66% or better

4D Systems micro drive

p1193335689

4D  Systems micro drive provides both raw and FAT level access to microSD cards. The module contains a dedicated host controller that transforms what may be an otherwise intimidating card spec into a group of simple serial commands. With a wide supply range of 3.6-5.5 and .1″ lead spacing, this should be cake walk to tinker with. The device doesn’t support FAT32 yet. According to the GOLDELOX-DOS command set page 9, “FAT32 is currently not supported, if you mount a FAT32 formatted disk, you will not be able to access it at all, both FAT and RAW commands will fail”. At the moment the device seems limited at 2GB FAT16 partitions. This sure does seem like cheating after implementing SPI and Nibble mode SD card protocols.

[via Electronics-Lab.Com thanks mozzwald]

Comments

  1. googfan says:

    I wouldnt call it a microdrive. Id call it easyflash. One day though i want to impliment an actual seagate microdrive into a robot. you know, for bragging rights.

  2. timour says:

    it will never be fat32 and long file names.
    they should have to pay a licence to MS.
    sadly the same for the FTDI viniculum that operate with flash drives.

  3. MarTechRS says:

    A friend of mine has a p.o.c. robot dog with a sata 1TB drive and has been looking for something more solid state, the drive eats a lot of battery something like this would be nice if capacity was larger.

  4. macegr says:

    microsoft FAT32 (or VFAT) patent applicability is still up in the air right now. Certainly all Linux machines can read, write, and create FAT32 filesystems. There’s one patch that removes the ability to create both a short and a long filename for the same file, which might get around the patent.

  5. Agent420 says:

    this product is a nice turnkey module for systems with small controllers, but if you are using any decent sized avr or pic there are software libraries that offer fat 16 & fat 32 (not sure about long filenames) file systems on drives, CF and SD.

  6. entropia says:

    This would sure be nice for datalogging purposes, but what about, say, MP3-players? Is it fast enough?

  7. andrew says:

    There’s some other interesting stuff on their site. However, I have no idea how they justify charging $175 for a 3″ lcd touchscreen.

  8. benryves says:

    uALFAT ( http://www.ghielectronics.com/product/1 ) is a bit bigger but supports FAT32 with long file names, and also supports a choice of UART, SPI or I²C.

  9. FriedPope says:

    My nearspace group has been using this to log our flight data in raw mode. It’s worked very well, although it is a bit slow to keep track of our IMU data.

    nearspace.0x58.com

  10. andre says:

    this is amazingly cool! i was looking into using those little “mini” kingston pendrives on a USB PIC
    but these would be a simpler way to use microSD.

    my own version (only works with up to 256MB) would have used one of those new serial 8 pin RAM chips and a PIC16F628 to store data from a spare phone camera (koff Saleae Logic /koff)

  11. shek says:

    i just bought one of their OLED displays. it’s amazing. the picaso graphics processor is awesome.

  12. andre says:

    @shek, i just sold one on ebay a few months ago…

    oh well. i found it was no good for video anyway but it did have a microSD reader.

    -A

  13. shek says:

    @andre

    yeah, it has a poor video frame rate but i’m not using it for that. i’m building an OBDII HUD. the insane contrast ration makes it work great.

  14. Drone says:

    $30 USD, no card incl. Ouch…

  15. TJHooker says:

    That’s the reality with all these embedded designs aimed towards modders and hackers from small vendors. It’s a profitable market right now, and all these blogs and zines feed it.

    The PCB design is the only complexity in this solution. it’s one asic with a few passive components..they use another asic to do serial to uart, you could just buy the chips and make your own single board solution; for them two boards can make more money off padded costs.

  16. Pilotgeek says:

    ah hackaday… I can always count on you if I’m in the mood to see advertisements.

  17. lekernel says:

    yes, and it’s not even a good product. a software library is a better solution than that piece of crap for people with little brains. simpler, cheaper, easier to obtain.

  18. maathieu says:

    The patents for FAT32 will expire in 2014. All hail the USPTO!

  19. lekernel says:

    a further reason not to use that crappy device and replace it with a software library which is not patentable (at least in europe) and can support fat32 without legal problems.

  20. TJHooker says:

    @lekernel: good point.

    If you know anything about file system topologies you know vendors get cut throat when it comes to patent violations, and most patents are full of open clauses especially with journaling systems.

    I was looking into TrueFFS recently at stumbled some crazy licensing bs backed by patents.

    you can’t use a file system in a design without some big name having you by the balls somehow.

  21. Jimbo says:

    “This would sure be nice for datalogging purposes, but what about, say, MP3-players? Is it fast enough?

    Posted at 9:49 am on Jul 21st, 2009 by entropia”

    Microdrives were in the first generation iPod Nanos. People were finding it cheaper to buy an iPod Nano and crack it open for the Microdrive than to buy the Microdrives OEM. (The only instance in which I can point out that Apple actually was able to provide something equivalent for LESS.)

    Microdrives are capable of roughly 4 to 8MB/sec in data transfers, so no, they’re not blazingly fast… but work. There are Compact Flash cards (Sandisk Ultra III series, for example) that are capable of UDMA modes and higher speeds. Microdrive just was preferable because it was cheaper per MB before and provided near infinite rewites compared to flash… in which both ways, Flash has since exceeded Microdrives for all intents and purposes.

    But it’s all besides the point as the picture clearly shows that it’s a MicroSD flash card in a socket.

    And yes, those are fast enough for MP3 players, too.

  22. TJHooker says:

    hardware doesn’t have the issues digital assets do, I’m not even sure why that is being brought up.

  23. Jay Vaughan says:

    I’ve been looking for something like this to use in a project to add an SD-card to an old (80’s) Oric Atmos/Oric-1 computer .. its getting harder and harder to find the Oric microdisc drives, so we on defence-force.org have been discussing adding a virtualized ‘modern’ interface to the Oric so it can use SD cards.

    This, combined with the Bus Pirate, may be just what I need to get a proof of concept done that demonstrates that such a thing is possible, so I’ve ordered one .. Hackaday, I’ll let you know if this simple modular solution, with a bit of glue software, ends up bringing our Oric-1’s and Atmos’s into the 21st Century.

    And yes, for our needs, FAT16 is going to be *just fine*. :)

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