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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 11th Oct 2023, 8:55 pm   #1
Joe_Lorenz
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Default 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

Just got questioned by my youngest son: Is there any drive for 5 1/4" discs with USB connection so that he could read the old data?

Thanks for advice
Joe
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Old 11th Oct 2023, 9:11 pm   #2
Phil__G
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

You can buy a floppy USB connector cheaply from ebay, I have a couple. Buying a 5¼" drive might be more expensive...
This is assuming its a PC disk - if its an old CP/M or other disk then all manner of pitfalls await...
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Old 11th Oct 2023, 10:48 pm   #3
Dave Moll
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

This thread might also be of interest.
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Mending is better than Ending (cf Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
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Old 13th Oct 2023, 12:54 am   #4
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

I don't recall ever seeing an external 5.25" FDD, with USB interface (only 3.5" FDD's / 5.25" FDD's with proprietary interface for old laptops etc). And I doubt anyone makes new 5.25" mechanisms anymore (might also now be the case for 3.5" FDD's)
Although there's lots of 5.25" size PSU-boxes for CD-ROM drives HDD's etc. that (once you've obtained a standard 5.25" FDD from somewhere, that may have to resort to online auction sites etc. to get used ones - IIRC ChrisOddy said he had someone travel large distances, from abroad? to collect one from him) you could put inside with a suitable USB to FDD interface board.
Fortunately I've kept a few from old PC's / still have various cased-ones that were for use with BBC Computers etc..

As well as ones mentioned in the previously linked threads, it may also be worth looking at the Greaseweazle. It seems these are very versatile, and well-regarded by many who have them.But I'm not sure if they will only read/write raw magnetic field format, or if there's something that will allow you to mount the FDD as a standard drive letter and just read the disks via Windows etc.
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Old 13th Oct 2023, 4:22 am   #5
TonyDuell
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

I would not recomend a Greaseweazle. I bought one...

I am sure it works and will do what is claimed. The problem is that the documentation varies between atrocious and non-existant, the source code is not well commented either.

Quite simply, I couldn't work out how to use it.
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Old 13th Oct 2023, 3:10 pm   #6
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
I would not recomend a Greaseweazle. I bought one...

I am sure it works and will do what is claimed. The problem is that the documentation varies between atrocious and non-existant, the source code is not well commented either.

Quite simply, I couldn't work out how to use it.
Sorry to hear you had troubles with this. ChrisOddy had recently got one, and IIRC he was quite happy with it, so I was tempted to get one too.
So I'll have to ask him more about his use of it.
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Old 17th Oct 2023, 1:51 am   #7
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
I would not recomend a Greaseweazle. I bought one...

I am sure it works and will do what is claimed. The problem is that the documentation varies between atrocious and non-existant, the source code is not well commented either.

Quite simply, I couldn't work out how to use it.
Sorry to hear you had troubles with this. ChrisOddy had recently got one, and IIRC he was quite happy with it, so I was tempted to get one too.
So I'll have to ask him more about his use of it.
Well, yesterday, I asked Chris about the Greaseweazle he'd bought. And he said he hasn't really had chance to use it, and has only done a 3D printed enclosure for it, so far.

So he's actually also yet to work-out how usable it will be to do what he wants. But I believe he had found some other people who said they were using these OK - And so I'd also been tempted to get one, if they were available at around £20? built / are open-source (so can make / modify your own version, if required).
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Old 17th Oct 2023, 6:28 pm   #8
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

Why not start a 'How do I use a Greaseweazle?' Thread? There surely must be someone here who has already gone through this process.

When you buy them, do they come with the firmware already flashed and ready to run, or is that something you are expected to do yourself?
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Old 17th Oct 2023, 8:44 pm   #9
Joe_Lorenz
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

Update:
I wouldn't have put a bet on this, believe it or not: My old Commodore 128 (made 1984 or so) is still alive and through it's CP/M module and a 1571 FDD we now can read some data (and maybe transfer to a modern system).
Just wondering how many of the old discs are still readable.
Joe
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Old 18th Oct 2023, 11:30 am   #10
TonyDuell
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Default Re: 5 1/4" disc drive with USB?

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Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
Why not start a 'How do I use a Greaseweazle?' Thread? There surely must be someone here who has already gone through this process.

When you buy them, do they come with the firmware already flashed and ready to run, or is that something you are expected to do yourself?
The board comes assembled, with the microcontroller flashed with the correct firmware.

I did manage to get the Windows software to run (that was not easy...) and it will communicate with the board. I can, for example, check drive rpm.

But further than that I can't figure it out. The people I've talked to who have one either seem to be in much the same position (bought it, got it to talk to the PC, nothing more) or have managed to do something that seems to be somewhat supported like reading an Atari ST disk. But going further than that is non-trivial.
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