View Full Version : My experience with 3.5” Floppy to USB Flash Reader

July 5th, 2010, 01:42 PM
HI !

I had a previous post on this device.

It is provided by PLRElectronics in Texas for about $300.

It emulates a 3.5” disk drive using a flash, thumb, etc drives.

With the recent demise reports of such 3.5” disk drives and disks, it can be a viable substitute for many computer systems.

Their web site provides a great deal of information, including PDF downloadable manuals / information / etc.


It is sold thru an embroidery web site, since it is used worldwide on many machines that do fabric work, especially in third world countries that cannot afford more modern computers with their machines. It is also used in the machining industry, among others I understand.

Just do a Google search.

But call customer service for specifics so you get the right version. You need it for an
“ IBM type of computer “ and not machinery that does other things that makes use of computing and disk drives.

I have tried it on an old early 2000 year Gateway running WIN XP and a 1990’s Gateway running MS-DOS 6.0 and it worked as advertised.

I have not tried it yet on some of our other computers – Compaq Presario running
WIN ME, Toshiba Satellite laptop running WIN 98SE, etc.

Ultimately, I hope to try it on one of our six [6] Kaypro 8 ‘s – Kaypro II’s modified to Kaypro 4’s modified to Kaypro 8 ‘ s using Microcornucopia parts directions. See my many posts on these, if interested.

However, for the past 2 months we have been very actively “just getting the job done” with our “downsizing / cleanout” of our home since 1974 and after very active lives in many ways of 40 years of marriage.

We finally found some good and reasonable local people to do this while we still can. So that has to take priority for now.

Will get back to these vintage computer projects when I eventually can.

But I wanted you to get at least this preliminary info ASAP.

Hope above is of some interest and use.

But note, since computing is so diverse, you may not have the experiences as I did with anything I may report.


July 5th, 2010, 04:06 PM
Hi Frank! Neat! $300 is a bit steep though!

I would love to see a Kaypro or general Z80 to uSD or IDE project develop. Over the last few days I've made a design for ECB to Z80 shim sockets and am getting ready to get some prototype PCBs to test them out. The plan being is to pull the Z80 out of the Kaypro, install it in this PCB and run a short 40 pin ribbon cable between the dual row header and a right angle cable connector on the Kaypro motherboard. Then the shim PCB plugs into a DiskIO or PropIO PCB and the builder can access either uSD or IDE. The builder can use either a straight or right angle DIN 41612 connector depending on what configuration is best for them.


You can see the ECB to PropIO shim prototype in action here


sort the photos so the latest are the top of the list. It is the most recent photos.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

July 6th, 2010, 05:07 PM

Nice to hear from you !

Boy have you been busy !

When I have more time I am going to have to go thru all 51 !

I am all for whatever, especially "cheap !"

But I just wanted to make some aware of this option but yes $300 is ..............

But for those in a bind, it may be all they have to use right now with +'s & -'s of course

As you probably know, there is a lot of "forensic" activity now with going back to old computers for legal, antiterroism, business, literary, historicial, etc. and they may not know about many of the options to get to those files on older computers, especially 5.25" disk, besides the 3.5".

So we will just have to see how it all pans out.

All the best & keep up all you are doing - "WOW" and that is shouting !


July 7th, 2010, 09:18 PM
I didn't read anything but the most recent post (excuse that.. heh) but I feel compelled to mention some $60 Floppy->USB units on eBay that I've had in my watch list for some time now.

July 8th, 2010, 09:42 AM
It seems to me that, at least for the vintage PC crowd, this scheme is bass-ackwards and probably has some severe limitations. For example, can you format and use alien formats (say, single-density Osborne I) with this setup? Can it handle copy-protected floppies correctly? (Lots and lots of old games are that way).

Given that most vintage PC folks are probably using an ISA-based FDC, why not emulate the whole shebang, FDC and all right from the bus? An underpowered uC could do the job quite easily, probably using an SD card for storage (since you'd have to implement a host controller for a USB stick, SD is easier and keeps the cost down).

The big advantage is that you can program the uC to simulate whatever kind of media you have, is not format-dependent and is much simpler to implement.

I could see one on a "combo" 8/16 bit ISA card along with a CF hard drive.

Of course, this may not help the CP/M and MP/M crowd, unless one wanted to make a plug-in replacement for a WD177x or WD179x controller chip, which wouldn't be beyond the pale.

Whatchya all think?

July 9th, 2010, 06:13 PM
Much thanks Chuck as always !

Since you asked -

We need a lot of input in such things so users can pick what is best for them.

No one option is best for all I think we all agree !

More specific details on what you are proposing would be helpful for those of us who are not even near your level of expertise - not even in the same universe - so much to learn - so little time in one life !

Some of us are still "novices" in many ways and just want to "get the project done" and it may be worth it - cost / effort / etc. wise - depending on so many factors.

To all - "Keep those comments coming !"