SD card reader as cheap 50G accessory


This is probably old news to many users, but I suspect that others may not be aware that an SD card reader is an inexpensive and convenient accessory for the HP-50G (presumably the 49G+ as well).

The 50G comes with a USB cable and Conn4x software. So that’s what I’ve been using to connect my 50G to my home PC. But more recently, I wanted a similar setup for my work PC.

My first thought was to buy a second USB cable and install Conn4x at work, just like at home. But I happened to see an SD card reader for $9.76 at the local Wal-Mart, and decided to try that instead. It was in the digital camera section, by the SD cards. It looks similar to this one, though mine doesn’t have a cap to cover the card.

I have a 16M SD card for my 50G, which originally came with a Canon digital camera. A 16M card is ridiculously undersized for a camera, so I bought a 1G card for the camera instead. The 16M card was donated to the calculator, where it is plenty big.

The card reader is a little plastic device with a USB connector on one end and an SD card slot at the other. I can pop the SD card out of the calc and into the reader, then plug the reader into the USB port of a PC. Any reasonably modern PC seems to recognize and mount the card automatically (sometimes it takes a little longer the first time, but it goes quickly after that).

With the card reader, I can easily move files between the 50G and any of the desktops or laptops at work or home, without untangling cables or installing software. To install a library, for example, you just copy it from the PC to the card via the card reader, put the card back in the calculator, use the filer to copy the library to Port 2, and press On-C to reboot.

It’s a pretty handy accessory for 10 bucks.

Edited: 30 Aug 2007, 2:23 p.m.


Yup. The only reason to use the cable is if you need to take screenshots. Other than that, it is much quicker and easier to just use and SD card.



Another option (a better option, IMHO) is the SanDisk Ultra II PLUS SD cards. Note, this is NOT the Ultra II devices -- the "PLUS" is significant. Basically, they took a standard SD card and embedded a full USB connector in the same package. It's a marvel of engineering, once you look at one...

When you want to use it with your HP-50g, just shove it in. When you need to put data on it, take it out, snap it in half (a little hinge in the middle allows this) and insert it directly into your USB port. Transfer the data, snap it back together and insert into your calc.

This card has pretty much revolutionized the market for transfer among SD devices and USB. The best part is that it's only a few bucks more than a traditional SD card. Well worth the money.



OK, now that is just too cool. And the 512M version is going for only $12.44 (plus shipping) at amazon. That may well be the best way to go.


I have a friend who has one of these. She has trouble getting good contact with the USB in her computer. W/o the alignment part of the USB connector, it's a little difficult to line it up properly. I haven't actually tried it myself; and honestly, while she's good at code stuff, she's not the most brilliant person otherwise. It may work well if you're able to tie your shoes.

Here's a link to a competitor - Click.


OK, since I was totally outgeeked with my card reader suggestion, I stopped by a local Circuit City store to see the SanDisk cards. Sure enough, they had the 512M version for $18, so I got one.

It seems to work as advertised. In SD card mode, the 50G has no trouble with it. And if you fold it in half, you can stick it directly into a PC's USB port, no reader required.

The first time I used the card in my home PC, it took a minute or two for the PC to figure out what it was. But now the PC recognizes the card immediately.

So I have adopted this option, and would recommend it to others, with a few possible caveats:

- The "folded" card might not "plug in" to a computer with recessed USB ports (in this case, you would need a separate USB cable as an "extension cord")

- It's a bit tricky to "unfold" the card, and it might be more difficult if you were clumsy or had large fingers

- You have to watch whether the "folded" card is plugged in upside down (this is not possible with a standard USB connection).


A slightly different answer is the thumb drive sized SD card reader. It's basically a wide USB thumb drive shaped SD card reader that you can plug in an SD memory card. On my 50G, that's how I move files back and forth to and from my PC or Mac. Very convenient.



Hi Norris ;-)

Yeah, I was a bit hesitant about being "rough" with my card too for a while, but then one evening, in the near dark, I was trying to snap it open and was really really "folding" it hard until I realized that it was upside down. Turns out the card itself didn't even blink. I think they put some kryptonite in it or something. ;-)

Since then, I've been pretty nonchalant with it and it's never even shown signs of wear or stress. That's not to say I recommend throwing it around and being mean to it, but it seems to handle almost daily abuse with no problem. I've had my 2GB card now for over a year and no problems with it whatsoever. It just SEEMS like it should be fragile, since it's so stinking small, but it is strong too.

As for shoving it in a USB jack (and as someone else pointed out), yeah, it may take a second longer to align it properly. Fortunately, there's nothing to short out on the underside, and I just look for the little green light. If it's on, it's inserted fine. If it's off, I either re-insert it or flip it over. I haven't experienced any tight USB jacks, but I suppose there are some that might be that way.

It's a very cool device though. Definitely gets the "wow" factor when people see it. ;-)



<< I just look for the little green light >>

Mine also has a tiny light, but it's blue. Maybe the 512 MB card has a different light than the 2 GB card.

And what do you put in a 512 MB card anyway ?? My HP-48GX has an old-school 512 KB card in Slot 2, and I actually did put a serious dent in that.

But 512 MB ?? Or 2 GB ??

Edited: 31 Aug 2007, 6:54 p.m.


I should have clarified, sorry.

I use my 2GB card for my Treo. On that, I keep backups of the Treo, games, e-books, music and more.

On the HP-50g, I use a 512MB like you. I have a ton of programs, mostly around statistics, plus about 15-20 utilities (backup programs, splitters, editors, database programs, etc) and a pretty big collection of games. I also keep a copy of each of the programs I have on the calc in its zipped form, in case a buddy says "hey, I want that one!". I can just pop the card out, transfer the zip file over and then they have it.

Still, it's not even half full. Maybe someday there'll be a music player for the HP-50g. ;-)



I have an even more compact SD card reader on my site ( for $5. Nobody's bought one yet (everyone around here seems to prefer Samson Cables for some reason) so I haven't had to decide on a shipping price, though.

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