Storage cards (PCMCIA SRAM, ATA, CF, SD, MMC etc.) and their compatibility with the HP Palmtops

Archived 2013-12-08
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This article is related to the Palmtops HP 100LX, 200LX and 1000CX, partially to the OmniGo 700LX. The 95LX are mentioned, too, but most of the information is not relevant to that model.

Storage card support (SRAM, ATA Flash, Compact Flash)

You can use SRAM PCMCIA cards or linar flash cards (they are rare and expensive now!) and a lot of ATA Flash or Compact Flash storage cards in your 200LX, that does not exceed the capacity of about 128MB. Some 256 and 512 MB cars work, too.
There are even some 1GB or 2GB CF cards that work in the Palmtop, one user even reported that he used a 4GB card successfully (although it's unclear to me how MS-DOS 5.0 with FAT16 is able to address 4GB of disk space!)
Also, SD cards or MicroSD cards can be used, in conjunction with a suitable PCMCIA adapter. However, not all of those adapters work in the Palmtop. See the compatibility lists further down.

The 100LX is more limited regarding the maximum capacity of a flash / CF card. The Omnigo 700LX and the 1000CX are almost identical to the 200LX, so all cards working in a 200LX should also work in a 700LX and 1000CX. But note that support of larger cards (especially 128MB and above) seems also to be a matter of the BIOS version of the Palmtop. I have seen cards, that don't work in one 200LX, but work in a 200LX with a later BIOS version.

How to make a card work:

If a card doesn´t work instantly, i.e. is not recognized and usable as drive A: by the Palmtop, then try the following steps (and try after each step, if the cad works or not):

    1. execute the built-in fdisk100 utility, which (re-)partitions the card 
    2. do a format a: 
    3. Reformat the card using a Windows computer, choose FAT, FAT12 or FAT16 as the file system (not FAT32!) 
    4. Use a partitioning tool, e.g. a GParted live CD, to make sure that there is only one primary FAT (FAT12, FAT16) partition on the card, and then reformat the partition with FAT12 or FAT16
    5. Put the card into a digital camera and let that camera format the card 
    6. If you have access to a Linux computer: Connect the card to that Linux computer, find out, what device it is assigned to (dmesg usually outputs that information. If the card is attached to the USB port, it is usually something like /dev/sda). Proceed only, if you know exactly, what device your card is assigned to. Uing a wrong device node here may destroy data on another storage device! Then issue the command 
      dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/??? bs=512 count=1 
      (replace "???" by the correct device name). Afterwards, re-try fdisk100 and format a: on the Palmtop.

No success yet?

Then you probably need the Acecard driver. Install it according to the instructions, reboot the palmtop and repeat the above described procedure. If that does also not help, your card is incompatible with your Palmtop.

Recommended brand: Sandisk!

The most recommended card manufacturer is Sandisk (former Sundisk; some very old cards may be labeled "Sundisk"), Sandisk cards are not the fastest ones, but this is not as important as compatibility, reliability and power economy, which are the greatest advantages of Sandisk cards. If you buy a card, take care that you do not buy one using the new NAND technology (Sandisk's "Ultra CompactFlash" are based on NAND flash for example). They are said to be faster, but they may not work at all in the HP palmtops because of the new technology used.
Simple Technology cards are also frequently used, they are faster than Sandisk, but far more power-hungry.

Get the "Card battery low" message?

Some cards which are not fully compliant to the standards, cause the palmtop to create a "Card battery low" message, which appears in the upper left corner of the screen and blocks palmtop usage until ESC is pressed (just like the main battery low message). If your card otherwise works well, but if you want to get rid of this message, you can use the programm killmsg by Mack Baggette, which is able to suppress BIOS messages. In order to suppress the card battery low message, put the line "killmsg /c" into your autoexec.bat. If you have a doublespeed upgraded palmtop and use Mack Baggette's SPD31 driver, you can use that one to suppress the messages. The command line switch /c does the trick.



Note, however, that the "card battery low" message has a meaning for cards, that actually have a battery! Flash or Compact Flash cards don't have a battery, because the memory technology used in such cards does not need additinal power to keep the data. But the old SRAM cards are based on SRAM (as the name suggests), and that kind of storage needs power to keep the data. Such cards uave either a battery tray with a Lithium battery, or they have an internal rechargeable battery. For such cards, the "card battery low" message is a serious warning, and you should immediately make a backup of the card's data and - if possible - exchange the battery, or recharge it.

Card compatibility list

Here is a list of setups which are tested.
Please note that the last update of the list has been done long ago, in about 2004. Please look carefully if the brand written on the card is really the manufacturer or if it is just relabeled. Sometimes you will find a small "made by Hitachi" in a corner of a card which is largely labeled CASIO or so. Please provide the manufacturer, not the label. To be sure, please put the card into the palmtop and run Stefan Peichl's LXCIC. It tells you in most cases who the real manufacturer is.

A few words about compatibility: In most cases the BIOS version of the palmtop and installed hardware upgrades will not affect the compatibilty of a storage card with the palmtop in any way. However, there are some cases in which e.g. a double speed upgrade prevents usage of a specific card, or where an early BIOS version (1.02A is the latest one installed in 200LX Palmtops) can lead to slight performance problems or even make a card unusable. So I have added BIOS and upgrade information to the list below. Internal memory upgrades do not affect usability of storage cards at all, as far as I know.

In the following lists, if not denoted otherwise, the given configurations work.

BIOS version:

Sometimes, support of a card or card adapter depends on the BIOS version of the Palmtop. In order to find out your BIOS version, either reboot the Palmtop (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and observe the first few lines of text displayed on reboot. Or, if that's not possible (e.g. due to the Palmtop having a double speed upgrade and text on bootup is unreadable), use the DEBUG command in DOS in the following way:

  • Terminate the ApplicationManager: [Menu] [Application] [Terminate All] [OK]
  • At the command prompt type: debug then d F000:FF00 
  • Read the Version Number in the ASCII dump. 
  • To quit from debug, enter q [Enter]
  • To return from DOS type "200" [Enter] ...without parentheses or brackets... :)

 

Compact Flash cards:

You need a CF to PCMCIA adapter for CF cards, be sure to get the adapter for the correct type of CF (I or II).

 





Latest addition 2011-12-30 reported by a 200LX user:

Sandisk 2 GB and 4 GB SDCFJ CF II cards work, with Acecard - That's what I use.
You can't format them in the palmtop, though. I use a XP/USB card reader from the command line for that. You have to specify an allocation unit size which will result in =< 65535 AU.
In Windows, open a command prompt, then type FORMAT /? to get a list of parameters. Note the A:size options; you want FAT16 - For a 2 GB card use 32K, 4GB use 64K.



CardPalmtopCompatibility
brandcapacity in MBType
I=3mm
II=5mm
model#modelBIOS ver.works with Doublespeed upgradedriver neededcomments
A-1 Flash 256 Type I - 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Apacer 128 Type I - 200LX 1.01A no - only tested in doublespeed palmtop, doesn't work.
Canon 8 Type I FC-8M 200LX 1.02A yes - -
EagleTec 32 Type I - 200LX ? ? - Very power-hungry, crashes palmtop on write access when batteries get low. Not recommended.
Kingston Technology 64 Type I - 200LX 1.02A probably - -
Kingston Technology 128 Type I High Speed CF/128 9902366-001.A00 641603 200LX 1.02A some yes, some not. - Attention: Doesn't work with some double-speed palmtops!
Kingston Technology 256 Type I THNCF256MAA 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Kodak 20 Type I Sundisk SDP 5/3 0.6 200LX 1.02A probably - -
Lexar 16 Type I Marked CompactFlash USB Enabled 8x 16MB, P/N 2177, Rev A 100LX 1.03A ? acecard Card is USB enabled
Lexar 48 Type I CompactFlash 48MB 4X 200LX 1.02A yes - Card is USB enabled
Lexar 128 Type I CompactFlash 128MB 4X (or 12X), marked CF128-04-266 and USB Enabled, P/N 2175, Rev A 200LX 1.02A yes - Card is USB enabled
Memorex 64 Type I - 200LX 1.02A probably - -
PQI 32 Type I P/N FC032 200LX 1.01A - acecard problems reported, high power consumption, FAT problems, not recommended!, also strange that acecard driver is necessary.
PQI 64 Type I - 100LX/200LX/700LX 1.02A ? - reliability problems reported, not recommended!, also causes "card battery low" message in some cases. killmsg can avoid that. Relabeled e.g. as HAMA.
PQI 64 Type I P/N FC064, 5Q62D and 164822200007 200LX 1.02 yes acecard -
Pretec all Type I - 200LX all - - reliability problems reported, not recommended!
Ritdata 64 Type I - 200LX - ? on some 200LXs the acecard driver is needed Labeled ExtreMemory
Ritdata 256 Type I - 200LX - ? - Labeled ExtreMemory
Robanton 256 Type I? - 200LX - yes acecard -
Sandisk 8 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 15 Type I - 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 30 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 64 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended. Labeled "RCA"
Sandisk 80 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 128 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 160 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 160 Type II - 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 192 Type I SDCFB 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 256 Type I SDCFB AR0203NX China 200LX 1.02A probably - recommended
Sandisk 512 Type I SDCFB Copyright 99 AX0110ML USA 200LX 1.02A yes acecard recommended
Sandisk 1 GB Type I BB0206NK CHINA Copyright 99 200LX 1.02A yes acecard recommended; seems to work in some devices (MP3 players...) where the 512MB card fails
Sandisk 2 GB Type I SDCFB (not the 'ultra' version) 200LX 1.02A yes acecard recommended
Simple Technology 32 Type I - 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Simple Technology 48 Type I - 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Simple Technology 64 Type I markings 90000-00756-032 and 001002-FL1-001 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Simple Technology 96 Type I - 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Toshiba 64 Type I THNCF064MMA 200LX, 700LX ? ? - -
Toshiba 256 Type I THNCF256MAA 200LX 1.02A yes - Labeled Kingston Technology, "High speed"
Transcend 128 Type I - 200LX 1.01A yes - -
Twinmos Mediastore (TM) 256 Type I Ultra High Speed Serialno: 251M52069330136 P/N:FCF256S Made in Taiwan 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Verbatim 32 Type I 0441CT4E 200LX 1.01A probably - -
Verbatim 128 Type I 021711 200LX 1.02A yes - -

 

The following pictures (thanks to Radek Svagr!) show the inside of a 10MB Sandisk CF card:

 

 

ATA Flash cards (full-size PCMCIA flash cards):

These cards fit into the palmtop without an adapter.

 

CardPalmtopCompatibility
brandcapacity in MBType
I=3mm
II=5mm
model#modelBIOS ver.works with Doublespeed upgradedriver neededcomments
Epson 40 Type II Ref AD40155C007, ATA 412SD12, 1994 200LX 1.02A yes - -
HP 10.4 Type II Sundisk SDP-10 200LX 1.02A probably - Does not work with some newer laptops.
This is a relabeled Sundisk card, 12V
HP 5 Type I by Sundisk! 200LX 1.02A yes - This is a relabeled Sundisk card, 12V
Kingston 10 Type II - 200LX 1.02A probably - power-hungry! Causes 100LX to shut down!
Kingston 32 Type II DP-ATA/32 200LX 1.02A probably - For some reason it says that the cards capacity is 63266480 bytes, but the card is only 32MB!
Sandisk 175 Type II **A7131177A SDP5BH-175 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Sandisk 220 Type II SPD-3B 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 256 Type II SPD-3B 200LX 1.02A yes - recommended
Sandisk 350 Type II SPD-3B 200LX 1.02A ? acecard -
Sandisk 1.2 GB Type II SPD-3B 200LX 1.02A ? acecard -
Simple Technology / SiliconTech 48 Type I SLATAFL48 100LX - ? acecard -
Simple Technology / SiliconTech 48 Type I SLATAFL48 200LX - yes - slightly faster than a Sandisk
Simple Technology 128 ? PN 90000-00753-109 200LX ? yes - -
Simple Technology 160 Type I STI-ATAFL/160 200LX 1.02A yes - -
Simple Technology / SiliconTech 448 Type I SLATAFL448 100LX/200LX - yes acecard -

Other card types (Memory Stick, MMC, SD...):

You need PCMCIA adapters for all the cards listed below.

 



2012-11-22: A user reported a standard microSD 2GB card (identified by Linux as Sandisk SU02G) to work very well without any driver using the Panasonic BN-SDAGP3 PCMCIA-to-SD adapter.

CardPalmtopCompatibility
brandcapacity in MBcard typemodel#modelBIOS ver.works with Doublespeed upgradedriver neededcomments
Sony 16 Memory Stick - 700LX - ? - works well with Sony MSAC-PC2 Stick-to-PCMCIA-Adaptor
EMTEC 32 MMC AA0010JC TAIWAN (written on the backside) 200LX - yes - A MMC/SD-PCMCIA adapter is needed. LXCIC reports: PCMCIA ADAPTER So the adapter is recognized by LXCIC rather than the card, which explains, why the adapter is not cheap (~$40 on ebay). It seems to have the controller built in. The card powers down by itself, as reported by LXCIC. I had no success with a SD (Secure Digital) card, which has the same form factor as the MMC.
ExtreMemory 64 MMC AB0206LV TAIWAN (written on the backside) 200LX - yes - A MMC/SD-PCMCIA adapter is needed. I use an adapter labeled "FREITAG Electronic" which is made only for MMC cards. It works flawlessly. LXCIC reports the adapter to be a "Panasonic ATA BN-MMAA 1.10".
Infineon 128 MMC EG85918 a0229KKO 200LX 1.02A yes - A MMC/SD-PCMCIA adapter is needed. I use an adapter labeled "FREITAG Electronic" which is made only for MMC cards. It works flawlessly. LXCIC reports the adapter to be a "Panasonic ATA BN-MMAA 1.10".
Sandisk 512 MicroSD SDQCJP-512 AX05206CB 200LX 1.02A yes - SanDisk microSD/TransFlash Adapter 2006-12-15A MADE IN CHINA
Minolta CF Card Adapter SD-CF1
SanDisk CompactFlash PC Card Adapter
Sandisk 2GB MicroSD   200LX 1.02A, 1.01A (200LX), 1.06EB (700LX) yes -