Tech Tips: EIDE Disk Drive Recovery

By Ken Kashmarek


Recently, I encountered a problem upon removing of a hard drive from an old computer (a 13-year-old Micron Millennia 450) that I had been messing around with. The problem was a bent pin on the EIDE interface of the drive. Here is a look at that bent pin:

EIDE interface of the driveBent pin #39
The connectorEIDE Pinout


The bent pin is #39, the Active pin, on the top row at the left. Any attempt to straighten it could easily break it off. The drive is old so there would be some risk.

Pinout description:

Pinout description

That means doing something to get the drive connected and potentially rendering it unusable if the lack of connection for pin 39 results in a failure.

I wanted to connect the drive to another computer had a couple of sets of cables for my Arduino microcontroller setup, which are female/female with 20 wires each (normally pulled apart for single wire usage). Perfect. Further, I also had in stock some connector pins to create a male end (the female end hooks up to the disk drive pins shown above while the male end inserts into the motherboard connected EIDE cable, or in the USB adapter configuration).

EIDE cable EIDE cable

So, I built my own 40 pin flat ribbon cable to connect all pins and especially to bent pin 39. I also acquired the following to aid in the task of reconnecting the drive to the computer...

Cable connection kit
Cable connection kit

This kit could connect a PATA, SATA, or IDE (EIDE) drive externally via USB cable and external power supply.

Photos below show the cable transition was partially completed using components from the above kit. The connector pins, and one of the two pairs of 20 wire cable hooked to the EIDE end of the USB adapter.

Connecting to power supply

Below the drive outside of the computer housing, was tested via the USB cable.

Testing USB cable

The drive worked in this configuration and showed up in the Disk Management utility

The USB configuration was taken apart and the drive has inserted into the computer housing as seen below.

Inserted ribbon cables

The two fabricated flat ribbon cables were inserted into the EIDE cable header for the motherboard connection.

Connecting the other end of fabricated cable

Above, the other end of the fabricated cable remains connected to the disk drive. This time, internal power is used to run the drive.

It shows in Disk Management as an internal drive (again, with drive letter assignments completed)

When Windows® XP was installed on this device in the first partition, it was G: and thus, the registry has G: references scattered throughout. It cannot be booted as C: (XP does not hot switch the boot drive letter as done with Windows® 7/8) and must be a second drive in the configuration (or partition).

Further, adjustments were made to the boot.ini file, which made this device the default once again.
Ken Kashmarek is a long-time resident of Iowa, retired after 35 years with a major equipment manufacturer. He has been working on computers since 1964 (mainframes and distributed), acquired his first personal computer (Apple II+) in 1982, and did computer performance monitoring in his former day job. He currently messes around with Arduino microcontrollers. Roger Wagner, of HyperStudio (HS) fame, put Ken on track using Arduino with the current version of HS (formerly programmed HS to work with serial connected devices in the '90s).