The 512 Gigabyte Floppy Disk

There are times when a technology goes almost overnight as if in a puff of smoke, and others when they fade away gradually over time to the point at which their passing is barely noticed. So it is with removable media, while we still have the occasional USB flash disk or SD card , they do not come anywhere near the floppies, Zip disks, and CD-ROMs of the past in their numbers or ubiquity. If the floppy disk is just a save icon to you there’s still the chance to experience their retro charm though, courtesy of [Franklinstein]. He’s made a 3.5″ floppy disk that eschews 720 k, 1.44 M, or even 2.88 Mb, and goes all the way with a claimed 512 Gb capacity. We’re sure we can’t remember these from back in the day!

Of course as we can see in the video below he’s achieved neither an astounding feat of data compression nor a bleeding-edge method of storing bits in individual iron oxide molecules. Instead the floppy hinges open, and there’s a holder for micro SD cards where the disk itself would be. It’s a bit of fun, and we have to agree with him that it makes a very handy holder for micro SDs that can carry that much data. This sets us wondering though, whether it would be possible to somehow multiplex 14 micro SDs to a microcontroller on a PCB that could fit in a floppy shell. Perhaps an ESP32 could be a slow file server through a web interface?

He makes the point that 512 Gb of floppies would comfortably exceed the height of the tallest buildings were they stacked together, so at the very least this represents a space saving. If you’re looking for something slightly more functional and don’t mind modifying the drive, there’s always this classic approach to marrying a floppy with an SD card.

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Raspberry Pi And The Story Of SD Card Corruption

Tales of Raspberry Pi SD card corruption are available online by the fistful, and are definitely a constant in Pi-adjacent communities. It’s apparent that some kind of problems tend to arise when a Raspberry Pi meets an SD card – which sounds quite ironic, since an SD card is the official and recommended way of booting a Pi. What is up with all of that?

I can start with a history lesson. Back when Raspberry Pi launched in 2012 – which is now 10 years ago – there were SD card controller driver problems, which makes sense given the wide variety of SD cards available out there. They were verifiably fixed one by one at some point in time, as debugging goes, their impact decreased and bugs with individual cards got smoothed over. This is how the “Pi SD card corruption” meme was originally born; however, if the problems were to end there, so would the meme. Yet, tales of broken SD cards plague us to this day – way less severe than they were in the beginning, but pronounced enough that you’ll see people encounter them every now and then.

Over the years, a devoted base of Pi SD card haters has grown. Their demand has been simple – Raspberry Pi has to get an ability to boot from something else, in large part because of corruption reasons, but also undeniably because of speed and capacity/cost limitations of SD cards. Thanks to their demands and work, we’ve seen a series of projects grow from unofficial efforts and hacks into officially supported Raspberry Pi abilities – USB boot being initially more of a workaround but now something you can enable out of the box, SSD-equipped Pi enclosures becoming more of a norm, and now, NVMe boot appearing on the horizon. Every few years, we get a new way to boot a Pi. Continue reading “Raspberry Pi And The Story Of SD Card Corruption”

Classic IPods Are Super Upgradeable In 2022

The classic iPod was the MP3 player to beat back in the day, loaded with storage and with its characteristic click-wheel interface. [Ellie] had an iPod Video laying around, one of the more capable models that came out near the end of the product’s run, and set out upgrading it for duty in the pandemic-wracked badlands of 2022. 

The iPod in question was a 5.5th generation model, prized for being the last to feature the Wolfson DAC with its good audio quality. [Ellie] used the ever-helpful iFixit guide to learn how to disassemble the device safely. Careful hands and a spudger are key to avoid marring the pressed-together metal case.

Once opened, an iFlash Quad board was installed inside that lets the iPod use up to four micro SD cards for storage instead of the original hard disk drive. With two 512 GB cards installed, [Ellie] won’t be short of storage. A new battery was then subbed in, along with a fancy clear front casing for the aesthetic charm of it all.

After the hardware modifications were complete, the iPod needed to be restored with iTunes to start working again. She then installed the open source Rockbox firmware, which opens up the capabilities of the hardware immensely. Perhaps best of all, it can play DOOM! Alternatively, you can use the clickwheel to control the volume on your MacBook if you so desire.

[Ellie’s] project goes to show that modifying an iPod these days can be a fun weekend build thanks to the great software and hardware now available. It’s wonderful to see that the platform still has such great support years after it has been discontinued. If you really want to look back though, take a gander at the early prototype of Apple’s breakout MP3 player.

Cramming Dual SIMs & A Micro SD Card Into Your Phone

There are plenty of dual SIM phones on the market these days, but most of them are a hamstrung by packaging issues. Despite their dual SIM capability, this usually comes at the expense of the microSD card slot. Of course, hackers don’t accept such nonsense, and [Tweepy] went about crafting a solution. Sadly the make and model of phone aren’t clear.

It’s a simple case of very carefully shaving both the microSD card and the nano-SIM down until both can fit in the card tray. The SIM is slimmed down with the application of a heat gun helping to remove its plastic backing, saving precious fractions of a millimeter. The SD card is then filed down to make just enough space for the SIM to fit in underneath. Thanks to the springiness of the contacts in the phone, it’s just barely possible to squeeze both in, along with some Kapton tape to hold everything in place.

Your mileage may vary, depending on the construction of your SD card. Overall though, it’s a tidy hack that should prove useful to anyone with a dual SIM phone and limited storage. We saw a similar hack a few years ago, too.

[Thanks to Timothy for the tip!]

FRDM-K22F ARM Board Doesn’t Have An SD Card Socket? Not So Fast!

The Freescale Freedom development boards come in several different flavors and at several different price points. It is pretty clear that Freescale counts up pennies to hit their desired target price. For example, the costlier boards with bigger processors (like the K64F which costs about $35) has sockets to fit an Arduino shield or other external connections. Many of the cheaper boards (like the KL25Z for $13) just has PCB holes. If you want to add sockets, that’s on you.

The $30 K22F board has the sockets, but it also omits a few components that are on the PCB. [Erich Styger] noted that there was a micro SD card socket footprint on the board and wondered if he could add an SD card to the board by just soldering on the socket. The answer: yes!

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Reflow Solder Your Micro SD To Ensure It Doesnt Go Anywhere

SD cards are great inexpensive storage for your embedded project. Using SPI,  they only take a few wires to hook up, and every micro-controller has a FAT file system interface to drop in your project. Problem with SD cards are the connectors.

Usually connectors cost more than the brains of your project,  and the friction fit, spring loaded contacts are not ideal for temperature swings, humidity and high vibration applications. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just solder the thing down, especially if you know you are never going to remove it?

[Timothée] decided to try and succeeded in reflow soldering a Micro SD card direct to a breakout board. While starting as a what if experiment, the PCB was laid out in Ki-Cad and sent off to a fab. Once returned the Micro SD was fluxed, tinned and fluxed again, then reflowed using an IR setup.

The end result is a handy breakout board where you never have to worry about someone swiping the card to jam in their camera, and is ready for any breadboard project.