Troubleshooting PCI to PC Card Readers


Older and 16-bit only models

Both the PCM-CR-PC2IF and PCM-CR-PC2IR 16 bit PC Card Read/Writers are designed to the PCI Local Bus Revision 2.2 Specification. Surprisingly, many PC vendors have not followed the specification for their systems causing major troubleshooting difficulties. This guide is intended to help identify some of the known issues and work arounds for systems that do not follow the specification. Nearly all of the problems experienced by customers occur through errors with interrupt steering and related issues.

Typically customers are able to install the PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] readers seemingly without a problem, and Windows will recognize the device. However, the reader will be unable to work with PC Cards. When installed, the reader will show up in the device manager as in this example (PCM-CR-PC2IF on a Windows 2000 desktop):

[-] PCMCIA adapters
	|-- Ricoh R/RL/5C476(11) or Compatible CardBus Controller
	|-- Ricoh R/RL/5C476(11) or Compatible CardBus Controller

Interrupt assignments will show up as follows with whatever numbers are assigned on your particular system. It is imperative that both slots have the same IRQ number and it is preferable if they are a lower number.

(PCI)   11   Ricoh R/RL/5C476(11) or Compatible CardBus Controller
(PCI)   11   Ricoh R/RL/5C476(11) or Compatible CardBus Controller

One of the first things to check is how many devices are sharing the IRQ the card reader is using. If more than six devices (the card readers slots are already taking two) are sharing the same interrupt, problems ensue. There should be no more than four other devices sharing an IRQ with the reader, and preferably less than that. In the case of Elan products (P-Series), there can be no devices sharing an interupt with the card slot(s).

Some PC manufacturers that haven't followed the PCI 2.2 specification entirely don't support 'PCI type 2 header devices - Header Type 0x02' correctly which includes the PCI-to-cardbus bridges used in the PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] readers. In this case, you should contact your system's manufacturer to see is a BIOS update is available. This is a know issue with several Compaq machines including ProLiant ML370 Servers.

Often a simple way to avoiding many problems with IRQ and the PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] readers is to install it in the second or third PCI slot instead of the first. This is because the AGP video slot and PCI slot number one share the same IRQ. This can lead to wrong IRQ steering and a host of incompatibilities, causing the PCMCIA reader to function incorrectly. Also, some vendors have reversed the reserve numbering identification for PCI slot types. Video cards are type 0 while most all other card are type 1. If a vender reverses this type 1 cards will not work. Please call synchrotech to find out if your computer has this problem. Symptoms indicating incorrect PCI reserve numbering are: Blue Screen of Death in Microsoft operating systems, or Plug and Play does not see the card reader at all. Your computer's manufacturer may be able to fix this by providing a new PCI bridge driver.

Another pair of issues experienced by customers deal with the installation process. Many newer motherboards and chipsets (ie. Intel 815E) feature integrated devices. Often these devices are assigned interrupts without regard for end user devices installed later. Temporarily disabling or removing these devices before installing a PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] reader will allow the card reader to obtain a usable set of interrupts. Furthermore, and particularly with Windows 2000 the full set of Card and Socket Services and PCMCIA drivers will not be installed on a desktop machine without PC Card slots existing at installation. If a desktop machine already has Windows installed before installing a PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] reader, often re-installing Windows with the reader in the correct PCI slot will insure that the correct PCMCIA drivers get installed.

Troubleshooting PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] Readers Installation Summary

  • Try installing the PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] reader in the second or third PCI slot
  • Disable or remove any unused devices such as Infrared, Mini PCI 'int modem', serial, LPT, etc. before installing the reader
  • Re-install Windows with the PCM-CR-PC2I[F/R] reader installed to insure Windows installs all the necessary PCMCIA drivers
  • Check for latest drivers for the card reader
  • Make sure that no more than four other devices are sharing the IRQ that the two card reader slots are assigned
  • If CMOS/BIOS "hwsetup utils" has an option for PnP OS, try to toggle it
  • Try flashing the motherboard BIOS (ROM) with the most recent version from your manufacturer [WARNING: only do this if you are an authorized service representative or know what you are doing. Synchrotech is in no way responsible for errors made during this process]

Also see: 'PCI to PC Card (16) Card Readers Installation Addendum'

Additional Troubleshooting Notes from Elan Digital Systems

Q: I plugged in the reader and when I turned on the computer, the reader was not found.

A: Turn off the computer, unplug the power cord, and remove the PCI controller card. Reinsert the controller card, making sure that it is fully seated in the slot. Also, make sure that the bracket screw is used to secure the card in the slot. If this does not help, try reinserting the controller card into a different PCI slot.

If this is a front access reader, check and make sure all three cables are fully seated in the connectors at both ends.

Finally, with some older computers the BIOS does not recognize the PCI header type that our device uses. Contact the motherboard/BIOS manufacturer and make sure the BIOS is fully PCI 2.2 compliant and that it recognizes PCI header type 2.

Q: I installed the reader in my computer but the reader is not seen and no attempt to load drivers are made by the operating system. What is wrong?

A: All of the TI Controller chips that are used on the PCI readers are Header Type 2 devices, meaning that they are PCI to CardBus Bridge devices. Some older computer BIOS's do not know how to handle PCI Header Type 2 devices and therefore remove the SwapBox from their device listing and therefore preventing the operating system from seeing the reader.

Since this happens on the BIOS level before any operating system is even loaded, the only solution is to upgrade the system BIOS to a version that supports PCI Header Type 2 devices. Contact the manufacturer of your system's BIOS to obtain the latest upgrade.


Q: I am using Windows 2000 and when I insert a PC Card, the name of the card cannot be read. When looking at the "Unplug or remove hardware" panel, the name of the card will default to "MTD-000#" regardless of what card is inserted.

A: The reason for this issue is that the memory range the socket services driver needs to use to read the CIS of the card is in use by some other device. Since Windows 2000 is a plug and play operating system and is rather good at preventing conflicts, this is usually caused by a device that is not properly reporting the reasources that it uses.

Intel 810, 810e, 815, and 815e chipset motherboards have a specific issue. The built-on LAN has an "option ROM" that uses the same memory space that the PCMCIA socket services uses to read the CIS of the cards. This "option ROM" space is reported by the BIOS but not in a way that Windows 2000 can understand and thus the conflict occurs.

The solution for this issue is to either change the resources for or remove the device that is causing the conflict. In the case of the Intel motherboard issue, Intel has written a new BIOS that will correct this. The updated BIOS for the 815e chipset is currently available from Intel. This new fix will be incorporated into all new Intel BIOS updated so as new updates are created and distributed, this fix will be a part of it.

Q: Why does my ATA Flash or LAN/Modem card not work properly under Windows 2000? The card is detected when it is inserted but it does not work and there is a yellow "!" in front of the entry for it in Device Manager.

A: In order for PC Cards to work properly with a PCI reader, IRQ sharing has to be enabled. IRQ sharing is not enabled under Windows 2000 as a default.

If you do not have Service Pack 1 or later installed, contact Microsoft and reference article Q257458 to obtain an updated PCMCIA.SYS file that will allow most ATA and Network cards to function properly.

If you do have Service Pack 1 installed, the above patch is already included in the Service Pack. Simply go to the Microsoft Knowledge Base and search for article Q257458 or follow this link:

Then follow the instructions at the bottom of the article to change the registry entry "DisableIsaToPciRouting" to a value of 0.

Doing one of the above will enable IRQ Sharing and allow ISA based PC Cards such as ATA cards and most LAN/Modem cards to work properly.

Downloading this file and running it will make the necessary changes for you.

Q: I installed the PCI reader under Windows 2000 and inserted a Network PC Card. Resources are assigned (IRQ is higher than 16) and no conflicts are reported but the card does not work. Why?

A: With the newer, faster systems, especially on Workstation style systems, they use an Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller that can assign IRQ's from 0 to 31 instead of the normal 0 to 15. The PCI adapter can use these higher IRQ's with no problem but sometimes the drivers for the PC Cards can not.

Unfortunately, each PCI slot in the computer is assigned a fixed PCI IRQ that can not be changed. This issue might be correctable by moving the PCI reader to a different PCI slot and try to get a lower IRQ, below 16. The other possible solution is to contact the manufacturer of the PC Card and find out if they have a driver that can use the higher IRQ's.

Windows 95

Q: Why do I not have a drive letter for the ATA card I inserted? I am using Windows 95/98/Me

A: In order for ATA cards to work properly, the Card Reader driver has to be installed. If it has been installed, you can make sure that the ATA card is using this driver by doing the following:

1. Right click on the "My Computer" icon on the desktop and choose Properties. 2. Click on the Device Manager tab. 3. The Hard Disk Controllers folder should already be expanded. If not, click on the "+" in front of the Hard Disk Controllers icon. 4. The ATA card will be the line that says "Standard IDE/ESDI Hard Disk Controller" or "SanDisk ATA FlashCard". It may also have a yellow "!" before the name. Double click on this line. 5. Click on the "Driver" tab and then click on the Update Driver or Reinstall Driver button. 6. Choose to display the list of drivers instead of automatically searching for one. 7. In the list, choose the Standard SwapATA driver. 8. Install this driver even if it warns that the driver is not written specifically for that device. 9. It may ask to reboot the system.

This procedure will only have to be done ONCE per ATA card. After that, the system will remember which driver to use.

Q: I installed the reader under Windows 95 and it appears in Device Manager under "PCMCIA Devices" but it has a yellow "!" in front of it. Why?

A: If you are using a non-named brand computer or a name brand computer that has a non-factory installed version of Windows 95, check to make sure IRQ routing is enabled. To do this, look in Device Manager under System Devices, click on PCI bus and then on Properties. Click on the IRQ Routing tab and make sure that the IRQ Routing Status says that everything is enabled or completed successfully. If not, you will need to download the latest Windows 95 files for the chip set your motherboard uses from the chip set manufacturer's web site. For Intel chip sets, the link is:

Q: I installed the reader under Windows 95 but it does not appear to be working. The reader appears in Device Manager under "Other devices" and has a big yellow "?" in front of it. What is wrong?

A: The most common cause for this issue is that the hardware was installed and the machine booted BEFORE installing the needed software. To correct this, remove the TI 1221 or TI 1225 Controller devices from the Device Manager by clicking on it to highlight the line and then click "Remove". If you have not already installed the proper updates according to the Windows 95 Software Installation section of this manual, do so now. Then reboot the computer and the device should be recognized properly.

Q: I installed the reader under Windows 95/98/Me and everything looks like it installed correctly, but when I insert a PC Card nothing happens. There are no beeps and no recognition that a card was inserted.

A: If the reader has just been installed, make sure that the system has been completely shut down and then restarted. When installing single slot readers, Windows will sometimes not prompt for a restart. This is a known issue under Windows but no fix has been designed for it, as simply rebooting after installation will resolve the issue.

If restarting does not correct the issue, then there is another possibility. Sometimes under the Windows 95/98/Me environment, card insertions are not properly recognized. In order to have the inserted PC Card recognized, the device list must be refreshed. To do this:

  1. Right click on the "My Computer" icon on the desktop and choose Properties.
  2. Click on the Device Manager tab.
  3. Click on the "Refresh" button.

The system should then find the PC Card and load the drivers for it.

Windows 98

Q: I have installed the PCI reader under Windows 98 and when I insert a PC Card, there is no card insertion beeps, and no card name appears under the PC Card Properties window. The PCI reader appears under the Device Manager and looks like it should

A: This issue is caused by one of two things. First, after installing a PCMCIA device under Windows 98, the system MUST be reboted. The driver install should ask to do this automatically but sometimes it fails to do so. Rebooting should correct this.

If the problem persists even after a reboot, then there is one more thing to try. Open the Device Manager and click on the refresh button AFTER inserting the PC Card. The system should then find the device and load drivers for it.

Fax/Modem Cards

Q: I inserted a Modem/LAN card and it seems like it should be working but I can't get it to connect. What am I doing wrong?

A: In most cases the issue is that the card is trying to use an ISA interrupt. In order for these cards to work properly, the driver for the card must be designed to handle shared PCI interrupts. If the card will only work with ISA non-shared interrupts, the card will not work properly. Contact the manufacturer of the card for information on obtaining an updated driver to correct this, if available.

This same symptom can also be caused by an invalid I/O range being used by the Modem/LAN card. This is especially true in a PCI only system. Try changing the I/O range to a higher number, such as D000, E000, or F000.

Once the proper resources are assigned to the PC Card, it should work properly.

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