Add a 3.5″ Hard Drive to Your Raspberry Pi with Suptronics X830 Add-on Board

If you ever plan to make your own NAS with an Arm Linux board, the Raspberry Pi board should not be your first choice, as regular readers will already know  they are already cheaper and/or better solutions such as NanoPi NEO2 NAS Kit, ODROID HC2, or Popcorn Transformer to name a few.

But if you already own one of the Raspberry Pi boards and a 3.5″ hard drive, you considering going with Suptronics X830 add-on boards – also sold under Geekworm brand – instead of a DC powered USB enclosure since it avoids extra cabling and the use of two power supplies.

Raspberry-Pi-3-3.5-Hard-drive

SupTronics X830 board features:

  • SATA connector for 3.5″ SATA drive up to 10TB implemented via USB 3.1 Gen1 to SATA 6Gb/s bridge controller
  • USB 3.0 port to connect to Raspberry Pi board
  • Power Supply
    • Input – 14 to 40V DC input via 5.5/2.5mm power barrel jack (Powers the Raspberry Pi, so a separate USB power supply is not needed)
    • Output – 5V or 12V DC headers
  • Dimensions – 15.5 x 11.8 cm
  • Compatibility – Raspberry Pi Model B+, Pi 2 Model B, Pi 3/3+ Model B, and other electrically and mechanically compatible boards like ODROID-C2, or Rock64.

The board comes with a USB 3.0 port, so it should also be a good fit to Raspberry Pi compatible boards with at least one USB 3.0 port such as Rock64 or Libre Computer Renegade boards. The USB 3.0 port can also be used to connect the hard drive to your computer, since the whole board acts as a USB 3.0 expansion drive enclosure.

Suptronics X830

A little more information is available on the Wiki, where for example, they warn in all caps that you should not connect a USB power supply:

DO NOT APPLY POWER TO YOUR RASPBERRY PI VIA THE PI’s MICRO USB SOCKET!

A 19V/4.7A power supply is recommended, but that seems a little over the top, and I’d assume any 19V laptop power supply should do. Just make sure the plug is of the right dimensions, or purchase a $10 plug converter kit.

Suptronics X830 3.5″ SATA HDD shield ships with a 10 cm power cable, a 80cm USB 3.0 cable, the USB adapter between Raspberry Pi and X830, and a pack of screws, and is sold for around $35 including worldwide shipping on DealExtreme and Aliexpress.

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Jerry
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Jerry

Perfect for a small high performance NAS. The psu is probably fast enough for 15k RPM drives too? If only these NAS addons had more drive connectors.

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> Perfect for a small high performance NAS

Only if you combine it with a Rock64, the Renegade or another USB3 capable SBC. But then the whole setup gets ugly/bulky since you must use the 80cm USB cable due to the small USB adapter lacking SuperSpeed data lines.

This is really only for those unfortunate people who already bought a Raspberry and have no clue how lousy this thing is as a NAS. But at least not the usual underpowering hassles and just crappy NAS ‘performance’.

Lalith
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Lalith
tkaiser
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tkaiser

Well, it’s about 3.5″ HDDs here so powering is an issue since those disks need 5V and 12V. This problem seems to be solved with the X830 but if I want to combine an energy efficient SBC with a 3.5″ HDD I clearly would choose an ODROID-HC2 ( or the Swiftboard * if it ever arrives at end users).

And that’s for the simple reason that I learned to hate the USB3-A connector and these cables. Since being often totally unreliable due to SuperSpeed pins being laughable tiny and even slightly bending/touching the cable can result in host and drive losing connection with all sorts of funny stuff in system logs that users then report as software issues.

That said this X830 here is most probably best operated with an USB2 board since Hi-Speed pins inside the USB-A receptacles are huge and contact issues almost impossible. With USB3-A/SuperSpeed the cable needs to fit tightly and has to be inserted with full force.

* RK3328 Swiftboard: https://forum.armbian.com/topic/6163-swiftboard-data-rockchip-nas-board/

tkaiser
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tkaiser

People interested in the above device should better read through this whole thread first: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=196334

Suptronics shipped their X820/X850 boards with an insufficient firmware version and at least one of these boards was prone to underpowering issues (‘reboot issue’) that were solved only with a newer board revision that allowed a different powering scheme (shouldn’t matter here).

For anyone thinking about buying the X850 to combine it with a RPi… don’t fool yourself. Any RPi is the worst choice possible for a NAS due to general lack of IO bandwidth and USB Ethernet that even has to share bandwidth with storage. With their latest incarnation RPi 3 B+ they even managed to put non-functional Gigabit Ethernet on the board and did not test anything prior to selling this board to clueless users.

Two more links to RPi forum: https://forum.openmediavault.org/index.php/Thread/22185-Solved-OpenMediaVault-is-incompatible-with-Raspberry-PI-3B/?postID=172372#post172372

markchang
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markchang

well, i am quite curious whether the rock64 with a usb3 will be working good with this platform?

tkaiser
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tkaiser

Rock64 + USB3/SuperSpeed cable + X830 = potential USB3-A receptacle crappiness issues (that read like ‘UAS driver’ issues then in the logs and are reported as software bugs — so much fun!).

Suptronics doesn’t tell which USB-to-SATA bridge they use (which is already a reason for me to not buy such a product) but most probably it’s a JMS578 like on their other recent models. That said the JMS578 might need a firmware update to operate properly, see the links to RPi forum above (where you find the link to ODROID wiki with most recent stable firmware for JMS578 + flashing utility for ARM)

tkaiser
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tkaiser

Hmm… after looking at the HDD mount option I fear the mechanical construction especially when standing on those spacers as shown in the picture above will lead to unnecessarily high vibrations for a HDD (and vibrations with spinning rust is something I would always try to avoid).

dx2
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dx2

Add a Raspberry Pi to you 3.5″ Hard Drive 🙂