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Thread: Thinking of building a Tweener.

  1. #1
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    Default Thinking of building a Tweener.

    I need to make a system that can transfer data between different size (physical and capacity) floppies.

    From what I've gathered already, the system should run Windows 98SE, have ISA and PCI slots, onboard IDE and dual floppy controllers, and if possible USB.

    I'm sure I can find the components, but I have a question: Is it possible to run ALL floppy sizes in one machine at the same time with additional floppy controllers?

    If not, are there drives that can reliably write more than one type of floppy?

  2. #2
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    Depends on the utility and the programs and the floppy controllers. I have a 6-floppy system using Micro Solutions Compaticard IV boards--each CCIV is capable of running up to 4 drives. Some low-level utilities don't like to use alternate I/O port, interrupt and DMA, however.

    Buf if you're asking if it's possible to set up a system with 2 drives, one 3.5 and one 5.25" HD, well, of course it is.

  3. #3
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    Exactly what types of machines/drives will you be inter-operating with?

    The main issue with disk and drive compatiblity is between 360k and 1.2mb drives. 1.2mb drives can not reliably write 360k disks (there are ways to make them "work"), and obviously 360k drives can't do anything with 1.2mb disks.

    Ideally, one would usually want a 1.44mb drive (writes 720k disks fine), a 1.2mb drive, and a 360k drive.

    But you will probably have to pick two.

    Most motherboards and controllers only support two floppy drives. There are some rare 8-bit ISA controllers that support 4. In theory, changing the I/O address of an ISA floppy controller might let you use two additional drives, but would require a special BIOS or installing a device driver. Most don't have that option. No idea how those would work inside Windows.

    One, probably less troublesome, option is to have two "tweeners" one with a 360k and another with a 1.2mb.

    Another option is to have a 360k and 1.2mb internal and use a USB 1.44mb drive (you will want to hunt down one that supports 720k). But USB can not handle oddball formats or copy protection.

    Also, keep in mind that with a tweener you are still limited to MFM (and FM if you are lucky) encoded disks such as those used by the IBM PC. If you wish to use Apple II, Commodore, or such, then you will need a Kryoflux and/or SuperCard Pro.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Depends on the utility and the programs and the floppy controllers. I have a 6-floppy system using Micro Solutions Compaticard IV boards--each CCIV is capable of running up to 4 drives.
    That's what I wanted to hear. Thanks!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    Exactly what types of machines/drives will you be inter-operating with?
    Just PC-Compatibles. I have a few disks already but they're not too reliable.

    I like your idea of using a USB floppy for the 3.5" disks. Thanks!

  6. #6
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    My Tweener has a 1.44 and a 1.2Mb drive in it. It seems to write data to 360k floppies with no issue, however it cannot format 360k at all, so I just format that on one of my old machines with a 360Kb drive. And obviously I am limited to IBM formats with this.

    That said, one of the things I always try to do is get a 1.44 or 720kb drive working in the old machine. Much easier to work with.

    IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
    IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
    Evergreen Am5x86-133 64Mb Ram, 8gb HDD, SB16 in a modified ATX case running IBM PC-DOS 7.10

  7. #7

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    IMO, a tweener should run DOS, primarily, not Windows. Many of the operations you will be performing are more DOS friendly than Windows friendly. Most of the programs you will be using will be DOS programs. Dropping to DOS in Windows to perform DOS operations will not always leave you with a smile on your face.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    IMO, a tweener should run DOS, primarily, not Windows. Many of the operations you will be performing are more DOS friendly than Windows friendly. Most of the programs you will be using will be DOS programs. Dropping to DOS in Windows to perform DOS operations will not always leave you with a smile on your face.
    Mine is Windows 98 with a fully configured DOS Mode. This allows me to work with Winimage in Windows as well as networking to get data to and from it from my server and main workstation. If I need to do things in pure dos, then I just restart in DOS Mode. Works for me and I've not run into any major problems doing this.

    IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
    IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
    Evergreen Am5x86-133 64Mb Ram, 8gb HDD, SB16 in a modified ATX case running IBM PC-DOS 7.10

  9. #9
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    Mine is a dual-boot WinXP/Win98SE machine with the ability to boot in DOS mode. My internal drives are 360K and 1.44 MB. I have a 1.2MB drive on rails installed, where I simply move the cable from one of the other drives. Since I am a TRS-80 guy, 1.2MB floppies are not often used, except when I need them on the PC itself.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    In theory, changing the I/O address of an ISA floppy controller might let you use two additional drives, but would require a special BIOS or installing a device driver.
    I tried it with a few "multi I/O" cards, and failed.
    Yes, there's plenty of such cards with option to select secondary FDC address, but IRQ and DMA remain the same, and the cards I tried obviously fail to share those resources.

    So I'm using one of those 4-floppy cards, with its own BIOS.

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