DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME : Text files and message bases are for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Do not undertake any project based upon any information obtained from this or any other web site.We are not responsible for, nor do we assume any liability for, damages resulting from the use of any information on this site.Egg photo: P1010534.jpg
Recently the SSD (or Solid-State Disk) has started to become more popular and it can now be found in things like servers and the Macbook Air but in all cases the commercially built SSD is incredibly expensive.
This 32Gb SSD costs more than your average Alienware pc and it’s still only a 32Gb drive which makes it pretty much useless for the price you can get it for.
Now enter the world of Compact Flash.
The Compact Flash memory card has been around since the early 90’s and is one of the most popular types of memory card in existance.
They range in sizes from 1Mb all the way to 32Gb and they have two advantages over other memory cards. They are cheap and you can boot from them and from that it was only a matter of time before someone made an adapter to use a Compact Flash card as a hard drive, effectively creating a dirt cheap SSD.
As soon as the word was out the concept took off and while they did not offer the performance or lifespan of a true SSD they cost FAR less.
The following egg will tell you how to make your own Compact Flash SSD that fits in a regular hard drive bay.
You will require the following:
-A soldering iron
-A desoldering iron (or a solder bulb)
-A set of mini screwdrivers which includes Torx bits
-Four port standoffs (same size and thread as the nuts)
-Wire (solid conductor phone wire works well)
-An 80 conductor IDE ribbon cable
-A dead hard drive
-Two dual Compact Flast to IDE adapters
-Something to drink (like a beer. :D)
The Compact Flash to IDE adapters I used came fro ebay where they are a dime a dozen so your adapter should look the same as these ones.
Okay, first off you need to pull some parts off the adapters so go and desolder the master/slave jumper, the IDE connector and the power connector.
After that is done, go and find a dead hard drive as it will be needed for mounting your SSD.
This is the best case scenario seen above. You are off to a good start if you can pull everything out of the drive and there are no obstructing pieces of alumnium that will get in the way. If there are pieces of metal in the way or you can’t remove the spindle motor, go and find another drive. Old Western Digital and Connor drives wok well.
Now that your platform is ready you can go and lay out the adapters. The way I did it had one adapter upside down and the other the right side up. This allowed the soldering later on to be easier.
After you have marked out the four mounting holes on the metal frame of the old hard drive, go and get a very small drill bit that is just a little smaller in diameter than the threaded part of the port standoffs.
Here are four standoffs (taken from the parallel ports on two systems I am not using) with the nuts in place. The nuts give a little more clearance and they help keep the standoffs level.
Now comes the fun part, threading the standoffs.
While they are steel standoffs and chances are that the old hard drive had an aluminum frame, don’t trust the standoffs.
Since you have to thread the holes you drilled. you don’t want to break the standoffs while you are screwing/threading them in.
^These things are a bitch to get out!
To properly get the standoffs screwed in, put the standoff in the drill hole and while screwing the standoff in, twist lightly in a back and fourth movement so you are not constantly stressing the standoff until it breaks.
After you get the four standoffs in it should look similar to the photo below and if you are even more lucky, the screws that you removed from the hard drive while tearing it apart will work with the standoffs.
Now that the adapters are mounted down we can start with the soldering and wiring.
Using a length of insulated wire, go from hole to hole like I did.
Remember how I made it so that one adapter was upside down? This is why I did it. You pretty much just need a straight length of wire then and that is one key thing. Try and keep the cables the same length.
After you have added the first row of wires, use tape to hold the wires in place and flip the boards over so that you can then solder each side. When you are done soldering, trim back ONE side of the wires, you need to keep a bunch of long lengths sticking out on one side for the ribbon cable to connect to.
After you have done the first row, do the second. Ignore the differently colored wires. I only had so much wire available at the time.
After you have soldered and trimmed the second row, you should have something that looks like the photo above on one side and this on the other.
The next thing to do is cut the unused pin from the bunch of long leads. An easy way to find it is by putting a ribbon cable up to the wires (while noting where pin one is) and cutting off the wire that is in the way of the blanked off socket on the ribbon cable connector.
After you do that you need to wire up the adapters for power.
If you need a reference, plug the connector that originally came with the adapter into a floppy drive power cable and line it up with where it used to be on the adapter. The colors are important here.
BLACK/GREEN (I ran out of black): Ground
Don’t screw up here. if you send 12V through the 5V side you will fry any card you plug into the adapters and possibly your motherboard which would suck.
The next thing to do is get your ribbon cable and cut it like so:
You only need the longer length of ribbon cable on the left. The stuff on the right can be thrown away if you want as it’s no longer needed.
Now go with your mini tweezers and straighten any of the long leads so that you don’t have any issues plugging the ribbon cable in.
If the ribbon cable sticks out too much, go with the lead snips and trim down the long leads so that you can get the connector to get as close as possible to the adapter board.
It really does not matter what card is master or slave but no matter what, you need to specify at least one of each.
I used a scrap piece of copper wire to fill the space where the jumper used to be on one of the adapters (making it the master) and I left the spot on the other board alone (which leaves it as a slave)
By now a few hours should of passed but you should have something similar to this.
You can now mount it and screw it down to the hard drive frame and add a regular Molex power connector.
Now for the other fun part. selecting the cards.
What I HIGHLY recommend is that all four Compact Flash cards be identical in brand and size. Odd things happen when you mix brands and sizes. Right now it is possible to buy four 8Gb Compact Flash cards on ebay for $200 so for about $230, an afternoon and possibly a burnt finger from a soldering iron you can make your own 32Gb SSD that costs ten times less than a comercially built one.
Depending on the brand of the card and how often you will use the drive, you should be able to get at least two years (or more) out of the thing before the cards will start to wear out and you will have to buy four more.
Also be aware that since one adapter is a Master and the other is a slave, this SSD will require one whole IDE port and in order to make two 16Gb SSD drives look like one, you can stripe the drives and then format them as one large drive (like RAID).