How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

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How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Dbug » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:08 pm

That's an open ended question.

I've been using Romu's method of plugging my 3" drive in my PC as a disk drive for years, but now I'm stuck: My brand new Windows 7 64bit computer does not even have a floppy drive connector on the motherboard.

So my question is, how should I do.

Has anyone experimented with USB floppy drives, is there any model that would accept to get the drive replaced by my good old 3" floppy drive, would that work with writedsk?

If nothing works, except finding an old computer and run dos on it I have no other idea that trying to write some transfer software to use audio to exchange data with the pc... but my last attempts were not very reliables.

Help!

EDIT: Does anyone knows this device? http://kryoflux.com/

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by retro_guy » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:12 pm

I've used USB Floppy drives at work and had no problems.

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Dbug » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:50 pm

retro_guy wrote:I've used USB Floppy drives at work and had no problems.
Did you use it with 1.44 floppies with standard formating or did you try custom programs like writedsk to create floppies for old computers like Oric or Atari ST?

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Chema » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:28 pm

I think I read somewhere that USB drives cannot be accessed at low level, so I guess that writedsk won't work.

I will try to find out where I read that, to make sure.

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Dbug » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:22 am

After some question/answer session with Torlus and Godzil on the IRC channel, I reach the conclusion that there are two future-proof ways of doing what I want:
- Install a dedicated controller (like the Kryoflux, Catweasel, Ferret) and plug a slave 3" drive on it, use the software on the PC to read and write on the drive
- Install a HxC floppy emulator on a master Microdisc unit, and use a SD card to read and write disk image files from the real Oric, doing copies from A to B to create the physical disks on the real Oric

I guess the HxC based solution has the advantage of making it easier to develop and test floppy based software.

If I choose this method, I'd like to find a simple and fast way to switch between the HxC as boot drive or the Microdisc as boot drive, so I could do my testing on the HxC, but then easily test if my real floppies can boot without actually having to open the box and play with jumpers of cable twists!

Any idea?

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Godzil » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:43 am

Dbug wrote:After some question/answer session with Torlus and Godzil on the IRC channel, I reach the conclusion that there are two future-proof ways of doing what I want:
- Install a dedicated controller (like the Kryoflux, Catweasel, Ferret) and plug a slave 3" drive on it, use the software on the PC to read and write on the drive
- Install a HxC floppy emulator on a master Microdisc unit, and use a SD card to read and write disk image files from the real Oric, doing copies from A to B to create the physical disks on the real Oric

I guess the HxC based solution has the advantage of making it easier to develop and test floppy based software.

If I choose this method, I'd like to find a simple and fast way to switch between the HxC as boot drive or the Microdisc as boot drive, so I could do my testing on the HxC, but then easily test if my real floppies can boot without actually having to open the box and play with jumpers of cable twists!

Any idea?
On the HxC, you have 4 jumper to select the drive letter. Personally, the drive is selected as A and D (you can select two drive) and the internal 3" drive of the microdisk is configured as B. I always boot from the HxC, it's easier to manage for me. (I don't have lots of 3" floppy anyway, and all of them are only Jasmin not Microdisk, and my Jasmin is currently non working)

Anyway, for your question on how quickly change, one way is to put some external switch to select the mode you want on both the HxC and the 3" floppy.

I will post photos of my Microdisk setup as soon as my desktop as been a bit cleaned ;)

Edit: before I forgot, for the kryoflux, I'm unsure that you can write oric floppy with it..

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by laurentd75 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:07 pm

Hi,
I'm digging this old topic up as I'm facing the same predicament as DBug: the motherboard of my "new" PC (from 2012) doesn't have any FDC, and you cannot use "writedsk" or any low-level floppy access software with USB floppy drives. At the moment I'm using a very old Pentium 4 tower PC to write flopppy disks for my Atmos but this old PC must go, it really is knacered and on the verge of failing, and it takes u p A LOT of space in my flat..

I'm contemplating two alternatives:
1) buy a second-hand PC that still has FDC support (having an FDC + floppy connector on the motherboard). I can get this quite cheaply, for about 60 euros, but it means I have to find some space for it, share a monitor/keyboard using a switch for it, etc... A great deal of hassle...
2) buy a Kryoflux (https://www.kryoflux.com/) These are supposed to be able to read any kind of floppy at the lowest physical level (actually sampling the magnetic signal during read/write operations) but is is not clear whether the software can support Oric disk formats (it has built-in support for Amstrad CPC, C64, Amiga, ST, etc., but not for the Oric AFAIK). The main drawback is this is quite expensive (between 110-140 EUR inc. shipping), and it uses dedicated software so I'm not sure you can use "writedsk" with it.

So I'd like to know if anyone has tried and has had any success with a Kryoflux reading/writing Oric disks ?

Thanks for your feedback on this if you have any experience to share,

Laurent

PS - there were other alternatives to Kryoflux (inc. the aforementioned Catweasel and Ferret) but it seems these were discontinued.

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Godzil » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:51 pm

Well that would be an interesting project to make a proper USB-FDC that can handle any type of floppy and no fancy expensive thing like the KryoFlux.

You will be able to make copy of a floppy dumped using it but I highly doubt from a DSK.

Why not using an Oric with a microdisc and an HxC ?
You load the .dsk in the HxC, then copy it on a real floppy from the Oric itself?

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by laurentd75 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:30 pm

Hi Godzil,

Thanks for your answer and for your good advice!

I intend to buy an HxC / Gotek device sometime in the future, but for the moment I just have a Microdisc controller card (the newer type... version "3.1" from 2016, beautifully designed and assembled by Frédéric P. aka "fred72" on oric.org... really a very nice piece of kit, the PCB has the exact same size as a 3.5 inch floppy drive and it all comes as a set, the PCB screwed to the underside of the floppy drive bundled with it, and the whole lot resting on 3D-printed plastic feet) ....

Anyway, at the moment I have no solution but to use my agonizing Pentium-4 old PC to transfer .DSKs onto floppies using the fdrawcmd.sys driver by Simon O., and the OricDSK.exe Windows utility by Michel B. (both were featured in the 2016 December issue [#320] of the CEO Magazine).

Now, I would still like to be able to read and write old floppies in the future (and not only Oric ones, I have tons of Atari ST floppies, and as I'd very much like to acquire an Amstrad CPC someday I suppose I might have to deal with Amstrad floppies at some time...) so I suppose the kryoflux would be the better option, but damnit, I find it really pricey, but maybe it's the best option as it handles floppies at the lowest possible physical level... Of course, a USB floppy drive featuring a standard FDC compatible with standard FDC drivers would be awesome, but there isn't any at the moment and I don't suppose anybody has plans to work on this sort of hardware !! As to the "old PC with FDC-enabled motherboard", it can still make sense because it's quite cheap at under 60 euros for a still-capable Core2Duo machine, but is is less versatile than the Kryoflux of course, as it requires dedicated programs to handle all possible types of disk formats used by Amstrad, Atari, Commodore, Oric, Apple, and the likes... And speaking of Apple, I suppose only the Kryoflux can handle the GCR encoding...

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Chema » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:22 pm

laurentd75 wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:30 pm
using the fdrawcmd.sys driver by Simon O., and the OricDSK.exe Windows utility by Michel B. (both were featured in the 2016 December issue [#320] of the CEO Magazine).
One sec.... what did you say? Is there a *Windows* utility that writes Oric dsk files?

I've been struggling with DOS writedsk and had to install win95 plus a USB driver just to use DOS to create physical disks!

What are the software and hardware requirements? Where can we get the software? Are the sources available?

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by laurentd75 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:59 pm

Hi CHema,

Well, I'm more than glad to help, I didn't kow you were enduring the hassle of Win95 to write Oric disks !! :-)
In fact, I was only slightly aware of issues/constraints with writedsk, because I've only had a floppy drive for my Oric for less than a month, and OricDSK was featured in the CEO magazine last December...

Just send me a private message with your email, and I can forward the software to you, with instructions on how to use it.
I don't know if the sources are available, I'll have to ask and get back to you later. I'll also ask whether the author is OK for a more widespread distribution than CEO members, although I don't see why he would oppose to distribution outside the CEO, as long as he is credited as the author.

In any case this is probably going to improve your life quite a bit, because this software works flawlessly in Windows 7 64-bit edition (I suppose it works the same in Windows 8.x or 10) from a command-line window (this is a command-line utility). It allows you to convert back and forth between floppy disks and .DSK images.

Be aware however that in order to use this software you need a PC with a motherboard that includes a regular floppy disk controller connecting your floppy drive through IDE, because the software uses a regular FDC driver that issues low-level FDC commands, and for this reason it doesn't work with USB floppy drives...

Cheers

Laurent

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by iss » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:47 pm

I tested OricDSK when it was released (2016 December). It seemed to work on my old laptop with real FDC and 3.5" floppy, but the produced disks were with many errors.
Currently I'm using fdrawcmd.sys + SamDisk with DSK files converted to HFE and I'm very happy with the results. This combination works for me on the same old laptop under WinXP and Win7. And because my primary Oric setup is Silicebit's controller + HxC floppy emulator, I have all my DSK images already converted to HFE.
Another bonus when using HFE images is the possibility to play with sector skew/interleave paramethers during DSK->HFE conversation... ;)

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by laurentd75 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:58 pm

Many thanks for the feedback iss !

On my part, I haven't had any issues with OricDSK (yet ?), but I've only used it to transfer game disk images to floppies (Space 1999, Detective Story, 1337, to name a few) and that's all.

I just realized that SAMDisk was by Simon Owen, the author of the fdrawcmd.sys driver, so I'm going to try his SAMDisk program too, to see if it can directly read/write DSK format and compare it with OricDSK to try and see what's the best combination.

@Chema: since fdraw.sys and SAMDisk are on Simon Owen's site, you can download them directly from there:
http://simonowen.com/fdrawcmd/
http://simonowen.com/samdisk/

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by Chema » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:19 pm

Thanks laurentd75 and iss. My current configuration with Win98/WriteDSK works for now, and I only make floppies from time to time. Going through an extra step using HFE images is even worse :)

It is just that I did not know anybody was working on this... and being ours a small community, I was quite surprised. I think I suggested using this library to port disk tools to Windows... Had I known this before I switched to Win95... I had XP installed and had to boot in DOS with floppies and it was indeed a hassle back then (a few months ago!).

The tool would be quite invaluable for the community itself, but even more if we have access to the sources. It would be easier to learn from them and create a windows tool where you could edit the contents of a disk image, add/remove files, etc and then create the physical disk if you want.

If the author had no problem to distribute the tool and sources outside of CEO, it would be great to have them on the repository available to all the community...

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Re: How to install a 3" floppy drive on a modern pc?

Post by NightBird » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:49 pm

I have a HxC (drive A) and real drives (B, C) to generate real floppy discs (3 or 3,5 inches)
On PC (Win7), convert .dsk to .hfe, then copy hfe to SD card.
On real Oric boot on hfe then backup...

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