Well, I’m pleased to say I’ve had total success with the Compact Flash cards in the end. The Dual Compact Flash board in the 2.5 inch drive form factor has really pleased me!
It enabled me to have two 4GB Compact Flash cards plugged into the Qubide and Super Gold Card on the Aurora-based Minis-QL. Using the Qubide Partition_exe program, I was able to divide both cards into 1GB drives (well, 3x 1GB and 1x 0.7GB to be exact).
I learned the hard way that not all Compact Flash IDE adaptor boards are equal when it comes to Qubides: Some will not let you use more than 2GB in total and there was plenty of experience of the Partition_exe program locking up or just plain not working with some of the cheaper adaptors. I’m not sure if they skimp on the addressing or what else might be going on, but of the half dozen or so adaptors I have here, four worked perfectly, one was temperamental and intermittent and one would only allow me to create a single WIN drive and nothing else.
The particular card I used in the end is called the Syba Dual Compact Flash to 2.5 inch 44 pin IDE adaptor, it cost £11.38 from Amazon with free UK Super-Saver delivery when I bought it recently. The picture below shows it alongside a standard 2.5inch hard drive for comparison (it looks the same size because it’s meant to replace a standard 2.5 inch laptop IDE drive with two Compact Flash cards. It’s a 44-pin IDE device, like a 2.5 inch IDE hard disk drive, while the Qubide has a 40 pin IDE connector. So we need an adaptor – the extra 4 pins carry power and most adaptors split the 44 pin connection into a 40 pin IDE connection (larger connector) plus a floppy drive style small power connector. These come in two types, a small board like the little green one shown in the picture, and an adaptor cable with the extra 4 wires of the 44 pin ribbon cable separated to a power connector. As the original 2.5 inch hard disk drive in the Minis-QL had such an adaptor, I just reused that one, “simples” as a certain meerkat might say.
Once connected to the Qubide, it was necessary to format the first drive with a FORMAT command – FORMAT WIN1_name and follow the prompts – enter a zero when asked how many cylinders f you want to make it maximum capacity. If your compact flash card is large enough to store more than one WIN drive you can use the Qubide PARTITION_EXE program to create more than one partition. On my 4GB card, I opted to create 4 WIN drives, 3 of about 1GB each and a fourth of about 0.7GB. I used the Change command to define the following drive settings as shown in the table below.
The start and end values are what the Qubide manual refers to as ‘cylinders’ on a hard disk – the start and end cylinders respectively. Block size 32 means use 16KB clusters.
Number Name Start End MB Blocks 1 WIN1 0 2079 1023 32 2 WIN2 2080 4159 1023 32 3 WIN3 4160 6239 1023 32 4 WIN4 6240 7740 740 32