View Full Version : Floppy disk emulators.

November 18th, 2011, 11:34 AM
A piece of test equipment used at work uses 720k disks. As mention in another thread a floppy disk emulator might do as a drop in replacement. We've received an email from one manufacturer stating that the emulators need a 386 or higher to operate. I would've thought if the emulator is a straight swap for the fdd and the contoller can handle it the cpu type, in this case a 8088 based system, should be a non issue. The software supplied needs XP, to format the memory stick or sd card depending on the variant of emulator, but that's really a non issue.

Your thoughts please. I'm also curious if anyone on this forum has actually used one. I've read some real good success blogs of folk using them in a production enviroment. Prices have dropped quite a bit.

In case you're wondering I thought I'd start a separate thread on emulators because it may be of interest to other folk still using old kit and could benefit from them.

November 18th, 2011, 03:56 PM
Many posts on this site for deviceside and PLR devices- check them out - Chuck has some very good comments.

For me, they both work fine with my Kaypros, WinXP, Win ME and some other computers, but that is only me.

Good luck ! Please report back on this site on your results so we can continue to increase our knowledgebase on this site.


November 18th, 2011, 04:50 PM
If you get a commercial version, you'll probably keep your employer happy. Here's one:


and another:


Don't bother with the "kit" ones--you want something with a dealer that will stand behind the product.

November 18th, 2011, 05:38 PM
In the research I've done over the last few days I've noticed a lot of them appear to be rebadged either Indian http://www.floppytousb.net/ (reveiws from a few folk who've used these have been good. This includes folk using them in a cnc, embroidery, various music keyboards, and production robot enviroment) or Chinese produced items.

November 18th, 2011, 05:40 PM
AFAIK, these are standalone--no USB connections.

Really, it isn't hard to engineer one of these. Just a medium-scale C, a SD/CF/USB flash interface and some driver logic. Yes, they're overpriced for what they are, but you're really paying for support. If you opened one up, you'd find a gutless wonder.

Some of the kit ones (e.g. HxC) use very dated technology, which accounts for their component count to some degree.

November 18th, 2011, 05:49 PM
The one I linked to emulates up to 100 floppies, a block allocated for each one. You can select what block/floppy the device can access by selecting 0 thru 99. 0 being built in memory on the device and 00 thru 99 blocks/individual floppy disk space on the usb stick. Also it reads and writes. Depending on how its set up this can be 1.2meg, 720k, 1.44meg and can be used in non PC enviroments using different formats depending on your requirements. The disk images are on a usb(v1.1) stick which plugs into the emulator.. There's downloadable user manual if anyone wants to have a look it.

On the PLR item you need an extra device to use multiple blocks/disk images:

http://www.plrelectronics.com/lab/usb_floppy_emulator_technical_details_and_instruct ions.php

November 18th, 2011, 09:45 PM
Just flicked off an e-mail asking for a quote for one -$US 75 to the door. Compares well to the plr item, also has a 1 year replacement warranty.

Here's a link to the Chinese supplier- http://www.allyda.com/index.html
Same item by the looks. http://www.allyda.com/shownews/?16-1.html

November 18th, 2011, 10:21 PM
I think the limitation of 100 floppies is due to the display!

Consider that if you put an 8 GB (small for today) pen drive, you have space for more than 5,000 1.44MB floppies...

On my floppymulator design, I bring out a header that can either be connected to a USB cable or a small LCD display to select the desired disk. 64GB is not uncommon for flash media (pen/SDHC/CF) and that amounts to something like 40,000 1.44MB floppies (!). More than you'll ever own during your lifetime.

The downside of all of these emulators is that if the pen drive goes kablooie, you've lost all your floppy data, not just part of one disk.

So back things up regularly...

November 18th, 2011, 10:59 PM
Scary isn't it? That floppymulator sounds like the cats pjs Chuck. I actually found doing the research on this topic quite rewarding. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

Those HcX ones seem pretty cool 7142, can emulate two floppies at the same time and device support seems to be updated regularly.

November 21st, 2011, 01:06 PM
Bah, most of the emulators only emulate 5.25 and 3.5 inch floppy drives. Too modern for me.
Now, give me a hobby-priced emulator for 8 inch floppy drives, and one for ST-506 hard drives, then we can talk. :-)

November 21st, 2011, 07:47 PM
Bah, most of the emulators only emulate 5.25 and 3.5 inch floppy drives. Too modern for me.
Now, give me a hobby-priced emulator for 8 inch floppy drives, and one for ST-506 hard drives, then we can talk. :-)Unsure of the cost but they appear to be available:

http://www.datex-dsm.com/7wgo-7ty9o1bhkkh-7jld4.html http://www.datex-dsm.com/7wgo-7ty9o1bhkkh-7jld4.html

HxC emulators can emulate 8" drives I believe.http://www.retrocomputers.eu/2011/03/23/the-sd-card-based-hxc-floppy-emulator/

Also it would appear that you can use a 5.25 inch drive to replace of an 8" drive, so converting one of the 5.25 emulators can't be too hard for those capable of doing it. http://home.iae.nl/users/pb0aia/cm/8-525.html

November 21st, 2011, 08:40 PM
In fact, 5" and 3" HD and 8" drives all sport identical data rates--500Kbps. 5" HD and 8" drives spin at 360 RPM; 3"(generally) at 300 RPM.

On the other hand, as I've mentioned, MFM/RLL hard drives are a different kettle of fish.