The beauty of
VisorCentral is that you can ask just about anything and get an
answer. Whether it’s software, hardware, how-to, or just
general information, the VisorCentral membership is a wealth of
knowledge. There are several members that have taken their
knowledge a step further and gone on to produce products for our
beloved Visor’s. One of them, Dave Kessler from Kopsis
Engineering, came up with the design for the CompactFlash Adapter
module and wrote the FAFileMover app to make use of it.
Here’s some insight from the man behind the design.
tell us a little about yourself and your company.
[Dave]: I have
been working as a systems engineer since 1989 when I graduated
with a degree in electrical engineering. Despite my EE
background, most of my work has actually been in software
development. I've worked for companies in the defense,
automotive, and telecommunications industries developing software
for a variety of embedded systems.
I started Kopsis, Inc. as a
means to take on some interesting engineering consulting
projects, and that has been the company's primary focus for the
last few years.
[Mark]: How (and
why) did you come up with the idea for a CompactFlash Adapter module?
[Dave]: It all
started with a news article on VisorCentral. A Japanese developer put up a
documenting how he had modified a PCMCIA to CompactFlash adapter
to allow the use of a CF wireless modem in the Visor. The design
was rather complicated and involved extensive modifications to
the adapter's circuit board plus the addition of a few logic
chips and a lot of wiring - but it got me thinking about the
possibility of using existing memory cards in the Visor.
Initially, I wanted to
use SmartMedia cards instead of CompactFlash. But three things
lead me back to the CompactFlash path. The first was the fact
that getting good SmartMedia documentation requires a membership
in the controlling organization - and that's very expensive. To
make matters worse, engineering samples of the parts I was going
to need were nearly impossible to come by.
The second thing that
made me reconsider which format to support was feedback that I
got from discussions on VisorCentral. Though people were
generally supportive of the idea of a SmartMedia adapter, it
seemed the majority would much rather see support for CompactFlash.
But the biggest factor
was the epiphany I had when I started analyzing the Japanese CF
adapter design. I discovered that if you limited the application
to CF memory cards only (no modems or ethernet cards), the design
could be radically simplified! At that point, many of the PCMCIA
to CF adapter modifications are unnecessary, and most of what
remain can be eliminated through some interesting software
tricks. With the realization that the adapter could be built with
only a few passive modifications (just cutting and wiring - no
additional logic chips) I just couldn't resist writing an article
to tell people how to do it.
[Mark]: Once you
realized an adapter was possible and made your own, were you at
all apprehensive about plugging it into your Visor and trying it
out for the first time?
[Dave]: Not as
much as you might think. I did spent the better part of a week
reviewing the design over and over to make sure that I hadn't
missed anything. By the time I was ready to try the module out
for the first time, I was really quite confident that it could do
Benefits of CompactFlash >>