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5.25" / 5 1/4" floppy drive-USB?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:51 pm
by Quarex
Yes, seriously. I have discussed this topic at length with some of my nerdier friends, have used The Google dozens of times, and have generally continually come up with nothing--has anyone anywhere ever made a USB 5.25" floppy drive? Yes, I realize all I have to do is find an old computer that has both kinds of floppy drives on it and copy all these hundreds of disks I have not been able to access in like 15 years, but it would really be a whole lot easier if one of these actually existed.

So, anyone? Did they overlap in any way? I know 5.25" drives were obsolete years before 3.5" were (if 3.5" are, in fact, even now obsolete), but it still blows my mind to imagine that nobody in the world would have ever created a USB version of an obsolete drive. I mean, I was still able to have a 3.5" drive put into the computer Dell made me in 2007, yet I do not think you have been able to get 5.25" drives installed in new systems for 15 years--did the architecture somehow change substantially to make them incompatible?

haha. I totally agree

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:29 pm
by ChevyNovaLN
So I came across a bunch of old 5 'n 1/4 floppy disks and have long since gotten rid of any drives i had stockpiled. Not that there would be a HUGE demand for USB drives of this form factor, but I sure thought of it today! :)

Brian / ChevyNovaLN

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:31 pm
by swaaye
Modern BIOSs and OSs still support 5.25" drives so you could just buy one and hook it up on the regular floppy connection. Why not? If you're only going to use it once....

You can get combo drives that have both a 3.5" and 5.25" in the same unit. That would be fun to have in your modern machine to "show off". Maybe paint it a wicked flat black or some such. :)

Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 7:37 am
by carbontwelve
hopefully those old 5.25" discs you have are still in working order... dont they have a 20 year shelf life or something like that before they begin to "forget" their content?

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:35 pm
by Unknown_K
All my 5.25" media still works, even ones I got that looked a bit moldy from somebodies basement. Can't say the same for 3.5" media that is much newer.

I have never seen a USB 5.25" drive, USB and 3.5" overlapped for years but 5.25" was dead an burried before USB came out.

Find an old junker PC and install a 5.25" drive in it. You can use Winimage to back up the disks and to dump them to 720K DD (for the 360K) or 1.44MB HD (for the 1.2MB) 3.5" disks if you still want to use them.

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:23 pm
by carbontwelve
If the 5.25" drives have a similar interface to 3.5" drives then it shouldn't really be that hard for someone in the know to hack the usb interface for a 3.5" drive to a 5.25" one.

Unfortunately its been a good five years since I did things like that so I would be no good.

Posted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:55 am
by gadgetmind
I have just been through floppy hell to recover some old source code. The 5.25" disks had been in the loft for 22 years, and were very dusty. Some read fairly easily. For others, I used ddrescue on Linux to work on the bad sectors, but one set, the really important set, these were basket case.

I ended up using a card called "Catweasel", which is designed for reading Amiga and/or protected disk, to pull the raw data into some files. I then wrote some Python to pull out any good sectors, and merge these with good ones from other pass with different postcomp etc. settings, and finally, after 12 weeks of work, I had every sector.

After running Fastback (obsolete, proprietary and fussy!) in a VM I got back every file.

As a result, I now have all of the source code for Carrier Command on ST, Amiga, Mac and PC. I have rebuilt the latter from source and it works fine on dosbox.

I'd now like to add some good audio to the latter, but I don't have much time. I guess I need to wander into other topics here and start asking stupid questions.


P.S. The machine I built just for this job now has 2x5.25 and 1x3.5 fitted - that's pretty retro!

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:59 pm
by Quadko
For anyone looking for this kind of thing, I got one of these FC5025 as a read-only solution to hook a 5 1/4" disk via USB. Worked great for copying files, though I never tried to run Copy Protected games off it. ;)

The usb w/ standard "high quality" 5.25 drive is much more convenient than hooking up an old 5.25 to a computer like I used to. Doing that "worked" but usually gave me trouble. Best things I found for that were the "2-in-1" 5.25 + 3.5 in a single unit (like the Epson Dual Floppy Drive, ebay, since it used the "new" floppy cable with header rather than edge connect, but your mileage may vary...

In my old research I found a few more potential options, but this was the only one ready to go. I've forgotten the others, but someone was making a "full" raw magnetic reader for historical disk archival purposes - that was pretty cool. (KyroFlux?)

So, this solution works great if you are just reading disks, and isn't too pricy or complicated.

Other links that might help searching for similar options or more data:

(And I also got an expensive and not very useful yet gadget to use a USB flash drive to replace a floppy drive for older computers. (It has at least one competitor.) Apparently embroidery machines used standard floppy drives, so when the floppy died there was money in making a USB drop-in upgrade. Works ok, but eh. I use it in a "no moving parts" silent dos machine I built a while back - solid state flash-card ide drive, this for a floppy, "fanless" power supply - stealth dos! For when I write my novel, of course, and don't want the noisy window-y distractions! Pbbb. Hm - prices were cheaper, but maybe that's because previously I could only find them for sale in Europe and shipping was prohibitive to USA. I always envisioned putting that in an XT I've still got and geeking out.)

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:44 pm
by blackvisionit
Another (not cheap/hobby) approach is full SSD emulation. ... _Home.html

Pro: emulates any R/W floppy density or geometry
Con: SSD hw is expensive

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:47 am
by Quadko
I was sad when I couldn't find a way to hack a usb floppy to control one of those combo drives - or even just the 5.25 directly.