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View Full Version : Replacing an old laptop HD with a CF memory



djkrex
March 23rd, 2008, 05:12 PM
I have an old 286 laptop in my collection with a bad 20 meg. HD. Five years ago I found a 90 meg. to replace it, but that one went bad from just not being used. I was wondering if I couldn't adapt a Compact Flash memory to plug into the HD socket. The older HDs are getting hard to find and they don't seem to like setting around without being used for a long time. I have a 64 meg CF card from my old camera that would fit in real nice. I've seen CF to 2.5 in. HD adapters on Ebay but don't know if this would work in an old style laptop.

Trixter
March 23rd, 2008, 09:49 PM
If it's a standard IDE interface, you can certainly use those adapters. I use one in my 5160 as a "backup" drive to my 340MB IDE that I have in there.

ahm
March 24th, 2008, 08:54 AM
I believe compact flash has a limited number of writes, something like 100,000.
So perhaps flash isn't your best choice to replace those "unreliable" hard drives.

Trixter
March 24th, 2008, 01:45 PM
I believe compact flash has a limited number of writes, something like 100,000.
So perhaps flash isn't your best choice to replace those "unreliable" hard drives.

Flash does, but I'm using IBM Microdrives. They're CFII @ 340MB, but they are tiny little hard drives without the limited-number-of-writes limitation.

nige the hippy
March 24th, 2008, 02:10 PM
CF is not so good for windows based PCs, due to having to have a swap-file. Now I may be talking twoddle, but I have heard that setting up a ram-drive & sticking the swap file on that does work. That doesn't make immediate sense to me as the swap-file is for stuff that won't fit in memory & reducing the available memory by using it as a ramdisk seems counter intuitive, but maybe the way the software works means it does. it may be possible to reduce the swapfile size to zero. Lord Knows!

DOS based or other non-swapping computers are AFAIK fine with the CF to IDE converters.

Anonymous Coward
March 24th, 2008, 04:21 PM
I just thought I would add a little bit to the conversation since I went through a fair bit of trouble installing a CF card in my XT. Mine is actually on a SCSI adapter, but the same should apply to IDE conversions as well.

Maybe everybody already knows this, but I sure as hell didn't. You can't just walk into a retail store and grab a CF card off the shelf that will work when you jam it into your machine. The manufacturers of the CF card don't want you using the retail versions of their product as IDE drive replacement so they lock out some features on the card. For use as an IDE drive replacement they want you to buy their "special" industrial version which costs 2 or 3 times as much.

Sometimes you can unlock their products though. For example, I bought a Sandisk Ultra II and I was able to unlock the "fixed disk mode" and "DMA" features using special internal software from Sandisk that isn't supposed to be available to the general public. I was only able to do this because of a smart friend from Australia who knew what he was doing.

So, if you plug your card in and it just won't seem to work, now you know the reason.

carlsson
March 24th, 2008, 11:33 PM
I suppose the CF implementation can differ too. At the moment I own two CF cards: one 64 MB Kodak, one 256 MB Sandisk. Both work in my PC, but the Kodak card freezes my Amiga 1200 when I insert it into my CF to PCMCIA adapter. The Sandisk card however is fine to use in the same computer. Maybe I should look for some tuning or unlock software, but I doubt it would help me.

tenox
April 23rd, 2008, 03:50 AM
Maybe everybody already knows this, but I sure as hell didn't. You can't just walk into a retail store and grab a CF card off the shelf that will work when you jam it into your machine. The manufacturers of the CF card don't want you using the retail versions of their product as IDE drive replacement so they lock out some features on the card. For use as an IDE drive replacement they want you to buy their "special" industrial version which costs 2 or 3 times as much.

Hi,

Do you know where I can purchase such industrial versions or what to look for? I have few valuable boxes that I'd like to replace the hard disks with CF or microdrive.

Thanks,
Antoni

Trixter
April 23rd, 2008, 12:12 PM
Maybe everybody already knows this, but I sure as hell didn't. You can't just walk into a retail store and grab a CF card off the shelf that will work when you jam it into your machine. The manufacturers of the CF card don't want you using the retail versions of their product as IDE drive replacement so they lock out some features on the card. For use as an IDE drive replacement they want you to buy their "special" industrial version which costs 2 or 3 times as much.


I've never heard that. CF and CFII have an IDE interface (that's why the adapters are so small). All of mine have been no-name brands off the shelf and they work just fine.

Anonymous Coward
April 23rd, 2008, 04:46 PM
I'm not sure how many companies do this, but the Sandisk CF cards all seem to have this problem. So, if you want to use a Sandisk card then you'll probably need the utility to unlock them.

I wouldn't bother with an industrial card, they're pretty expensive.

Micom 2000
April 25th, 2008, 07:48 PM
Can you give me any more info on the microdrives. I have a Dauphin DTR1 a sub-notepad 486 under Pen Windows3.1 which used a tiny 40M HP Kittyhawk. It uses an IDE interface but was also PCMCIA compliant apparently. One user said he had hacked it using a 340MB microdrive. He included a BIOS setup pic which showed the DTR BIOS had accepted the microdrive HD specs. I checked out the Hitashi site but the microdrives were astronomically priced at the time. In googling microdrives now they all seem to refer to CF drives, but at a much lower price. I had understood microdives to be actual minitureised HDs. What am I missing here ?

The other thing that comes to mind is whether I could just use the IDE connecter to interface a PCMCIA adaptor and have all the good things PCMCIA sockets have to offer. I imagine tho that a PCMCIA socket services driver would be required.

Lawrence


Flash does, but I'm using IBM Microdrives. They're CFII @ 340MB, but they are tiny little hard drives without the limited-number-of-writes limitation.

Sharkonwheels
April 25th, 2008, 08:52 PM
Microdrives, are basically a little teenie hard disk (like the HP Kitty Hawks) with a CF or CF+ interface.

Here's a link to IBM MicroDrives selling on fleaBay right now:http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=ibm+microdrive&category0=

I have an old-school CallunaCard, which is basically a PCMCIA Type II card (only a signe-high connector, but the drive overlaps into the second slot space) and is either 170MB or 340MB. I think those were the FIRST MicroDrives. Then IBM shrunk it down to I think literally be the size of a CF.
It uses a CF-to-PCMCIA adapter to plug into a laptop, and quite a few cameras will DIRECTLY take a MicroDrive or a standard flash-based CF card.

My CallunaCard is actually how I used to transfer stuff between my Amigas and my PC YEARS ago. I got one of those PCMCIA slot boxes a long time ago that plugs into the SCSI bus, and used that on the miggies, and used the laptop to transfer.

I believe I originally acqured the CallunaCard around 1999 or so when some company was unloading a ton of their old Tadpole SparcBooks, and it came with mine, as I recall.


T

zydawn
September 8th, 2008, 07:03 AM
thanks guys, really good info.
but
there are limitations on my laptop with regards to hard drive size.
in the bios setup it allows a user defined hard drive but the limit is 2000cyl 16 heads and 64 sectors.
so what is the maximum size microdrive I can use and if I get something larger can I at least use part of it or is it all totally useless.