PowerBook 5300 FAQ

AlkSoft / Contents / Hardware / Removable Storage/Expansion Bay Devices

2.4) Removable Storage/Expansion Bay Devices

2.4.1) Does this computer have a floppy drive?

Yes, the 5300 should have a floppy drive. The floppy drive accepts standard 1.44MB HD floppy disks. The drive, however, is removeable. If you buy your computer from a 3rd party (like a seller on eBay), it is possible that it may not come with the floppy drive. The floppy drive normally occupies the PowerBook's Media Bay.

2.4.2) Does this computer have a CD-ROM drive?

No. Although support for an internal CD-ROM is apparently encoded in the ROM, Apple determined that they couldn't squeeze a CD-ROM into the small 5300 enclosure. The design team reportedly considered using a smaller diameter, non-standard CD-ROM format drive that would accept discs with 1/2 the diameter of normal CDs, but scrapped the idea as it would have been a niche design on an already niche platform. Although it isn't possible to use a CD-ROM drive internally with the 5300, one can connect an external SCSI CD-ROM drive to the PowerBook 5300's SCSI port.

2.4.3) Can this computer use a Zip drive?

Yes. The 5300 can use an expansion bay Zip drive from VST. The drive only works with Zip 100 disks and not the newer, higher capacity disks. An external SCSI Zip drive can also be connected to the 5300.

2.4.4) What sort of devices can I use in the expansion/Media bay?

Besides those items mentioned above, there are several other choices. VST made an expansion bay hard drive that was also designed to work with the 3400. The drive features Direct Memory Access (DMA) that makes data transfers faster. Unfortunately, DMA isn't a feature of the 5300. The drive will still work, but it won't be as fast as on the 3400. It should still be faster than the stock internal hard drive, however. VST also makes a power adapter whose large AC/DC converter fits into the expansion bay, negating the need to carry a large power brick around with you (I've never seen one of these, however. If you've got one or some pictures of one, please send me an email). There was also a 230 MB magneto-optical drive option for the 5300 at one point. Again, it was built by VST, but it was discontinued in 1997 and support from SmartDisk is non-existant. (An unsupported and obsolete driver for the VST MO drive can be found here.) Finally, there is a simple PC Card holder that fits in the expansion bay and allows you to either save weight (when empty it weighs less than the floppy drive) or carry your PC Cards with you on the road. It can hold four Type-I or Type-II standard-length PC Cards. I don't know who made it, however, as mine doesn't have any writing on it whatsoever. There may have been other choices for expansion bay devices, but these are the only ones I've heard of.

2.4.5) Where can I get expansion bay devices?

These days, anything designed for the 5300 is virtually impossible to find new. Used devices are more common, but even they are hard to find. Occasionally, you'll see a gem on eBay. Another good place to find used items is the Low End Mac Swap List email listserv. You may have to try a few times before you find what you are looking for there, as members tend to come and go on that list. Find directions on signing up at Low End Mac.

2.4.6) How do I install/remove an expansion bay module?

If you've never owned a 5300 before, it may not be immediately obvious how one removes an expansion bay module. First, eject whatever media may be in the drive by dragging its icon to the trash in the Finder. The drive itself is secured by means of a switch on the bottom of the computer that controls the locking mechanism. The switch is marked by a small arrow icon embedded in the plastic. Slid the switch towards the outside of the computer to release the locking mechanism. Then place your fingers on the underside of the drive module just behind the leading edge and place your thumb on the side of the laptop just above the seam where the drive meets the case. Push against the computer with your thumb, and pull your fingers toward your wrist. The drive should come free.

To install a module, simply slide it into the empty bay. When the drive is fully inserted, you should hear a faint click. The click is the locking mechanism securing the drive in place. Your 5300 may be somewhat worn, however. Like mine, it may require a manual re-setting of the locking mechanism by pushing the switch on the bottom of the computer back to the fully locked position.

Be aware that the expansion bay does not support "hot-swapping." That is, you cannot remove and install modules while the computer is running. In fact, doing so will crash the computer. The bay also does not support "warm-swapping" where you put the computer to sleep, then swap modules. This may work once in a while, but it is not a supported feature and can actually damage the computer. The only recommended way of swapping out modules is to turn off the computer completely, change modules, and turn the computer back on.

2.4.7) How do I remove a floppy disk from the module?

Saddly, a paper clip is a Mac user's best friend. If ejecting the floppy disk by dragging its icon to the Trash in the Finder doesn't work, or if you have removed the floppy drive without ejecting a floppy disk and you need to remove it, insert a straightened paper clip into the small round hole on the front of the drive located above the floppy drive's door and near the right edge of the drive. Push in firmly to depress the spring loaded eject mechanism. This may take some force. When you are successful, the floppy will scoot out of the drive far enough that you can grab it and pull it out or tip the drive over and have the disk simply fall out.