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Larry

Black Box/Acard CF Question

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I was attempting to set up a new CF card for my Black Box (used with an Acard SCSI to IDE bridge). But things didn't go as planned. The card was a 4 GB Transcend with with A Fat32 partition. The Acard bridge could not "see" the card, so I thought that it probably had a 2 GB limit and needed a FAT16 partition. So I re-sized the primary partition on the card down to 2 GB and left about 2 GB unallocated. So after formatting the card, I inserted it and the Acard still could not see the card. Can someone explain or at least speculate why this didn't work? Is there something that I forgot? Windows had no trouble seeing the new 2 GB primary partition..

 

-Larry

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Hello Larry

 

AFAIK the ACARD only turns SCSI into IDE, it doesn't make FATxx readable to the Atari. Have you tried using FMTDIR?

 

Or might this be a parity thing?

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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I am not sure what you forgot, but the Black Box was not ever able to read Fat partitions. If the card was SEEN by the Acard, the BB would overwrite the FAT partition anyway.

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Note that I said Acard could not see the card. If the Acard can't see the card, then it can't do any Scsi conversion. So then there is nothing for the BB to use. The way this behaves is that when you have valid media attached to the Acard, it does some type of diagnostic check and waits for spin up. Then the drive or CF adapter led flashes, and then the system is bootable. If you put a Fat formatted CF card in the adapter and power up the Acard apparently of 2gb max, then it goes as I described. In this case, a re-sized 4 gb card can't be seen by the Acard, so it is never ready. Definitely not a parity thing -- it just seems to be a size limit. Thinking about this some more, I need to hook this to the MIO with the new rom. It should behave the same.

Larry

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The reason your Acard can't see the CF card can have a few causes:

 

1) The CF card adapter you use is not compatible with the ACARD. I have had this with one IDE->CF card adapter. All other IDE->CF card adapters worked great, but one failed.

 

2) The CF card itself can be also the cause; have this had with a few cards. But....

 

3) Probably the firmware of the ACARD has to be updated. See point 2. First I was only able to use 128MB and smaller cards. After the firmware update I could use most other CF cards too

 

4) It has something to do with sector size. Something you can setup in the blackbox menu. I have not connected my blackbox at the moment, but I remember the ACARD with theCF card only worked when the sector size was set to a certain value. Only one size worked, can't remember which size that was.

 

 

Especially point 3 and 4 are interesting for you.

 

As far as I remember it has nothing to do with FAT partitions or whatever, since the data-communication is low-level/RAW and not dependable on any file system on the card.

I have had a 80GB harddisk (IDE) on acard .... which was not a problem.

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Thanks for the replies!

 

I think Prowizard has nailed it. It must be the CF adapter that has the size restriction, because like you, when the new MIO rom was initially available, I used some "large" IDE drives with the Acard. I think mine were in the 100-200 GB range. The adapter in question works with every <2 GB card I've tried and fails to recognize several different 4 GB cards.

 

So I'll focus on the adapter and see if I can't find another adapter that has a greater capacity. That still doesn't explain why it can't see the "down-sized" card, but gives me a potential work-around for the BB application.

 

-Larry

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You are not in the circumstance to update the firmware? I remember that as being the best thing to do first.

 

Special for you I drove in my car to collect my blackbox from my storagedepot. It's running here again. Always give me a good feeling, that good old blackbox.

 

Works like a charm. Oh and that sector size was 512 in the Controler menu.

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Hi Marius-

 

I'll look into a firmware update, but off-hand, I have no idea how I'd do it. (I will check the web.) But since my Acard recognized 100+ GB hard drives, how would that help?

 

I just tried another CF adapter that is slightly different but still very similar, and it does the same thing. I'm going to try it also with SD cards using various size cards. I have lots of SD cards with 2 GB, so that is another avenue.

 

Yes, in the controller list, all of these "modern" devices use 512-byte sectors. Many years ago, that is why I originally bought a BB to use instead of the MIO which was locked into 256-byte sectors.

 

I have to get out my BB every now and then (which got this whole question started). It's big and a bit slow, but still "cool old school!"

 

-Larry

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For firmware upgrade you need a SCSI card in a PC I believe. I remember a few years ago I had organized this to do that firmware upgrade.

 

Before the firmware upgrade all my harddisks worked (like yours) but all my CF cards seemed to fail (also the small ones).

After the upgrade I could do anything.

 

But... more interesting for you.

I must have a 4GB cf card here somewhere.

I'll test that one for you, to see whether it works here or not.

 

BlackBox is way too large (physical) but it has a few features that are still extremely powerful. I love the swap-partitions-on-the-fly feature. AND I love the built in tools and the ML monitor, and of course the HARDWARE FLOW control in the RS232 port. Yes I must admit I'm still a huge fan of the blackbox, though it is very huge.

 

Greetz

M.

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Well... my 4GB doesn't work here. So it's probably a limitation somewhere. Perhaps something with 8bit or 16bit mode?

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Thanks for testing! If my SD cards work, I'll be in "fat city" and I'll forget about the issue.
Larry

 

Edit: Most of my SD cards work fine using one of the SD -> CF adapters. The one exception that I found was a very old SimpleTech 512MB card. Reads were fine, but writes were about 80% slower than my other cards! The BB writes a bit slower than newer devices like IDE+2 since it uses both halves of a 512-byte sector. But this is not so much of a problem with solid state media since no rotational latency is involved.

 

In researching the 2GB vs 4GB capacity constraints, I've seen it mentioned several times, but have not found any real explanation of the issue(s). Anyway, I have quite a few =<2GB cards to use with the Black Box.

 

-Larry

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