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PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

T20-T23 Series and T30 specific matters only. NOT for T25-Retro.
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Moparram
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PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#1 Post by Moparram » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:30 pm

I got one of those inexpensive PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapters, AKE BC168. Aparrently this card interferes with the shutdown and restart of Windows XP. Anyone have experience with these cards?

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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#2 Post by Majestic » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:11 am

I use the same card in both my T23s that have Windows XP SP3 installed without any problems. With my installation, I have just the card installed and I don't use the extra USB power cord.

Have you tried installing it in both slots to see if there is a change with shutdown/rebooting problem? Also check Windows Event Viewer to see if the hang up is generating an error which might indicate the problem. If you have a second laptop available, try installing the card in that one. Could be a problem with card itself. Also try un-installing/re-installing the card in Device Manager as it could be a driver problem.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#3 Post by jronald » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:23 pm

I have had problems with that card if I installed it before SP3 was loaded. Worked fine with SP2, upgraded to SP3 and killed the install, every time I put the card in the slot. Happened on 2 identical T30's. However once I loaded SP3 and then I installed the card (for the first time) it worked fine from that point on. I googled and found many people with the same issue. It must be related to the driver.

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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#4 Post by Moparram » Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:10 pm

Should I uninstall the driver? Are you talking about putting in the card after Windows has booted up?

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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#5 Post by jronald » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:46 pm

Nope
Clean install with XP and SP2 put the card in. When you upgrade to SP3, you may have issues.

Clean install with XP and SP3 put the card in, no issues.

Not a clue why it makes a difference.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#6 Post by dr_st » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:16 pm

Hmm... Just got one of these AKE BC168 today. Plan on using it in T42, decided to try in a few other laptops first (two T60s with XP SP3, one HP Elitebook with Win7).

Didn't work on any of them. Symptoms: when plugged in, device is detected in device manager (Via Enhanced USB Controller). But no devices that are plugged into the USB ports on the card are picked up. Nada, nothing. Tried with and without the power cord. In one case even got an NMI parity error and a bluescreen as soon as plugged flash drive in.

Sounds like the card is just defective. Or could it be some inherent incompatibility with newer chipsets?
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#7 Post by Norway Pad » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:04 pm

We actually discussed this specific card yesterday in the "T30 is one tough unit" thread below. I started looking into maybe buying one for my T30, so I found and read several reviews on different PCMCIA to USB cards on Amazon. And it actually turns out that many buyers report having errors like bluescreen and Windows not seeing the card/USB device. I have never tried one, but from the reviews it seems like either most of these cards are defective, the installation process is so vulnerable that if something is done wrong, it's irreversible, or simply that the PCMCIA to USB connection is a connection that works so poorly that it's pure luck and coincidence if it works at all..

I didn't put any notice to if the non-working ones were installed in newer or older laptops, though. Did you try it in the T42 as well? Did it come with a CD with drivers that's supposed to be installed *before* the card is inserted, or is it plug'n play?

A little curious, as I was interested in getting one. But maybe not so much if I see repeated reports of the thing not working. To make things even worse, I run Linux, so maybe it's out of the question totally for this T30.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#8 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:38 am

When I still had a T30, I successfully used an "EKD" brand USB2.0 Cardbus card.
Normal card (sticking out), 2-port with 5V connector, AFAIK NEC chipset, 32-bit.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#9 Post by dr_st » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:52 am

I do not have any older laptops here to try it on (my T42 is in another city. :)) Initially I tried plugging it in, and when it didn't work, on another computer I tried using the driver CD first. Behavior was the same (I really think the driver CD is not necessary for systems with native USB 2.0 support anyways).

The seller is supposed to send me a new one now. I will report back.

I really want it to be a flush card, this is why I chose this one.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#10 Post by Majestic » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:08 am

"Behavior was the same (I really think the driver CD is not necessary for systems with native USB 2.0 support anyways)."

You are correct. The included CD contains drivers for the older versions of Windows that didn't have the native USB 2.0 support like Windows 98. XP will be plug and pray.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#11 Post by Norway Pad » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:53 pm

dr_st wrote:The seller is supposed to send me a new one now. I will report back...
...I really want it to be a flush card, this is why I chose this one.
Yes, let us know how it turns out. I am interested in this specific card, for the same reason as you.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#12 Post by Norway Pad » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:44 pm

I couldn't stand the temptation and ordered one of the AKE BC168 cards. It was detected immediately in the T30 (Linux Mint), no user intervention needed at all. It accepts low power demanding devices, like an USB mouse, but an external USB hard drive requires the external USB fed power cable to be plugged into the card for it to work. The transfer speed is also much faster than before. 3 mp3 files (Total of 12MB) flies over from the external drive instantly, without the progress bar even showing up. That is definitely not the case with USB 1.0. So a nice little thing, and for only $10, a recommendable and cheap upgrade.

I have yet not tested it in the T60.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#13 Post by dr_st » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:23 am

Good to know that it works! My replacement still has not arrived, but you gave me another idea - I have Fedora 14 installed on one of my T60s, and I will try the card there (previously only tried Windows XP/7).

Do let us know how your card works in your T60.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#14 Post by Norway Pad » Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:22 am

Ok, on the T60 / XP SP3 now. And the card worked just fine. I hot-plugged it, and after 10 seconds it showed up in the device manager under USB (Not under PCMCIA, like I expected) like "VIA USB enhanced host controller". It accepted my USB mouse straight away, and I also hot-unplugged it with no issues.

So it seems like you *did* get a bad card, though. Do you see any damage on it? The front part where the USB sockets are, was slightly bent on my card when I got it. I think it was from it being stuffed in a small envelope together with the USB cable, as the card "case" seems to bend easily just there. I bent it back, and it doesn't seem to affect it.

Hoping for better luck with your next card!
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#15 Post by dr_st » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:55 pm

I'm stumped.

The replacement arrived - behaves exactly the same in my T60 (all of them with XP SP3):
* Plug in card -> device detected with no errors
* Connect USB device -> nada, no response

I noticed one more thing - if I unplug the PCMCIA adapter - the Via USB controllers still linger in device manager - as if the device is still plugged.

And XP shutdown seems to hang after this too.

However:

Found a random T42 (also XP, don't know which SP), plugged in - works. Plugged my USB key - works, immediately. Unplugged, plugged again - works, 0 issues. :?

I can rule out incompatibility with the T60 PCMCIA controller, since it worked for Norway Pad.

There are two things I thought about:
1) Maybe the previous card was defective and somehow messed up Windows' drivers/registry. So I tried uninstalling all traces of the Via driver manually, installed the driver fresh from the CD (don't think it actually does anything), and tried again - same problem.
2) Some BIOS setting that screws it up, but I can't imagine which one. I'll dig through the BIOS later to see if there is anything that can be relevant.

I guess as long as it works on the T42 it was intended to, it's not a problem, but it kills me that there is something I can't find the solution to! :lol:
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#16 Post by Norway Pad » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:26 pm

A quick note: We *are* probably talking about a T60 incompatibility issue here.

After I bought the first card, I bought another one, just to have one for both of my T30s. I have the new card here right next to me, and when I plugged that into the T60, the same thing happened as you describe: Card is seen, but when I plug my USB key into it, the T60 freezes and reboots when the card is ejected.

I am really confused why it worked the first time. The only difference was that I tried it with an external USB harddrive instead of a USB key. When I get a hold of it again, I will try the first card over again to make sure that really works. I don't see why two similar cards should behave differently, but since these is apparently very cheap electronics, I can't rule that possibility totally out.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#17 Post by Norway Pad » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:20 pm

Yes, they DO in fact work differently. I got access to the first card I got, and that one works in the T60 with the same thumb drive that caused the laptop to freeze with the other card in it. I also tried the new card in the T30, and it works just fine there. So one of the cards fail in the T60 even though they are supposed to be 100% similar.

The only difference I can see is that the card that doesn't work in the T60 has a little red pointer behind the text "BC168". The one that works lacks this little red pointer. So maybe they are from different batches of cards, and maybe have slightly different chips in them. That's the only reason I can see.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#18 Post by dr_st » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:33 am

Thank you for your thorough research. :bow:

Both of mine lack the red pointer, though, and they don't work in my T60... But whatever, as long as at least one of them works in the T42 that they should work in - I'm satisfied. The only problem is that I won't have access to that T42 for a while, so I just have to hope that the fact it worked in one T42 means it will work in another. :|
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#19 Post by dr_st » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:21 am

So, this may not be of much interest to this forum, but since we talked about it a lot in this thread, it seemed like the natural place for an update.

I ended up buying a different version of the AKE BC168 card - one with a NEC Chipset.

This one seems to work just fine both in older and newer machines (tried in an X32 and a T60). So in general, the NEC-based cards are probably more reliable than the VIA-based ones, even though the VIA may intermittently work in newer machines as well (as Norway Pad's example demonstrates).
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#20 Post by robert213 » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:01 pm

I purchased my AKE BC168 USB 2.0 PC Card several years ago.
http://www.thinkpads.com/forum/viewtopi ... 18&t=77345

This was before Win XP Service Pack 3 was released. I don't recall having any issues with using my AKE USB 2.0 adapter with my T30 after moving from SP2 to SP3.

Of course, I have done a couple of fresh clean Win XP SP3 installs since then, so I can't recreate the scenerio.

My 2009 AKE PC Card (made in China, FC CE 056 on back) does not have the "NEC" Logo.

The 5V cable must be connected to T30's USB 1.1 port when powering a USB HD enclosure.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#21 Post by cadillacmike68 » Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:17 am

Question: Why do you need these things on T4x and T60 when they already support the faster USB2??

I can see using on a T30 with it's slower USB 1.1...
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#22 Post by dr_st » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:30 am

Good question. Short answer - you don't. Not on a T60 at least, as it already has 3 USB 2.0 ports, which are enough for most cases (and in cases when it's not enough you probably have a dock, which offers 4 more ports.

For a T4x there are two reasons - first of all 2 USB ports can sometimes not be sufficient, especially since they are on top of one another, and certain devices plugged into one port can block the other. Second reason - T4x units sometimes suffer from loose southbridge syndrome, and one of the more common symptoms is USB ports that suddenly function only as 1.1 or don't function at all. Sometimes the laptop can work more or less fine for months/years with just that problem. For such cases, a PCMCIA USB2 adapter can be useful.

I ordered one of these cards for my old T42, as it appeared that it started suffering from the aforementioned syndrome. But when I got it, I tested it first on a T60, and was surprised to learn that it didn't work. Then I found out that it worked just fine on the T42, so became intrigued and decided to dig deeper, as always. :D

In the meanwhile, the T42 (which is used by my sister) seems to have stopped misbehaving (knock on wood), and the USB problems haven't come back. But I have the PCMCIA adapter plugged in there just in case.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#23 Post by TinkerMan » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:26 pm

sorry to bring back from the dead this topic/thread, but where can I download the driver for this pcmcia card?
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#24 Post by dr_st » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:41 am

Unless you are using a very old, unpatched, version of 98/2000/XP without any service packs, you don't need a driver.
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Re: PCMCIA to USB 2.0 adapter

#25 Post by TPFanatic » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:17 pm

I put a flush PCMCI to 2x USB 2.0 adapter into my T500 to make use the empty slot and get some usable ports. The vertical orientation of the original 3x ports is enraging.
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