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The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure:

OWC Mercury Pro 1

This is an enclosure designed for Internal 5.25″ CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray drives. It uses a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection to transfer files faster than when using USB 2.0. This mainly applies to Blu-Ray discs since they can have a very high transfer rate when compared to CD or DVD, hence having a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection allows us to benefit by having faster transfer speeds.

Unboxing

The enclosure comes in a simple box where when opened, we see a box that contains the power and USB cable as well as the screws needed to mount the drive:

We then see the enclosure below:

OWC Mercury Pro 6

It comes protected inside a plastic bag:

Once we take it out of the bag, we can see the shiny metal enclosure:

Inside, we can see the board and SATA cables:

OWC Mercury Pro 12

Installation

I took out my LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray drive from my desktop so I can use in the enclosure on all of my computers:

Installation was very easy. The drive was inserted and the screws were installed on the sides and bottom. The result is very nice looking portable desktop drive:

OWC Mercury Pro 19

Windows 10 detects it as Mercury Pro Optical and lets us know that it is connected via USB 3.0:

OWC Mercury Pro 20

So far, the enclosure has been working very great.

Now, I need another enclosure for my LiteOn iHAS524 drive, which is still my preferred drive to read and write CD and DVD.

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Hi everyone,

Remember my previous post where I was talking about the LiteOn iHAS524 C and mentioned the different optical pickup units this model use across its different revisions? Turns out that the SF-DS1XD OPU used in the iHAS524 B was having trouble burning DVD+R DL, so I began my search for a used iHASx24 drive from the A revision.

On Friday, I got a used LiteOn iHAS124 A delivered. This model use the SF-DS19L OPU that all LiteOn iHASx24 use (x being a number from 1 to 6).

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 1

The LiteOn iHASx24 series are all the same, except that the iHAS224, iHAS424 and iHAS624 has the hardware for LightScribe burning, while the iHAS124, iHAS324 and iHAS524 doesn’t. Other than that, the hardware is identical but they have different firmwares. The capabilities between models are the following:

  • LiteOn iHAS124: Base model.
  • LiteOn iHAS224: LightScribe.
  • LiteOn iHAS324: SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS424: LightScribe and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS524: LabelTag and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS624: LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase.

Basically they have a different firmware enabling LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase depending on the model you have. Even if you have a different model, the firmware can be crossflashed by using some tools and firmware. I will not be covering that here, but it’s good to know if you’d like to add some features to your drives. The only feature that depends on hardware is LightScribe.

My LiteOn iHAS524 has been with me since 2010, and it’s probably the best CD and DVD burner available given its ability to overspeed 16x media to 20x. It also has HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and SmartBurn, which are essential features to burn media with great quality. This is why I still count on this drive as sometimes I like to store data on optical media.

The drive had its optical pickup unit changed to the SF-DS1XD some years ago because one CD broke inside the unit, damaging the original SF-DS19L. I also didn’t use DVD+R DL media, so everything was fine, until last week. It turns out that the OPU had problems burning the discs. Specifically, it had problems focusing on the second DVD layer, failing at 50%. This is why I brought the used LiteOn iHAS124 A drive.

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 3
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 4

Because this unit is an A revision unit, the hardware between the iHAS124 and iHAS514 is the same. I did changed the iHAS524 disc mechanism to the one from the iHAS524 C revision, with the exception of the OPU:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 5
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 6

On both photos, the iHAS524 is on the left while the iHAS124 is on the right.

Here we can see the disc mechanism from the iHAS124 unmounted:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 7
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 8

And the Optical Pickup Unit taken out of it:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 9

I’ll be using this OPU in the original iHAS524 mount, so I placed it there:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 10

And finally, here’s the disc mechanism attached to the iHAS524:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 11

The OPU started working immediately. It is now loading discs faster and wasn’t making weird noises. I was also able to burn some DVD+R DL media without issues. I’ll be talking about that on another post, but for now, this is it.

The LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer

The LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer

Hi everyone,

On Saturday, I received the LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer Drive. This is my 3rd Blu-Ray writer and it will replace my LiteOn iHBS112 which was causing several bad burns. The other drive is the Panasonic UJ-260, which is a slim drive that burns discs successfully.

This drive is one of the cheapest Blu-Ray XL writers available on Amazon. It is also able to read and burn CDs and DVDs.

Here, we will see the drive unboxed and teared down.

Unboxing

The drive came in this simple box:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Box

There’s no branding. Just a box with the part number printed on a label.

Opening the box we see the drive:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Box Opened

Just the drive. No cables or software are included.

The drive is protected in bubble wrap:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in bubble wrap

Also also comes inside a plastic bag:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in Plastic Bag
LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in Plastic Bag (Front)

Taking it off we see the drive itself:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Front

Now, let’s take a look at the top, where we will find some useful information:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Top

The drive is the WH14NS40, with SVC code NS50. It was manufactured on January 2020 and comes with firmware 1.04:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Model, Firmware, and Manufacture Date

Finally, this is the drive with the tray opened:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Opened

Teardown

We will begin the teardown by removing the 4 screws on the bottom:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Bottom

We can then remove the bottom cover:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Bottom Opened

Let’s take a closer look at the drive chipset:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Chipset
LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Chipset

It is using a MediaTek MT1959HWDN chip.

Let’s now see the Eject Button, LED and Tray Motor board:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Motor Board

A look at the bottom tray mechanism:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Internals

The internal tray loading mechanism and Optical Pickup Unit:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Internals

A closer look to the Optical Pickup Unit:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Optical Pickup Unit

And finally, here’s how the drive looks in my Desktop PC:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in the Desktop computer

Drive Summary

This Blu-Ray writer can be crossflashed to the WH16NS60 16x variant. In fact, that was the first thing I did.

The drive is identified as HL-DS-ST BD-RW WH16NS60.

Here is the drive capabilities according to ImgBurn:

So far, I was able to successfully burn a BD-R with media code RITEK-BR2-00 and a BD-R DL with media code RITEK-DR3-000. Both discs were burned with ImgBurn and verified successfully.

Look forward as I test Blu-Ray media with this drive!

The LiteOn iHAS524 C

The LiteOn iHAS524 C

Hi everyone,

In the past few days, I brought a LiteOn iHAS524 C DVD drive on eBay. This drive is quite rare and was being sold as used, but the unit seems to be in good conditions.

The reason to have this drive is due to its unique LabelTag feature. This allows you to create labels on the data side of a CD-R and DVD+/-R. It, of course, will consume space, but the advantage is that you don’t have to manually label the discs as long as there is enough storage. It can also be created as soon as the data is burned given you use Nero Express with the LabelTag software present.

Pocket CD 97m15s17f Ritek Media 3

I also currently have the LiteOn iHAS524 A, which had its optical pickup unit replaced with the one used in the B revision. They are compatible with the A units and have been working great. However, the C unit laser is NOT compatible with the A unit, and I guess the same is true with the B units.

Here, I’ll present you with a side by side comparison of the internals as well as its exterior photos.

LiteOn iHAS524 C External Photos

We start with the front of the drive:

LiteOn iHAS524 C Front

As is usual with DVD drives, you get to see the CD and DVD logos; and because this drive also features LabelTag, it has the logo in the front too.

Here is a closer look at the top:

LiteOn iHAS524 C Top

And the back:

LiteOn iHAS524 C Bottom

This C unit was manufactured on August 2012.

LiteOn iHAS524 A Exterior Photos

Now, let’s take a look at the exterior photos of the iHAS524 A. This drive has been with me since its release in 2010, so it doesn’t have the same condition as the iHAS524 C:

LiteOn iHAS524 A Front

Again, we see the CD, DVD, and LabelTag logos.

Here is the top:

LiteOn iHAS524 A Top

And the bottom of the drive:

LiteOn iHAS524 A Bottom

It has a missing screw which I lost some time ago when I replaced the drive optical pickup unit. This drive was manufactured on June 2010.

Side-by-side internals

Here, we will see the internals side by side. We will start with the top cover interior:

LiteOn iHAS524 Inside Top Cover

Now, a look at the drive’s inside:

LiteOn iHAS524 A and C Inside Side-by-side

Both drives looks almost identical, with a few diferences.

This is the iHAS524 B Optical Pickup Unit. The part number is SF-DS1XD. It is compatible with the LiteOn iHAS524 A and is the one it’s using.

LiteOn iHAS524 A Optical Pickup Unit (SF-DS1XD for B revision compatible with A revision)

And here’s the iHAS524 C Optical Pickup Unit:

LiteOn iHAS524 C Optical Pickup Unit (SF-DS1X1)

The part number is SF-DS1X1. It doesn’t have the small potentiometer on the lower left. Other than that, it looks almost the same.

LiteOn iHAS524 A and C Inside Bottom Side-by-side

The back also looks similar. The board from the A model is a bit bigger than the C model.

Here, we see both drives internals with the disc tray opened, giving us a better look at the reader mechanisms.

LiteOn iHAS524 A and C Inside Side-by-side With Disc Tray Opened

Unfortunately, the iHAS524 C Optical Pickup Unit is not compatible with the iHAS524 A. The drive refused to turn on, but it seems that what really happened was that there was a short circuit. This caused the ribbon cable to burn:

LiteOn iHAS524 A with the SF-DS1X1 Optical Pickup Unit
LiteOn iHAS524 A Burned Ribbon Cable

The iHAS524 A didn’t suffer any damage other than the burned ribbon cable. The SF-DS1X1 laser didn’t get damaged and the iHAS524C was able to work fine. After I made sure it worked, I placed its ribbon cable to the iHAS524 A and it started working with the SF-DS1XD OPU again. Phew!

Long story short, the SF-DS1X1 OPU is not compatible with the iHAS524 A. Use the SF-DS19L (The one that should be used in the A revision) or the SF-DS1XD (For B units, but also works with the A units).

This is the SF-DS19L Optical Pickup Unit which I replaced with the SF-DS1XD:

LiteOn iHAS524 A Optical Pickup Unit (SF-DS19L)

If you need one of these Optical Pickup Units, you can find them on AliExpress.

The M Way USB External DVD Drive

The M Way USB External DVD Drive

Hi everyone,

In this post, I’ll show you the M Way USB External DVD Drive.

This is a slim External CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive, which is quite interesting, given that most units today are DVD writers. This one just reads and writes CD-R/RW, and reads DVD’s, but can’t write them.

The brand is unknown, too, but it was on sale a few days ago and decided to get one, just to have just in case one of my other drives goes bad. While CD/DVD usage has degraded over time, I do have music CD and I listen to them sometimes, so having a drive is handy to listen to them.

Unboxing

Let’s start with the box:

It is pretty colorful, and has a description of what it contains, as well as its features.

Opening the box we find the drive inside a bag:

We then find that the drive is wrapped in bubble wrap, and that there are some cards inside:

We can see that the faceplate of it is generic, with no CD or the actual DVD logo.

Taking off the bubble wrap, we see the DVD drive:

On the back, there is the USB cable:

M Way External DVD Drive - Colorful Flame Pattern - 10

The USB cable contains a USB-A 3.0 plug as well as a USB-C plug. Both can be used depending on the device you wish to use this DVD drive.

The documentation included is a manual, a thank you card, and another card telling to send an email to get a free 32GB USB drive.

M Way External DVD Drive - Colorful Flame Pattern - 12

Once the drive is plugged in the PC, I’m able to open the tray:

The drive is detected as a TEAC DW-224E-C drive:

M Way External DVD Drive - Colorful Flame Pattern - 15

The following is a screenshot of the capabilities of the drive as shown in ImgBurn:

M Way External DVD Drive - Colorful Flame Pattern - 16

As we can see, it reads most major CD and DVD formats and can write CD-R and CD-RW. Interestingly, it reports that it can’t read double-layer DVD+/-R. I’ll need to test this to confirm if this is in fact true.

I tested the drive with my Music CD collection and it reads and plays them fine. This is really great, and will be my main usage for it.

You can get this External CD-RW/DVD Combo drive on Amazon here.