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I need a way to write on floppy disks from my modern PC (motherboard GIGABYTE z730p). I own a Panasonic JU-257A606P I took from an old machine of mine, and before buying a USB floppy drive I wanted to give it a try.

Is there some kind of adapter from the "twisty" IDE cable to modern SATA? Could it possibly work or should I just go for the USB one?

Thanks in advance

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    Note that floppy drives used a specific 34-pin interface, which is completely unrelated to the 40-pin IDE interface. While there are converters available between 40-pin IDE and SATA, the floppy interface has nothing to do with IDE, so it's of no real help to you. – Kaz Aug 10 at 17:57
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There are a number of devices which can be used to connect a floppy drive to a modern computer. Whether they are appropriate in your case depends on what you’re trying to do...

If you want to read and write standard PC floppies (1.44 MiB, perhaps 1.68 MiB; this includes most bootable floppy images), then buying a USB floppy drive will be cheaper than buying one of the devices mentioned in the answer linked above. Many USB drives can also read and write single-density (720 KiB) disks.

If you want to read (and perhaps write) non-standard PC floppies, or floppies from other platforms, or connect a 5.25“ drive, you’ll need another device.

In any case, from a purely financial perspective, there’s nothing worth experimenting with before buying a USB drive, unless you can borrow the equipment. The cheapest options are USB floppy drives (even factoring in the “value” of your existing drive) and discarded PCs with floppy controllers.

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  • Thanks, makes sense. I have checked out the links from that question, and the prices are about 3x what I'd pay a USB one. Guess I'll go for that, thank you :) – user256439 Aug 10 at 8:50
  • I like the "[...] discarded PCs with floppy drives." option. This may give new life to a perfectly functional PC that is just obsolete. If it has an USB port, then it can be used as a USB > Floppy drive transfer intermediary. Or if it has Windows XP or so, you can set a SAMBA share and access everything from the network, without going around with cables, adapters, USB drives and stuff. Just shove floppy drives into the PC and save the contents. If you use an IDE CF card adapter, you might see decent boot times on Windows XP. addonics.com/faq/cf_adapter.php seems to have good tips. – Ismael Miguel Aug 11 at 8:41
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If you want something more flexible than a USB floppy drive, but barely more expensive, and you're OK with beginner-level through-hole soldering and a command-line interface on the reading/writing tool, take a look at the FluxEngine.

The FluxEngine is a very cheap USB floppy disk interface capable of reading and writing exotic non-PC floppy disk formats. It allows you to use a conventional PC drive to accept Amiga disks, CLV Macintosh disks, bizarre 128-sector CP/M disks, and other weird and bizarre formats. (Although not all of these are supported yet. I could really use samples.)

The hardware consists of a single, commodity part with a floppy drive connector soldered onto it. No ordering custom boards, no fiddly surface mount assembly, and no fuss: nineteen simpler solder joints and you’re done. You can make one for $15 (plus shipping).

(Basically, you solder one row of the pins on the floppy connector through the holes on a ready-made FPGA development board and assembly is done. If you're poor, you can even use regular pin header and just remember not to connect the cable the wrong way around.)

There's a chart at that link detailing which formats the software for it currently knows how to write, which is also on the GitHub page for the software.

NOTE: I haven't tried it. I already owned a KryoFlux by the time I learned of it and my next purchase is probably going to be parts for a sanni reader.

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  • Thank you very much for the suggestion :) I simply need a way to write the image of my simple OS on average floppy disks, so cheapness is more important than exoticism, at least for now. If I'll ever need to port my OS to some older or less commin machines, I'll surely check out your suggestion! – user256439 Aug 10 at 14:48
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    A USB floppy should do then. Before COVID-19 caused shipping prices to spike, you could get those for around $15 Canadian including shipping off eBay. (They seem to be $21 Canadian now.) – ssokolow Aug 10 at 14:54
  • I found one on Amazon, 31 EUR or so. That's almost three times as much as what you said, but the only one with reviews around your price (slightly above) would have a fairly long shipping time. Let's hope it will work, thanks again! – user256439 Aug 10 at 15:35
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    In similar line with FluxEngine, there's also the "Greaseweazle" which is built on an even cheaper (STM32) platform: github.com/keirf/Greaseweazle/wiki/Hardware-Assembly Both of these sound lower-level than what the OP wants, but could be useful to someone with a bit more advanced goals (in particular: archiving old floppy disks). – natevw Aug 10 at 17:40
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    I recently tried the FluxEngine approach to archive Amiga disks, and it works quite well. In the US, I was able to order three of the interface boards from Cypress for only $10 each, and 5 day shipping for all three was only four dollars! – Hitek Aug 11 at 19:21
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There are various devices that can interface old floppy drives with your PC via USB. For example, I had success with reading old PC floppies using KryoFlux but there are other solutions out there as well. These are usually not meant to be used to expose your floppy drive as a normal/"live" drive to your OS. Instead, there's software to dump the content of your floppy into images.

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  • Can those solutions only read from floppies or can they also write? That would be the most important part for me, I need to test a simple OS on an older machine that can only boot from floppy. – user256439 Aug 10 at 8:34
  • @user256439: At least KryoFlux can also write disk images back to floppy, yes. – DarkDust Aug 10 at 9:58
  • thanks :) for now I've ordered a USB drive, might try your solution in the future out of interest – user256439 Aug 10 at 10:01
  • For the sake of completeness: It is possible to burn a bootable CD, where the bootable part is basically a floppy image. Also, all kind of virtualization solutions should work with floppy images. – Oleg Lobachev Aug 10 at 21:03

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