First post, by EcoPeeko
First, a little background. I have a Compaq Presario 433. It's from before CD drives were a thing, and it doesn't have a Network Interface Card (only a modem). After struggling for weeks just trying to get files larger than 1.44MB onto the damn thing, I decided to buy a parallel port Compact Flash card reader off eBay. It seemed like the only potentially viable avenue left.
The one I got is a SanDisk ImageMate. It was only stated to be compatible with Windows 9x or NT. It also has a printer/keyboard pass-through, which is nice. I knew it was a risk since the Compaq is running MS DOS 6.22, but it was brand new for a decent asking price and the pickings on eBay were slim at the time. I was desperate and determined to make it work.
Once it got here, me and another guy on Discord (hi Chris!) went to work. All the SanDisk drivers were indeed only usable on Windows 9x. But then we realized this isn't some proprietary SanDisk thing, it's a rebranded Shuttle device. So perhaps it would work with generic Shuttle-compatible drivers? We ended up finding like a dozen different drivers, and most were duds. They would load, and some would even cause the device to light up, but they wouldn't actually detect it. Finally, one called Power Disk actually worked. The card reader showed up as D:\ drive.
Next I had to FDISK and FORMAT the Compact Flash card so DOS could use it. It was a 1GB model. Someone else on a different thread said that their reader only worked up to 512MB, so I worried there might be an issue, but it turned out fine. The whole 990MB showed up.
This is where the mostly in the title comes in. There was a slight issue formatting it. FORMAT would work fine, but then right at the end it would say "Error Writing Directory. Format terminated." I tested the card by transferring a few small files and it seems to work alright still, but larger files cause DOS to say there isn't enough disk space when there definitely is. SCANDISK D: says "the MS-DOS Media Byte is missing." It said it could correct the errors, so I let it. Partway through, it says D: drive has been disconnected and hangs, despite me not touching anything. Not quite sure how to proceed there.
Also, the drivers don't work on a cold boot. They load but don't detect the card reader right away. Only after doing CTRL-ALT-DEL to restart do they detect it properly. Might be a driver thing, might be a bios thing, I dunno. It's a minor inconvenience at worst and something I'll only need to do when I actually intend to use the CF card.
Attached are the generic PowerDSK drivers that work in DOS 6.22, and an official SanDisk program we found that works only in Win 9x (sddr01).
The drivers this thing came with were on a CD and are too big for me to share here directly, so I've uploaded them to MEGA. I hope that's not breaking any rules. I wasn't sure how else to do it.
Although it's not perfect yet, I figure I've made enough progress to share it here. If I'm not mistaken, it was previously thought impossible to get a supposedly Windows-only parallel port CF reader working in DOS. So this is good step in the right direction if nothing else.
Edit: I should also mention, if you want to test the PowerDSK drivers only EPATHD and ASPIHDRM (both the .SYS and .EXE versions work) need to go in config.sys. In mine, EPATHD has /B and /FLASH after it, and ASPIHDRM has /S after it.