View Full Version : Summary of replays: advice about firewire and laptops

07-02-2009, 01:43 AM
Thank you all for your response.

Original message:

Dear All,

we are looking for the laptop models that have FireWire port. It is my understanding that, at least several years back, laptops have had typically only 4pin FireWire port. Such port does not have pins for the power and consequently the use of only cameras with their own power supply is possible. Are you aware of that problem, i.e. do you know any laptop model nowadays with 6pin firewire port which thus allows the use of camera using the power directly from the laptop? We would like to avoid externally powered FireWire hub.

It is also my understanding that laptops take advantage of an expansion slot using the various so called express cards. In this case it would be FireWire Express Card which I think does have 6pin port.
However, does such card really provide enough current to drive Firewire camera (good quality images) without an external power source supply? I know that some of those questions are both camera (we use DragonyFly2 cameras from Point Grey) and laptop specific (many laptops deliberately restrict the output power on various ports), but any advice would be welcome.

Sincerely Yours,

Dr.sc. Tomislav Pribanic, EE
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing
3 Unska
10000 Zagreb
Tel.: +385 1 6129 867
Fax.: +385 1 6129 652
E-mail: tomislav.pribanic@fer.hr


I have not seen a PC-based laptop with a native 6-pin port. However, I have seen Apple laptops with Firewire800 ports. We have used several different unpowered PCMCIA cards with our PC-laptops to gain access to a 6-pin Firewire port. We have not had any issues pulling or pushing power through the laptop to 4-pin firewire camcorders, even through 100 ft of firewire cable.


Peter Vint, Senior Sports Technologist
United States Olympic Committee
719.866.4767 o
1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909-5760



Our lab uses a 4 pin to 6 pin converter with an external power supply to run a Basler 602f camera from a laptop with only a 4 pin input. I don't remember the exact site that we ordered it from, but this site has one similar to it. http://www.apricorn.com/product_detail.php?id=1171&type=reg. Good luck!

Jerrod Braman


In my experience expansion slot 6 pin firewire ports often don't supply power (at least the one I have doesn't). One option would be to get a Mac laptop. If you need windows then you can always install windows on it via Bootcamp. Then you get a genuine 6 pin port that can supply power. However if you are powering cameras don't expect your battery life to be all that great.

Dr. Bill Sellers Email: William.Sellers@manchester.ac.uk
Programme Director of Zoology Skype: wisellers
Faculty of Life Sciences Tel. 0161 2751719
The University of Manchester Fax: 0161 2753938
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Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK http://www.animalsimulation.org



you are right, there are very few (close to zero) notebooks/laptops on the market that have a 6 pin FireWire connector.
In the last months the situation has changed to the worse: Latest notebook models often do not have FireWire ports any more.

The reason might be that FireWire-800 (IEEE-1394(b)) was not very successful and has been out-dated by Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) network technology with 1000 Mbit/s. Another advantage for GigE is the industry standard GenICam which has been created by almost all camera manufacturers world-wide (see www.genicam.org). For the standard the interface (GigE, FireWire, USB) should not matter but in reality everybody is going towards GigE.

>From our point of view FireWire has had its best days.
All PCI-Express or PCMCIA cards have 6 pin ports but they do not provide enough current (if any).
Some cards have connectors for external power supplies but we usually prefer external FireWire repeaters (hubs) with power supply.

Since FireWire cable length is very limited (officially 5 m) you will need a repeater anyway,

Cable length is another advantage of GigE: You may use cheap cables with any length (e.g. 100 m). For FireWire this will be VERY expensive (glass fibre).

You will find some more details related to this subject on our website:

CONTEMPLAS is providing motion analysis software for FireWire, USB and GigE cameras.
We think that GigE (or 10-GigE, with 10,000 Mbit/s) will replace the other interfaces sooner or later.

Best regards,


__________________________________________________ ____

Thomas Seeholzer
Managing Director, Research & Development

phone: +49 831 254369 20
mail: seeholzer@contemplas.com
web: www.contemplas.com

UID: DE 241749111
HRB: 8828 Amtsgericht Kempten
Geschäftsführer: Stefan Klippel, Thomas Seeholzer
Firmensitz: Albert-Einstein-Str. 6 / D-87437 Kempten


Hi Tomislav,

For many years the Apple line of laptops have contained powered Firewire (with 6 pins; also known as Firewire 400). They are all Intel-powered now and are 100% Windows compatible (running Windows directly or by virtual machine).

The Macbook line (http://www.apple.com/macbook/) contains the 6-pin powered Firewire connection that I think that you are looking for. Their "Pro" line (http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/) contains faster Firewire (i.e. Firewire 800) which is backwards compatible with the older version (Firewire 400) via a small adapter.

all the best,

JamesJames Smith