Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Postby Thermalwrong » 2018-7-11 @ 21:37

I've been after an LS-120 superdrive for a while, because my old retro PC (circa 2002) had one and I sold it off again after that PC broke - and because I really enjoy how quickly they read floppy disks.

These things are ELUSIVE now, especially in a functional state. I managed to get hold of a broken 3.5" LS-120 drive and had no luck getting that going but kept an eye out. Eventually I spotted what I thought was one Panasonic CF-VFS712 superdrive module for a toughbook, and that turned out to be five superdrive modules - but alas I have no toughbook that would fit this, so I tried dismantling them.

These modules are pretty good if I can get them working because they contain an LKM-FC33-5 drive, which is one of the last superdrives ever made (because they were pretty useless when they were made in mid 2001). It has a laptop optical style 50 pin connector, so I thought it would just work if I plugged it into that :)
IMG_20180711_215454.jpg
The LKM-FC33-5 SuperDrive

I tried one of the drives in a laptop optical drive USB caddy, which resulted in the USB port shorting instantly so went back to the drawing board - and spotted this post here:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... Pe0mb_Ao7c

The pinout of the drive is completely different from a regular laptop optical drive, but the caddy contained an interposer board to connect the CD-ROM / LS-120 to the weird toughbook multibay module pinout (which has 160 pins). Conveniently, the CD-ROM traces link to the LS-120 traces
IMG_20180711_215347 (Large).jpg
The interposer board, which has the connector soldered on to the LS-120 side. The 50-pin flat connector goes to the modular connector


Initially, I thought I could solder wires onto the CD-ROM connector part, or a regular optical drive connector, but there's no such thing (or need for) a 50 pin ide connector gender changer :D
Just fitting a connector on there results in the connector being upside-down, with pins 1 to 49 going where pins 2 to 50 go.
Soldering that was Much Too Hard and now I have a practically ruined USB > IDE laptop drive board with a few of the pads burned off...

So instead, I checked out what each pin corresponds to on either one, using the table here:
http://old.pinouts.ru/HD/cdrom_40to50_pinout.shtml

And here's the result, now I feel stupid, since it's just a regular IDE connector but tiny. Of course there is no such connector / adapter that's available to just connect it up, so now I want to try out soldering up some wires so I can actually use the drives:
LKM-FC33 pinout.png
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Re: Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Postby feipoa » 2018-7-11 @ 22:24

Are you wiahing to use these in a desktop PC? If so, why not just buy a standard LS-120 drive? Cost?
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Re: Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Postby Thermalwrong » 2018-7-11 @ 23:49

I just want to make use of them and I enjoy figuring this stuff out :)

Also from what I've read, the later model drives (1999 to 2001) work a lot better than the early model ones, which read far slower. I don't think the newer drives are so easy to get, though I could get a newer model 3.5" drive from the states for about double what I paid for these 5 drives (yes it is a little bit about cost).
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Re: Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Postby CaelThunderwing » 2018-7-11 @ 23:59

the bonus the later models had than earlier ones (before you get into the LS240's) is a more stable head and faster reads. i got a USB Version (ones ment for a Mac) and it does read slower than one should expect, (faster than a Parallel Port edition, but slower than one connected over IDE (which you can negate by passing the IDE2USB converter in the casing and connect the drive itself over IDE)
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Re: Slimline LS120 SuperDrive Floppy drive

Postby feipoa » 2018-7-12 @ 08:28

Interesting. I had looked into getting one of these a few years back and decided the cost wasn't worth it. I have a bin of about 3 dozen 3.5" floppy drives, so if one dies, I'm set for life. The idea of faster floppy access is very appealing though, as I do not use floppy emulators anywhere.
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