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Compact Flash Card Troubleshooting

Using Compact Flash cards instead of floppy disks in legacy MPCs such as the MPC 2000XL and the MPC 3000 is a no-brainer. Floppies are much harder to come by these days than when these machines were originally released. However, it’s not always as easy as getting a CF to IDE adapter and slapping any CF card into the MPC.

Although Compact Flash cards are pin compatible with IDE devices, there is a small difference which make a huge impact when working with a MPC. Compact Flash and IDE are pin compatible but not interchangeable. Compact Flash devices export a bit in the first two bytes of the header which identifies them as either a FIXED drive or a REMOVABLE device. MPCs will not recognize a Compact Flash card that identifies itself as REMOVABLE. It will only recognize a Compact Flash card that is a FIXED drive.

Specialty Compact Flash reader such as TrueIDE by Individual Computers will show the card as fixed to the host device no matter what the device is.

Passive Compact Flash adapters such as the popular Addonics ADIDECFB or any of the inexpensive adapters will pass along whatever the FIXED/REMOVABLE bit is on the card. You will be able to use either of these types of adapters in your MPC. However it is very important to find a Compact Flash card that is a FIXED disk.

Addonics has a quick guide on their website on how to determine what type of Compact Flash card you have.
From the Addonics website: “The card must be connected through an interface which is capable of detecting a CF card as a fixed disk, such as IDE or SATA. The CF card must be formatted and partitioned with a drive letter.

1. Open Command Prompt by clicking through Start Menu > Run, type in cmd, then select OK.”


2. From the command prompt, type:

diskpart

list volume

3. This will display a list of volumes detected on the system. Find the volume which corresponds to your CF media by Drive Letter (Ltr) or Drive Label (Label). In the area which lists “Type” check to see if the device is listed as Removable (removable device) or Partition (fixed disk device).





OEMs set their Compact Flash cards as REMOVABLE so you will have to contact the OEM to see which line of their cards are sold as FIXED. SanDisk has a utility for their SDCJF-xxx-388 or SDCFH-xxx-3888 series cards that will allow the end user to change the FIXED/REMOVABLE bit.

Depending on the microcontroller inside the card, you will need either the atcfwchg.com or ndcfwchg.com files to change it. Since these are proprietary SanDisk programs, you will have to contact them or search for the file through other means.

If you are installing a ATAPI or IDE card reader inside a MPC 2000XL, you may need to download OS version 1.20 from Akai before you install the card reader. OS Version 1.14 works with some IDE and ATAPI Card Readers. Only use OS version 1.14 if you are using a SCSI Compact Flash reader.

You can install a IDE Card Reader inside a MPC 3000 or a MPC 60 (with the Marion SCSI interface installed), however you will need a SCSI-to-IDE bridge adapter (such as the Yamaha V769970 or ACARD 7720 for the MPC to recognize it.

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