Floppy Drive for Clio and other WinCE Computers.


If you are anything like me, you have probably been wanting to save an image or document to a floppy, for a friend, while using your WinCE device. Until recently this was not possible, mainly because WinCE still really does not support rotating media, such as Hard Drives and Floppy Disks.


Travle 120 drive and Card

Accurite Technologies Inc. A San Jose (California) company has a very cool solution. In their product line they already have a PCMCIA card based Super Disk drive for regular Laptops, they made it work with the WinCE Operating System, by writing a driver which makes your WinCE computer "see" the drive as a regular ATA FLASH card, so when you install the floppy drive the computer thinks that you are using a regular storage card. It is simple and works like a charm.


The Travle 120 Pasport Card

I would like to show you some screenshots - but there is not a single application involved with making this work. You simply plug the card in, stuff a disk in the drive, wait about 20 seconds for the driver to take inventory of the disk, then it pops up like any other storage card, in the "My Handheld PC" folder. Click on it to access data on the disk, or copy and paste data to and from the card. You will notice that the drive is somewhat slower when used with a WinCE (It can also be plugged directly into any Windows Laptop with a PC-Card slot) this is because the driver is "pretending" to be a regular FLASH card, and in the process is operating the Super Disk drive. However to me the wait is not enough to ruin the functionality of being able to quickly save data to a disk.


Things gets even better, the floppy drive from Accurite is not just a floppy drive, it is a "Super Disk Drive" which means that it supports the "Super Disk" standard, this standard allows you to use disks with 120 megabytes of storage. It is important to note that the system also supports good old-fashioned 1.4 meg floppy disks, this means that you can write to any regular floppy disk and hand it to anyone with a a floppy drive in their computer (even a Mac will read the disk).


While the starting price tag is a little steep, the economics in using a Super Disk drive with your WinCE device is great. The drive is about $250 and Super Disk are about $10 a pop, compare that to the the price of FLASH Storage cards. I have a 48meg card which cost me about $200, and a for about $260 you get 120meg, and you can purchase as many $10 120meg disks are you desire. Remember that you can take the drive with you to your next computer, as long as it has a PCMCIA card slot.


The technology is closely related to regular floppies, in using thin rotating disks of magnetic material, the disks are even the same size. The big difference is, that the Super Disk Drive, uses a laser to position the read/write head. The floppies have registration marks imbedded in the surface during manufacturing which allows the laser to position the read/write head very accurately. The actual difference is that the laser enables the drive to write 2490 tracks per inch for a Super Disk compared to 135 tracks per inch on a regular floppy disk.

SuperDisk and Regular Floppy Disk


In all fairness I need to mention that Addonics also makes a floppy drive for the WinCE platform, I am sure it works well, however they do not support all WinCE computers, particularly the MIPS processor, including my Vadem Clio. When I called Addonics they said they would not offer MIPS drivers in the near future. This makes their product less useful to me since I can not put a driver on all my friends WinCE computers, plug in my drive, and easily copy data to their computers.

The Accurite Super Disk drive comes with drivers to support any WinCE computer, I personally tested it with a Casio PA2400, Philips VELO 500, and my Vadem Clio 1000 & 1050.




In depth information about SuperDisk http://www.superdiskdrive.com/storage/ls120/tech/index.html

Accurites WinCE Floppy Drive http://www.accurite.com/

Addonics http://www.addonics.com


Bo Lorentzen is a full-time professional digital photographer and gadgeter, he can be reached at for coments.