is to go into Device Manager and right click on either "Computer" or "Disk drives" and "Scan for Harware Changes".
Exactly - for both unmounting the old card (even though it's no longer physically present in the drive), and mounting the new one (after physically inserting it, of course).

Only insert a new card after the drive is no longer listed!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 09:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Same here, Barry - this is why you need to unmount this drive first. Unfortunately, PCie doesn't offer this option (other than with Device Manager; when it scans for hw changes, and the drive is empty, it should disappear).



Exactly - for both unmounting the old card (even though it's no longer physically present in the drive), and mounting the new one (after physically inserting it, of course).

Only insert a new card after the drive is no longer listed!
Well, I was going to disagree with you because I thought the icon was still listed under "Disk Drives" even though I had scanned for new hardware changes but apparantly not!! I had My Computer with the Disk Drives on one screen and pulled up Device Manager on the other screen - did the "Scan for hardware changes" and actually saw the icon (drive) disappear. This gives me hope that your workaround will also work on my system.

That would be really nice - I picked up this device for around $ 60.00 (including postage) and it will work with both SxS and MxR with fantastic download times with the SxS - and with all the convenience of having the slot within easy range built in to the front of my computer.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #8
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Please let us know whether it works for you, too.
I'm personally very satisfied with this device, even tough - at the time I was buying mine - it was over $100, plus shipping to Poland.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 01:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Please let us know whether it works for you, too.
I'm personally very satisfied with this device, even tough - at the time I was buying mine - it was over $100, plus shipping to Poland.
Piotr - Thank you, Thank you , Thank you. I had to stop by my office this afternoon and brought a couple of SxS cards by and your workaround works like a charm. Just have to dismount the drive (with the card out) using "Scan for new hardware" and then do the same thing again with the new card in - just a few seconds and a couple of key strokes away and you have a fully functioning Expresscard reader on a desktop at a very cheap price + you get the added advantage of downloading MxR, etc. cards which will hot swap without the other steps. FANTASTIC!!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 02:03 PM   #10
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I'm very glad it works for you, Barry!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #11
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PCI-Express (PCI-E / PCIe) to ExpressCard Bay

Perhaps a word of advice to other people who try this - it seems to work on Windows Vista with the workaround that Piotr has come up with and, on another website it states the same workaround works with Windows XP but I don't think it will work with MAC (no hardware "refresh" command on MAC's?). Also, I would buy a unit like the one I did without a power supply - I bought one from Amazon that arrived before the one I finally installed (that needed a power supply) and when the computer booted up it (the expresscard unit) had an electrical flash and that electrical fire smell afterward - in other words it fried itself. I was really scared it ruined something else in the computer but everything is ok. That unit is made by Startech (hope they are not a sponsor).

If a person wants to find the unit I bought just google the title of this post. Piotr - the company you bought from is one of those "rebranding" type of outfits - I bought an expresscard USB adaptor from them for $ 48 and then found the exact same thing later for $ 15 - now their price for the same thing is down to that price. The PCIe Expresscard Bay is twice as much as you would spend on other sites - but perhaps it is a better grade - they do not have a way to look at other pictures or instruction manuals. In any event using one of these devices has it all over using the Sony USB reader for Expresscard. A fifth of the price and about 3-4 times faster download.
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 08:32 PM   #12
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Just installed another PCIe - expresscard bay in my main editing computer - running Windows XP pro - still not hot swappable but using "Scan for new hardware" in device manager works well between cards. Download time for SxS 16 GB is 8 minutes and using USB is 38 minutes for 16 GB (MxR and Transcend card).
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 11:33 PM   #13
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Hey Barry. I've done some research over at the "egg" and came across a Koutech front bay adapter similar to yours. In its specifications, it says,

"1 All PCIe based ExpressCard; such as, FireWire, FireWire/USB combo & eSATA, does not support hot-plug function. In order for the PCIe based ExpressCard to work, the ExpressCard must be inserted into the socket before system powered up.
2 All USB based ExpressCard; such as, USB, serial & parallel card, support hot-plug function."

I see that there is a workaround with Device Mgr but I wanted to let you know what I found.

When you mentioned the other card that died and a power supply, did the front bay or the PCIe card require an external power source? Does your Sigg? I ask because the Koutech's front bay requires a power connection but the PCIe card doesn't.

EDIT: looking at the image you uploaded, your Sigg does NOT require a power source(it must be able to receive it through the cable attached to the PCIe card).
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 05:45 AM   #14
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Hey Barry. I've done some research over at the "egg" and came across a Koutech front bay adapter similar to yours. In its specifications, it says,

"1 All PCIe based ExpressCard; such as, FireWire, FireWire/USB combo & eSATA, does not support hot-plug function. In order for the PCIe based ExpressCard to work, the ExpressCard must be inserted into the socket before system powered up.
2 All USB based ExpressCard; such as, USB, serial & parallel card, support hot-plug function."

I see that there is a workaround with Device Mgr but I wanted to let you know what I found.

When you mentioned the other card that died and a power supply, did the front bay or the PCIe card require an external power source? Does your Sigg? I ask because the Koutech's front bay requires a power connection but the PCIe card doesn't.

EDIT: looking at the image you uploaded, your Sigg does NOT require a power source(it must be able to receive it through the cable attached to the PCIe card).
I did a lot of searching prior to buying the card and never came across the Koutech - I can't understand why they would require 3 Sata Cables?? The only thing I can see from the Koutech website is it "Supports eight (8) Status/Control pin-headers for special technical user's applications" whatever that means.

I would steer clear of cards requiring a power supply. Siig does NOT require a power supply and the hookup of the USB portion is optional. There is another card made by "Avlab" that is the exact same card as the Siig only in white instead of black. I did have one Siig card that was DOA but Am.....com is very good about returns.

Yes they do require a bootup with the card in the bay - but once booted up, unless you turn off the computer, the workaround using Device manager to unmount (as well as remount) the card works fine and only takes seconds.

Having been used to slow download times for the last 6 months except thru my laptop (Sony Vaio with an Expresscard port) it is really nice to be able to use this device on a desktop.
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