MCDISK Frequently Asked Questions

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Question #107: My SCSI Subsystem does not recognize the MCDISK. Is the MCDISK broken?
Answer: Please check the following points first:
  • Is the green LED on the front of the MCDISK lit when the system is powered up?
    If no, check the power supply.
  • Do the LEDs on the front panel of the MCDISK blink when you power it up?
    If no, check the SCSI ID, the termination, the parity and the cables of the SCSI System.
    NOTE: Most of the troubles you can run into when installing a new SCSI device are related to improper termination of the SCSI bus. An incorrectly terminated SCSI bus can cause difficult to diagnose problems or even prevent the host from booting.
    Refer to the SCSI Adapters documentation for additional information.
  • Is the low-level SCSI driver able to recognize the MCDISK? Most operating systems do have an utility that scans the SCSI bus and displays the devices found. On the Macintosh, for example, this tool is called "SCSIProbe", on a PC, all devices will be displayed at start-up of the computer or you can check the BIOS utilities or a tool like "SCSI Explorer" from Adaptec or "ShowSCSI" from Corel. If you can "see" the MCDISK on the bus, the problem is most probably located in the device drivers:
    • Macintosh: The Mac OS does not mount a device if there is no suitable device driver available. If you want to mount a DOS formatted card in the MCDISK, make sure you have a copy of either FormatterFive, Expresso or PC Exchange loaded and enabled. If you want to use the MAC File System, make sure the device is properly formatted. You might have to prepare the medium with HDPREP, Silverlining or some other Macintosh Disk Formatter.
    • PC: If the MCDISK has a SCSI ID of either 0 or 1, no additional drivers are needed normally. However, this has to be verified against the documentation of the SCSI Controllers manual. It may necessary to load additional drivers for to access devices on certain (or all) SCSI IDs.
    • Other Operating Systems: Make sure you have a driver installed for the SCSI ID occupied by the MCDISK. If you want to be able to access foreign file systems, make sure that your OS supports this feature (SunOS for example is not able to access SCSI hosted DOS volumes). In this case, you may have to install additional (3rd-party) software on your system.

Question #115: Which driver(s) (besides the ones for the SCSI HBA) do I need for the MCDISK to work properly?
MS-DOS, Windows 3.xx If the MCDISK SCSI ID is either 0 or 1, or you have enabled the BIOS support for the SCSI ID of the MCDISK, you will need no additional Driver. If you use a SCSI ID which has no BIOS Support, you will need the ASPIDISK.SYS. This driver will install a drive letter for your MCDISK.
Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP,
Windows 7
Windows NT, 2000, XP and Windows 7 do normally not require any additional drivers. Nevertheless some OS specific tweaking may be necessary. Please check the other MCDISK FAQ entries for details.
Macintosh The Macintosh can handle ATA Harddisk and SRAM Cards without additional drivers.If you need to access drives that are formatted with an MS-DOS file system you can use either third party software like FormatterFive by Software Architects or you can rely on the PC Exchange witch is a part of the Mac OS. A patch for the most recent PC Exchange versions which enables you to use it in conjunction with the MCDISK is available at the Download Area of this homepage.
Other Operating Systems For to access PCMCIA Cards with a file system please refer to the documentation of your operating system. Keep in mind that the MCDISK is emulating a SCSI drive with removable medium, just like a SyQuest Drive.

Question #110: Under Windows [XP | Win7], I get multiple drive letters for my MCDISK.
Under Windows [XP | Win7], I can not access the upper slot of my MCDISK-E.
Answer: Please download and apply the Windows XP MCDISK Patch1. It will add a couple of registry settings that modify the functionality of the SCSI subsystem for the MCDISK the way the SCSI standard specifies it to be.

Question #109: What's the reason that I can not read the content of a DOS formatted card that was written by another system?
Answer: Unfortunately the MS-DOS format is completely based on the Cylinder/Head/Sector addressing schema whereas SCSI Devices are accessed using the Logical Block Address schema. This means that the SCSI controller has to translate the DOS requests ("Read 1 Sector from Cylinder X, Head Y Sector Z") into LBA Mode (Read Block number N). This translation depends on the actual device geometry and that's where problems start. The Adaptec Bios and the AFDISK Utility fakes the device geometry to be able to support devices with more than 1 GByte capacity. Therefore, a Harddisk which was formatted either under BIOS control or with the AFDISK utility can not be read by systems without ADAPTEC support.
The solution to this problem is quite simple: Do the Partitioning (FDISK) and the formatting on a system that does not use faked translation. MPL AG has created the MPL Formatting Utility for this purpose.

Question #380: I have an old device where a SCSI bus is used to attach some mass storage device. As the availablitity of SCSI based mass storage devices is quite low nowadays, I was searching for a replacement and your MCDISK seems to be suitable. Can you confirm compatibility of your MCDISK work with my old device?
Answer: MPL does not have the resources to check compatibility of the MCDISK with every possible SCSI equipement on this planet. But as the MCDISK hardware and firmware was designed to be compatible with the existing SCSI standards as good as possible, chances are that it will work. But to be 100% sure, there is no other way than to test the MCDISK in conjunction with your environment.

Question #118: I want to write a program to access the PCMCIA Cards in the MCDISK directly. How can I do this?
Answer: You will need to write a program that accesses the SCSI Bus of your Computer. If you are using a MS-DOS, Windows 3.xx, Windows95 or Windows NT system with an Adaptec controller, please refer to the Adaptec Home Page for further reference.
To be able to access the MCDISK you will need the information's from the MCDISK Technical Reference Manual, which is available from the MCDISK Documentation area on this homepage.

Question #113: Under Windows NT, I get several unusable drive letters for the MCDISK. How do I get rid of them?
Answer: Please Download the "MCDISK Multiple Drive Letters" Technical Note from the MCDISK Documentation area on this homepage.

Question #111: Under Windows 2000, there are no drives displayed associated with my MCDISK, altough the drive works properly after I have started the "New Hardware Detection" process manually. Nevertheless, after the next reboot of the system, the MCDISK drives are missing again.
Answer: Please verify that your MCDISK is NOT configured for SCSI ID 0 or 1. If so, please change the SCSI ID of the MCDISK to a free ID of 2 or above. For details how to change the SCSI ID, please take a look at the "MCDISK User's manual" from the MCDISK Documentation Area on this home page.

Question #104: How can I read MS-DOS files (mostly used by digital cameras) on my Macintosh?
Answer: We do this by using the PC Exchange utility which is part of every MAC OS. Please download the PC Exchange Patch Installation Guide from the MCDISK Documentation Area of this home page for further information.

Question #330: I have a PCMCIA card reader which is labeled "SPYRUS", but it looks like one of your MCDISK products:

  • I have a problem with it and need support.
  • Is there a newer firmware to support feature ABC and/or fix bug XYZ?
Answer: Please note that the "SPYRUS" devices are customer specific products produced under license by Spyrus. These products may also contain customer specific firmware implementing special features.

  • Support for Spyrus devices
Based on the facts above, there is officially NO support from MPL side for this kind of products.

  • Newer Firmware for  Spyrus devices
The latest "inofficial" MPL version is V3.9, but there is no guarantee that it will support feature ABC, fix bug XYZ or even work with your actual hardware revision.
If you have access to the equipment (EPROM programmer) required to program an EPROM chip, you can download the appropriate firmware binaries (MCDISK-D-1S Rev.B / MCDISK-D-3S Rev.B). To program the EPROM with the new firmware, please follow the steps mentioned in the "MCDISK Firmware updates" section on the MCDISK Support page.

Please also note that MPL is NOT liable if the MCDISK gets damaged during or does not work after the update process!

Question #117: What's about FLASH cards?
Answer: Linear FLASH Memory cards (cards without ATA interface) can be formatted, written and read without limitations. However, most operating systems do not have support for handling FLASH media. In a linear FLASH card, you can not overwrite a block without prior erasing it. Erased FLASH has a value of 0xFF instead of 0x00. If you plan to use the FLASH cards as a floppy replacement, make sure that your operating system either knows how to handle FLASH memory or does not write to the "disk". It is possible to create a SRAM card as the master card and then create copies on FLASH cards.

Question #116: I want to access I/O Cards (SCSI, Ethernet, Modem etc) with the MCDISK. What drivers do I need for this?
Answer: Although the MCDISK is capable of handling I/O Cards, the SCSI Bus is not. It is not really possible to have interrupts on the SCSI bus from the target, so it is more or less impossible to support I/O Cards. If there is a specific card you would like to use, please contact MPL support.

Question #114: Under Windows NT V4.0, I constantly get "Timeout Errors" when trying to format Flash Cards using the ccard32 program.
Answer: Some flash chips may need quite some time to execute the "erase" command, probably too long for the SCSI stack to recognize a successful completion of the issued command. You will have to increase the Timeout Value for your SCSI Subsystem in this case. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and increase the value of the "[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Disk\TimeOutValue]" key until the problem vanishes.

Question #112: Under Windows [NT V4.0 | Win2k | XP], I can not access Logical Units (LUNS) or the upper PCMCIA Slot anymore.
Answer: Unfortunately, Servicepack 3 for Windows NT introduced a bug that disallows access to logical units that are not connected to recognized mass storage devices on logical units other than 0. However, Microsoft has released a so called hotfix that should fix the problem. Put your browser to for to obtain the fix. You may want to read the article titled "Fault Tolerant Systems May Encounter Problems with WinNT SP3", Document Number Q171295 in the Microsoft knowledge base first.
It seems that later service packs or [Win2k | XP] at least require the registry entry "[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DiskScanDisconnectedDevices]" (Data Type = REG_DWORD, Data = 1) to work properly.

Question #108: Although the MCDISK is recognized by the my computer, it is not possible to access the card in the Device
Answer: Please check out the following items:
  • Does the Red LED stay on even if you insert a Card?
    There are three reasons for this behavior: Either the card you inserted is not recognized by the MCDISK or the Card or the MCDISK are damaged. Try another card!
  • Did you load the proper drivers for your SCSI Adapter? Please refer to the SCSI controllers manual for further reference.

Question #106: Strange things happen to the pictures on my PC-Card when I have read them on my Mac. Pictures vanish or seem to be corrupted after accessing them.
Answer: Most probably, this behavior is caused by a virus scanner or an indexer that writes special files on the PC-Card or even into the pictures stored on the card. Make sure that all those types of programs do not have write access for the MCDISK or are disabled when accessing the PC-Cards.

Question #105: I have upgraded to Mac OS 8.5 but I can't find a patch for the PC Exchange replacement File Exchange shipped with OS 8.5. Can you help me?
Answer: The File Exchange included in Mac OS 8.5 has generally changed in respect to prior versions. We recommend to remove the File Exchange from your Mac and install PC Exchange 2.1.1 or 2.2 from Mac OS 8.0/8.1.
According to our customers, PC Exchange V2.1.1 works best.

Question #103: Is there a list of PCMCIA devices that do not work in the MCDISK although they should?
Answer: Beside the cards that fall into the "not supported" category mentioned above, the following cards and solutions come to mind:
TypeNameManufacturer Problem DescriptionSolution
PCMCIAIBM Microdrive 1 GB 1.8" PCMCIA hard disk drive IBM Inc. This drives PCMCIA Interface requires special formatting of one of the key commands. Fixed in MCDISK Firmware V4.0
PCMCIAMK-2001MPL 2 GB 1.8" PCMCIA hard disk drive Toshiba Inc. This drive has a broken PCMCIA Interface. Fixed in MCDISK Firmware V4.1
PCMCIAHard disks from various manufacturers with a capacity exceeding 4 GBytes The MCDISK can handle capacities > 2GBytes only with a firmware version 4.2 or above. Fixed in MCDISK Firmware V4.2
SCSI ControllerAdaptec SCSI Card 19160 Adaptec Inc.The system requires several minutes to start with the MCDISK connected. This does not happen with the 29160 or the 2904 Controller.
We could use such a card on loan to find a solution to this problem.
No solution yet

Question #102: I have a Card/SCSI Controller/Operating system that does not work with the MCDISK. What can I do?
Answer: If you are sure that there is no configuration problem or SCSI cabeling problem, please contact MPL support. Be prepared to give use all the details relevant for your environment. You may understand that we can not test all PCMCIA devices, SCSI Controllers, Operating Systems etc. that exist. If you can loan us the equipment in question, we normally can fix the problems within a couple of weeks.

Question #101: Are there cards, which are not supported by the MCDISK?
Answer: The following cards can not be used with the MCDISK:
  • 3.3V only Cards
  • Cards that support ATAPI but not plain ATA protocols (like IoMega Click).
  • I/O Cards you don't have (or intend to write) a driver for. The only I/O Cards we know a driver for the MCDISK for are the Lynks and FORTEZZA Crypto-Cards from Spyrus Inc.

Question #100: What types of cards does the MCDISK support?
Answer: Using the MCDISK, you can access most types of PCMCIA and JEDEC Cards. Noteably, this includes SRAM, Linear FLASH, ATA FLASH, ROM, OTP, ATA Harddisks and I/O Cards.
Using one of the adapters available, CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards can be handled by the MCDISK as well.
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