External CF Drive

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The External CF Drive v2.0 from August 2017

The External CF Drive v2.0 is an external CF card reader solution designed for use on the Apple II MicroDrive controller. The External CF Drive however is standard IDE so it can also be used on other controllers or platforms.

The project was conceived, created, and designed by Henry of ReActiveMicro and released for sale to the Apple II Community in early 2006.

Since the development of CF card mass storage solutions like the MicroDrive, Focus Drive, and CFFA, users have needed to open their Apple II systems in order to access the CF card. For most users this can be an inconvenience as many system setups have drives and monitors stacked upon them. Disconnection of peripherals and cables may also be required, adding to the time required. CF card access is required when the user wishes to backup or transfer files between the Apple II and PC/Mac.

Product Status: v2.0 completed and released as of August 5th, 2017.

Support: Post on the Discussion page (link above) or email ReActiveMicro Support.

Sales: Visit the ReActiveMicro Store.


The External CF Drive project was released for sale to the Apple II community in early 2006. As the name implies, the External CF Drive was designed to operate externally from the Apple II platform. It's essentially a CF card reader on a 3.5" floppy drive mounting face plate on a long IDE cable within an external 3.5" floppy drive enclosure.

The External CF Drive was also produced for a short time in 2008 in an aluminum enclosure. Due to other business projects, slow sales, powered external floppy enclosures becoming harder to find, and the amount of labor needed to construct an External CF Drive, sales were suspended at the end of 2008 until a better solution could be found.

In late March 2017 the project was reopened and development started once again. A lot had changed since the last time the External CF Drive was offered for sale. Custom enclosures were now possible which allowed for a much better solution at a lower cost. v2 of the External CF Drive was released for sale on August 5th, 2017 in two painted colors to best match the II plus, IIe, and IIGS. The v2.0 case design is an homage to the classic DuoDisk Drive.


Example Of External CF Drive From 2006 In Use
External CF Drive v2.0 Inside A IIgs Conserver

The External CF Drive allows for a more user friendly experience when using a CF card on the Apple II platform.

  • No longer do you need to open your Apple II in order to remove your CF card for adding files, backing up, or exchanging for another CF card.
  • The External CF Drive is an external CF card reader solution designed for use on the Apple IIe or IIgs MicroDrive or MicroDrive/Turbo controller.
  • The External CF Drive is standard 40 Pin IDE so it can also be used on other controllers or platforms.
  • We offer a 44 Pin Adapter to allow the External CF Drive to be used on the Focus Drive.
  • As the name implies, the External CF Drive allows for simple and easy access of your CF card externally.
  • Comes standard with a custom 2.5 foot / 75cm long flat IDE cable. However other length cables can be installed if desired.
  • Extremely simple, quick, one time installation procedure (see below). Removal is just as simple.
  • There are no differences or performance decreases compared to a "standard" IDE CF card adapter used inside an Apple II case.
  • Offered painted in two color options to best match the II+, IIe, and IIgs. Older II+ and IIe systems are very close to Pantone 453 (HEX #D5D5B4, RAL 1013, Rustoleum #7758 Almond Satin). Platinum IIe / IIg are very close to Pantone 5315 C (HEX #E1E2E2), RAL 9003, Montana Gold Acrylic #G7010 Marble).

Installation Instructions

Installing the External CF Drive v2.0 is safe, simple, and fast if you follow these instructions.

NOTE: The CF card is usually inserted into the External CF Drive v2.0 with the brand label facing down. DO NOT FORCE the CF card into place or damage may occur. It should slide gently into place, and only light pressure needed to seat and mate the CF card into place as with any CF card reader.

  1. Open your Apple II system and remove your MicroDrive/Turbo controller (or other IDE controller card).
    • Once the Apple II case is open be sure to promptly touch your metal Power Supply case to discharge any static on your person.
    • Best practice is to use a grounded wrist strap for ESD control, or constant contact / repeated touching of the Power Supply case every few moments.
    • Always work on a grounded ESD mat when handling electronics.

      1. Remove the CF card from the IDE to CF adapter. Then remove the IDE to CF adapter from the MicroDrive/Turbo controller.

      1. Connect the External CF Drive's IDE cable to the MicroDrive/Turbo controller.
        • Note to align the "key" on the cable connector to the connector on the MicroDrive/Turbo controller.

      1. Reinstall MicroDrive/Turbo controller and close Apple II case. Place the External CF Drive in a convenient location next to your Apple. Done!
        • The IDE cable can most simply be laid on the rear edge of the Apple II case and the lid closed on it. Laying the cable on the case edge does not cause damage but care should always be taken when opening or closing your Apple II.
        • The cable can also be run through a back panel port if desired, however this can lead to the cable being cut if extreme care is not taken.