An external 5¼" floppy drive for almost any vintage PC

An external 5¼

Show Video

i really like small form factor desktop pcs  because they can do nearly everything a full-size   computer can do while taking up not nearly as much  space however there's one thing most of them lack   and that is a five and a quarter inch disk  drive or even any space to install one for example this ncr and this tandy don't have  any five and a quarter inch drive bays at all   and this compaq does have a single five and  a quarter inch drive bay but it's taken up   by the optical drive and even if you  wanted to remove this and install a   five and a quarter inch floppy drive you  can't because its floppy drive controller   only supports a single floppy drive which would  be the internal three and a half inch drive obviously these days most people don't  use any kind of floppy disks anymore but   if you are a vintage computer enthusiast it's very  handy to have a five and a quarter inch disk drive   because it gives you access to old games software  and data you may have on this size of floppy disk   and it allows you to make use of computers which  only have five and a quarter inch floppy drives   or have a five and a quarter inch A: drive and  don't have a working hard drive in which case   the computer won't be usable unless you have some  way to make a five and a quarter inch boot disk luckily back in the day there were a variety  of external five and a quarter inch floppy   drives available such as this one that  radio shack sold as a companion to their   tandy 1000RL computer and unlike their  previous external floppy drives which use   the proprietary connector this one plugs  into a standard parallel printer port and despite being sold by radio shack and designed  to go with their tandy computers the only thing   tandy about it is the name that's printed on the  front this drive was actually made by a company   called micro solutions who made the long-running  backpack series of external floppy drives   cd-rom drives hard drives and tape backup drives  and in the documentation tandy says this drive   will work with any XT AT or PS/2 compatible  pc with a standard ibm type parallel port i've been wanting one of these ever since i got my  tandy 1000RL back in 2008 and just now in 2021 i   finally found one on ebay sold as is not  guaranteed to be working and not including   the power supply or driver disk luckily for me  this drive is in working condition and you can   download the driver disk for it from the tvdog  tandy 1000 archive site and also they have all   the documentation from it from their tandy faxback  archive and it takes a 12 volt ac power supply   not dc so i was able to find this power adapter  for it which works i think this came from a modem and this is a standard epson five and a  quarter inch high density disk drive so   if there was something wrong with this drive  I would be able to replace it fairly easily   and that's the unusual thing about this  even though it was designed to work with   xt class machines which normally don't have a high  density floppy drive controller built in because   this is an external parallel port drive with its  own driver software and controller chip in it   it's able to support high density 1.2 megabyte  disks as well as 360k double density disks on the back it has the permanently attached  parallel printer port cable a pass-through for   your printer and there's the input for the 12 volt  ac power supply it says it requires a current of   850 milliamps so this one amp supply is perfect  for it and also an on off switch and there's   the information sticker on the bottom it's tandy  model number 25-1087 sometimes printed as 250-1087   and yes i noticed it was missing one of the  retaining screws for the pass-through printer port   so i was able to find one in my box of  screws and its case is made entirely of metal with the cover removed we can see a very  standard looking five and a quarter inch   epson floppy drive it has the terminating resistor  installed and it's set to drive select one and   there is the standard card edge connector  connected to this small circuit board which   has the dc power supply providing 5 and 12 volts  dc through the standard molex plug and it has   the controller chip hiding underneath there  and there you can see the floppy drive is an   epson sd-680L and while i have it open i did  remove this shield and clean the drive heads with the drive plugged into power but not  connected to a computer yet we don't get any   signs of life if we turn on the power not even  a flash from the indicator led but that's normal and if you want to use this drive  with the tandy 1000RL computer   tandy originally listed it in their catalog as  may require modification to use it with the 1000RL   and here i'll show you exactly what that  modification is that's because as shipped   from the factory the 1000RL does not have the  select pin connected to the parallel printer port   so there's a jumper you have to add to the  motherboard to enable that first you have to   remove this daughter board you just unscrew  it from the top here and it just lifts out   and then you get access to that jumper pin  right next to the printer port you see pins   labeled e2 e3 and e4 what you got to do is add a  blob of solder connecting e2 and e3 you may also   be able to use one of those conductive circuit  trace pens but i just added a blob of solder and   that enables the select pin to be connected to the  printer port allowing you to use the drive with it now i have the drive turned on and connected  to my tandy 1000RLX and i could make up some   excuse as to why i switched from the RL to the  RLX such as this one has VGA output so i can   use it with an lcd monitor which is easier to  film but the real answer is for whatever reason   i couldn't get this drive to work with the 1000RL   even after following tandy's instructions  about that modification that needs to be done it did recognize the drive but whenever  i tried to access it there was no   sign of life from the drive itself it  didn't even turn on the led or spin the   disk and the computer would lock up to  such an extent that i couldn't even hit   control alt delete to restart it i would  need to turn it off and turn it back on and in the 1000RL setup program there is an option  called parallel OE i have no idea what that means   it's normally turned on by default i tried  turning it off but that made no difference   and then just as a sanity check i tried disabling  the parallel port and then the driver complained   it couldn't find the drive so that proves  the port is working to at least some extent   but i realized i never actually tested the  parallel port on the 1000RL with any other devices so i connected my okidata dot matrix printer to  the pass-through port on the back of the drive   and with that connected i was able to print  a text document to the printer so that proves   the port is working but for some reason i just  can't get the drive to work with it so that's   why i switched to the 1000RLX and spoiler  alert i already tested it i know it works and here are the disks i'm going to try using it  with i have a copy of the chessmaster 2000 on a   360k disk i'm gonna try running that game i have  a blank 360k disk that i'm going to try formatting   and one of the very few high density 1.2  megabyte disks i own i don't have very many   of these because by the time i got a high  density five and a quarter inch disk drive   at the same time i got a high density  three and a half inch disk drive   which has higher capacity and  obviously the disks are smaller   and in my experience more reliable so i just  didn't have a need to use these high density five   and quarter inch disks but i do at least have one  here that i'm going to try using and formatting   and of course i have the three and a half inch  disk that i copied the driver software onto when you unzip the contents of the driver file  that you download from the tandy 1000 archive   website here's what you'll get and the easy way to  install it is just to run the extsetup program it   comes with but if you're not afraid of editing the  config.sys file it's easy to install it manually   just copy these files to some location on your  hard drive and then you add a device command to   the config.sys file pointing to the location of  the extdrvr.sys file it comes with in this case i   put it in my utilities directory and on the end of  it you indicate the drive letter you want to use   in this case the computer only has one floppy  drive so i can use the external drive as B: and there's one other option you can add and  that's called nonstop what that does is if   you do not have the drive connected or turned  on instead of giving you an error message and   waiting for you to press the escape key it just  skips over it and continues so if you don't intend   to have the drive connected and turned on all  the time it's easier to add this nonstop option and now when you restart the computer  you'll see the message on a screen   saying the following tandy  external drive is available   in this case is assigned to drive letter  B: five and a quarter inch 1.2 megabyte

so now i'll try it with the chessmaster  2000 disk put it in the drive type B: and bring up a directory a lot of files on this disk but to run it you just type autoexec and there we go the chessmaster 2000  running from the external floppy drive   i'll select rgb color monitor this game predates  vga so it's only going to be i guess ega at best and there it is the chessmaster 2000 game and here we go that high density disk let's   see what's on it a lot of file names i don't recognize but  i'll see what's in that first directory dlny oh there is a program in there  dl let's see what that is something about lawyers i would guess dl drafting libraries by  attorney's computer network are you a sole practitioner yes enter your name  as it should appear in documents we recommend   that you use initial capital letters and end  with esq. which is short for esquire so i'll   just do vwestlife esquire street address i'll put  in their example here 101 main street suite 201 washington dc oh what is the zip for that 20101 or  something like that telephone number 555-555-1234 current year let's see if  this is y2k compatible 2021 a dual floppy ibm pc some other  computer with two floppy drives   ibm xt at ps/2 or any clone with a hard drive  designated as drive c so i'll choose that option do you wish to use the floppy  drive usually no i'll say no most people copy the numbers disks into the  forms subdirectory on the hard disk are you   going to use or have been using c: backslash forms  to store the numbers disk usually yes i'll say yes i don't have any of those installed but i'll say  wordperfect most law offices traditionally use the   larger 10 pitch type but some law offices prefer  the smaller type it says usually no so i'll say no   do you wish to change the default left  margin answer no okay i'll say no then   so many questions i'll just use the defaults okay it says been completed so what did  it put it in it's in the forms directory   and well where did it go i don't see any new directories on the hard drive  so what did it just put it back on the floppy well whatever it proves  that the floppy drive works well since i don't really care what's on  that high density disk i'll try formatting it   and this is where you may run into another snag   the documentation for the drive says  it should work with the normal dos   format command but when i try to do it it just  immediately says track zero bad disk unusable   so i have to use the extfmt program that it came  with to format the disk and now it should work what? it was just working now it works okay see i don't like  these high density disks they're just   so much more unreliable than 360k disks at least now it looks like it's  working now the format is complete and   just as i suspected it did find some bad sectors  so there you go proof that these high density   five and a quarter inch disks are just  not that reliable i don't like using these you may be wondering because this  drive was made by the same company   that made the backpack drives and is basically  identical to one does it work with a backpack   driver and unfortunately the answer  is no as you can see i tried loading   the driver for a backpack drive and  it just says the drive was not found another thing you may be wondering is  since it just uses a standard five and a   quarter inch floppy drive with the standard  interface cable and power connectors could   you take that drive out and put something  else in like a three and a half inch drive   or an older 360k five and a quarter inch drive and  initially the answer looks like it could be yes   because if you snoop in the contents of the device  driver program for it you can clearly see it list   options for five and a quarter inch 360k five and  a quarter inch 800k which is not a typical format   five and a quarter inch 1.2 megabyte three  and a half inch 720k three and a half inch   1.4 megabyte he even lists three and a  half inch 2.8 megabyte and an 8 inch drive and if you look further down in the file  where it shows all the settings you can use   there you can see the nonstop option i mentioned  earlier and it has another option where you can   specify which port you have it connected to  for example if you have two parallel ports   you can tell it lpt2 to use the second one but  notice there's an option that says drivetype so   let's edit the config.sys file and add on the end  here drivetype equals 360 and see if that works but when we restart even with that drivetype  set to 360k it still says 1.2 megabyte and you   may think maybe i just didn't type it correctly  maybe i need to type like 360kb or something like   that so let's try that and now it complains that  it's unrecognized parameter so i did have it right   the first time so for whatever reason even though  those options are there for different drive types   it doesn't work it just permanently set  to five and a quarter inch 1.2 megabyte

now that i proved that the drive works with at  least one vintage tandy computer that it was   originally meant to be used with how about i try  using it with a more modern non-tandy computer   here is probably one of the newest computers you  can use with this drive it's an ibm thinkpad t20   it's a pentium III laptop which has a parallel  printer port and it's running windows 98 second   edition which is the last version of windows  which supports real mode dos drivers for devices   such as this because i doubt windows has a plug  and play driver for this i also connected a usb   3.5 inch disk drive so i can load the driver  for this drive but first i'll just try turning   it on and letting windows start up and see if it  recognizes this drive at all which i doubt it will despite what the desktop background may  suggest this is windows 98 second edition   and so far has not recognized any new hardware  so i'll go into the control panel and i'll   click on add new hardware again i'm not  expecting this to work but i'm gonna try   anyway okay i already knew about  these two devices so those are not new no it's not in that list do you wanna search for new hardware yes  okay let's try and just as i suspected   it didn't find anything so we'll need  to add that driver to the config.sys   file just like we did in dos and i actually didn't  have a config.sys file on this computer because  

windows 98 just does everything automatically so  i created one and i inserted this device command aha the following tandy external  drive is available drive B:   five a quarter inch 1.2 megabyte what? well it turns out the driver is working  on this computer but as soon as windows   98 tries to load it it just craps out and  can't access anything on the hard drive   my guess is this is happening because the driver  for it is not fat32 compatible so if you used it   on a windows 95 or 98 machine where the hard drive  is formatted as fat16 then it probably would work so i pulled out my toshiba satellite 105cs  laptop which is a pentium it's running   pc dos 2000 and windows 3.11 i installed  the driver and it's working fine so as long as you have a computer that's  running pure dos and it has a fully ibm   compatible parallel port and by the way it does  not need to be a bidirectional parallel port i still don't know why i couldn't get it to work  with the 1000RL even after doing the modification   that tandy said it should work with but otherwise  if you have an old pc that's running dos and it   has a parallel port and you want to add a five  and a quarter inch disk drive this would work fine now if you can get one of those backpack  drives that would be even better   because those actually do have  drivers for windows 95 and 98 at least i've proven that there's  nothing tandy specific about this drive   other than the name that's on the front of  it overall i'm very happy with it because   it's a practical solution to add a  five and a quarter inch disk drive   to a computer that ordinarily only  has a three and a half inch disk drive

2021-11-28 20:10

Show Video

Other news