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FDD Floppy Disk Drive Emulators, Interfaces, and Retrofits




Updated information on the floppy disk drives hardware interfaces and FDD emulators to replace 3.5 inch, 5.25 inch, and 8 inch floppy disk drive units. These devices are not external USB floppy disk drives, but direct floppy disk drive replacements for internal original equipment manufacturers floppy disk drives. In other words, if the OEM computer [...]






Click to read more about: FDD Floppy Disk Drive Emulators, Interfaces, and Retrofits

Updated information on the floppy disk drives hardware interfaces and FDD emulators to replace 3.5 inch, 5.25 inch, and 8 inch floppy disk drive units. These devices are not external USB floppy disk drives, but direct floppy disk drive replacements for internal original equipment manufacturers floppy disk drives. In other words, if the OEM computer has a standard 34 pin floppy disk drive cable, these devices are plug and play. No USB port is required on the OEM computer for the floppy emulators to function. This is follow up information to my first article on the subject: The Floppy Disk Drive Engineering Design Challenge SSD to FDD

Floppy Disk Drives 3 5 8 inch Pictured above from right to left are old legacy 3 1/2, 5 1/4, and 8 inch floppy disk drives which have been installed in OEM computers. The floppy disk drive emulators replace these old legacy floppy disk drives with a simple plug-and-play emulator device. No computer USB ports are required for operation. In fact the three floppy disk drive emulator devices shown below are designed for computers that do not have USB ports.

Readers have been asking for quite some time if I have found out any more information on the FDD SDD interfaces.

How is the FDD SDD interface shaping up?

I would like to see a device in a 3.5″ form factor to fit in existing housings.

It should have a SD slot in the front with a LED or LCD display, up/down buttons and a soft eject/reinsert button, this way you can dial up the appropriate floppy image and then soft-insert it.

Because the FD drive interface uses control signals to physically step the motor and heads, the interface will need an MCU such as a Pic to act as a interpreter between the memory buffer (720k or 1.44k) and the interface. A second MCU should be used to interface the SD card to the memory buffer.

Disk images can be stored in individual folders on the SD card and accessed incrementally.

The unit will also need several hardware switches to emulate the various non-standard formats (i.e.: disk insert notification) adopted by early manufacturers.

Just a couple of thoughts. I think this device has potential to be a very popular eBay item.

Cheers,

Q

In response to those emails, and thank you for sending all those emails to me by-the-way; below is FDD information that I think many engineers and end users will find very useful and some possible solutions to the old legacy floppy disk drives.

Apparently there are a few FDD hardware replacement solutions from companies called “floppy disk drive emulators” for the old floppy disk drives in legacy equipment. In my opinion, they have filled the gap between the old floppy drive legacy machines and the new solid state storage device machines.

Some of the FDD emulator manufacturers are listed below.

Lotharek

Lotharek HxC floppy drive emulators come in a number of different versions. There are SD Card and USB versions in various cased and uncased types. By the way, there is a lot of open source software that can be used to create the virtual floppy disk image on the SD Card or the USB stick to begin with. Once you have the particular type of format for  your type of old floppy disk saved on the SD Card or USB stick then you simply plug the SD Card or USB stick into the emulator, and the process of reading and writing to the virtual floppy disk image is as easy as if it were a real floppy disk. If you have to copy files from floppy disks to the virtual floppy disk emulator, the emulator can be set as Drive 1, or Drive 2, or both. Then you simply copy from one working floppy drive to the virtual floppy emulator.

Here are some up front notes about floppy disk drive emulators that I think are important to note. Not all emulators will emulate all the various types of floppy drives. There are many types of floppy drive formats and floppy drive types. The Lotharek HxC emulators, along with the software that is available, in my opinion allows for the most flexibility with a wide range of applications. In essence, the emulators can be used in Single Sided, Double Side, DSDD, 720KB, 1.4KB, 5¼-inch DD, 5¼-inch HD, 3½-inch DD, 3½-inch HD, Shugart modes, along with a number of others.

- USB version which allows you to connect the floppy disk drive interface of the computer to a PC via a USB cable. For more information on this interface, go to “USB HxC Floppy Drive Emulator” page.

- SD CARD version which allows floppy disk emulation; for which floppy disk images are stored in a SD CARD. For more information about this interface, go to “SD CARD HxC Floppy Drive Emulator” page.

- SD CARD version in precision made black case. For more information about this interface, go to the “SD CARD HxC Floppy Drive Emulator” cased link page.

- SD CARD version in precision made gray case. For more information about this interface, go to the “SD CARD HxC Floppy Drive Emulator” cased link page.

- REV F in 3.5″ standard factor. For more information about interface, go to the “SD CARD HxC Floppy Drive Emulator” REV F link page.

- SLIM VERSION – For more information about this interface, go to the “HXC Slim Floppy Emulator” link page.

If you want to build it yourself, here is the information to build your own USB HxC Floppy Emulator.

ipcas – USB Floppy Emulator 100 in 1

USB Stick Floppy Disk Drive Emulator The USB Floppy Emulator 100 in 1 is from ipcas GmbH, a company located in Germany. The USB Floppy Emulator 100 in 1 device is a direct replacement for the old legacy floppy diskette drives. The connections on the back of this FDD emulator are identical to that of the old floppy disk drives. On the back of this device is the 34-pin socket where the floppy disk drive cable gets plugged in, and the +5 volt DC standard power connection for the floppy drive also plugs in to the back side.

The front side of the device accepts a USB Stick, which acts like the floppy disk, but stores up to 100 virtual floppy disk drives on the USB Stick, with each number representing the virtual floppy disk drive being accessed. Simply select the desired virtual floppy (0-99) with the selection button to choose which virtual floppy you wish to access from the USB Stick front plug in.

According to the USB Floppy Disk Emulator User Manual, “The ipcas Floppy Disk Emulator can also replace other forms of disk drives and disk storage systems. Refer to the comparison with a 5¼ inch floppy disk drive with 1.2 MB floppies.”

Pictured below is the backside view of the ipcas USB Floppy Emulator 100 in 1 device.

Notice on the picture above, the standard 34 pin floppy disk connector and the standard power connector. These connectors are plugged into the existing OEM computers, (where a floppy disk drive would be installed) and the front side is where the USB stick would be inserted.

The beauty of this device is that no driver or configuration software is required to install and operate this floppy disk emulator with old legacy equipment. The manual states, “Many machines and devices are still using floppy disk drives as the only means of data input. CNC, milling, injection mold, or embroidery machines, laser cutting devices and integrated control systems, just to mention a few, are still being fed data with floppy disks several times a day.”

The Next Floppy Disk Emulator Device

PLR Electronics – 3 ½ floppy drive to USB flash drive reader upgrade

USB to Floppy Disk Drive PLR Electronics specializes in the embroidery machine circuit boards. They also have been involved in repairing other circuit board equipment too. PLR Electronics sells the 3½ floppy drive to USB flash drive reader upgrade device. PLR Electronics claims that the device will “work successfully on · CNC Machines · Embroidery Machines · Keyboards · Knitting Machines · Diagnostics Machines · Cutters · Routers · And most any machines with a Floppy Disk Drive.”

The backside of the emulator has the power connection plug and the floppy disk drive cable plug. Simply remove the old floppy drive cable and power connection, and plug it into the FDD emulator. The front side of the device has the USB Flash Drive Port, a File Chooser Connector Port, and even a Network port connection to another computer. The file chooser provides a means of selecting which files on the USB Flash Drive you wish to choose.

There are a number of modes of operation. SFDR-1, SFDR-II (SFDR-1 + File Chooser),  plus other modes of operation:

We request that you inform us on the original floppy drive type when placing an order to avoid mismatching the drive type. For example:

  • SFDR-I-I————–Universal IBM type
  • SFDR-I-A————-YD-6639D, TEAC235FG
  • SFDR-I-B————-NEC 1137C
  • SFDR-I-C————-YD-6037D

The picture below shows how the Floppy Drive Emulator from PLR Electronics would be installed.

Installation Instructions:

To install your 3 1?2 floppy to USB Flash Reader, with the device powered off and unplugged, simply remove the existing drive from its existing cradle. Disconnect existing ribbon cable and power cable from existing drive. Reattach existing power cable and ribbon cable to the USB Flash Reader. Insert USB Flash Reader into existing 3 1?2 floppy cradle and reattach all hardware. Your device is now ready to use. If any existing configuration is required on your system, please use all standard settings for a 3 1?2 floppy drive as detailed in your devices user manual.

Once the floppy emulator is installed, you then can use any USB Flash Stick as your floppy drive. In other words, you use a portable USB stick as the floppy. The original floppy cable plugs directly into the floppy emulator. These are not external USB floppy drives.

I would also imagine (though I have not confirmed) that if there were two floppy drives on the OEM equipment to begin with, you could hook up one of these devices and copy from one of the original floppy drives to the new emulated floppy drive onto a USB stick.

This is a plug and play device also. The 3½ floppy drive to USB flash drive reader manual provides some Frequently Asked Questions that are very informative.

Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs

- Q – Will this device work with a Windows NT operating system?
A – YES. This device should work with any OS assuming it is capable of working with IBM type floppies.
- Q – Will the 3 1/2 floppy to USB drive work in a XXXXXXXXX that can only read 720k 3 1/2 floppies?
A – Yes
- Q – We have XXXXXXX machines here and the floppy disk is 720K. IF we put a 1.44k in the machine the floppy drive does not work. Do you have a 720K mode on your device? T
A – Yes
- Q – Hi I am presently using a XXXXXXX keyboard which uses floppy disks on which I play my music files. Can this flash drive reader be used in my case?
A – Yes it will.
- Q – Hi, I currently have a floppy disk drive that is half the height of a standard drive. How can I modify this to work?
A – You do not need to modify anything. We offer a laptop height version. Please ask for this version when placing your order.
- Q – Is it USB 2.0?
A – No, its standard USB. However, USB 2.0 is used primarily for high speed data transfer. In this instance, the files you are using are very small so, there will be no noticeable difference.

C. On to the next storage systems emulators for replacing floppy disk drive units.

Data Storage DTX-200 Floppy Disk Drive Emulator

datex_dtx200Datex, located in France, sells the Datastorage, storage systems emulators to replace legacy disk drives, such as Fujitsu MK2322, Control Data FSD515, Ampex, Maxtor XT1140, as well as tape drives. Datex manufactures  the DTX-200 Floppy Disk Drive Emulator. The DTX-200 is designed for directly replacing 3 1/2, 5 1/4, and 8 inch floppy disk drive units.

There are numerous options available for the Datastorage DTX200. Compact Flash cards or USB keys can be used to store data on. A floppy disk adapter card is designed specifically for the specific connection technology to directly replace each of the specific types and manufacturers model floppy disk drives.

The DTX-200 Floppy Disk Drive Emulator documentation states the following:

The DTX 200 can replace all the floppy disk drives, for example:

  • 8” DRIVES: SHUGART SA850, CDC BRB8A, YE DATA , …
  • 5 1/4” DRIVES:
    • Full height: SHUGART SA400, MPI 92S, TANDON TM100, …
    • Semi-height: TEAC : FD-05xx, FD-55xx, FD-235xx, EPSON : SD-681L, …
  • 3 1/2” DRIVES: ALPS: AL FD 7xx, PANASONIC: JU-25xxx, SONY: MPF-520xx, MPF-920xx, …
    And all other Floppy disk drives…

The Datastorage DTX200 is designed to fit in the space of a 3.5 inch floppy drive. Apparently it is pre-programmed to have the same features as the floppy drive being replaced. It is designed to hold information on a CF (Compact Flash Memory Card), or a USB key and is designed to be used in numerous applications such as: cash registers, robots, planes, boats, and submarines. A StorageNewsletter.com press release, Datex Designed a Floppy Disk Drive Emulator, dated January 5th, 2009, stated that “this DTX200 emulator has already been installed in Japan and Taiwan, as well as in the French RATP.”

What do these Floppy Disk Drive Emulators Cost?

The cost of these Floppy Disk Drive Emulators vary considerably. At this time, I am not going to post the individual prices, because they are probably changing as I write this. The FDD Emulators go from approximately 275 USD to 1,100 USD and the cost could be more expensive depending on the added options. The links are there to the companies and the emulators in this article to compare the costs yourself.

Which one is best for your application?

There are pros and cons to each of the above floppy disk drive emulators. Some have more options than others. Certainly some of them are significantly more expensive than others, but that is not the only criteria that should be used in the evaluation process. Since I have not tried any of these emulators out myself, I feel I can not give you an honest analysis of which FDD emulator I would recommend.

If anyone does decide to use any of these floppy disk drive replacement emulators, I would sure like to get your feedback on how well they worked for you.

A reader was kind enough to post the following information in the comments section, but I wanted to post it here in case the URL hyperlinks change:

Here a complete list of the available floppy usb emulators:

Thank you for your comments.

Fell free to send me an email, and/or post additional comments online here too.

Jim Warholic

Jim Warholic is an Internet marketer, with a background in electronics, engineering, printed circuit boards, technology, marketing, advertising, and sales. Jim is President of Professional Web Services, Inc., an Internet marketing company located in the San Francisco Bay Area; specializing in Internet marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) online advertising, PPC (Pay Per Click advertising campaign management), SMM (Social Media Marketing) and SMM (Social Media Optimization), web branding, eCommerce solutions, and sales and marketing solutions for businesses in both the B2B and B2C market sectors.

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The Floppy Disk Drive Engineering Design Challenge SSD to FDD




The challenge is to design a floppy disk drive interface to be a direct replacement for 3½-inch FDD or older 5¼-inch floppy disk drives on legacy industrial computer equipment. The FDD engineering hardware design requirements would be to build a new style FDD solid state disk drive, hooked up on the floppy disk connector (FDD). [...]






Click to read more about: The Floppy Disk Drive Engineering Design Challenge SSD to FDD

The challenge is to design a floppy disk drive interface to be a direct replacement for 3½-inch FDD or older 5¼-inch floppy disk drives on legacy industrial computer equipment. The FDD engineering hardware design requirements would be to build a new style FDD solid state disk drive, hooked up on the floppy disk connector (FDD). Keep in mind, the option to install is not available on legacy machines a solid state HD device — IDE to Compact Flash CF adapter on the parallel IDE HD connector since many industrial equipment machines do not support IDE; which by-the-way, these direct replacement hard drive adapters are currently available for PCs with IDE PATA ports (see images below). As part of the engineering guidelines, the direct replacement FDD device must also be able to read and write from FDD 1 to Solid State CF FDD 2 or vice versa. Additional followup information to this FDD article can be found at: FDD Floppy Disk Drive Emulators and Interfaces

View solid state hard drive adapters for compact flash memory cards displayed below.

FDD Engineering and Design Notes For Direct Replacement Floppy Drives

Message: “Jim: I have been searching for a replacement for a 3.5″ FDD that reads/writes to a USB flashdrive or CF memory card.

Has the Engineering Challenge generated any solutions, yet?

I’m hoping ….

Thanks,

M”

Hello M,

I’ve gotten a bit of feedback in this area.

Apparently the signal conversion is a bit more difficult than meets the eye. I have spoken with some engineers that have a cursory understanding of the floppy disk system, but it seems the interface is more complicated than the HD solid state disk drive to an IDE port. This seems strange that a simple device (in concept) like this is not available. I would think there is an engineer out there that could do this, but so far haven’t heard from anyone that can do it.

Some people have a hard time understanding what it is being requested here.

They want to tell me that there are already external USB floppy drives. I have to tell them that is not what we need. We need a direct plug in to the FDD cable that reads/writes to a USB flashdrive or CF memory card.

Maybe I need to spell it out a little more concisely.

Email Jim today.

Many of the old industrial machines used in various product manufacturing industries, and continued to be serviced and supported throughout the manufacturing world today, especially that of the circuit board drilling equipment and PCB routing machines, along with legacy CNC metal fabrication and CNC plastic machining, mold cutting equipment, and die making machines still use either the 5¼ FDD or 3.5 inch FDD to load operating systems and store part programs on hybrid computers. These hybrid computers are not PC based and have no internal or external hard disk drives, nor are these industrial equipment machines capable of hooking up a hard disk drive through any type of IDE cable connector; since the computers do not have IDE HDD interface capabilities, nor do they have USB connector capabilities either. Other machine fields that are excellent candidates for a new style SDD FDD would include: commercial grade and high-end consumer models embroidery machine equipment, quilting machines, and programmable sewing machines used built-in floppy drives for storing patterns and job programs.

Other industrial machines were designed around the original IBM PC which preceded the “IBM XT” and included 5 ¼ inch floppy drives but no hard disk. There may not be very many of these types of machines still in existence or actively used in production today.

Machines that are still being used in production, but have their own hybrid computers, are typically using a proprietary floppy disk controller for reading and writing to the floppy disk drives. This makes disks written in the proprietary format, unable to be read with the standard PC format floppy drives.

New manufacturing equipment is very expensive. Many of these these older machines are still quite capable of producing products in a production environment, and their owners are not willing to throw them away to buy a brand new machine equipment that will produce the same amount of product, in the same amount of time.

History of the Floppy Disk Drive

Floppy drives have been around since 1971, when IBM was the first to introduce the 80 KB read-only 8-inch FD. Subsequently, IBM, Memorex, and Shugart introduced 8-inch RW SSSD and DSSD floppy drives that reached a storage capacity of 980 KB (CP/M) – 1.2 MB (MS-DOS FAT) in 1977. Then in 1978 the 5¼-inch DD was introduced which had a storage capacity of 360 KB or 800 KB. In 1982 the first 3½-inch HP single sided FDD came on the market with a capacity of 264 KB. 1984 marked the introduction of the Macintosh which used the 3½-inch (DD at release). It had a marked capacity of 1 MB, though it was more like 720 KB (400 KB SS, 800 KB DS on Macintosh, and 880 KB DS on the Amiga computer).

3½-inch and 5¼-inch floppy drives shared the market place from 1982 through the late 1990s and even some industrial equipment manufacturers continued to use 5¼-inch floppy drives just at the turn of the century, though most industrial equipment manufacturers switched to the 3½-inch FDD models long before. The floppy disk drives have now been largely superseded by USB flash drives, CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs.

R&D and Investment Capital by US Industrial Equipment Manufacturers

How did we get into this FDD mess. Part of the reluctance for US industrial equipment manufacturers to design new industrial equipment, with using new style PC based controllers had to do with the costs associated with R&D investments in both hardware and software engineering and design. Also, because of the sizeable R&D investments which many of these companies had made in the past, with specialized dedicated computers that had worked well up until this time in a manufacturing environment, top management was reluctant to spend any more investment capital into designing what was already perceived as a solid engineering design. While US companies sat on their laurels, their foreign manufacturing counterparts had leapfrogged over the controller designs, and started building controllers that were using standard, over the counter, PC based controllers, with software written to run under a Microsoft Windows environment. Now, many of the US manufacturers have been hit hard by the foreign competition and are struggling mightily to compete once again in the world markets.

What we need, is a Floppy Disk Drive Solid State Bridge or FDD SSD

What is happening for many of the end users of this legacy equipment is simply that the floppy drives are wearing out. They are getting old, and with the lack of replacement parts available, the equipment is becoming obsolete. These end users need a floppy disk drive bridge to get them over the hump, especially in these difficult economic times. They need something cheap and easy, that would quickly interface to these old floppy disk drives with a simple FDD plug and play device that requires no software drivers to be installed on the computer. Ideally speaking, it would be based on the solid state drive design similar to the SDD HDD — solid state drive hard disk drive, but for a SDD FDD — solid state drive floppy disk drive hookup.

The demise of the floppy disk drive is making it more difficult to keep aging computer systems operational. Floppies are still used for emergency boot disks on many of these aging systems that lack support for other boot media such as CD-ROMs and USB devices. Even some of the Windows Operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 relied on third party drivers, loaded on floppies. Many of the BIOS and firmware update and restore programs require they be executed from a bootable floppy disk. And if heaven forbid, during a BIOS update something goes wrong, even as of 2008, a floppy disk is required to perform a BIOS recovery after a failed BIOS update attempt.

The music industry still employs many types of electronic equipment that use standard floppy disks as a storage medium. Equipment that is quite functional, and was quite expensive to purchase, and would undoubtedly be prohibitively expensive to replace such items in the music industry as: synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and sequencers, all of which continue to use 3½-inch floppy disks. Other storage options, such as CD-R, CD-RW, network connections, and USB storage devices have taken much longer to mature in this industry. Source: Wikipedia — Floppy Disk Drive.

So, it makes sense to bridge the FDD storage technology gap between the old floppies and the newer storage device options of CDs, DVDs, external HDs, and USB storage devices.

SSD HDD — Solid State Disk Drives For Laptops, Notebooks, and PC & Apple Desktop Computers

Here are some examples of HDD solid state hard drive adapter devices that can be used on computers to replace the internal hard disk drives using an adapter plug and socket to install Compact Flash (CF). Besides the availability of hard drive adapters, a person can replace their internal hard drive with solid state drives. There are SSD HD IDE PATA for the older parallel ATA interface IDE internal hard drives and SSD HD SATA for the newer and faster serial ATA interfaces available too.

Floppy Disk Drive Bay Mounts and PCI Slot for IDE to Compact Flash Adapter

Addonics Technoloigies, located in the Silicon Valley, California, manufactures many types of adapters designed to be direct replacement devices for hard disk drives. Addonics offers a full range of storage devices based on various storage technologies – optical (CD, DVD, CDRW, DVD-R/RW), hard disk (3.5″, 2.5″, 1.8″ and Micro Drive), floppy, small digital media reader/writer and stand alone storage appliances. Most of Addonics products are designed to connect to different interface technologies – USB, Firewire, Serial ATA, CardBus, SCSI, IDE and all Windows operating systems. Some devices also have been certified to work under Linux, Mac and Solaris 8. Together with a set of complementary accessories – power cables, host controllers and adapters, Addonics products have been selected to deploy in various vertical markets and applications, including in some mission critical environments. Read more about Addonics’ storage solutions.

Many of their products are used to create your own storage size solid state HDD using Compact Flash card sizes of your choice and embed the devices in laptop and notebook computers’ HDD cavities. The item pictured above provides two slots to include both a master and slave HDD Solid State CF drive built into one compact unit. Single slot CF Hard Drive Adapters are available too. With the price of Compact Flash Memory dropping, it is very easy to see how this IDE HDD adapter to Solid State HDD could be utilized in both old and new notebook computers. To replace the internal laptop HDD drive requires simply removing the old 2.5” IDE hard drive from the 44 pin IDE connector and attach the CF adapter with the CF card inserted onto the 44 pin IDE connector with key pins matching. Then you simply tuck it away inside the old hard disk drive bay cavity with double faced tape. Read the details for this device, along with detailed illustration about replacing the hard drive with the Addonics CF HDD Adapter in a notebook or laptop computer. Adapters like this and others for the newer serial interfaces would be an excellent choice for both Apple laptops as well as any of the older PC laptops with either Microsoft Windows or Linux based operating systems.

A while back, I had the pleasure of speaking with a sales engineer at Addonics about the need for a FDD solid state replacement device. He was most helpful, but at that time, Addonics did not have anything available in the way of an adapter to go from floppy disk drives to compact flash or any other form of solid state storage. While he did mention that others had also contacted him over the years to design this type of device, he felt it would be expensive to develop the FDD solid state interface device for what was perceived as not having a very large demand for the product.

External Floppy using USB Interface

In recent years, because many of the computer manufacturers were not installing floppy disk drives into new computers, has brought about a need for an external floppy disk drive. Behold the USB plug and play Floppy Disk Drive.

A0769810 Before we get to the USB Floppy Disk Drive product, there was however a plug-in module device available from Dell Computers in the UK that plugged directly into the IDE interface cable from a motherboard to a 1.4 MB Floppy Disk Drive. The manufacturer was Origin Storage, with the manufacturer’s part number being listed as: CSERIES/FDD, and the Dell part number listed as: A0769810. Not sure if this floppy disk drive adapter hookup to an IDE parallel hard drive port is still available, or who would really need or be interested in this FDD to IDE port device today, but I thought it might be interesting to note it in this article. Also note that I was not able to find that particular FDD IDE device on Dell’s US website. Maybe it is an old out-dated link on Dell’s UK website. Like I said, I’m not sure there really is a need for this device. I don’t think we need to place floppy disk drives at the end of IDE cables, but it sure would be nice to store old system software from a floppy disk on legacy, non PC based and no IDE based machines, and boot to a solid state CF adapter on the FDD cable. Let’s build a solid state floppy disk drive as a direct replacement for a FDD.

USB Floppy Disk Drives — External USB Floppy Disk Drives

Some have asked, “why not just install a USB floppy disk drive on this old equipment?” Well, the biggest hurdle with this solution idea, is old non-PC based computers do not have the option for USB interfaces. Yes, you could install an external USB FDD drive on any PC that provided for USB devices to be installed, though there are generally Microsoft Windows software requirements for hooking up most of these external USB 3.5 inch floppy disk drives.

Others have even come up with a brainstorm of a solution of having some sort of Floppy Disk Drive to USB interface. In essence, this would involve going from the FDD cable into some sort of USB storage device. That might be a possible solution, but one would have to engineer an interface to go from the floppy pin-outs and reading and writing electronic signals requirements of the floppy disk drives, to a USB interface device that was a stand-alone, no drivers required plug-in adapter unit.

Sony Floppy Disk Adapter Sony developed the Memory Stick/Floppy Disk Adapter MSAC-FD2M. The MSAC-FD2M adapter was specifically created for the Sony Mavica FD-95 camera. SanDisk, SmartDisk, and Dane manufactured the FlashPath Floppy Drive Card Adapter for Smartmedia memory cards. These floppy disk adapters provided a slot in the edge of a floppy disk looking unit that Smartmedia cards could be inserted and then insert the whole 3.5 inch adapter into the camera or into a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive in a PC. The application was for those computers that did not have a built-in USB port, to be able to read the Smartmedia memory cards into the PC. With the addition of USB support in newer computers, these floppy disk adapters quickly faded off the landscape though you can still find them available in some online locations.

So that gives an overview of what is available for floppy disk drives, adapters, memory cards, and solid state disk drives.

FDD to USB Emulator Engineering and Design Project

On April 2008, Google Groups sci.electronics.design section, Jim F. wrote about his venture into building a floppy drive interface and the information he is seeking.

I’ve decided on a new project (this is for fun only) where I will build my own USB thumb drive to floppy interface. My intention is to replace the single floppy drive that exists in a particular piece of legacy test equipment. This will need to be a complete hardware solution (cpld/ucontroller) interface which I can remove the floppy and replace it with my USB floppy emulator.

I’ve really never given floppy technology much thought, so I figured it would be fun to go back to the 80′s and get acquainted with it…

I’ve been searching the web but haven’t had any real luck finding *good* technical data on floppy drive electrical interface data. I’ve read a few floppy drive specification data sheets, but they seem a bit lacking. Does anyone know of a really good repository for this information?

Thanks for any help that you can offer…

Jim

This is quite an interesting thread into building the floppy interface by creating a USB thumb drive to a FDD interface. Read more at sci.electronics design. I’m not sure what the status of his engineering design is currently, but it sounded like others would certainly like to see a device like this too. In the thread you will find more technical information into the engineering and design of this FDD interface project. If anyone has any further information into this FDD adapter interface project, please post your comments here or at the Google Groups Science Electronics Design posting. Considering the reduction in the cost of USB Flash Drives, this might very well be a viable solution for the FDD adapter project.

Read the second segment FDD interface article titled: FDD Flopyy Disk Drive Emulators and Interfaces.

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Best regards,

Jim

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