Sandisk CF Cards and formatting in FAT16

To perform the software upgrade of a C-Series, E-Series or A65 display unit, you must have a SanDisk brand Standard Grade CompactFlash® (CF) memory card, and a CompactFlash read/write device to transfer data to it from your computer.

The CompactFlash memory card does not need to be a large capacity card. Any 32 MB or larger card will work fine for software upgrade purposes.

CompactFlash (CF) memory cards having storage capacity greater than 64 MB are typically formatted using the FAT32 file system. If you will be using a large capacity CF memory card (i.e. greater than 64 MB) with a C-Series display, it will be necessary to reformat the CF memory card using the FAT16 format.

E-Series displays are compatible with both FAT32 and FAT16 formatted CF memory cards. But C-Series are NOT.

When choosing a CompactFlash memory card, Raymarine recommends using SanDisk brand flash cards. While other brands may work in the C-Series or E-Series display, they were designed using SanDisk brand cards.


My CF card is not recognized by my C-Series display when trying to work with waypoint archives or software updates. How can I correct the problem?

Answer :

Generic CompactFlash (CF)memory cards can be used to archive waypoint and route data, and also to update the software in the C-Series Multifunction displays. In some instances, certain CF cards my not be readable by the C-Series display. This will result in a message like “retrieve failed” or “save failed” being displayed by the C70, C80, or C120. In the case of a software upgrade, suspect cards will not be recognized by the display and ignored during the boot sequence.

The cause of this problem is the type of formatting applied to the CF Card. Default formatting varies by manufacturer, card size, or whether the CF Card was previously used in a camera or other recording device.

It is possible to change the format of a CF card using a computer with a CompactFlash reader/writer.

CAUTION: Under no circumstances should you attempt to reformat a Navionics CompactFlash Chart Cartridge. Doing so will ERASE the map data from the card. If you are having trouble reading a Navionics CF Map Card, please contact Raymarine Technical Support or Navionics.

In reformatting the CF card, it should be formatted to FAT16 format. To do so, perform the following:

Insert the CF card into the PC’s reader/writer
Open a command tool (Start->Run->cmd)
Type the following the prompt in the command tool:

Format [drive letter:] /fs:FAT
Note: [drive letter:] in the above Format command should be replaced with the drive letter that your PC has assigned to the CF card.

Note: Some people recommend increasing the file allocation table block size from the default 512k to 4096k…using this command…
Format [drive letter:] /fs:16/12 /a:4096
I am guessing that they have found that this speeds up data access on some of the older CF cards – I personally don’t think this is necessary using CF cards produced in the past year with one of the many “express” brands…

When prompted for a Volume Name, press the ENTER key on the keyboard.

When formatting is complete, close the command tool

Remove the CF card from the PC’s reader/writerp


3 thoughts on “Sandisk CF Cards and formatting in FAT16

  1. I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding , but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong 🙂

  2. This is the perfect answer for formatting CF cards to work with the Sharp portable-mini DVR’s. Thanks very much for hosting this tip

  3. Thanks so much for this post, I have been fighting with getting my GPS to work with the new large cards for several days, finally i was stuck in a marina and found your sight. You made my day!!!
    Tom and Carolynn of SV sunnysideup.

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