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I was trying to take apart a Toshiba T1950ct laptop to replace the slim floppy drive’s belt. Unfortunately, I broke the delicate flat flex cable (ffc), which is a non-standard 26-wire floppy cable. The motherboard end has narrower pitch than the floppy end, which is a standard 26-wire connector. So a new drive won’t help the situation. Space is very limited too.

All T19x0 series laptops use the same ffc cable. There can be other brands or models that use same cable too. Question is where could I find one? It does not need to look the same, or be same shape, and it can be longer. The only thing that matters is flatness, the ends and the motherboard side of the flat flex cable. It does not have Toshiba part number, the only thing that has been mentioned is the connector "Pj202".

The cable in question, laid next to a pen on what looks like 5 mm graph paper. One end looks about 20 mm wide, the other looks about 25 mm wide.

Similar ends, the drive side is the wider one.

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Making your own cable is another option. Flexible blank PCBs such as this (Pyralux) or these (1-ply fiberglass) are available1; they can be etched using standard home etching techniques2. You could scan the existing cable, use a paint program to trace the tracks (in black-and white), then etch the board as normal.3

Alternatively one could use a commercial PCB manufacturer. PCBway, for example, will do a 2-sided flexible board of up to 429×449 mm for about US$125 to US$200 delivered.

1 Pyralux is probably more robust than fiberglass.
2 I've had good success with the chemicals she uses (hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, table salt).
3 The full process is left as an exercise for the reader. For fine-pitch traces, using photosensitive dry film would likely work better than using the toner transfer method; this video shows how to use it.

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  • Thank you for the answers. I was hoping to find a ready made solution. Found out that there is one possible model in floppyemulator.com/products/… that might work, but lots of if:s. If it fits in a cramped space and if the pitch is right. It just costs shipped (64 us dollars) before import duty and vat. That is more than i paid of the laptop, and still needs to add cables to the order too. The cable has teared more than half way and and is too narrow in my opinion to repair without a professional tools.
    – Petri-fied
    Aug 10 '20 at 8:07
  • If you have a scanner, a laser printer, a clothes iron, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and salt I'd give the DIY approach a try. It's pretty cheap and easy to do. If you do, I'd recommend using the Kapton PCBs; they're a bit more robust than the fiberglass. Aug 11 '20 at 2:07
  • Good tip, but those lines are two hairs apart, i dont think its possible but have no experience of that. Maybe order a cable that fits in the motherboard connector and leave it there for future purposes? At least i can get the laptop back together. Tried scraping and sanding contacts in the ffc /fpc cable.Then tried soldering with solder paste, liquid and resin but no luck.
    – Petri-fied
    Aug 11 '20 at 14:38
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Most laptops of that time period used a straight through flex cable with the same pitch connector on both ends, so yours is custom made for that series/model. While there may be other laptops that used the same pitch on the motherboard connector, finding one that would be long enough, and even which model laptop has such a compatible cable, would be a monumental task.

If you could find a flat bed scanner, you could flatten the cable and scan it. Then you could send the scanned image with dimensions and specifications(such as which side of each end has the contacts exposed) to a flex cable house for a prototype quote, and if you could find an inexpensive-enough manufacturer, you might be able to get several samples for less than the price of a night's worth of pints for each sample. You could then re-sell the extras in case anyone else ever wanted the same cable.

An alternative would be to try to repair the cable you have. If only two or three traces are damaged, you might be able to carefully solder enameled wire or wire-wrap wire between the ends of the existing cable, if you can access any copper protruding from the connectors on each end.

A third option, if you wanted to "roll your own", would be to purchase two shorter standard flex cables, which are easily sourced. You would purchase one cable of the proper pitch for each end of your old cable, and then design and etch a thin printed circuit board to adapt the two differently-pitched cables together by soldering the cables to the adapter board.

All of that being said, it may be less trouble to just purchase another scrap laptop of the same model, so that you would also have other spare parts for use later.

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  • I would love to buy spare laptop, if they were ones in local market. Sadly that is not the case :( There is always Ebay, but price range is way beyond reasonable cost of cable.
    – Petri-fied
    Aug 23 '20 at 14:59
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I have one of these from an older Toshiba laptop - don't know if it will work or not. (Edit: Toshiba part number is p000214850 and I have two right now in my personal stock. It's a 1.25mm to 1.00mm cable.)

enter image description here

I also have made one and put it on GitHub if you want to get it made: https://github.com/hexbus/FFC_Floppy_Cable_Adapter

If it's a standard 26 pin 1.25mm to 1.00mm FFC cable - you should be able to get those on eBay. Just get whatever length you need - you can fold it at right angles if needed.

(edit: fixed the 1.00 measurement)

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  • Had to delete old answer because just looked the cable again. It should be like in my picture in question. It has to go through multiple tight spaces and folded before reaching the floppy drive from upper main circuit board connector. Compaq has similar to yours I believe. They are more common possibly? Thank you anyways.
    – Petri-fied
    Jan 11 at 19:37
  • It does appear to be a 1.25mm (wider floppy end) to 1.0mm like the U shaped one I pictured, except longer. If you measured it end to end, how long is it? I’ll check any T1950 parts and see if I have any of those cables.
    – acadiel
    Jan 12 at 20:28
  • I just had a brain blip - should have put this with the previous comment. Here's what you do, and it's super easy. Order a 200mm or longer 1.00mm 26 pin FFC cable from eBay. (Depends on how long you have up there from end to end - but order a little bit longer.) You can fold it at 90 degree angles as needed. Order a Dell N8360 floppy drive from eBay - these fit the 1.00mm FFC cable. You might need to adjust the screw holes, but you should be able to fit it in the same slot the beige floppy currently sits. Bada bing, you now have a belt-less floppy drive hooked up to your system.
    – acadiel
    Jan 12 at 23:09
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    I'm showing the T1950CT actually uses an EME278-TA drive, P/N P000184430. (Source: tamayatech.com/partsindex/toshiba_014.htm and I have two P000184430 new in box w/likely bad belts, and they are EME278-TA. The EME278-TA I have seems to be 12mm tall, which is about what other slimline floppies tend to be. Have you tried a 12MM drive yet? The spacing on those drives is the older 1.25mm spacing, 26 pin.
    – acadiel
    Jan 14 at 3:16
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    The motherboard pitch/count looking at your cable is a 26 pin 1.00mm to a 26 pin 1.25mm. The wider one goes to the floppy and is the 1.25mm. The smaller one goes to the motherboard and is 1.00mm. So if you can get a 1.00mm pitch modern slimline to fit, that would be easiest.
    – acadiel
    Jan 14 at 3:18
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Cables and Chips in NYC might be able to make one. They do all sorts of one-off custom cables. Not sure if they do flat flex though. Got a custom SCSI cable for an ST from them back in the day; they had it done within an hour.

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