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Opinions on USB CD/DVD Drive "Emulator" device

Last response: in Opinions and Experiences
March 5, 2009 10:04:49 AM

Hi tom's hardware forum peoples! I'm an electrical engineer working on a design I'd like to bring to market. Before I actually prototype the device, though, I'd like to see how much interest there is in such a thing, or if anyone has suggestions for changes / add-ons. Thanks very much for any feedback!!

The device I'm working on is a small USB stick which would have a microSD card slot and be used to "emulate" CD/DVD/Floppy drives. The idea is you keep a bunch of ISOs or IMGs on the microSD card, and then using either a program on the PC, or booting from the stick itself into a "chooser" screen, you pick an ISO/IMG file from the card to emulate, and the device will, from then on, show up as a Mass Storage device *and* a CD/DVD/Floppy drive containing the disc whose image you selected.

You could of course change the selected image at any time by booting back into the "chooser" mode, or running the software on a working computer. The functionality would be very similar to those new flash drives that also have a CDROM portion that shows up so they can (annoyingly, in my opinion) take advantage of AutoRun. The difference, of course, being that you can choose any ISO on the microSD card to be "in" the CD/DVD/Floppy drive, and you can pick that at boot time in case you're not near a working machine (for example, doing a reload at a customer's location).

Some time ago I helped operate a small computer shop in my home town, and back then I would've found this device very useful. With USB drives being a dime a dozen, it's easy to just buy a few and write ISOs to them (i.e. for Linux installs), but there are still plenty of cases where an actual, physical CD/DVD/Floppy is required. For instance, Windows XP is still quite popular, and it refuses to boot from USB media without a lot of hassle, and even then my experience is very hit-or-miss. Is there a demand for this thing? Could it sell? If so, how much is it worth?

Thanks for reading :hello: 
April 22, 2009 3:22:26 PM

I'd buy it.. Been lookign for something like this for ages...
April 27, 2009 10:32:37 PM

I'd buy it too.

I don't think this 'chooser' menu is such a great idea.
If you have multiple installation cdroms changeing the 'cd' is difficult if you need a reboot.

My ideal device would be a usb - microsd reader type of device.
Not very large, but too tiny :) 

Do like these guys did with an old style floppy-usb emulator for old legacy industrial machines that have the old floppy drive.

have the microsd card hold IMAGE000.ISO IMAGE001.ISO style files.
make an eject/insert button and a up/down button to choose the image.
the emulated cd/dvd drive is then very flexible

create a floppy type one and a dvd type one for easy use.
(make then connect to each other to only use one usb port)

or create one without an sd card reader.
just put 2 usb plugs on them.
if you connect usb plug 1, it is a normal usb stick that holds 16 GB
turn it the other way in the computer, it is your emulator.
(with the up/down buttons to choose the image :) 

pro version, create a dvd BURNER emulator.
it creates an iso that in turn can be used directly on another computer.

Related resources
June 13, 2009 10:38:44 PM

hp has a floppy drive version of a usb key.

no need to engineer such a device anymore. [...] 74186.html

Still I'd prefer a device like eagan proposes.
But it's pretty quiet here, so I wonder if this project got killed?
April 23, 2010 2:22:12 PM

I know this is an old thread but perhaps someone will check back and find my info useful....

I believe this is the device you are looking for and it actually exists. I'm thinking of buying one myself because it would be useful an os onto a machine quickly.

The device is called the iodd 2501 Portable Virtual ROM. You just stick a 2.5" SATA drive in it and away you go.

September 19, 2010 12:49:35 PM

This topic has been closed by Buwish