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First post, by electricdreams

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I recently bought an Acorn BBC Master and the only problem I have is that it didn't come with any cartridges and no floppy disk drive. I have limited knowledge on computers and someone said since it has a drive controller inside it can be connected to any standard drive.
Are there any recommendations?

A FAIRYTALE FOR COMPUTERS_

Reply 2 of 9, by Dan386DX

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Well, from what I can see on wikipedia, it uses a fairly standard floppy controller, so I guess it really depends on the interface.

I found a 3.5" floppy drive on eBay designed specifically for the BBC Master, along with what looks like a regular 34-pin cable.

However, that drive requires its own power supply to use. A standard 3.5" floppy disk from a PC may work, but you'll need to find a way to power it. It will have a FDD power header for that purprose, but there likely won't be an FDD connector attached to your BBC computer.

Or you could just buy that drive I mentioned, but it isn't cheap:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/176035031012

90s PC: IBM 6x86 MX 233MHz. TNT2 M64. 256MB/1GB.
Boring modern PC: i7-12700, RX 7800XT. 32GB/1TB.
Fixer upper project: NEC Powermate 486SX/25. 16MB/400MB.

Reply 3 of 9, by electricdreams

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Dan386DX wrote on 2024-04-16, 22:53:
Well, from what I can see on wikipedia, it uses a fairly standard floppy controller, so I guess it really depends on the interfa […]
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Well, from what I can see on wikipedia, it uses a fairly standard floppy controller, so I guess it really depends on the interface.

I found a 3.5" floppy drive on eBay designed specifically for the BBC Master, along with what looks like a regular 34-pin cable.

However, that drive requires its own power supply to use. A standard 3.5" floppy disk from a PC may work, but you'll need to find a way to power it. It will have a FDD power header for that purprose, but there likely won't be an FDD connector attached to your BBC computer.

Or you could just buy that drive I mentioned, but it isn't cheap:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/176035031012

Thank you for the answer,
the computer does have an "auxiliary power supply" where it looks like you'd be able to connect something that needs power from the computer. I know for sure if I use a Teac FD-235HF for example (I was told this is a standard one I could use) I'd need an IDE/ATAPI connection, but I'm not sure about the power since there is something else you can connect it with (on the left)
c43e2d43-0ce9-4727-89ce-0e3684a7261f?rule=$_57.JPG
Additionally I found this website listing for what looks to be a fitting power connector, the description is just confusing me a little. "make up your own cable"? Do I have to build it myself?
http://www.cjemicros.co.uk/micros/individual/ … e=VAR-BBCAXPFD1

A FAIRYTALE FOR COMPUTERS_

Reply 4 of 9, by Ryccardo

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That really looks like a standard floppy drive connector (not including power which comes via the equally common 4 pins on the left, actually likely just the innermost 2 as most 3.5 inch FDDs don't use 12V), with countless more or less misleading names (Berg, Dupont, arduino, raspberry, 2.54mm header, etc)

I guess you could use a 40 pin IDE cable (but not an 80 pin one because of "magic" in the plugs!) if you sawed it off to fit 😀 but it would be rather easier to use a proper 34 pin floppy cable - which apparently needs to be straight through without the twist (so in practice get a typical 90s floppy cable that supports 2 drives, the simplest way to experiment since most PC FDDs are designed to be set as the 2nd drive and let the twisted cable swap them, yours is likely just old enough to have configurable ID)
Or maybe buy ribbon cable (just the actual wires glued together) and the appropriate IDC connectors and make all cables you want to exact length 😀

Yes that product is just the connectors, if you go with that you'll need to add the actual wires (with the length of your choice, that's your advantage on top of their skimping on assembly) and possibly a tool to actually crimp the pins if that can't be improvised satisfactorily (never tried with that kind, but it really varies across types)

Reply 5 of 9, by BitWrangler

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The general issue is, Acorns (and Amstrads and Amigas) and PCs can all use standard floppy drives... but after several years with the PC market getting big, drive manufacturers decided to save 25 cents on the jumper block to make them fully configurable and PCs began to get "PC only" floppy drives, which are not really standard.

So yeah, older drives or mods required to get later PC drives working. If in Europe, you may find Amstrad, Amiga etc floppy drives that are more standard, though may be configured for those so not be plug and play, amiga famously doesn't use the diskchange line and just checks every so often for a disk. So jumpers have to be set right.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 6 of 9, by megatron-uk

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The Master should be largely compatible with most 40 or 80 track floppy drives (both 5.25 and 3.5") as long as they are configured how the Beeb expects them. I don't know the jumper settings, but it should be possible to find a list of compatible drives, or pc compatible drives which can be jumpers to work.

The Master also has the two most common Acorn filesystems built in DFS and ADFS, but additional filesystem support can be added in the form of ROM chips added to a cart (or an internal ROM expander).

Best place for Acorn info is the stardot forums: https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewforum.php?f … 39dfe2d187616af

My collection database and technical wiki:
https://www.target-earth.net

Reply 7 of 9, by megatron-uk

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Alternatively, here's a plug and play solution using a Gotek drive from a supplier I have used for Acorn bits (MMC flash drive, replacement battery packs):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/256443749827?mkcid … emis&media=COPY

My collection database and technical wiki:
https://www.target-earth.net

Reply 8 of 9, by mdog69

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Three sets of golden rules for BBC/Master floppy disc drives:

1) Use a Gotek - its easier
2) Use a Gotek - when you get bored with the BBC/Master you can repurpose it for other old school kit
3) See below 😀

Discs and media:
5.25" drives - use SD or DD media, not HD. Put another way, don't use 1.2Mb hard drives or media
3.5" drives - Use DD media. Put another way, don't use 1.44Mb High density disks, use 720k discs.

Number of tracks:
80 track drives can be used to read 40 track media, but never write to a 40 track disc in an 80 track drive. Writing to a 40 track floppy in a 80 track drive will leave you with a disc that can only be read on a 80 track drive.
(40T heads are twice the width of 80 track heads).

Floppy drive cables - data
Use a straight cable. There should be no twist in the cable between the computer and the disc drive.
If you have a PC cable with two sets of connectors with a twist in between, you can still use it, but don't connect anything after the twist.
Floppy drive cables - power
You can use the auxiliary power connector under the BBC/Master to power a floppy drive, but good luck getting hold of a compatible plug.

Note that the lack of twist means you can connect the first and second drive in any order (but pay attention to termination).

Floppy drive jumpering.
The first drive on a BBC/Master system needs to be jumpered as Drive 0 and the second drive jumpered as drive 1.
PC drives are usually jumpered as drive 1, and the twist in the cable switches the drive select signals, so that the drive at the end of the cable after the twist becomes drive 0.
In the early days the jumpering was done by links or by a small slide switch - just make sure that the links/jumpers are set correctly
In later years floppy disc drives were permanently jumpered to drive 1, usually by means of a surface mounted zero ohm resistor. The pads are usually labelled - "0" will have no SMD fitted, "1" will be fitted.
To use that kind of drive on a BBC, you need to remove the SMD link from "1" and then connect the pads for "1" together. The best technique is to have a blob of solder on the tip of the iron and apply it to the link to be removed, then allow the surface tension of the solder to lift the component away. Wipe the component and the excess solder on a wet sponge. To fit the link on the "0" pad, tin the two pads first, then find some stranded cable - strip back about half an inch, then fold back all but one strand. Solder that single strand across the two tinned pads, and then cut away the excess.

Drive termination
3.5" drives - Don't ever recall seeing terminating resistors on a 3.5" drive...
5.25" drives - fit the terminator pack on the last drive on the chain. Remove the terminator on the second drive closest to the computer
Mixed on the same cable - Dunno, never done it - suggest putting the 5.25" drive on the end of the chain and fitting terminators to it.

Reply 9 of 9, by began1970

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Worked in education in the 80s , most educational establishments had their BBCs networked or used a fairly standard external drive. Some home users also used these drives.

Also managed to connect the BBC to a PC back in the day , moved text from the BBC to the PC , dont know /cant remember if moving programs to the BBC worked. Friend, not an IT guy had/has the correct drive in his loft . He took the pictures

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