MacBook Pro bidrive or DIY optical bay HDD Caddy

OptiBay

If you ever run out of disk space on your laptop you might have wondered if you could replace your Optical Disc Drive which you rarely use anymore with another HDD. Turns out that of course you can and there are plenty of manufacturers out there who sell kits to do that. One of the most famous in Mac community is the MCE Technologies OptiBay pictured right.

But I live in Estonia and of course I wanted it NOW, so I went out for a little adventure to see if I can fit one of those el cheapo Akasa N.Stor HDD to ODD cases found in local PC store.

For the imatient: yes I can.

The Slim SuperDrive

I went out and bought myself the aforementioned Akasa ODD bay case, but failed to notice that it had markings for both 12.5 and 9.5 mm HDD-s. What this means is, of course, the case itself is 12.5 mm thick, which is 3 mm too much to fit in place of the SuperDrive. So if you can find a 9.5 mm case, your in luck. I had to be a bit more creative, but more on that later.

Akasa N.Stor 12.5 mm bay

Akasa N.Stor unpackaged

 

What’s in the belly

First things first – unscrew your MacBook and take of the bottom. Note, that the bottom is held in place from the center by two clips and at first it seems that you missed some screws. Just gently pull on the bottom cover to release the clips one by one.

To access the ODD, first remove Wireless chip screws (RED arrows) and then either (a) release the antenna wires (GREEN arrows) or the connection ribbon (BLUE arrow).

Now behold all of the glory inside your MacBook. More precisely pay attention to the Wireless chip that blocks access to ODD. You have to unscrew it (RED arrows) and then you have the option which of the wires to unplug. Either (a) release the antenna wires (GREEN arrows) or the connection ribbon (BLUE arrow). I opted for the antenna, because it seemed a bit less prone to break. (Though later on I learned that the ribbon reattaches a bit easier than the antenna wires, so pick your poison).

Take out SuperDrive

Now you can access the SuperDrive.

Take out SuperDrive

First unscrew the 3 screws (marked RED) that hold it in place and then gently pull on the ribbon cable that connects it to the motherboard (marked BLUE) and remove the drive.

If you ever plan to replace the ODD into your MacBook (maybe when you’re selling it off), your are going to need those screws, so better screw them back in now, before they don’t get lost.

UPDATE: After I received my excellent SuperDrive external closure, I found out that I should’ve unscrewed one additional fixing from the SuperDrive. In the above picture, it is the rightmost RED screw holder is itself attached to the SuperDrive with 2 screws. That won’t fit in the external closure, so instead of taping it inside the closure as I did, you could screw it back in the laptop for future use.

The Creative Part

Now we come to the part where I found out that the Akasa N.Stor was 3 mm too thick for the bay. Fortunately, after I dismantled the N.Stor case (BTW, one screw was behind a sticker), it turned out that the additional 3 mm were added with protruding stands that could easily chopped off (or so I hoped).

In the process of chopping off 3 mm of plastic from the N. Store

In the picture the RED arrows point to some of the stands that need to be chopped off. That part was easy – a sharp pocket knife and a steady hand.

The more tricky part was to thin up the inner rectangle. But I found that small wire-cutters followed up by knife and then a file did the job pretty well.

Hacked N.Store compared to SuperDrive

To avoid dust getting into the computer I washed the case thoroughly and then dried it off.

Stuff it in

Fitting the disk with the remains of the N.Store was easy enough but the problem was that the SuperDrive had screw-holes that the N.Store didn’t. So how would I secure the disk in place?

Cabling foam

I found in my drawer some pieces of foam that was wrapped around a VGA cable. That looked like something I could use.

The N.Stor did have a plastic piece that was supposed to hold the HDD in place, but it did not seem to do it’s job that good, so I decided to stuff the HDD too from two sides and then fix the whole thing from two adjoining sides so that it was gently pressed against ODD bay walls.

Stuff foam around the HDD and the casing

The frame that held Wireless chip proved to be in the ideal position, so I reattached that first and then stuffed foam between that and the N.Stor case. Another roll of foam was put between the case and the DVD slot.

The Result

Final result

The last piece was the insulator shield from the N.Store that completed the design. Reattach the back cover and you are done. Viola!

I was a bit nervous when booting the Mac up, but everything worked nicely and now I have a bidrive MacBook Pro with SSD and HDD totalling 750 GB storage – should enough for some time. ;-)

At the end it cost me 16 € compared to $90 for the OptiBay (35 € even in the aftermarket here). OK, the OptiBay comes with a free USB case for the SuperDrive which I don’t have, but it turns out that I can get one of those for another 10 €, totalling in 26 € for me. And a bit of exitement from accomplishing something myself.

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  1. Black Panda

    [Read the entire post]
    I did it and it works.

    But the black plastic casing from which you remove the 3mm plastic parts has been changed by the manufacturer. And it’s been replaced by a metal casing. So when you open the caddy, it’s empty between 2 aluminum plates.

    But no worries, just take some pliers and bend the aluminum to reduce the box’ height off 3mm.

    And you’ll make it!

  2. Thanks for the update.

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