Hacking an SD Slot for WiFi

Back in the 1990’s moving files via a floppy disk was known as “sneaker net.” While floppies are a thing of the past, SD Cards are the modern equivalent and they still lend themselves to sneaker net operations.

But why? WiFi is everywhere now. Wouldn’t it be great if you could hack those devices with SD slots to use WiFi? Apparently 3D printer [extrud3d] thought the same thing and found a way to reconfigure a Toshiba FlashAir card to put his 3D printer on the network.

The card is aimed at consumers, so by default it creates a hotspot and waits for a connection, a rudimentary web app allows you to move files back and forth over the network to the SD card which is then read by the host device. However, [extrud3d] shows how to modify a file on the SD card’s file system to allow the device to hook up to an existing wireless network and also provides a Python script to make the file transfer easier.

Although this hack is for a 3D printer, it ought to work with most devices that have a full sized SD slot (or can be adapted to take a full sized card). Since the hack is nothing more than changing a text file, it is a lot easier than some other SD hacks we’ve covered. Over on hackaday.io, [Chris Jones] has recently done some hacking on the FlashAir and has a list of its shell commands if you want to go beyond the text file hacks.

[Kieth Wallace] did a similar mod (see video, below) for the DaVinci printer which was a bit more involved since the original FlashAir card didn’t handle long file names. [Kieth] had to mod the printer’s firmware, although version 2 of the FlashAir handles long file names and wouldn’t require as much effort.

There’s a dedicated site for FlashAir developers and we have to wonder if these wouldn’t be a good way to Web-enable an embedded system with an SD Card slot (in case you are tired of hearing about the ESP8266).

28 thoughts on “Hacking an SD Slot for WiFi

  1. Hi,
    I think I dont get to understand this hack (maybe because I dont really know the limitations of a Flash Air card). Does it only allow picture transfers by default, and by this you make it possible to transfer any file, or what?
    Thanks!

    1. It provides a web interface that lets you read/write files to the storage device. So in the 3D printer case, you could prepare your files on a desktop computer, connect to the FlashAir server (assuming it is plugged into your printer), and transfer the file to print.

        1. Not sure I understand your question. In the target devices (like a 3D printer) you’d plug the SD card into something else, load it, and then move it to the printer. With this, you leave it in the printer, populate the files via WiFi, and off you go.

        2. Having one of these Da Vinci Printers myself and having recently purchased a Flash Air Card for just this purpose I can confirm the basic non WiFi SD Card which provides 3D print file storage resides within the machine and is loaded via a USB Cable Connection. The Flash Air Card as supplied is a read only WiFi device allowing photos in a Camera (or similar device) to be wirelessly transferred to your PC, Tablet or Phone. The Hack makes the Flash Air Card a Read/Write WiFi device thus allowing files to be transferred TO and from it Wirelessly and thus in turn making the Printer Wireless in operation! :) Hope this helps to clarify.

  2. I don’t think anyone said it wasn’t. Javi’s question was perfectly reasonable. As your previous comments mark you out as some kind of grammar nazi I should also point out that the use of “/is/” makes you look like a twat.

  3. Last week i added wifi to my printer with relatively ease, using an esp8266 and some simple lua script, i just used regular serial rx/tx. It would be nice to have an article here showing how it’s done, once you get the idea, you can possibly add wireless connectivity to anything “ftdi” as cheap as a ftdi is. And if your application can’t use an ip adress, there’s always free ip>com softwares avaidable.

      1. Hadn’t..i’m not very good with “writing”, but i didn’t made anything from scratch, it was just a couple searches and solder things up togheter. And i didn’t take any pictures doing it.

        But i’ll try.

    1. I originally bought an Eye-Fi card for the purpose of making my Da Vinci Printer Wireless like the Original Poster. However I couldn’t find a way to make it Writable so it now resides in my Bridge Camera where it performs sterling service automatically transferring photos to my laptop instead! :)

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