It is very probable that the problem is with the PCMCIA/CF adapter. I went through a few just to find one to update to 5.3 without getting strange error messages. The one I finally had success with was branded 'MediaGear,' but I do not recall the non-functioning brands.
thanks for the advice. I happened to update my H-8000FW using this very adaptor. Weird. I am getting a new adaptor.