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View Full Version : How to make an head cleaning kit for 5.25" floppy drive (my way)



giobbi
July 18th, 2014, 11:12 AM
Hi all,

after a couple of days fighting with some old 5.25" floppy drives and *very* old (and **very** bad) 5.25" floppy disks, I discovered that probably the worst problem using old floppies, is the dust they tend to leave on the floppy drive heads. A single, bad floppy is enough to make your drive useless, until you clean its heads. It took some time to understand that; I believed I was having some troubles with a not reliable drive, but later I discovered that cleaning the heads solved the problem.

So, I had to find a simple way to clean the heads (I mean: avoid to put my fat fingers inside the drive ^_^ ). A cleaning kit would be fine, but those kits costs >15$ plus shipping, and take [eternity^2] to arrive here (thanks to the brazilian custom...). Since problems require solutions, I found a way that works quite fine, easy and for free...

I wrote a guide (well, just a couple of instructions), you can find it there: http://www.verrua.org/cleaning_kit_floppy/cleaning_kit_floppy.htm

I tested this method many times in these two days, and it worked fine and harmlessly.

Hope it can help.

cheers,
Giovi

Chuck(G)
July 18th, 2014, 12:53 PM
I wonder if a clean round coffee filter might do the same job.

Al Kossow
July 18th, 2014, 01:15 PM
I tested this method many times in these two days, and it worked fine and harmlessly.


You really want it to rotate. You're going to end up with one contaminated streak under the head.

I would think a coffee filter would work pretty good for this. Just cut it round with a scissors and cut
the inner hole with a hobby knife

giobbi
July 18th, 2014, 01:24 PM
I wonder if a clean round coffee filter might do the same job.

since you didn't put a smile, I'm not sure if you're serious or not ;-)

Serious answer: the laser copy paper is enough smooth to avoid damages; a rougher material could catch and break the thin foil where the head is mounted.

giobbi
July 18th, 2014, 01:30 PM
You really want it to rotate. You're going to end up with one contaminated streak under the head.

Of course you must to change the paper at every cleaning (I realized I didn't write this detail in my guide, but I will add it soon).
And you need to repeat the cleaning until the paper is clean.
And this method is just for heads that aren't too dirty.

The disk tends to be "glued" to the sleeve by the alcohol, so it could be hard to make the disk to spin. At least, with a paper disk the result isn't good (of course it was my first test).

Chuck(G)
July 18th, 2014, 02:06 PM
No I was serious. A coffee filter is more porous than a sheet of paper. The problem that I have with ordinary white bond/laser copy paper is that it often has additives to increase the whiteness, such as titanium dioxide.

I believe that the original cleaning disks were nonwoven spunbond polyester mat, today used in roofing materials and such. Unfortunately, I don't know where one could buy small quantities of the stuff.

Stone
July 18th, 2014, 02:32 PM
Since the real thing is still readily available I can't see wasting all that time and energy re-inventing the wheel. No pun intended! :-)

Caluser2000
July 18th, 2014, 02:48 PM
Well it seems the op doesn't have any readily available and made do with what he had on hand. Looks like it worked.

Ole Juul
July 18th, 2014, 03:20 PM
Well it seems the op doesn't have any readily available and made do with what he had on hand. Looks like it worked.
And kudos to him for making do. Project completed ahead of time and under budget. One can't say that very often. :)

amadama
July 18th, 2014, 03:56 PM
This sounds quite ingenious.
I will try this out on a known dirty Commodore 1541 disk drive.
Muito obrigado!
Alex

RickNel
July 18th, 2014, 05:03 PM
I'm sure this works as described. However, since the head movement is only on one axis, I agree with Chuck that something a little softer and nappier, like the coffee filter paper, would likely give the head a more thorough scrub and also hold more alcohol. Being softer, it might need to be placed on either side of paper to provide the support.

Another thought - instead of discarding the original cleaning linings from the sacrificed floppy, why not re-orient those linings to present a surface in the head aperture for the head-cleaning function?

Rick

giobbi
July 18th, 2014, 06:21 PM
Since the real thing is still readily available I can't see wasting all that time and energy re-inventing the wheel. No pun intended! :-)

Well, simply I needed one and I hadn't, so I chose the DIY way (I love DIY ^_^ ). Time and energy? Five minutes opening a floppy sleeve and cutting a paper, LOL

It worked, it was easy... why not? :-)

@Alex (amadama): I don't know if it will work on a 1541 drive, but it should. If you have some software or basic source code that can move the 1541 heads back and forth, I'm really interested in that (I have some 1541 and soon or later they will need a good cleaning) :D

luvit
July 19th, 2014, 06:15 AM
bravo.. this is something i've always wondered if it would work, but never had the backbone to try because i didn't have the time or money to deal with damages.. so if i didn't have a disk cleaner, out came the q-tips.
i've typically owned disk cleaners and the cleaner texture made me think coffee filter every time i pulled one out.

Stone
July 19th, 2014, 07:18 AM
Everybody who uses floppy drives repeatedly is going to need a disk cleaner sooner or later. It's just the nature of the media being used. That's why I've had and used them for 25 years. Otherwise you might wind up... dead in the water, so to speak.

giobbi
July 26th, 2014, 09:28 AM
I wrote a guide (well, just a couple of instructions), you can find it there: http://www.verrua.org/cleaning_kit_floppy/cleaning_kit_floppy.htm


moved at http://www.verrua.net/cleaning_kit_floppy/cleaning_kit_floppy.htm