Using floppy drives on modern hardware

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Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Nprod » 2018-2-08 @ 14:02

So i've had the idea of installing a 3.5'' and 5.25'' floppy drive on my modern machine to make writing and backing up old floppies easier, but i'm having a hard time finding any PCI-e or USB boards that are capable of such a thing. Yeah there's Kryoflux but that's really for archival purposes and overly expensive. I've also seen boards like the FC5025 but those are read-only.

I've also had the idea of using the serial or parallel port with an external drive - new motherboards still have headers for those, and it has worked for hooking up a Commodore 1541 drive using a special cable. Perhaps it's more difficult to do with IBM type drives since the 1541 has the controller built into the unit? Has anyone had any success with this?
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Ampera » 2018-2-08 @ 14:25

I believe there exist some sorts of ISA slots that can be plugged into desktops (through USB or expansion).

Another idea is to just get an older computer with an onboard floppy controller and share the drives over SMB.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Deksor » 2018-2-08 @ 14:32

The work this guy did to read/write from/to amiga floppy disk with an arduino could be re-used for PC floppy disks ! https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/Ro ... -v2-239c97
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Tetrium » 2018-2-08 @ 14:54

Nprod wrote:So i've had the idea of installing a 3.5'' and 5.25'' floppy drive on my modern machine to make writing and backing up old floppies easier, but i'm having a hard time finding any PCI-e or USB boards that are capable of such a thing. Yeah there's Kryoflux but that's really for archival purposes and overly expensive. I've also seen boards like the FC5025 but those are read-only.

I've also had the idea of using the serial or parallel port with an external drive - new motherboards still have headers for those, and it has worked for hooking up a Commodore 1541 drive using a special cable. Perhaps it's more difficult to do with IBM type drives since the 1541 has the controller built into the unit? Has anyone had any success with this?

The thing that comes closest in my case is the use of one of those serial Backpack external floppy drives.
These were interesting to me as these were simply internal 3.5in floppy drives with an external casing. I did one test with switching the internal 1.44MB floppy drive with an internal 2.88MB floppy drive and the ED floppies could be read and written to, though I remember this being much slower!
In theory these would I think work with the 5.25in floppy drives, but this was one of those projects which ended up never happening.

The Backpack external drive is parallel and not serial though. But this is the best that I have experience with.
I ended up getting an AM3 board with onboard floppy connector instead of trying to chose an external route (I was using older systems for that purpose, so I didn't have a need. I still thought about it as I think it's an interesting subject), though I never ended up using it.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby shamino » 2018-2-08 @ 18:08

LS120 drives will hook up to an IDE port. I guess new motherboards probably don't have IDE, but many not that old ones do.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Deksor » 2018-2-08 @ 19:13

Can't read 5"1/4 floppy disks with that though
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby chinny22 » 2018-2-09 @ 15:03

for 3.5 I'd just use a USB Floppy, cheap and easy to find and use.
I cant think of a cheap and easy way for 5.25
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Scali » 2018-2-09 @ 15:16

chinny22 wrote:for 3.5 I'd just use a USB Floppy, cheap and easy to find and use.
I cant think of a cheap and easy way for 5.25


I wonder if those 3.5" USB drives could be modded.
The floppy drives seem to be standard 3.5" drives, so the USB part is probably just a USB-to-34-pin floppy controller thing.
Which would mean that in theory you could disconnect the 3.5" drive from the USB adapter, and plug a 5.25" on there instead.
There are probably people out there who already tried this.
This guy has a separate USB controller for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm4noM4TCsg
Which he got from here it seems: http://deviceside.com/fc5025.html
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Nprod » 2018-2-09 @ 15:36

My guess would be that those USB floppies are some special low-power implementations that can run off 5V so you can't just retrofit a 5.25'' drive in there. Still a very good solution for 3.5'' disks, maybe the best one. I did mention the FC5025 in my original post, the drawback with that one is that it's read-only.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby jarreboum » 2018-2-09 @ 15:38

chinny22 wrote:for 3.5 I'd just use a USB Floppy, cheap and easy to find and use.
I cant think of a cheap and easy way for 5.25


USB floppy drives are ok to read disks, but I've had a lot of problems copying files to them. I always end up with a few corrupted files when I go back to the retro system. The disks were good, I could read and write on the old computer, but something messes with the writing process in Windows 10. I've been told they are better at writing images (bypassing the file explorer) but having to make a disk image every tie you want to transfer a file from the internet to the non-connected computer will get old fast.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2018-2-09 @ 15:47

jarreboum wrote:
chinny22 wrote:for 3.5 I'd just use a USB Floppy, cheap and easy to find and use.
I cant think of a cheap and easy way for 5.25


USB floppy drives are ok to read disks, but I've had a lot of problems copying files to them. I always end up with a few corrupted files when I go back to the retro system. The disks were good, I could read and write on the old computer, but something messes with the writing process in Windows 10. I've been told they are better at writing images (bypassing the file explorer) but having to make a disk image every tie you want to transfer a file from the internet to the non-connected computer will get old fast.


I have the same experience. Also, I had some older floppies that would give problems reading in the USB drive, but worked okay in a classic drive. Maybe the smaller/lighter/thinner mechanics of the USB drives provide smaller tolerances? I ended up building a networked Windows 98 SE Pentium II with a 3.5" 1.44MB drive and a 5.25" 1.2MB drive.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Scali » 2018-2-09 @ 15:59

jarreboum wrote:USB floppy drives are ok to read disks, but I've had a lot of problems copying files to them. I always end up with a few corrupted files when I go back to the retro system. The disks were good, I could read and write on the old computer, but something messes with the writing process in Windows 10. I've been told they are better at writing images (bypassing the file explorer) but having to make a disk image every tie you want to transfer a file from the internet to the non-connected computer will get old fast.


I bought one from Sony many years ago, and it's worked fine. I can read and write disks with it, file-for-file, and I've even written bootable disks, so I could install things like DOS, FreeBSD or the special Compaq Deskpro BIOS setup stuff.

An alternative I use though is a serial cable with FastLynx. For 5.25" disk images, I first transfer the image to my IBM 5160, and then write it with fdimage.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Scali » 2018-2-09 @ 16:10

Nprod wrote:My guess would be that those USB floppies are some special low-power implementations that can run off 5V so you can't just retrofit a 5.25'' drive in there.


But it's not difficult to get power from elsewhere. Most PSUs still have 5.25" molex connectors on there.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby chinny22 » 2018-2-09 @ 16:15

Maybe older onces are better then the new ones?
I have 2 teac drives that look like this
Image

Picked one up from work I think? the other was on freecycle I remember that, and My disks are in pretty bad shape really.
Admittedly I don't use them much, Mostly I use it to quickly copy files I've downloaded on my Win7 laptop to a old pc before the network is up and running.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby Zup » 2018-2-09 @ 17:03

There are some multi I/O PCI cards with floppy controllers, but there are very rare.

In this thread are listed some floppy controllers.
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Re: Using floppy drives on modern hardware

Postby skitters » 2018-2-09 @ 18:37

When using an internal floppy drive with Windows 7, I had to disable HPET (High Precision Event Timer) in the BIOS or the computer would not write to the floppy. I don't know how necessary this is with a USB floppy drive.
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