I have a working Compact Flash to Thunderbolt solution.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Nemic, May 5, 2012.

  1. Nemic macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Hi all,
    I have been waiting for someone to produce a simple Compact Flash to Thunderbolt adapter, but so far there don't seem to be any on the market. My MacBook Air only has Thunderbolt or USB2.0, and when in the field transferring a days worth of photographic images to my Air and then onto external drives used to take a long time.

    I recently bought a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter for Portable Hard Drives and I bought a GoFlex 1TB hard drive with it.

    I quickly realised that the Adapter has a standard SATA interface and discovered that several people on these forums were using them with SSD drives - with a fair amount of success.

    I then did a search and discovered that you can buy a Compact Flash to SATA interface for a pretty small amount of money.

    I ordered one on eBay and it arrived this morning.

    I initially did a speed test using my MacBook Air and a CF to USB adapter.

    I shot 7.39 GB of RAW and JPEG onto a 32 GB Sandisk CF card with a Canon 1D Mark IV.

    CF to Mac via USB took 4 mins to transfer.

    I then connected the CF card to the Seagate Thunderbolt adapter using the CF to SATA adapter.

    The same images took 1 min and 18 secs to transfer.

    Transferring the same images from the Mac to the Seagate 1TB drive via Thunderbolt also took 1 min and 18 secs.

    Transferring the same images from the Mac to a Western Digital 1TB portable USB drive took 4 min and 24 secs.

    With a lot of images, and making two backups each day the thunderbolt interface can save a lot of time - especially if electricity is in short supply.

    Running the Blackmagic Disk Speedtest gave the following results:

    32 GB card via USB 3GB size - Read speed 19.5 MB's, Write speed 30.5 MB/s

    32 GB card via Thunderbolt - Read speed 66.7 MB/s, Write speed 93 MB/s.

    A fair bit faster, I am very pleased with the results.

    Feel free to ask any questions if you like.
  2. winterlocked macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2010
    That's a cool solution. Do you have a picture of the setup?
  3. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Not yet.
    I just had time to test it this morning before I went to work.

    I will try and take some photo's and post them, maybe tomorrow or the day after that.
  4. Dublx macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2012

    Hi, Thanks for posting your test results.
    Can you share a make/model or a url to the adaptor?

  5. McGilli macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2008
  6. otlyer macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2010
  7. flynz4, May 14, 2012
    Last edited: May 14, 2012

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Personally... most of my SD card reading is done on my iMac. Unfortunately, the iMac currently has a very slow SD card reader. I have a very strong suspicion that the card reader on the new '12 iMac will be MUCH faster than the current iMacs. I based that on general knowledge of new controllers being deployed within the industry... not any specific knowledge of Apple's plans.

    As someone who shoots a lot of RAW+JEPG photos... this will be a very welcome update should it come to fruition. I typically use quite high end SD cards with a UHS-1 interface. If Apple does not update the internal SD card reader, then I would look for a fast external card reader as you propose.

  8. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Sorry for not replying to this sooner.

    I bought the items from a UK eBay store.


    I had simply searched eBay for CF to SATA and this was the store which seemed most local to me.

    There are a lot of these being sold on eBay, and many seem to made by different companies. I have no idea if they will all work, but I would assume that they possibly would.
  9. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Here are some photo's of it.

    Firstly the adapter on it's own, and second next to the CF that I used.

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  10. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    On the left is the CF card inserted into the adapter.
    And on the right is the entire unit attached to the Seagate Thunderbolt adapter.

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  11. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Finally this is a photo showing the connection from the side.

    As you can see there is a gap between the card and the interface. However this is not a problem as the card is very light.

    The card slots onto and off the Thunderbolt interface pretty easily. I am careful with it though and usually wiggle it a bit to help things along. Once connected it has a nice snug fit and I think it very unlikely that it would disconnect by accident.

    The adapter is a bare interface, which is designed to be inside a computer. As such its components are rather exposed.

    I have now bought three of these, and may try to make one of them a bit more rugged if I can find something suitable to enclose it.

    Please understand that I am not interested in marketing these myself, I am simply providing the information.

    As a photographer who take a lot of photo's from time to time, I think that this will really speed up transfer time in the field.

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  12. stuworrall macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2011
    North Wales, UK
    Great idea and thanks for that :)

    Ive ordered the sata to CF as ive got a FW 800 seagate goflex which will work with it. if youre in the UK where did you buy your thunderbolt goflex from?
  13. stuworrall macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2011
    North Wales, UK
    did you get any problems with yours? mine has arrived but it doesn't show up on the mac when I plug it in via a seagate fw800 or usb go flex connector :( am wondering if I need drivers or if its broke?
  14. Nemic thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012

    Hi there.

    I have had no trouble with mine - so far it's perfect.

    It sounds as though you are not connecting it to your Mac via Thunderbolt, correct?

    I don't have a different interface with mine, I just bought the Thunderbolt one. So far it seems to work very well.

    Do you have a Thunderbolt GoFlex?


    I bought the Thunderbolt interface from the Apple store.
  15. brassmnkys macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2013
    Thread revival...not entirely working yet

    I've also had problems with mine. The Seagate GoFlex part powers up and works fine. The system sees it through the Thunderbolt cable (confirmed via hardware settings). It seems there is a hiccup in the SATA to CF reader perhaps. It was only $6 or so, so I might try another one. Very anxious to see if this actually works. Anyone else have any success or failures? Possible solutions?
  16. Edalincam55 macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2015
    I was searching any idea like this, Its great to get idea here with setup pics, hopefully when I started you will help me if any support needs..

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17 May 5, 2012