Castlewood Orb Drive

Castlewood Orb Drive
Orb Drive - External SCSI

The Orb Drive was a 3.5" removable hard disk drive introduced by Castlewood Systems in 1999. Its original capacity was 2.2 GB. A later version of the drive was introduced in 2001 with a capacity of 5.7 GB.

Orb Drive - External SCSI - Back
Orb Drive - 2.2 GB Cartridge


2.2 GB Drive Specifications

This removable disk drive was far quieter in operation than its contemporary the 2 Gb Iomega Jaz and incorporated several notable and quite novel features:

1 For ease of working with an SCSI interface the SCSI identity could be altered simply with a screwdriver. A recessed control located under the unit allowed one of four settings (0; 4; 5 and 6).

2 Unlike its rivals the Orb had a protective cover over the front of the unit completely encasing the data disk. Closure of the cover allowed air to be purged for reading and writing operations. A button located at the centre of the front panel raised the cover for insertion or removal of a disk as shown in the picture on the right (97mm wide x 103mm high x 7mm deep). Disks were fed into the front of the drive and pressed down lightly to engage them with the drive mechanism. Seconds afterwards the lid would flip back down again.

3 The Orb was encased completely in smoked transparent plastic through which the Power/ activity light shone (Steady Green/ Flashing Amber or Flashing Red) as disks were loaded, tested and unloaded. It was also possible to follow movements of the read and write mechanism through the top panel at the rear of the unit.

Orb disks were made in Malaysia and Thailand and formatted for Macintosh or IBM compatibles. Disks arrived in a transparent plastic protective case which was shrink wrapped and enclosed in a cardboard slip case. The main claims made by Castlewood for using their 2.2 GB disks were as follows:

  • 1500+ 1.44Mb Floppy Disks;
  • 3.5 Hours of audio;
  • 22 100MB Floppy disks;
  • 3+ CD ROM Games;
  • 2,999+ Color Photographs;
  • 2+ Hours of video;
  • Get 3 times the storage capacity (over 6 GB) with your back-up compression software!

The drive, Model ORB2SE00 was made in Thailand and the power adapter Model 777-052000S-KF in China. It was compatible with contemporary PC and Mac hardware and operating systems viz: Intel Pentium, AMD K6, Cyrix MMX, iMac and Bondi-blue Power Macintosh G3, G4+, Windows 98 and Mac OS 8.5.1 with firmware update 1.1 et seq and Mac OS 8.6 onwards.

During its lifetime two different SCSI/ USB adapter configurations were provided by Castlewood:

1) The first used two adapters, one to connect the drive's female HD50 "SCSI IN" socket to a female DB25 socket into which a male DB25 plug to USB cable attached;

2) The second was Castlewood's own adapter "The ORB USB Smart Cable" Part Number 88205-001 made in Taiwan (Male HD50 SCSI to USB). This single unit had two manually operated locking pins to keep it firmly connected. The attached USB cable had a clear transparent cover incorporating eight toroidal ceramic surge suppressing magnets close to the adapter.

The following specifications were taken from the 2.2 GB External SCSI manual Part Number: 30002-001 Rev 1:* [1]


  • Average Seek Time: 10ms read/write 12 ms
  • Data Transfer Rate: 12.2 MB/sec maximum
  • Burst Transfer Rate: 20 MB/sec maximum
  • Rotation Speed: 5400 rpm
  • Head: MR (Magneto-Resistive)
  • CPU: 25 MIPS DSP
  • Start/Stop Times: 6 sec spin-up, 10 sec read, 15 sec write/6 sec stop
  • Long Format Time: 9 Minutes
  • Short Format Time: Less than one second

Reliability and Warranty:

  • Reliability: Labyrinth Sealed Door with Auto Closure and Patented enclosure environmental controls
  • MTBF: 300,000 hours
  • Service Life: 5 Years
  • Bit Error Rate: 1 in 10^12
  • Disk (estimated shelf life): 20 Years
  • Drive and Disk Warranty: 1 Year Limited

General Information:

  • Interface: 50-pin High Density narrow
  • Disk Storage capacity: 2.2 GB
  • Operating System Compatibility: Windows 98, 95, 3.1x, NT4.0+, MS-DOS 5.0+, OS/2 4.0, Mac OS 7.5.5+
  • Hardware Compatibility Mac: Power PC with PCI or above, G3 and G4
  • PC : Intel Pentium, AMD K6, Cyrix MMX
  • Power: 5V (+-5%), 1.5 amp (peak) start-up, .75 amp continuous read/write, .75 amp max seek, .2 amp standby mode
  • Power Management: Via software, with idle and standby mode
  • Dimensions: 6.5" x 1.5" x 5.25"
  • Weight: 1.19 lb / 538.7 gms
  • Write Protection: Via Software
  • Acoustical Noise: Less than 36 dB

Operating Conditions:

  • Temperature:
  • Operating: 10 °C to 46 °C
  • Storage: -40 °C to +60 °C
  • Shipping: -40 °C to +60 °C
  • Relative Humidity (non-condensing)
  • Operating: 10% to 80%
  • Non-Operating: 10% to 90%
  • Vibration:
  • Operational: .03 inches p-p @ 5–10 Hz, .5g p-p @ 10–300 Hz, .2g p-p @ 300–500 Hz
  • Non-Operational: .04 inches p-p @ 5–10 Hz, 4g p-p @ 10–500 Hz
  • Shock @ 11ms duration 1/2 Sine wave:
  • Operational: 3g
  • Non-operational: 80g
  • Altitude:
  • Operating: 10,000 ft (3,000 m)

5.7 GB Drive Specifications

  • Capacity: 5.7 GB
  • Transfer Rate: 17.35 MB/s sustained, 66 MB/s burst
  • Average Seek Time: 11 ms read / 12 ms write
  • Rotation Speed: 5400 rpm
  • Drive Head: GMR (Giant Magneto-Resistive)
  • CPU: 30 MIPS DSP
  • Start/ Stop Times: 25sec start, 8sec stop including eject, average
  • Operating System Compatibility: Windows 98, Windows 98SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP4+), Windows 2000, Windows ME, Mac OS 8.6+
  • Drive Life: 5 years
  • Estimated Disk Shelf Life: 20 years
  • Warranty: 1 year limited

The 5.7 GB drive can also read the 2.2 GB cartridges.


The Orb Drive was available in internal and external versions.

The internal version was available with IDE or SCSI interfaces.

The external version was available with Parallel, SCSI, USB, or Firewire interfaces.

CastleWood Systems

The manufacturer of the Orb Drive was Castlewood Systems. It was formed by several former employees of SyQuest Technologies. Shortly after the Orb Drive was released, SyQuest brought a lawsuit against Castlewood.

Castlewood has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is no longer in operation.

See also


  1. ^ 2.2 GB External SCSI manual Part Number: 30002-001 Rev 1:

External links

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