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OT: Can modern PCs run 5-1/4" floppy drives?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Oct 5, 2007.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Folks,

    Got a new desktop from Dell (Vostro). Looking at the BIOS is only lists
    one drive letter (A) and just has the 3-1/2" option. Does this mean it
    can only run one floppy drive and it must be 3-1/2"?

    I wanted to put two in there, one being the lone 5-1/2" I've got so I
    can retire the old machine. Once in a blue moon a client wants me to
    redesign something from the ice age and often there is stuff on those
    old floppies. Which of course I then dutifully carry over onto a CD.

    Also, does anyone know the Foxconn G33M02 motherboard that's in those
    machines? Foxconn only has the specs for the G33M which is grossly
    different. Beats me why. Anyhow, I wanted to run LPT and RS232 off of
    there (guess I can forget that one...) and figure out whether it can
    drive two VGA monitors. The "documentation" that Dell furnished online
    this time was, to say it politely, mighty disappointing. Writing to OEM
    suppliers has never yielded much.
  2. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest


    About two years ago I finally took a week off and copied all my 5-1/4"
    archived design stuff onto CD's.

    My fear was not lack of a drive... but of a driver that would run
    under new OS's.

    Takes up a lot less space.

    Caution, make sure you make an index where you can look up which
    design is on what CD. I had literally thousands of schematics (which
    I converted to PDF to make sure of readability in the future).

    ...Jim Thompson
  3. google USB floppy, save a lot of problems

  4. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    For my own stuff I'm in the clear, did that long ago. But once in a
    while I have to salvage something where the original designer had been
    gone since more than a decade. Usually some kind of engineering test
    rig. Where's the code? Oh, wait there is that stack of stuff there in
    the back of the closet ... Luckily no eight-inchers so far. Those would
    have been a problem.

    Actually I could even get it into this new machine if I rip out that
    stupid flapper on the front bezel. Or heck, get rid of the front bezel.
    But the BIOS says there is no B-drive, only A and you can select "none"
    or "3.5" :-(

    I am afraid it's the BIOS and maybe the chip set on the motherboard
    itself that is going to suffocate 5-1/4.

    I still got my old DOS-OrCad here. Feels like hopping into grampa's old
    Plymouth Fury.
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I had done that. They seem to be all 3-1/2". Kludging a 5-1/4" in there
    can be a challenge as those things can cause some impressive current
    surges on the +12V rail.

    There is so little documentation with PCs these days. With my first IBM
    I got a huge stack of cloth binders in rigid pouches. Had everything in
    there down to the schematics. Nowadays you have to pry what little there
    is off a web site. Then you end up with 200 pages or so where someone
    drones on about how to connect to the Internet. Duh! Then comes the page
    with what you think is the VGA monitor info you are desparately looking
    for. Says "Plug'em in here", that's it. Great. Now I don't even know
    whether this mobo does dual-monitor.

  6. It is the EXACT same interface as the 3.5" form factor drives, so if
    the form factor shows up in your MOBO BIOS, a drive connected to said
    MOBO, and properly designated in the BIOS settings will most certainly
    show up on ANY of today's modern OSes. No drivers required.

  7. With a non-compliant MOBO, your only choice would be to get an add-on
    card like the old MFM/serial/parallel cards. Good luck finding one in
    PCI format. OR, buy a better brand of MOBO next time.

    No wonder you guys have shit slow experiences with Vista. You always
    buy bottom of the barrel crap.

  8. It runs fine on my VISTA box under DOSBox emu. and the Emu even kick it
    up a notch by converting the old 640x480 or 800x600 vga output to
    1280x768 no problem.

    I can post a screen shot of it and Tango PCB FILLING my 32" LCD

    No jaggies, just my apps working in whatever enviro I want!

    DOSBox rules. Wine is lame, and other emus too. VMWare is the only
    other thing that even comes close, but it nor Wine will work on my PS3
    PPC64, but DOSBox does!

  9. Your MOBO does NOT do dual monitor. It is your VIDEO card that is
    responsible for that, and support of the OS.
  10. Tam/WB2TT

    Tam/WB2TT Guest

    I would call Dell and ask.

  11. AZ Nomad

    AZ Nomad Guest

    At the hardware level, there is no difference between 3.5" floppies and 5.25"
    floppies. You can format one as the other. You can read either format no
    matter what the BIOS thinks. The only thing you need to do at the BIOS level
    is enable the controller. For formating floppies, you have to format the
    correct # of sectors/track. XP still has the capability; I don't know about
    that POS vista.
  12. It takes a true POS like you not to know.
  13. Guest

    Oh, gee, times like this, just put a system together from old parts.
    A 166 MHz Socket 7 chip and board, Windows 98, a PCI network card to
    transfer files to your main system, and you're set.

  14. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Problem is the BIOS shows only one drive A, no 2nd drive B like usual.
    And only 1.44MB, no choice of 1.2MB, else I could roach in a relay or
    something. I am pretty brazen when it comes to kludges ;-)
  15. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I've got that but it occupies to much space. Sez the missus ;-)
  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    End in India, usually, and then they say what's in the manual for BIOS
    settings (which say "nope").
    Ah, so I could possibly rig up a bunch of relays or bus switches and
    have a HW toggle up front? The BIOS will only recognize one floppy
    drive. So XP won't even get to see them I guess.
  17. Guest

    Mine resided in parts in the garage, until I assembled it to program
    AVR chips from the parallel port. It can go back to the garage if and
    when my wife complains about it occupying space in the living room
    (under the kids' desk). Either way, the case occupies the same volume
    whether or not it has useful parts inside.

  18. AZ Nomad

    AZ Nomad Guest

    Not dell. They'll tell you to 're-initialize' (reformat and blow
    everything away).

    You silly goose. All you need is the right cable. The standard floppy
    interface can handle two drives, either 3.5" or 5.25".

    The BIOS is just there to initialize the controller and load the OS. Once the
    OS is running, it is out of the picture. Any OS more modern than about DOS 2.x
    will re-initialize the floppy controller, scan for available drives, etc.

    Just get the cable and try it. You've nothing to lose.
  19. AZ Nomad

    AZ Nomad Guest

    you're pathetic.
  20. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    I'm thinking the only possible way amy be to add another contoller card. At one
    time Adaptec made SCSI controllers with floppy support too IIRC.

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