Technical advice needed--scanner

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by wogears, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Hi!

    I have a Polaroid SprintScan 120 tf scanner. It makes beautiful scans with excellent resolution, 35mm and 120 all varieties. I also have an Epson V750 that makes poor 35mm scans and okay but not great 120 scans, and a Nikon LS-50 which only does 35mm. The Polaroid seems to be dying. It worked perfectly on an FW 1394 connection. Then it had to have the cable unplugged and replugged before each session. Now it needs to be unplugged and replugged every time a holder is ejected. This is true with three different FW cards on three computers. Essentially, it is unusable at this point.

    I seem to have 2.5 choices. Replace the Polaroid, which is not really in the budget. Bring the Nikon out of mothballs for 35mm and use the Epson for 120--not optimal. The 2.5th choice is the one I need help with. The Polaroid has a SCSI-2 (HD50) connection in addition to FW. I can get a PCI SCSI card and cable for about $35. IF it is only the Firewire chip on the scanner board that is failing, then this could work? I'm not sure. I think it's above my geek pay grade. Anyone with a fact-based opinion?
  2. For only $35, the SCSI card is worth a try. Otherwise your Polaroid scanner is worthless. Any repair, even if available, would cost more. It's possible that the Firewire interface chip or connector are failing. If the SCSI card doesn't work, the Epson flatbed is a reasonable substitute. I've found that flatbed scans can be printed up to 5x with good results. That good enough for an 11x14 print from an uncropped 120 negative.
  3. Agree on the 5x-6x figure. The Polaroid kicks butt on the Epson, and I'd really like to keep using it. Ordered the appropriate SCS! card and cable. Let's hope.
  4. SCSI should be (almost) as plug 'n' play easy as Firewire. The only geeky bit is setting a SCSI device number on the scanner - look for a thumbwheel switch on the back of the scanner - and finding out if a terminator gizmo is needed. Hopefully not.

    The first decent 35mm scanner I bought had a SCSI interface, and it worked first time and utterly reliably after that. But I suppose it depends on the driver software. And of course there's no guarantee that the fault with your SprintScan is limited to the Firewire interface.

    FWIW, another film scanner that I have 'falls over' when connected via Firewire (it used to work just fine). I can now only use it via its slower USB connection. A physical examination of the PCB shows no obvious fault. For example, no corrosion, dry joints or heat marking from the area of the Firewire I/F chips. However, from a Google search, it appears that Firewire is totally unreliable/unusable on current OSes and hardware.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
  5. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Ah, if only... you must have forgotten termination issues (and that fun black terminator from the old Mac days), unique SCIS addresses or that some have stated SCSI stands for Sometimes Compatible, Sometimes Incompatible. :D
    Nothing as easy as Firewire....
  6. I ordered an Adaptec card (the right one) and a cable. By this weekend, I should know how things work out.
  7. No problem. I have a goat.
  8. With only one SCSI device and no daisy-chain, there should be very little problem finding unique IDs for the controller and slave device. At worst the scanner will need a passive terminator, but hopefully it has the necessary pullup/down resistors onboard.

    Firewire, OTOH, seems to have developed more types of connector than a leopard has spots, and a million and one ways to be incompatible with drivers, cables, Operating Systems and generally the world at large, including taking a dislike to the computer it was quite happily working with yesterday!
  9. As far as I know there's only 3 different types of firewire connectors: 4, 6, and 9 pin.

    There's at least 4 different types of SCSI connectors that I've worked with and there are probably more. SCSI controllers and devices were often not hot-pluggable either, meaning you needed to power everything down to add or remove stuff from your SCSI chain. Some SCSI devices used jumpers, others dip switches. Some could only work with a subset of IDs. And you needed cables that were as thick as small tree branches and about as flexible.

    Firewire didn't/doesn't require any of that stuff. In my experience, Apple computers and firewire got along pretty well, probably because it was built into most of their computers for over a decade. I'm still using a firewire 800 raid enclosure via thunderbolt to firewire adaptor. I've used that raid enclosure on at least 5 separate computers and about that many OS versions. Never caused me any problems.

    I think the problems with firewire are mostly confined to the PC world. In that world it was very much a niche interface and always kind of an afterthought with both the major PC vendors and Microsoft. USB was good enough for most consumer stuff and enterprise level hardware stuck with SCSI.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
    digitaldog likes this.
  10. The real point is that SCSI, once setup, just works. As do all the generations of USB. Firewire.... not so much.

    The issues aren't limited to scanners. An online search throws up endless complaints about IEEE1394/Firewire connectivity problems with professional audio recording and video equipment too.

    There's also this peculiar complaint of Firewire chips going bad. Normally, ICs don't rot like badly-stored apples, but firewire chips appear to be an exception. So, Firewire; given any choice, would I consider using it now that USB 3.0 is available? LemmethinkNO!
  11. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Key points above to hone in on: Should be, and hopefully.
    I've had zero issues with FireWire since the days it was introduced on Mac**. Maybe you Windows users have differing experiences. Wouldn't surprise me.... :p
    **Edit: lets also examine who actually invented Firewire and who's companies didn't:
    IEEE 1394 - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  12. Firewire did what it was supposed to do when properly implemented (especially with Oxford's chipsets), but it's outdated. SCSI was still better for certain applications during Firewire's heyday and lives on in name at least.

    For consumer hardware USB-3 surpassed firewire and USB-C is better still.
  13. It's worth mentioning that we're talking about electronics in a Polaroid scanner that was manufactured 15 to 20 years ago. The fact that some electronic component failed after this much time doesn't mean that there's an inherent design flaw in Firewire or that it's unreliable. It means that the device was old. ;)
    digitaldog likes this.
  14. Something worth checking from Gleb Shtengel's Nikon scanner repair site, - a firewire connector that's splitting leading to bad connections:


    I think this could lead to the symptoms you're seeing. Might be as simple as squeezing it back together.
  15. Good information. but not the problem with mine. It has two FW ports--both are tight and both display the same symptoms..
  16. The scanner was NIB in 2015 when I bought it. It worked perfectly at that time.
  17. Installed SCSI card today. Loaded driver by going through small hoop. Connected scanner. It works. Remains to be seen if this will continue, but for now all is well. Thanks to all who commented.

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