Powerbook Compact Flash Drive


This Powerbook 150 was purchased as a simple media reader. Once the hard drive failed the owner decided to replace it with a compact flash card since IDE adapters were available. There was a problem: the ATA device driver would probe the device and then immediately shutdown because the “identify device” bit wasn’t the expected value. The device driver had been written before more recent changes to the ATA spec. Greg solved the problem by constructing a daughter card that plugs into the adapter board’s 40-pin header and then flips the identifying bit when the device is initially probed.

[thanks iamdigitalman]

27 thoughts on “Powerbook Compact Flash Drive

  1. Cool hack. I was actually thinking of doing this with a sony picturebook I have. So did he have trouble because a powerbook 150 is kinda old? I’m assuming on a more modern machine the adapter would just work…

  2. cyric, it has little to do with how many people will benefit. however, it has *EVERYTHING* to do with clever, non-obvious approaches to solving a problem. regardless of the application, regardless of who or how many may benefit, such an achievement is always admirable.

    to all of those who disdain the posted hack of the day, please refrain from belittling comments. not a hack you say? already know if it? why, then, what an excellent opportunity! share your knowledge with others for whom such a hack is neither obvious or known. a negative atmosphere will never foster anything .

    at any rate, this was a very very nice job, and yet more proof that our old hardware still has a breath of life in it. my old powerbooks might welcome such a resurrection. (theyre also indestructible…i used one as an ssh frontend to a router’s console port for several years without a single restart. thank you, debian).

  3. Pretty slick! At first blush, it looks like it might fit into a GAL22V10. If not, it might be doable with the GAL and a flip-flop. That reduces the size and wiring complexity, and if he were to lay out a PCB, that would reduce the assembly effort.

  4. CF cards are not designed for this kind of operation, they have a low write life (that is, they can only take a certain number of writes before they fail). When used as a OS drive it is *essential* that the OS is configured properly to minimise writing to the CF card.

  5. yeah, i found this and was thinking of doing it to my PB100, only use it IN ADDITION to the HD. use it to boot off of, like ez said. also, using it as VM might work as well. However, I dont wanna mess around with my beautiful PB100. maybe I should pick up a PB150 on ebay, as they are going for cheap.

    of course, I also have a wallstreet on the way, the one without the cache. I could try to put a CF card in it and use it as a cache. if I could get a smaller card, imagine instead of a 512kb cache, try 32mb!! or, wouldnt that work?

    -digital ;)

  6. Ok peeps i’m new here…..well been in the shadows for some time. Now i have to come out of the hack shadows, coz i’m a newbie. I have a Ricoh g1200s….could you run an alternative OS with a pcmcia adapter and flash card? Like a removable multi-boot system? Would you have to do the same thing here that jam did. Would like to run a linux distro.

  7. I’ve got a PB100 in the closet, damn keys are too loud..only use for it I ever found was word processing, and some people have used it as MIDI STMP clock…I don’t think the battery keeps a charge. Interesting hack though…

  8. You know, for IF, a Palm OS device is a much better bet, especially an old one with a KB, maybe a treo 100/300 or something, seeing as there have been IF engines since POS 3.0 or something like that.

    Excellent hack though.

  9. All current publicly available Flash Drives have an extreme limitation when it comes to writing data. They ‘wear-out’ after a relatively small amount of block writes. Using a flash card in this manner (as a home for the OS) means it will most likely have a lot of write operations performed on the flash drive. Most newer drives try to combat this by distributing data writes as evenly and reasonable as they can. So for all of you out there who think “I can get replace my HD”: you may have be in for a big suprise shortly down the road. VERY nice project nonetheless.

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