VOGONS


First post, by Ozzuneoj

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Okay, there are a lot of these on eBay now:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-44MB-3-5-floppy-dr … UcAAOSwaMtcneZ-

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=usb+to+3 … ecall_filtering

Has anyone bought one? How is it? Does it work with 1.44MB and 720K disks? How about 5.25" drives?

I assume that powering the drive through USB is less than ideal, so I would be okay using a different method of powering it, but I want to be sure these work at all first.

I've seen several discussions about these adapters but hardly anyone has given any input on how well they work and what they're capable of.

My Lacie USB floppy can read and write both 720 and 1.44 disks but it has become very unreliable very quickly. It is starting to cost me a lot of time while working with older systems. I'm about ready to just cram a couple of adapters into my main system so I can actually have real drives built right in.

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 2 of 20, by Vynix

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These do not work with 720K floppies at all, and worse if you try to format a 720K floppy with one of these, it'll look like it's doing something to the drive but in fact it will simply fail to format:

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In fact, VWestlife has reviewed one of these (albeit the one he reviewed looks different and earlier than these): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8qk1WCbvag

Proud owner of a Shuttle HOT-555A 430VX motherboard and two wonderful retro laptops, namely a Compaq Armada 1700 [nonfunctional] and a HP Omnibook XE3-GC [fully working :p]

Reply 3 of 20, by dogchainx

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I bought a dozen Dell FDDM-101 drives (laptop floppy drives, but have mini-USB port on the backside as well) that can read and write (OS depending) 720K and 1.44MB.

On ebay they are cheap...$7-10 shipped.

386DX-40MHz-8MB-540MB+428MB+Speedstar64@2MB+SoundBlaster Pro+MT-32/MKII
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Reply 4 of 20, by Ozzuneoj

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Thanks guys. I'll probably try to pick up some of those Dell drives.

Any thoughts on reliability? I was surprised by how fast my Lacie USB drive crapped out on me once I started testing older disks. I even have tried a floppy head cleaning disk and it doesn't seem to make any difference. It seems to write corrupt data frequently. If the Dell drives are a bit more durable, they seem like a good buy.

It seems that new FDDM-101 drives are 3x the price of used ones. Still, I don't think most people have even used a floppy drive in the past 15 years, even on a business oriented laptop like a Latitude, so it's possible that a "used" drive has never even read any disks.

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 5 of 20, by dogchainx

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Just make sure its that model number as there are other drive models that look just like it. Also there have been some reports that even that drive model didn't work to write 720k....however, all of mine have done just fine with 720k disks, read and write.

And agreed......hardly ANYONE used that floppy drive in the latitudes. If it were an old Pentium 233Mhz laptop, maybe. But a Pentium M latitude? Nah...good bet that floppy drive is "almost" virgin with probably only a handful of disk insertions.

386DX-40MHz-8MB-540MB+428MB+Speedstar64@2MB+SoundBlaster Pro+MT-32/MKII
486DX2-66Mhz-16MB-4.3GB+SpeedStar64 VLB DRAM 2MB+AWE32/SB16+SCB-55
MY BLOG RETRO PC BLOG: https://bitbyted.wordpress.com/

Reply 6 of 20, by cyclone3d

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I have a stack of those Dell floppy drives. Saving them for if my other USB drive dies. I salvaged them years ago from the place I still work when we recycled a bunch of old dead laptops. I even have a few that are still new in the sealed plastic bags.

The one I have been using for quite a few years is a 2x speed drive.

This is the exact one I have. Works with Windows 98 up through Windows 10. I wouldn't be surprised if it worked with 95 as well.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Smartdisk-High-Speed … sk/223467490839

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Reply 7 of 20, by Deunan

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Does it work with 3.5" floppies formatted to 1.2MB? Also known as 3-mode, older Japanese systems used this format. The problem is different rotation speed (360rpm vs 300rpm). Most "western" FDD don't support it even in native mode, much less over USB.
Currently I'm using IBM FD-05PUB and it does support all modes but I'm worried it might die someday and so I'm looking for a backup. Technically it's a TEAC but either is hard to come by (and with IBM branded ones the 3-mode support is only up to certain manufacturing date!).

Reply 8 of 20, by canthearu

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I have an old IBM 3.5 inch USB floppy drive that I got with a retro pickup.

Works great with windows 10. Just don't put things on top of it or shake it while it operates, as it can scratch disks and ruin them.

Reply 9 of 20, by cyclone3d

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Deunan wrote:

Does it work with 3.5" floppies formatted to 1.2MB? Also known as 3-mode, older Japanese systems used this format. The problem is different rotation speed (360rpm vs 300rpm). Most "western" FDD don't support it even in native mode, much less over USB.
Currently I'm using IBM FD-05PUB and it does support all modes but I'm worried it might die someday and so I'm looking for a backup. Technically it's a TEAC but either is hard to come by (and with IBM branded ones the 3-mode support is only up to certain manufacturing date!).

I'm testing in Windows 10 command prompt so that may be part of it but I am not sure. Anybody know for sure?

Neither of the Dell models I have that support USB (FDDM-101 [7T77761-A01] and MPF82E [6Y185-A02]) and the Smartdisk 2x USB drive all return an error saying "Parameters not supported by drive". Same thing happens though if I try to format 720k without covering the hole that tells the drive that it is 1.44MB.

I could try in 98SE to see what happens.

I do have a couple Sony Vaio USB floppy drives, one of which is definitely supposed to support 3-mode. Neither of them work with the USB 3.0 ports but they do work with the USB 2.0 ports.
However, I am getting the same "Parameters not supported by drive" error so I am guessing that Windows 10 simply will not work to format a 3.5" disk to 1.2MB.

See here for a list of supposedly supported 3 mode drives:
https://gamesx.com/wiki/doku.php?id=x68000:wr … ng_3.5_floppies

Going to go ahead and fire up a machine with 98SE and see what that gets me. Does 3-mode have to be enabled in BIOS even if the drive is USB? I wouldn't think so since that should only apply to drives connected to the floppy controller.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 10 of 20, by Ozzuneoj

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cyclone3d wrote:
I'm testing in Windows 10 command prompt so that may be part of it but I am not sure. Anybody know for sure? […]
Show full quote
Deunan wrote:

Does it work with 3.5" floppies formatted to 1.2MB? Also known as 3-mode, older Japanese systems used this format. The problem is different rotation speed (360rpm vs 300rpm). Most "western" FDD don't support it even in native mode, much less over USB.
Currently I'm using IBM FD-05PUB and it does support all modes but I'm worried it might die someday and so I'm looking for a backup. Technically it's a TEAC but either is hard to come by (and with IBM branded ones the 3-mode support is only up to certain manufacturing date!).

I'm testing in Windows 10 command prompt so that may be part of it but I am not sure. Anybody know for sure?

Neither of the Dell models I have that support USB (FDDM-101 [7T77761-A01] and MPF82E [6Y185-A02]) and the Smartdisk 2x USB drive all return an error saying "Parameters not supported by drive". Same thing happens though if I try to format 720k without covering the hole that tells the drive that it is 1.44MB.

I could try in 98SE to see what happens.

I do have a couple Sony Vaio USB floppy drives, one of which is definitely supposed to support 3-mode. Neither of them work with the USB 3.0 ports but they do work with the USB 2.0 ports.
However, I am getting the same "Parameters not supported by drive" error so I am guessing that Windows 10 simply will not work to format a 3.5" disk to 1.2MB.

See here for a list of supposedly supported 3 mode drives:
https://gamesx.com/wiki/doku.php?id=x68000:wr … ng_3.5_floppies

Going to go ahead and fire up a machine with 98SE and see what that gets me. Does 3-mode have to be enabled in BIOS even if the drive is USB? I wouldn't think so since that should only apply to drives connected to the floppy controller.

Can you use DOSBox and a DOS utility that supports 1.2MB formatting?

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 11 of 20, by dogchainx

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Btw, if you have VMware, you can pass that USB floppy to an install of VM Windows XP to allow it to read/write 720K. That's what I do all the time when I'm on my Win10 machine. And I think I had to do that with Windows 7.....can't remember.

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486DX2-66Mhz-16MB-4.3GB+SpeedStar64 VLB DRAM 2MB+AWE32/SB16+SCB-55
MY BLOG RETRO PC BLOG: https://bitbyted.wordpress.com/

Reply 12 of 20, by cyclone3d

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Ok... so fired up a laptop with 98SE on it and tested all my different USB drives:

To get to 1.2MB on all drives, I used this command:
format a: /t:80 /n:15

Here are the ones that seem to fully support 3-mode (with the same caveats if you want to format back to 1.44MB)
caveat - to go back to 1.44MB, you must cover the 1.44MB hole and do a format a: /f:720 and then when that is done, uncover the hole and then do a regular format.

Sony PCGA-UFD1
Sony PCGA-UFD5
SmartDisk FDUSB-TM2
Dell FDDM-101 (7T761-A01)

Edit:
Remembered I had another dedicated USB Dell drive so tested it as well. This one seems to have the best support as I didn't have to first format to 720k before going back to 1.44MB from 1.2MB.
Dell UF0002 (134-508086-118-0)

Other markings on the drive:
E-H012-03-5111(B)
NEC Corporation
NEC THK LTD
PH-0UT832-17601-86R-E0LY (The 0 are Zeros)

One other thing I noticed is that after formatting to 1.2MB, 98SE thinks it is a 5.25" disk. This is on any drive after formatting to 1.2MB.

End Edit

The other Dell drive was unable to get me back to 1.44MB although it did let me format to 1.2MB.
When trying to go back to 1.44MB, it instead detected the drive as a 120.37MB disk. It would also not let me format to 720k when covering the hole. It said the disk was unusable.
Putting the disk back in one of the other drives let me format it back to 720k and then to 1.44MB.

Dell MPF82E (6Y185-A02)

Last edited by cyclone3d on 2019-04-28, 03:24. Edited 3 times in total.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 13 of 20, by Ozzuneoj

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Sounds like the FDDM-101 is quite flexible for how cheap it is. I just grabbed 4 for $19.99. I just need to supply a mini-USB cable. Hopefully these end up being more reliable than the Lacie drive I have (which was supposed to be great). At this price though, I can pretty much use them for anything without worrying about wearing them out. 😀

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 14 of 20, by cyclone3d

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Ozzuneoj wrote:

Sounds like the FDDM-101 is quite flexible for how cheap it is. I just grabbed 4 for $19.99. I just need to supply a mini-USB cable. Hopefully these end up being more reliable than the Lacie drive I have (which was supposed to be great). At this price though, I can pretty much use them for anything without worrying about wearing them out. 😀

Sweet! That's a pretty good price.

See above as I did test one other drive that seems to have even better support when going back to 1.44MB from 1.2MB.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 15 of 20, by Ozzuneoj

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cyclone3d wrote:
Ozzuneoj wrote:

Sounds like the FDDM-101 is quite flexible for how cheap it is. I just grabbed 4 for $19.99. I just need to supply a mini-USB cable. Hopefully these end up being more reliable than the Lacie drive I have (which was supposed to be great). At this price though, I can pretty much use them for anything without worrying about wearing them out. 😀

Sweet! That's a pretty good price.

See above as I did test one other drive that seems to have even better support when going back to 1.44MB from 1.2MB.

I should be okay with these ones. I've never even seen a Japanese computer in person, let alone one that needs a 1.2MB disk, so I will likely never run into that limitation. 😀

Thank you for doing this research though. This simple thread has gathered quite a bit of useful information about these things. 😀

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 17 of 20, by cyclone3d

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jmarsh wrote:
cyclone3d wrote:

When trying to go back to 1.44MB, it instead detected the drive as a 120.37MB disk

Sounds like it was misidentified as a superdisk (LS-120) somehow.

Yeah.. maybe. I let it run all the way through the format when it did it. Came up with mostly "bad sectors" but with about 920k of usable space. Was really strange.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 18 of 20, by Deunan

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cyclone3d wrote:

Ok... so fired up a laptop with 98SE on it and tested all my different USB drives:

To get to 1.2MB on all drives, I used this command:
format a: /t:80 /n:15

Ha, that's a standard PC 1.2MB format. For a 3-mode you have to do:

format a: /a:1024 /t:77 /n:8 /u
format a: /fs:fat /v: /a:1024 /t:77 /n:8 /y (if the above doesn't work)

Windows 10, and I belive any x64 Windows actually, has most of the floppy stuff removed. Funny thing I wanted to address this in my previous post but figured you probably know by now. Anyway, I was unable to format any floppies in my IBM on Win10 but it worked fine on WinXP. Sometimes I had to try a few times, especially if the floppy was a 1.44MB formatted before but usually it worked on the 2nd try at worst. Win10 also has a slight issue reading the floppy contents when you mix formats (that is, put in 1.2MB floppy, then 1.44, then 1.2 again, and so on) - it will usually spin the floppy a few times, pause each time, and only after 5th spin or so will actually list the files and start working properly. Not a huge deal but don't give up until you get an actual read error. This could be specific to this particular drive model though, I've never seen anyone complain about this behaviour.

But once you have at least one floppy in the correct format, you can image it using DiskImage 1.3b and then transfer that image to another floppy, even it was a 1.44MB format before. And it'll basicaly "format" that floppy to 3-mode. So I use this method now, and obviously I can as easily just use an actual FM Towns machine for formatting as well.
Also, you can tell which format the floppy is by the sound the drive motor makes. Yes, you can hear the difference between 300 and 360 rpm.

Reply 19 of 20, by cyclone3d

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Ok, I'll retest my drives with those format commands.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header