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Hinckley ©February 2001|
Actiontec PC700 PCMCIA Reader: http://www.actiontec.com/products/readers/pc700/pc700_overview.html
The simplest, although perhaps not the snazziest, solution I found for my desktop
computer, by carefully watching discussions on the OS/2 newsgroups comp.os.os2.misc
and *.*.*.setup.storage, was to get an internal PCMCIA card reader, for which you
can get adapters to enable reading the Compact Flash(CF) cards (also called "Digital
Flash Film") used by most digital cameras. It does take a bit of looking around
to find one which works with OS/2, and the manufacturers further confuse things
by calling these several different names: IDE/ATA PCMCIA controllers, ATA card adapters,
PC card "drives", and card readers. Many times these are hidden under
the heading "industrial" or "commercial" on their websites.
"Car reader" seems to be evolving into referring only to the external
plug-in varieties which read SmartMedia and/or CF cards and use parallel or USB
ports. The typical internal reader fits in a 3.5 inch mounting bay, comes with its
own interface card, and has anywhere from 1 to 3 slots for reading various combinations
of type I, II, III, or IV PCMCIA cards. Some have special CF slots and others will
also read microdrives. Installation involves opening your computer, plugging the
interface card into an empty slot on the motherboard, installing the "drive"
in an empty 3.5" bay (or in a 5" bay with an adapter), and plugging in
the cables (I'm going on the assumption here that OS/2 users are a little more savvy
about the internals of their computers than those Who use a certaIN other system98).
There seem to be more ISA-bus readers which will work with OS/2 than PCI-bus ones.
A few of the sites I looked at had readers which would "work with any PNP operating
system" and then went on to specify either no specific system at all or several
systems with the exclusion of OS/2. DOS 6 compatible readers were more common than
This IBM page on PCMCIA: http://service.software.ibm.com/os2ddpak/html/C3B001A5282F009285256102006EB125.html
says, in so many words, that a card reader (modem or whatever) can be made to work
if you can find a compatible card system in the PCMCIA System window of the set
up window. This is sort of what I suspected, but the problem is how do you tell
what's compatible? And, has that system list ever been updated?? editor's
note: Beginning with Warp Server eBusiness, IBM only supports Thinkpads in the general
install process. The drivers are on the CD but they are buried. Unless something
has changed, the Merlin Convenience Pak, which is the Warp4 refresh that's included
in IBM's Software Choice subscription as well as the base for Serenity System's
eComStation, is based on WSeB, and has the same lousy PCMCIA installation support.
The legacy PCMCIA drivers are on the WSeB and the eCS installation CD though - x:\OS2IMAGE\DISK_17
in a couple of packed files (PCMCIADD and PCMCIA). When I installed WSeB on my laptop
I had to go through a bunch of drivers to find one that worked. :-(
The instructions which came with the PC700 are silent about OS/2, but the PC700
FAQ page on the ActionTec website includes the OS/2 installation instructions (which
are more or less just as described above). To use the Compact Flash (CF) cards,
I picked up a Compact Flash/pc card adapter from my local camera store for about
$10. There is also a good listing of "card drive" suppliers at: http://www.apresearch.com/cardrive.htm,
but unfortunately most of the suppliers listed don't have links attached.
Installed with PCMCIA Hard Disk support, a CF card is treated like a removable
drive. After booting OS/2, I insert my camera's CF card in the adapter, insert the
adapter in the card reader, and BEEP beep! Drive L: is now available for use (sub-directories
and all). I guess this is a form of what you call "hot swapping". When
I download the images, it takes about 48 seconds to move 34mb of high resolution
images (20 images) to the picture folder on my hard drive (drag and drop), and I've
have had no problems. This is a lot easier than bothering with another operating
system and a USB reader (BTDT), parallel port reader, or camera download program
All CF cards conform to the ATA/IDE standard, so any camera which uses them can
be read by any PCMCIA card reader using the appropriate adapter--the trick of course
being to get your computer able to use the reader. When I buy my next camera, I
will be sure it has at least one CF card slot (I lucked out this first time). SmartMedia
cards tend to use proprietary formats which complicates things no end. Besides they
are more expensive per unit of storage than CF cards.
My camera, an Olympus C-2500L, uses both types
of cards, and to get the images off the SmartMedia card (when I actually do use
it), in the camera I copy them to an empty CF card and then insert that in the PCMCIA
card reader. The camera came with a USB external smart media reader for <that
other system98>, but every time I wanted to use the reader, I had to re-install
the software. I next bought a Microtech CF USB card reader, which worked very reliably.
It's sole drawback was that it also required using <expletive deleted98>.
The CF card I bought (Microtech) may have been pre-formatted because I never did
anything to it before use. The camera itself created a directory structure on the
card, "x:\DCIM\100OLYMP". If you don't empty x:\DCIM\100OLYMP of images
daily, subsequent directories are automatically created, "x:\DCIM\10nOLYMP",
using n=0,1, 2, 3, 4, etc to represent each new day. The camera hunts for the last
empty directory and fills it. This may not necessarily be true for all cameras.
The pictures are always recorded in that sub-directory, and I've never had to modify
it or change it other than to move the pictures out to my hard drive.
My system is a desktop with: Asus P297L board, P-II 266, 128 MB ram, Matrox G400,
W4 with fixpak 10. I haven't gone beyond FP10 because of all the complaints and
bugs I've read about on the newsgroups regarding FP11 and up. This is what OS/2
inserted into my CONFIG.SYS when I installed PCMCIA support:
BASEDEV=PCMCIA.SYS /PEditor's note: I have found that my PCMCIA driver would not assign any resources to my Compact Flash Adpater until I moved the adapter to Slot 1 and moved all the PCMCIA related lines above to the end of my CONFIG.SYS. Interesting to note that my other PCMCIA devices (IBM Network card, IBM Wireless Network card and a BestData 56K modem) all worked fine as originally installed.
BASEDEV=PCM2ATA.ADD /S:2 /!DM /NOBEEP
OS/2 Documentation for PCMCIA is rather skimpy, and IBM has just about completely
discontinued updating its PCMCIA system "drivers". The first and third
DEVICE statements are obviously for DOS/Win use, while the second is OS/2's COM.SYS
driver for com1 etc. For some reason, the PCMCIA installation process moved this
line from just below the one for MOUSE.SYS higher up (to where I've returned
it). PCMCIA.SYS recognizes the presence of the card slot; PCM2ATA.ADD recognizes
the card as an ATA hard drive; I think SS2PCIC1.SYS contains the routines
specific to the "INTEL PCIC" card system selection; and OS2PCARD.DMD
is the device manager driver. The /!DM switch on PCM2ATA.ADD
tells card services to use OS2PCARD.DMD instead of OS2DASD.DMD (not
sure why this is necessary). I have experimented with REM-ing out VPCMCIA.SYS
and VCOM.SYS, and a DOS window can still read the PC card as Drive L: I have
also REM-ed out PCMSSDIF.SYS, PCM2SRAM.SYS, FLSH2MTD.SYS, and
PCM2FLSH.SYS, which appear to be associated with cards as memory. This has
had no adverse effects on using the card slots as [ATA] Drive L: (I've forgotten
to mention that the other slot is Drive K:). In no way do I claim to be expert on
all this, and I suspect that if I ever need to use the slots to read cards as memory,
then these 4 lines will have to be "un-REMed".
PCMCIA.SYS is the card services driver; SS2PCI1.SYS is the ISA
bus socket services driver (apparently the one specific for INTEL PCIC); IC memory
card services use the ICMEM*.* files I've seen referred to in newsgroup posts,
with which I've had no experience with.
One note of caution: the PC700 card reader is a PNP ISA device and isn't configurable
to any IRQ other than 7. PRINT01.SYS also uses IRQ 7, but I've had no problems
with printing or card reading either in polling mode or by adding the /LPT1
parameter. However, I don't recall ever trying to download and print at the same
time. I recently tried installing the new BIDI driver, PAR1284.SYS, to speed
up my Lexmark Z51. The Z51 prints noticeably faster, but the BIDI driver "breaks"
my ATA card services by putting a deathgrip on IRQ 7. Card services can figure out
when a card has been plugged in, but trying to read it produces "drive not
ready" or "drive not accessible" errors.
I would like to thank SCOUG's (SoCal OS/2 Users Group, http://www.scoug.com),
"Mr. Know-It-All", for many useful suggestions on attempting to clear
up the problems with PAR1284.SYS. These included tinkering with the PNP set
up in BIOS, changing the order of statements in CONFIG.SYS, the "/EXIRQ:7"
parameter for PC2ATA.ADD, and using RESERVE.SYS. These were all educational
with respect to learning more about OS/2, but unfortunately, none produced a solution.
I finally reached the conclusion that I should have gotten a card reader configurable
to several IRQs (7, 10, 11, etc.). Revisiting the ActionTec website and checking
on the model PC300 card reader revealed that it's completely configurable both in
memory addresses and IRQs (3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 available) and that it uses DATABOOK
TCIC in the PCMCIA System install window instead of INTEL PCIC. Maybe when I have
some extra cash I'll get one of these to replace the PC700 and eliminate the IRQ
conflict with PAR1824.SYS, assuming I can find one as I just learned that
ActionTec no longer markets the PC300 card reader.
If you decide to try all this, work backwards from the camera: select a camera
which uses CF cards for "film", then find an adapter and determine what
it converts to (i.e. to type I, II, or III PCMCIA cards), and then find an OS/2
compatible internal "card drive" which can read whatever card your trying
to adapt to. There are also SCSI card readers, although I haven't researched them
very much. I've seen some newsgroup posts which relate problems if PCMCIA tries
to read the cards as "memory". I get the impression I stumbled into using
them as a removable hard drive quite accidentally. I do recommend it however. I've
been doing some more snooping around: Carry Computer Eng. Co. (http://carry.com.tw/),
Adtron Products (http://www.adtron.com), and
SanDisk (http://www.SanDisk.com) make several
kinds of ISA/PCI/IDE/USB card readers. Some of these specifically mention OS/2 compatibility,
while others speak about multi-platform capability.
I've taken more pictures in the last 6 months than I have in the past 10 years,
and for now, I'll activate the BIDI driver only when I need to print a lot of images
on my Z51 (with PMView).
This is a link to a SanDisk site which has good PCMCIA/ATA technical stuff, one
of my sources: http://www.SanDisk.com/ci/po_over.htm
The articles from SanDisk I saved are slightly different than those in this link,
since they date to last Oct. From a couple of other articles which appear to have
been dropped: linear flash memory is a non-ATA standard and requires special file
system drivers and special software; ATA is a cross-platform standard (essentially
"mobile IDE"), and CF cards were developed to emulate an ATA disk drive
using 512Byte blocks instead of the typical 64KByte block used by memory--therefore
no special file system drivers are necessary. SanDisk also has a page with links
to several card reader manufacturers: http://www.SanDisk.com/oem/card.htm
SanDisk lumps internal desktop card readers, like the PC700, under the heading "industrial",
which seems to be a trend in the rest of the industry as well.
Surfing a number of sites tends to indicate that USB readers are the wave of
the future. What this means for OS/2, I'm not sure.