USB floppy drive for pc to convert MSX discs to DSK

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By Thom

Hero (571)

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01-03-2019, 14:24

Help Crazy , my parents are clearing out the attic, including my MSX-stuff which has been eating dust there for 20+ years. I guess it's time to get it to my own place.

I would like to convert the floppy discs to dsk-images (if they're still working), but my Windows 10-pc doesn't have a disc drive. So, I was wondering which USB floppy drive is able to read both 360 kB (I had a VG 8235) and 720 kB discs? Some USB floppy drives cannot read 720 kB, according to their specifications, for instance this one: https://www.cheaphardware.nl/product/externe-usb-3-5-floppy-... (too bad, as this one is cheaper :evil: )

https://sandberg.it/nl-nl/product/USB-Floppy-Mini-Reader can read 720 kB, is it any good? Any other options I should consider?

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By zPasi

Champion (413)

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01-03-2019, 15:43

Any 3.5" USB drive should also read 720 kB. Writing to them may also work, but not necessarily.

I don't remember from where I purchased mine, but it was the cheapest I could find. There's no brand in it, it's just "USB Portable Diskette Drive", "Made in China" Wink

I also succesfully read single-sided 360 kB disks. That required some retro-floppy software, the OS support for those is long gone, I think.

By Thom

Hero (571)

Thom's picture

01-03-2019, 22:44

Thanks, I appreciate your help Smile
I reckon the retro floppy software you're referring to is OmniDiskImg?

By gdx

Prophet (2927)

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02-03-2019, 13:25

zPasi wrote:

Any 3.5" USB drive should also read 720 kB.

It depends on the characteristics of drive. USB drives of many recent laptops can't read/write 720k floppy disks. I have three USB drives but only two can read 720k.

By aclband1t

Rookie (24)

aclband1t's picture

03-03-2019, 08:57

I ordered this one recently. It certainly can read/write 720k disks on Fedora 29; however, I haven't yet tried direct image read/write (only file read/write). I expect it will work fine, but I can't guarantee anything.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0099QUECK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b...

By rderooy

Hero (568)

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03-03-2019, 16:01

Just make sure that, in case the media is HD, that you cover the HD hole with some non-translucent tape. Otherwise the disk drive may get confused and expect it to be formatted as HD.

Have a look here:
https://www.msx.org/wiki/How_to_make_a_floppy_disk_image

This assumes the disks are not copy protected in some way, or have an unusual layout, as USB floppy drives probably don't handle that well.

Also, I have not heard of any USB floppy drives that can handle 1DD (360kB) media. You can however read and write such disks with a legacy floppy controller and drive on a Linux PC.

By Wild_Penguin

Hero (541)

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04-03-2019, 09:11

There indeed exist USB floppy drives which can not write anything else except 1.44MB floppies.

These are missing the sensor altogether for the HD hole, and some do not even report themselves as a USB floppy (in Linux) but as a generic UMS device. Yeah, sucks. Also, I believe it is possible sometimes externally identical drives might be internally different from batch to batch!

There are of course the usual OS-related (COUGH Windows COUGH) problems, which can be worked around. There are many threads about it here (and elsewhere), as this is brought up quite often. But in case you need more help, just ask.

(I'm a happy owner of a DD capable USB floppy drive).

By zPasi

Champion (413)

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04-03-2019, 23:01

gdx wrote:
zPasi wrote:

Any 3.5" USB drive should also read 720 kB.

It depends on the characteristics of drive. USB drives of many recent laptops can't read/write 720k floppy disks. I have three USB drives but only two can read 720k.

Sorry I didn't know such nonstandard crap exists.

rderooy wrote:

Also, I have not heard of any USB floppy drives that can handle 1DD (360kB) media. You can however read and write such disks with a legacy floppy controller and drive on a Linux PC.

The device should not care if the floppy is double or single sided. It is softwares job. The drive just reads/writes sectors.

By Thom

Hero (571)

Thom's picture

08-03-2019, 18:42

Thanks all, I will order one soon (which can handle 720 kB) and will use Linux if Windows can't do it.

By rderooy

Hero (568)

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08-03-2019, 19:27

zPasi wrote:

The device should not care if the floppy is double or single sided. It is softwares job. The drive just reads/writes sectors.

Unfortunately, in the case of a USB FDD the software is embedded as firmware in the floppy drive, and the operating system (Linux, Windows or MacOS) has no control over the matter. This is part of the USB UFI specification which if how USB FDD should work according to the USB specification. If you need to support "non-standard PC formats", and that includes 1DD, or different numbers of tracks and such, your out of luck and will have to go to either a legacy FDD controller with Linux or buy some dedicated copy device.

By zPasi

Champion (413)

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08-03-2019, 23:22

@rderooy
I have succesfully read ss floppies with an usb drive, explain that!

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