How to feed 3.5 hdd from Wii ext. power?

Discussion in 'Wii - Hacking' started by qbert, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. qbert

    qbert Advanced Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    I've just bought this adapter (USB2 -> IDE/SATA 2.5/3.5) for few euros:


    And it works very well, no problem with ISO Loader.

    I would like to feed my 2.5 sata hdd.
    The adapter comes with power supply for 3.5 drives but I would like to get rid of it and get the power from Wii adapter.

    Hdd consumption is 700 mA, and it would need 12V and 5V. Any idea?
  2. Captin

    Captin Advanced Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    I would think it wouldnt be advisable to do it that way. Also those things take power from the USB to run the block on the unit. This is also not advisable as you may damage your Wii taking too much power out.

    It's far better to get a cheap USB caddy that will totally power up the external hard drive and circuit plus give your hard drive some protection.

    Cheap is not always the best option.
  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I like these sorts of hacks.

    So you have an adapter, I am guessing it draws all the power it needs from the USB.

    Unlike a lot of the ones I have seen (which come as part of the adapter) you have been given a wall socket to molex power adapter (and then a molex to sata adapter).

    I also have to assume it is 700mA at 12V aka 8.4W and furthermore I do not know the load balance between the different voltages.

    Standard molex/ata as you say is just 5V and 12V
    Sata is 3.3V, 5V and 12V (naturally all DC).

    Easiest way and rather crude is the poor man's socket doubler, here you cut into the wall facing side (before the transformer on each) and solder like wires to each other, I am not sure of Italian/continent wiring colours right now and even then I would be inclined to still test the pins match rather than relying on colours (manufacturers are not to be relied upon as my several of my of shocks will attest) but is a simple thing so no worries there.
    I do not think the fuses are anywhere near the limits with the wii and drive transformer but it might be worth a check.
    Nicely your adapter appears to use a "kettle" (standard PC) lead meaning you could probably scrounge one up from somewhere.

    Next we go into proper electronics.
    The obvious place to start is a power source that is certain to be there, now the wii has two external USB ports although one looks to be powering your drive (maybe still available if you are up for a bit of splicing).
    More on USB power:
    Note that while the limits are fairly high (500mA per hub*) in the spec there is a initial current draw limit of 100mA, many USB implementations ignore this but some do not. I have no idea where the wii exists with regards to such things. Short of proper electronics any device would be very crude and not identify itself and so not conform to the current limit requirements.
    *not sure if each port counts as a hub, either way between the adapter and the drive even split between the two it is are pushing limits if you are not already beyond them and I would not do it.
    In addition to all of this you would still need a 12V source and running an inverter for such low levels does not sit right with me.

    Next up with the wii output.
    I have not got one to hand right now but according to this site:
    "Output : DC 12V 3.7A" which I am going to go with until something better comes along.
    First up I have no idea how close the wii pushes this supply and "hacking" a transformer is something I do not suggest doing unless you know how they work through and through. 700mA is not play power either, the standard overhead for such things is often quite high but I doubt this can take a 700mA hit and even if it could you would need to test it under load (not just idling on the menu).
    Immediately though you should notice 12V which fits one part of the requirements.

    If you were to try and power it from wii hardware I would consider splitting the device between USB and wii power (I know it sounds a bit like circular logic having just counselled you against trying to draw too much power but that 12V*3.7A also accounts for the USB down the line). Get a multimeter and does the maths though as I am not confident it would work at all without external power.

    Speaking of external power most TVs and other devices around it can spare some if you are up for making an octopus of wire.

    In short go with the cheapo socket doubler.
  4. qbert

    qbert Advanced Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Yeah! That's the point!

    Thanks for the deep answer and the useful links. I'll go into more them.

    What I'm going to try is:

    Get 12V from power supply

    Get 5V from USB. If Wii connect24 is disabled, I expect that USB provides 5V only when Wii is switched on. Is such way, the hdd stops spinning when Wii is in stand by mode. Have any idea about the 5V needs of 3.5 hard drive? What 5V is for (I think only for logic)? How much is the consumption?
  5. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    If indeed the USB ports are switched off you can quite easily use a transistor to kill the 12V. You might also consider a relay or a thyristor depending on how you feel about playing with electronics - 12V is quite high for most general consumer grade transistors, in the case of the semiconductors though I would be concerned about leak current (not for damaging things really just that it does not need to be there).

    "How much is the consumption?"
    That was my big concern; I do not know how the power is distributed between the two current lines, I will go with your 5V for logic idea though.
    I do not have your drive but I did just grab one from my box of stuff (should have thought of that last time around but oh well) and it says
    12V clocks 0.65A and the 5V clocks 0.45A so just over 10 Watts in total, it a rather old drive though (manufactured in early 2000) and I would rather see what your drive says.
    For what it is worth my little 2.5" laptop drive (IDE) says 5V @ 0.55A (and it only has two wires going into the power supply cable when you adapt them to conventional IDE).

    Nicely in the case of the standard drive that places the 5V as under the current maximum for USB although you may run into trouble if it is also powering the adapter and the wii is one hub as I suspect*. At this point I will mention that TVs, DVD players and many other things you may have around your TV could well have a USB port handy.
    Also the 12V current draw is still higher than I would like (it is around 15% which is beyond most safety factors).

    *there may be other voltage sources in the wii that you can use to prop it up. Fans on PCs are a good bet but the wii does not have anything special here. If you are not using the DVD drive then it may be a good place to look.

    It might also be an idea to split the USB power supply between the two sockets, you are going to have to either custom make something or splice power wires into a molex; I would sacrifice two extension leads for this one (you can get away with just a male USB lead if you have a dead mouse or something around).
    You could also run a resistor/xener diode or transformer from the 12V wire just for current purposes, changing voltages is not something I am all that keen on though so I will leave that one for you to decide upon.

    I think ultimately my main fear is still overloading the available supplies, I would strongly urge you to run some tests and crunch the numbers to see what goes.
  6. qbert

    qbert Advanced Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Just a brief update:

    I built a second USB wire: USB - molex

    Now the drive is connected by 2 USBs: 1 for data and 1 for power and it works properly without ext power, with PC and Wii either!

    PS BTW I ordered and still waiting for a SATA 2.5 case too!
  7. foobar

    foobar Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    Funny, I have that same adapter and have had zero luck with the 3.5" drives I have tested:
    Seagate 7200.8 PATA 400gb
    Seagate 7200.10 SATA 500gb

    Using cios rev10 and waninoko's 1.5 loader.
    Tried formatted FAT32 and WBFS using the original Linux tools (not the Windows port). I was about to give up and decide that my Wii was the problem, but I discovered that my usb flash drive works so something must be right. Too bad it's not fast enough to trim down the load times on Okami.

    I've also tried the older PATA drive in a Maxtor One Touch USB&Firewire enclosure (its usual home -- the original drive is long dead). It's a no-go as well.

    I like the usb hdd solution with a 2.5 inch drive because as qbert said, you can draw enough from 2 usb ports to spin the drive up (afaik the wii ignores the initial 100ma limit). Note that your average 2.5" drive pulls all its power from 5v, and you may run into trouble with some 2.5" 7200rpm drives. The limiting factor isn't steady-state current draw, it's the inrush current when it first spins up, which can be an amp or two in the extreme case. There are almost zero SATA drives that actually use the 3.3v pins.

    If you want to run right off the Wii brick, it probably won't miss the extra power. Try getting a DC-DC converter to provide 5v, tap the 12v directly, and use a common ground. Speaking of common ground, don't go pulling random voltages from other stuff nearby (DVD player, etc) because there could be significant potential difference between the two grounds. This would cause a ground loop (and significant current through the ground line) which at best screws up the sound when it happens in audio equipment, and at worst could fry your Wii.