Eiger Labs ISA to PCMCIA Adaptor

Adding PCMCIA to a desktop with an Eiger ISA adaptor.

I needed a better adaptor, as my ancient existing ($30) PCMCIA adaptor was decidedly non-standard, included only MS-DOS drivers, and had only a single 3 mm Type I slot on the ISA card itself. I had to somehow get to a tiny slot behind the machine every time I used a PC Card. The tiny MS-DOS driver provided was not compatible with using OS/2 (although it worked fine under MS-DOS for SRAM cards).

Eiger Labs PCMCIA ISA Adaptor

Eiger Labs ESA-2000 PCMCIA ISA adaptor allows a 16 bit ISA bus computer to have two PCMCIA card slots added. It says supports Type I, II and III cards, with all standard card drivers, including Flash File systems. The card slots mount in a standard 3.5 inch drive bay on your desktop system, and obtain power from their ISA card.

The price was US$179. Eiger Labs were at 1237 Midas Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94086, phone (408) 774-3456 or fax (408) 774-3444. Available in many US computer stores around 1996. Hardly ever available in Australia, and then at a pretty steep price hike.

Unfortunately the US computer store I choose didn't actually know anything about the adaptor, so I had to rely upon what it said on the box. The box listed "System compatibility Microsft Windows 3.1, DOS 5.0 or over, OS/2 2.1" I wanted DOS operation, plus OS/2 Warp, and didn't care much about Windows (I don't use any Windows applications) so it seemed a reasonable bet.

When I finally got it to Australia I discovered the only software on the disk was for Windows. No DOS version, no OS/2 version. If you have access to a Windows system, you can uncompress and install the files, and discover which ones install as device drivers in your MS-DOS config.sys. The config.sys material occupied hundreds of kilobytes of my memory, so I had to work out what could be discarded. After a couple of hours experimenting, I had the device drivers down to what appeared to be the minimum required to support my SRAM cards. I discarded the Flash RAM drivers, since only my Newton palmtop seemed to use them, and Apple had managed to make their file system incompatible with the rest of the universe.

The Eiger 1001-A board uses a Vadem VG-365 A100 BH5433X-08XX chip dated 9410.

REM SystemSoft CardSoft(TM) PCMCIA DRIVERS: for SRAM only

The Windows/DOS drivers supplied were totally incompatible with OS/2 Warp 3, and the entire DOS session had to be abandoned if the Eiger drivers were installed under OS/2. Alternate drivers do not seem to be available at the Eiger web site I found. Email to Eiger regarding OS/2 drivers was not answered. Obviously I'm not happy with the level of support, especially considering they specifically mentioned OS/2 on the box.

I also tried the device under Windows 95, using the PCMCIA drivers from a Windows 95 OEM CD-Rom. Windows 95 detected the PCMCIA adaptor, and installed some driver software. Upon restarting, I found that although the PCMCIA drives (and cards) were visible in Control Panel, they were not available as drives. Since I only needed SRAM support, I looked up PCCard in Windows 95 help, and attempted to use the PCCard Wizard to install support. This only showed Properties of the PCMCIA slot, however the Windows 95 help file included instructions for manually editing your config.sys file, and checking that the two required files had been moved to your hard disk. Manual installation worked fine on my old 486. If you actually do install all of Eiger's CardWiz drivers, you reduce your low memory to below 438k.

I subsequently discovered that neither Windows 95 nor Windows 98 support the use of SRAM PCMCIA cards. My only support for this device comes from DOS drivers.

I tried to run PCCards under Caldera OpenDos 7, but use of the card drivers just crashes the whole system. A subsequent installation in June 2000 under OpenDos 7.01 worked fine (albeit without old style flash ever working, although the cards were detected), but takes too much memory.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with these discoveries, so until I find whether Eiger have some alternate drivers for OS/2, they are on my shit list. PCMCIA equipment remains, in my mind, the standard you have when you lack a standard. If my palmtop computers didn't have PCCards, I'd avoid them like the plague.

Eric Nichols emailed me that he has the same drive and drivers, and that it consumes a huge amount of memory. He figured you could configure the card without the manufacturer's drivers. He uninstalled and removed the drivers for the existing drive. Then ran Control Panel's New Hardware without letting Windows 95 search for itself. Then choose PCMCIA socket and selected (standard PCMCIA driver) PCIC or conmpatible PCMCIA controller, without changing any other options. After the install wizard was done, he added the folowing drivers for SRAM support to config.sys

device=c:\windows\system\carddrv.exe /slot=2

To my memory, that corresponds with what I had to do for Windows 95.

Recently (late 1998) I moved to a Azza Pentium motherboard multi booting MS-DOS 5 and Windows 95, and tried revising my drivers to get access to Flash PCCards. Under DOS, it turns out now that any attempt to include the (correct and previously working) SSVADEM driver crashes the entire PC on boot.

I was hoping to get Flash Card support working under Windows 98. The PCCard wizard doesn't exist, and any attempt to install cards leads to directions to install the wizard (however it isn't on the CD-ROM, so you can't!) What a crok of shit!

In June 2000 I reverted the PC to Windows 3.11, and OpenDos 7.01. The card drivers as installed by Card Wizard now work fine (except for old style Newton flash cards). You do have to manually select the Vadem 365 chip set, as it is not detected automatically. The mcformat.exe program that comes with CardWiz locks up when you attempt to format Flash cards. On the other hand, it does read ATA Flash, including Compact Flash cards.

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