Jump to content











Photo

Introduction to ISOstick


  • Please log in to reply
101 replies to this topic

#1 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:16 PM

Welcome to the official isostick forum!
The isostick has just received funding via Kickstarter and we're grateful to have the official forums right here on reboot.pro!
Below you will find a brief introduction to the isostick device. Here's a render of the final design:

Posted Image
New isostick enclosure by eric.agan, on Flickr

Plugging in an isostick, your computer sees two drives: a flash drive and an optical drive.
The flash drive works like any other -- you can format it, put files on it, etc.
There is also a read-only switch to keep your data safe. We find this especially handy when running anti-virus on infected machines or plugging into untrusted computers.

If you have some ISO files on the flash drive, however, you can then choose to "insert" them in the optical drive!
You can boot from the optical drive just like any other optical drive.
Even if your BIOS doesn't support booting from USB flash, as long as it supports boot from USB optical drive isostick should work!
That way you can keep all your ISOs on your isostick, along with any other files you want to carry around, and boot from them any time you need! All in one stick! Oh, and it fits on your keychain!

If you need to change ISO files on-the-fly but don't have a booted-up or working computer handy, no problem! For that, we have a tool called isosel.
Any time you boot from your isostick's optical drive you will actually boot into isosel. This gives you a list of all the ISOs your isostick can access on itself, with your currently-loaded one already selected. It is very similar to other bootloaders such as grub. Just pick the ISO you want, hit enter, then isosel reboots the computer, this time leaving your ISO of choice in the optical drive, and your computer can boot from it just fine!
If no action is taken after a configurable-length delay, isosel will time out and reboot your computer, once again showing your currently-selected ISO. That way you don't have to attend, for example, an unattended Windows XP install, which may require several reboots.
It's worth noting that this has no effect when using isostick in an OS, there you will always see the disc you loaded!
Again, there is no software required on the computer for any of these features.

There are some caveats: in order to read the ISO files, the flash drive must be formatted FAT32.
Don't be concerned about files larger than 4GB on FAT32, though -- isostick supports split ISO files, such as .iso.0, .iso.1, .iso.2, and so on. It will treat them as one big ISO file.

We plan to add support for more filesystems and image formats over time; isostick firmware can be upgraded any time and all updates will be free!

Isostick uses 480Mbit/s High-Speed USB 2.0 for fast transfers.
Average Read speed is 12MByte/s from either the flash or optical drive. That's 81x in CD speeds, 9x in DVD speeds.
Average Write speed is 6MByte/s for prototypes, should be 10MByte/s in production. That's 40x/68x in CD speeds, 4x/7x in DVD speeds.
Without the seek time of real optical drives, it is even faster than a CD/DVD of the speeds listed above.
Internally isostick uses a microSD card for flash storage. We hope to begin selling isosticks without internal flash, instead just having a microSD socket, in the future.
The isostick uses a microSD card for storage. The final enclosure has a slot on the side so you can swap the microSD card any time you want.

For more information please see the following pages:
Twitter: @elegantinvent
Kickstarter: http://kck.st/qODx78
Official ISOstick website: http://isostick.com
ISOstick development blog: http://blog.eleganti...tion.com/?cat=5

Thanks for stopping by,
Eric Agan
Elegant Invention

UPDATE: The old enclosure mock-up can still be found here, the new enclosure is now shown above.

Edited by elegantinvention, 07 August 2012 - 09:09 PM.
Added equivalent CD and DVD speeds.

  • Nuno Brito likes this

#2 sambul61

sambul61

    Gold Member

  • Advanced user
  • 1568 posts
  •  
    American Samoa

Posted 20 September 2011 - 01:06 AM

Nice idea!

And a tricky question: will it allow to install Windows 7 & 8 from ISO saved onto your optical drive? Don't rush with your answer... :)

Do you have a list of BIOS versions allowing to boot from a USB Optical Drive, or a weblink to such list? :dubbio: Booting from a USB Optical Drive - is it less complex from a BIOS developer's prospective than booting from a USB Stick? Don't you think that a BIOS version that supports booting from a USB Optical Drive would usually support booting from a USB Stick as well?

Still, it looks like a handy Stick for those ppl less technically inclined to deal with Boot Managers etc.

#3 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 01:36 AM

And a tricky question: will it allow to install Windows 7 & 8 from ISO saved onto your optical drive?

If the ISO files are on the flash part of the isostick (on a FAT32 partition), yep :thumbsup:
It doesn't require any modification to the ISOs, and you can have as many on there as you please, along with any other files. When the host reads from the optical drive, isostick retrieves the data from whichever ISO file you have loaded.

Do you have a list of BIOS versions allowing to boot from a USB Optical Drive, or a weblink to such list? :dubbio: Booting from a USB Optical Drive - is it less complex from a BIOS developer's prospective than booting from a USB Stick? Don't you think that a BIOS version that supports booting from a USB Optical Drive would usually support booting from a USB Stick as well?

No list, sorry.
I think the complexity of booting from USB flash/hdd versus optical drive is about the same if they already support booting from hard drives or optical drives. It's just a wrapper around code they would already have.
I have found some newer netbooks that won't boot from USB harddrive or flash drive (which are the same in terms of how they talk to the computer), but will boot from USB optical drives and isosticks. If I recall correctly the Acer Aspire One was among that bunch.
Go figure, maybe some BIOS writers are just lazy :rolleyes:

Still, it looks like a handy Stick for those ppl less technically inclined to deal with Boot Managers etc.

Thanks!

Edited by elegantinvention, 20 September 2011 - 01:37 AM.


#4 sambul61

sambul61

    Gold Member

  • Advanced user
  • 1568 posts
  •  
    American Samoa

Posted 20 September 2011 - 01:56 AM

I'm just trying to find some advantages of using such a device compare to a regular Thumb (which allows to boot ISOs with Grub4DOS). Could you list such advantages pls. :)

As to installing Win 7 from your Stick, why don't you try that, and then come back with some explanations how it does that... Its possible from a USB Stick now, but some extra effort and drivers like FiraDisk are required. I was wondering whether your stick can install Win 7 from its optical partition similar to installing from a regular DVD drive - without any mental effort from a user: click-by-click style?

#5 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:58 AM

I have installed Windows 7 from isostick, and it works flawlessly. In fact the computer I am using to post this (Win7 x64) was installed from an isostick. It has also been used to install Windows XP, Ubuntu 10.10, and to boot SpinRite and memtest86+, among others, across quite a few machines in our preliminary testing.

As to how isostick works:
It contains an Atmel AVR32 microcontroller which handles everything (USB, talking to internal flash, parsing the filesystem, etc etc).
The most commonly-used USB Mass Storage subclass and protocol are SCSI Transparent and Bulk-only Transport, respectively.
SCSI Transparent is as it sounds: a limited wrapper for transporting SCSI commands. There are non-SCSI subclasses for Mass Storage devices, however they are rarely if ever used, and support is varied as a result.
A flash or hard disk speaks SCSI Block Commands (SBC), while an optical drive speaks SCSI MultiMedia Commands (MMC). Prettymuch all USB flash sticks or harddrives are SBC devices, and USB optical drives would be MMC devices.

Each USB Mass Storage device can present multiple LUNs (Logical Unit Numbers) to the host. Each LUN represents a different logical SCSI device.
The isostick reports two LUNs: one obeying SBC, the other obeying MMC. So, a generic block storage device and an optical drive.
It provides access to the flash memory through the SBC LUN -- when a SCSI read or write request comes in through the SBC LUN, the isostick firmware performs the requested action on the flash memory.
EDIT: I should point out also that some BIOSes only detect the first LUN, so to ensure bootability isostick presents the optical LUN first.

The isostick is aware of FAT32 and able to parse it, there is provision to support other filesystems later.
When it first starts up, it checks if the drive is formatted as one big FAT32 partition (a favorite trick of Windows OSes) or if it has an MBR partition table with any partition types it can parse. For all the partitions it can potentially read, it does some sanity checking and, if they appear valid, it flags them as "readable" in its RAM (this is all happening on the isostick, the host has no knowledge of this).
It then looks for a configuration file, which is currently "/config/iso_filename.txt", though this may change before the units ship.
This file is expected to contain the filename with full path to the ISO file you want to load.
If the contents of /config/iso_filename.txt specify a valid file that isostick can find on a readable partition, it caches some information about the file such as the extents list (list of contiguous chunks of the file, in case of fragmentation, to speed up operations -- otherwise isostick would have to churn through the FAT each time it wanted to read from the file, which is slowww).

If the config files, partitions, or loaded ISO file on the isostick change at any time, those writes must be done through isostick, and it updates itself in realtime.
For example, if you delete the ISO file or decide to reformat the drive, it will automatically force an eject of the disc, since its contents would be invalid. Likewise, if you change the config file, isostick will automatically check the new contents and load the newly-specified ISO file.

From then on, whenever the host reads from the MMC LUN, the isostick actually retrieves the relevant content from the specified ISO file and returns it as if it were a real optical drive reading from a real optical disc.

In this way, the host cannot tell the difference between isostick and a real physical optical drive. It is not relying on any software on the host side -- it is, for all intents and purposes, an optical drive. :)
There will be some software to find all the ISO files on your isostick and let you drag'n'drop to load different ISOs, and to help by auto-splitting ISOs >4GB (a FAT32 limitation). Behind the scenes that software will just be modifying /config/iso_filename.txt though, and any other config files, to tell the isostick its intent. Another config file the isostick offers is /config/led_brightness.txt which can contain a number between 0 and 255, or a percentage from 0% to 100%, to control (or disable!) the LED, in case it is too bright or too dim for you.

As to how isosel works:
We call it "isosel" as short for ISO SELector. It's sort of like other boot managers, but all it's doing is talking to isostick.
At present I use a heuristic to detect if the user is attempting to boot from the isostick or is plugging it into a system already booted into an OS. That heuristic is to check if the first Read command sent to the MMC LUN is for sector 17, which contains the El Torito Boot Catalog, where El Torito is the specification used for bootable CDs in most cases. In my tests so far, BIOSes seem to read this first, whereas an OS does not care about this information and reads Sector 16 first instead (which contains relevant information in the ISO9660 filesystem).

As I'm sure many of you are aware, El Torito allows a BIOS a couple options for booting from a CD-ROM, the most common of which is by specifying a floppy image. If isostick sees Sector 17 as the first read, rather than going to the currently-loaded ISO file, it supplies a Boot Catalog of its own. The Boot Catalog specifies where the BIOS can find the boot floppy image for isosel. If the ISO already had a boot image it uses that location, otherwise it finds one that is not in use by the ISO's actual contents (in case the heuristic was wrong). When the host reads the sectors specified by the Boot Catalog for isosel, the isostick will return the contents of isosel's boot floppy image instead of going to see what the ISO file has at that location.

It's a bit tricky in the specifics, but I am very careful to avoid returning isosel-related data on any sectors that an OS would use. It's true that if you made an ISO image of the ISO loaded in the isostick optical drive ( :blink: ), you would get bits of isosel in there. This was done as a compromise -- it is unlikely this would effect the functionality of any ISO you would use in an OS, and it allows much more flexibility in that you can switch ISOs on the fly even when booting from isostick.
In the event that you really do not want this to happen to a particular ISO, even if that means you can't boot into isosel when that ISO is loaded, I plan to add the option to disable isosel on a per-file basis soon.

Assuming you boot into isosel and make a selection, isosel communicates that selection back to the isostick, which remembers it. Then isosel reboots the computer (we're testing ways to avoid a full reboot, but this is the safest approach anyway), and this time isostick remembers not to do any isosel trickery, simply presenting the ISO you selected unmodified for the BIOS to boot from.

To summarize, I feel the biggest advantage of isostick is the ability to keep many ISO files on one stick and not have to modify them in any way to boot from them, while also providing an easy way to switch between them.
The second biggest advantage, I would say, is the read-only switch to protect the flash memory.
Many software solutions to this problem exist, but to the best of my knowledge none offer universal support for any ISO in the way that isostick can by virtue of appearing as a real optical drive.

Phew, I hope this adequately explains how and why isostick works!
Feel free to ask more questions or point out any gaps in my explanation, I will be sure to update it!

Edited by elegantinvention, 20 September 2011 - 03:08 AM.

  • Nuno Brito likes this

#6 maanu

maanu

    Gold Member

  • Advanced user
  • 1133 posts
  •  
    Pakistan

Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:11 AM

lets say , if i want this to be delivered to Pakistan , is it possible ? and what will be the total cost for 16GB flash ?

#7 TheHive

TheHive

    Platinum Member

  • .script developer
  • 4138 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:43 AM

Good Idea. More portable then a Zalman ZM-VE200 HDD enclosure , but Usb has less space. It would be more universaly convenient to carry around. You can Find sticks anywhere you go these days.
And now Apple Lion is being offered in a download version or on a Usb stick and it seems not on a DVD.
Where are the demo videos of isoStick Working?

Would have been great if you can put youre own MicroSD card or cards, that way you wont run out of space. Why not have MicroSD be inserted or removed in the bud of the stick. Or make it easy to replace the MicroSD card.


How big are the Sticks and what are the starting price ranges. If you are going retail. Try Microcenter, Fry's Electronics, BestBuy, OfficeDepot, OfficeMax.
Do some giveaway sticks as a promotion. Sorta like "Stickit to the ROM" Giveaway. lol! or "Fish a isoStick" :lightbulb: :go_fish: :fish: :eek: :victory:

What about adding support for booting VHD files.
Upping it to USB 3 Support. Not that I have one at the moment but I think that is where things are going.


Some Pics.


Attached File  isoStick a.jpg   25.79KB   50 downloads
Attached File  isoStick.jpg   21.66KB   55 downloads
Attached File  isoStick1.jpg   40.33KB   44 downloads
Attached File  isoStick2.jpg   21.75KB   41 downloads
Attached File  isoStick3.jpg   15.47KB   43 downloads
Attached File  isoStick4.jpg   29.99KB   45 downloads
Attached File  isoStick5.jpg   24.24KB   36 downloads
  • Nuno Brito likes this

#8 MedEvil

MedEvil

    Platinum Member

  • .script developer
  • 7771 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:58 AM

Nice idea!
Just 2 questions. Why still USB 2.0 and why not even that at full speed?

:cheers:

#9 sambul61

sambul61

    Gold Member

  • Advanced user
  • 1568 posts
  •  
    American Samoa

Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:26 AM

I like it too - just like Easy Button for a mass user - plug-and-play type. And the author claims, it can boot just about ANY bootable ISO, which is interesting. Would be nice, if it can support booting from Virtual Disks, as they may pretty fast replace ISO format entirely as a relict of CD era. :)
.

#10 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 04:20 PM

Thanks everybody for the kind words :cheers:

lets say , if i want this to be delivered to Pakistan , is it possible ? and what will be the total cost for 16GB flash ?

At the moment I'm still working on getting the Kickstarter units assembled and sent out, and cannot take any new orders. I'm not sure of retail pricing yet either, sorry. :frusty:
Once it goes retail I will be sure to post about it! As long as USPS, FedEx, or UPS can ship there, Pakistan is fine! If they can't, I'm open to suggestion for other couriers!

:beta: I should mention the beta units from the Kickstarter won't ship for about a month, so we're still several months away from retail release, but it's getting there!

Where are the demo videos of isoStick Working?

I'm hoping to get some out in the next week or two demonstrating all the functionality, just polishing up the firmware before I do so.

Would have been great if you can put youre own MicroSD card or cards, that way you wont run out of space. Why not have MicroSD be inserted or removed in the bud of the stick. Or make it easy to replace the MicroSD card.

I agree 100%! It was too costly to do that initially as it requires a fully custom enclosure.
If all goes well the retail units won't have internal storage. Just an accessible MicroSD slot and it would be "bring your own storage," since that has been the most widely-requested feature. I will be working with the enclosure manufacturer to make that happen, though it may take a while.

How big are the Sticks and what are the starting price ranges. If you are going retail. Try Microcenter, Fry's Electronics, BestBuy, OfficeDepot, OfficeMax.
Do some giveaway sticks as a promotion. Sorta like "Stickit to the ROM" Giveaway. lol! or "Fish a isoStick" :lightbulb: :go_fish: :fish: :eek: :victory:

If by "big" you mean storage space, see above -- they won't have any internal storage when they go retail. If you meant physical size, the retail units will likely be about the same size as the Kickstarter units. They do need to be slightly wider to fit the microSD socket itself, but only a few millimeters.
Great suggestions for retailers, I'll see if any of them are willing to carry isostick. Love the idea of a giveaway too!
And thanks for posting those pictures!

Upping it to USB 3 Support. Not that I have one at the moment but I think that is where things are going.

Nice idea!
Just 2 questions. Why still USB 2.0 and why not even that at full speed?

USB2.0 was chosen because it is difficult to find USB3.0 chipsets for this sort of custom design -- the ones I could find are designed for very high volume sales and strictly for regular mass storage, they wouldn't do the optical drive emulation.
There are some less-than-ideal solutions like using a USB3.0 interface chip with an FPGA. This would be expensive, but fast. I've definitely been researching it and will hopefully have a USB3.0 isostick by mid-2012, we'll see! Mmm SuperSpeed ISOs :hyper:
The CPU in isostick does go at the full USB2.0 speed, but its microSD controller is, sadly, limited to about 12MByte/s. :hmm: The only way around that is either finding another chip (harder than it sounds, and even then microSD cards don't tend to go above ~15MB/s) or using internal NAND flash like most USB flash sticks. NAND flash manufacturers aren't fond of orders for less than a few thousand units, and I don't have the capital to pull that off. Incidentally MicroSD manufacturers are the same way (razor-thin margins) so the cards for the Kickstarter units are actually being purchased retail, hence the steep prices seen on the Kickstarter page for the 16GB and 32GB models -- the retail pricing on those is crazy.

What about adding support for booting VHD files.

Would be nice, if it can support booting from Virtual Disks, as they may pretty fast replace ISO format entirely as a relict of CD era. :)

Indeed! I completely forgot to mention that, thanks for suggesting it :good:
That will be added, hopefully before retail but if not then soon after. With that update, isostick will be able to show up as more than just an optical drive and a flash drive -- it could show up as another hard disk / flash drive as well, using a disk image. I'm also looking into supporting up to 6 virtual drives at once (optical or hdd), but no promises! The CPU in isostick is a beefy one but RAM is still limited, if it's possible though you can bet it'll show up in an update!!
  • xaminmo and Brett Healy like this

#11 sbaeder

sbaeder

    Gold Member

  • .script developer
  • 1335 posts
  • Location:usa - massachusettes
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 07:34 PM

Just another thought - if you are adding in ability to hold microSD, another option would be to have a USB input! This could allow use of an external USB drive for people that want to have LOTS of storage (and/or might be cheaper than microSD)...

BUT, in any case, this thing is COOL BEANS! :clap: :good: A Brilliant idea! :idea:
  • xaminmo likes this

#12 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 07:42 PM

Just another thought - if you are adding in ability to hold microSD, another option would be to have a USB input!

I've actually been planning that exact thing for the USB3.0 version.
Rather than trying to find something to run as fast as USB3.0, I figured why not just make a little "pass through" device with a USB plug and a USB port :idea:

BUT, in any case, this thing is COOL BEANS! :clap: :good: A Brilliant idea! :idea:


Thanks very much!! :cheers:

#13 Zoso

Zoso

    Silver Member

  • Advanced user
  • 640 posts
  •  
    Isle of Man

Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:26 PM

neat idea and plan! and thanks for the in depth replys here, Ive learned quite a bit just from reading them.

I dont have a huge need for this type of set up but I will probably get on at some point just to experiment with. I have a 16gb U3 sandisc I was planning on learning to install my own .iso to at some point but what I really need is a usb flash (16 or 32 gb) that is garanteed to have a flipable bit! so to be seen by windows OS as non removable.

do you know if the ones that have manufacturer software available to partition into a CDFS like sandisc, does this mean that these are "bit flipable" (seen as non removable)??

the micro SD slotted usb (multi microSD hub?) sounds intresting.. make mine flipable and you got a deal!

thanks

#14 steve6375

steve6375

    Platinum Member

  • Developer
  • 6629 posts
  • Location:UK
  • Interests:computers, programming (masm,vb6,C,vbs), photography,TV,films,guitars
  •  
    United Kingdom

Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:55 PM

I would seriously consider producing a flash drive with a slot for the SD memory card and not including the SD memory card with the device.
1. You will need to hold stock of decent and expensive SD cards (assembled pens) - these will only depreciate in value over time as flash prices are dropping like stones at the moment.
2. You can buy 10 times as many units if they did not have SD cards in them - or 10 times less $ tied up in stock
3. Users can swap SD cards - this is a big PLUS point.
4. Less warranty issues as the product would not include memory. (P.S. In Europe ALL products have a 6 month warranty and up to 6 years if it can be proven to have a manufacturing defect - there is no such thing as a 30-day warranty)
5. If it breaks and is cheap enough then the user will probably just buy another rather than claim on the warranty - if you integrate the SD card then they will claim for a replacement and you will have to handle testing and assessing user damage, return postage, etc. which brings hassles of it's own. The user can simply swap the SD card to another unit if it had a slot.
[Edit] 6. Much bigger %age markup (profit) for you!


P.S. re. Zoso's point above - does the storage media appear as a Fixed disk or a Removable disk? Could a utility be provided to give a choice?

The Zalman VE200 does the same thing as this but is cheaper and bigger and you don't need to split large files as it uses NTFS. So the only advantage with yours is it's size. If you had a SD card slot, then that would be one more reason to buy one (and it would be a lot cheaper as most people already have an SD card or two).

All you need to do is offer the choice of a case which has an open end (if you CNC the slot for the WP switch, why not mill off the end too!) - my bet is that most people would go for the SD card slot version...

#15 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:56 PM

do you know if the ones that have manufacturer software available to partition into a CDFS like sandisc, does this mean that these are "bit flipable" (seen as non removable)??

I've heard about that, but I haven't used any. Not sure if they're bit flippable.

the micro SD slotted usb (multi microSD hub?) sounds intresting.. make mine flipable and you got a deal!

Making it bit flippable is a good idea! I can easily make that an option in a config file, I'll be sure to add that! :good:

#16 steve6375

steve6375

    Platinum Member

  • Developer
  • 6629 posts
  • Location:UK
  • Interests:computers, programming (masm,vb6,C,vbs), photography,TV,films,guitars
  •  
    United Kingdom

Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:25 PM

:idea: If you have the ISOSel feature, could you add a password feature too? i.e. boot from it as a CD to ISOSel menu - enter the password to enable the HDD side and or ISO selection. When power is removed from it (i.e. unplugged) or the computer does not access it for say 30 minutes, access will be prevented again. As Windows would poll it every few seconds it would be unlocked unless unpowered or the computer went into Standby (many USB ports are still powered in Standby mode or even still powered when 'off' on many notebooks - but of course the port would not be polled).

The password could be held in an encrypted file on the memory card and could be set or cleared either by the ISOSel menu or Windows s/w (set/clear once unlocked).

This would make a very secure pen drive. You could even encrypt the data before storing it so that if someone removed the SD card they could not easily view the contents.

#17 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:26 PM

I would seriously consider producing a flash drive with a slot for the SD memory card and not including the SD memory card with the device.
...

I agree with all your points, those are the reasons I'm going removable in retail.
Non-removable was chosen for the first batch due to cost -- the mold for an enclosure like that costs many thousands of US dollars. Because of that an existing enclosure was chosen, to be slightly (CNC) modified to accommodate the read-only switch.
Now that I know the project has legs I can justify the investment for a custom enclosure.

(if you CNC the slot for the WP switch, why not mill off the end too!)

Unfortunately the end of this enclosure is a support structure that can't be cut, and the microSD sockets are too wide to fit sticking out the side.
The next larger enclosure size is quite a lot larger and lacks the keychain loop. I'm not sure about most people, but I love having something like this on my keychain.

(P.S. In Europe ALL products have a 6 month warranty and up to 6 years if it can be proven to have a manufacturing defect - there is no such thing as a 30-day warranty)

Interesting, I was not aware of that!

#18 steve6375

steve6375

    Platinum Member

  • Developer
  • 6629 posts
  • Location:UK
  • Interests:computers, programming (masm,vb6,C,vbs), photography,TV,films,guitars
  •  
    United Kingdom

Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:34 PM

I like a loop too. How about a plastic end clip that keeps the two halves together during use, but can be unclipped so the case can be taken apart? Or a single central screw?

#19 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:00 PM

:idea: If you have the ISOSel feature, could you add a password feature too? i.e. boot from it as a CD to ISOSel menu - enter the password to enable the HDD side and or ISO selection.

The CPU I'm using is available with an AES module that can do encryption/decryption at >20MB/s, and has some very nice countermeasures against things like differential power analysis and timing attacks. It has some annoying export restrictions, though... I need to learn more about what the export restrictions mean to me as a manufacturer -- if anyone is familiar with this I'd love to hear about it :dubbio:
I love the idea, but I feel like it's a bit outside the scope of the product right now. However, I won't rule out a future version of isostick using the AES-equipped CPU and very strong crypto. I'd be sure to publish all the relevant code, as thorough peer review is essential to good crypto implementation.

I like a loop too. How about a plastic end clip that keeps the two halves together during use, but can be unclipped so the case can be taken apart? Or a single central screw?

Not a bad idea, but it would still require custom plastics. I figure, if I'm going the custom route anyhow, I can just bump the side out a few millimeters in the middle to make room for the microSD socket but keep the design similar otherwise. My guess is that would offer the lowest cost, as the changes to their design are minimal. We shall see, hopefully they will work with me on this..
:idea: Perhaps an enclosure design contest if the current manufacturer isn't willing to work with me on the new mold design!

#20 sambul61

sambul61

    Gold Member

  • Advanced user
  • 1568 posts
  •  
    American Samoa

Posted 21 September 2011 - 12:29 AM

Why would someone want to have six small drives in one Stick instead of one or two? Could you give some application examples?

The idea of having an extra port on the Stick would make it more flexible for sure. However adding support for several USB drives being connected to a PC through the Stick is rather impractical.

Is seems to me, you're OFF with pricing and warranty so far - look at Ebay for 8Gb stick prices. :) Would a mass consumer be so motivated to pay $75 for this - NO. In your view, what would they use it for on a daily basis? Correct - to save files on-the-go. Install Windows - once in 3 years. Service own PC: ask an average Stick owner - can they do that? And if someone is capable enough - wouldn't they prefer to use Steve's app to prep a regular Stick boot ISOs in a few minutes with G4D?

If no law specifies a minimal warranty period in a particular US State, local Small Claims Courts and Consumer Services Ministries would usually go with a usual term for a product like this, which is One Year warranty. In some states courts allow 1.5 times of the loss in such cases, so you can indeed go broke by denying usual warranty.

Having said that, good luck with your endeavor. Just make sure it boots virtual drives though. :)


Steve

Why having a slot for SD Card on a USB stick, when the same slot is available on any laptop? If the app can extend its reach to an SD on the Stick, why it can't to a local HD or external drive & card hooked to the same PC? Speed wise flash devices are impractical for transferring or storing large files anyway.

#21 elegantinvention

elegantinvention

    Frequent Member

  • Developer
  • 310 posts
  • Location:South Bend, Indiana, USA
  •  
    United States

Posted 21 September 2011 - 01:10 AM

Why would someone want to have six small drives in one Stick instead of one or two? Could you give some application examples?

I have no idea why this would be useful either, but it's something I can enable without terribly much effort, so I figure why not :)

The idea of having an extra port on the Stick would make it more flexible for sure. However adding support for several USB drives being connected to a PC through the Stick is rather impractical.

What I meant by that was a completely separate product, it would be connected between a USB storage device (stick, hdd enclosure, ...) and a computer. USB storage devices use the Mass Storage standard, although some have a few bugs in terms of compliance with the specification, writing the driver stack for such a device isn't so impractical.
It would act as a pass-through between the computer and the storage device, "adding on" a read-only switch and a virtual (hdd or optical) drive(s), which would use image files on whatever is plugged into it. In other words, it adds isostick's functionality to any USB Mass Storage device.

Is seems to me, you're OFF with pricing and warranty so far - look at Ebay for 8Gb stick prices. :) I know, your Stick may sound having attractive features... but would a mass consumer be so motivated to pay $75 for this - NO. In your view, what would a mass consumer use this drive for?

The isostick is not targeted for mass consumption, it is for IT professionals, technicians, and generic geeks who don't want to waste time. Given the time it will save, I think the pricing is reasonable.
Regardless of that, however, I should point out that right now my margins are not nearly as high as most commercial products. Those 8GB sticks on ebay are cheap because they make hundreds of thousands or even millions of them, whereas isostick is very niche.

If no law specifies a minimal warranty period in a particular US State, local Small Claims Courts and Consumer Services Ministries would usually go with a usual term for a product like this, which is One Year warranty. In some states courts allow 1.5 times of the loss in such cases, so you can indeed go broke by denying normal warranty. :)

I will of course consult with a lawyer to find out ultimately what my responsibilities are here. The 30-day warranty I am offering is effectively a manufacturer's warranty, and I'm not sure how that is handled around the globe, but I would of course obey whatever laws I'm required to.

Having said that, good luck with your endeavor. Just make sure it boots virtual drives though. :)

Thanks, and I will :)

Why having a slot for SD Card on a USB stick, when the same slot is available on any laptop? If the app can extend its reach to an SD on the Stick, why it can't to a local HD or external drive & card hooked to the same PC? Speed wise flash devices are impractical for transferring or storing large files anyway.

Ah, I think you're missing something here -- there is no app, per se. The work is actually done in the hardware itself, and is only able to do that because it's between the computer and the place you're keeping your ISOs. It is similar to how U3 drives can use CDFS partitions, but instead of a CDFS partition, isostick uses any ISO file you store on its flash drive.
As far as the computer can tell, isostick is, in hardware, a real optical drive.

#22 TheHive

TheHive

    Platinum Member

  • .script developer
  • 4138 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:49 AM

Mock Up of what Im thinking isoStick Usb Stick interface should be be like. It is an interface device with no Storage media Included. As steve6375 stated. The user uses his own Media because the user might be able to get a cheaper Media or already have it in hand. As he stated, media prices are always changing and you dont want to buy a couple of thousand SD cards to find later in the month they have gone down in price ten fold. The cheaper the IsoStick Price the better for you're end sale and the users pocket.

There is space for the light also.
Attached File  IsoStick.jpg   87.03KB   50 downloads


Another place you might sell this at is http://www.thinkgeek.com/.
Or Amazon.

#23 steve6375

steve6375

    Platinum Member

  • Developer
  • 6629 posts
  • Location:UK
  • Interests:computers, programming (masm,vb6,C,vbs), photography,TV,films,guitars
  •  
    United Kingdom

Posted 21 September 2011 - 06:52 AM

There already exists many SD card readers in the form of a wide USB pen. If you made a PCB to fit this and had a hole in the side for the switch you have your case. Just search on Google Images for 'sd card reader usb adapter'.

#24 MedEvil

MedEvil

    Platinum Member

  • .script developer
  • 7771 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:40 AM

What I meant by that was a completely separate product, it would be connected between a USB storage device (stick, hdd enclosure, ...) and a computer. USB storage devices use the Mass Storage standard, although some have a few bugs in terms of compliance with the specification, writing the driver stack for such a device isn't so impractical.

This sounds like a way better product than the ISO-Stick.
- It can be smaller.
- Wrtite protection for any USB-Device. (This allone would be worth a purchase for most technicians.)
- The casing can be a lot simpler. So it's easier and cheaper for you to produce.
- No speed issue, because of the slow SD-Cards.
- SD Cards can still be used. It just requires a SD to USB adapter, which can be had for about 2 bugs.
:cheers:

#25 MedEvil

MedEvil

    Platinum Member

  • .script developer
  • 7771 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:52 AM

@Hive
Even though it is always tempting, to have a all in one device. In this case it would make the stick rather cumbersome. Plus a good stick, does not block the neighboring USB ports!

Put the slot for the microSd card in the back of the stick. Eighter with a snap close cap, to prevent loss or open with a push release Sd-Card socket. (I prefer the later.)

I would put the hole to attach the stick to a keychain on a swivel. This also avoids hassle with the cap.

:cheers:




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users