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Thread: 360k Floppy Drive

  1. #1
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    Question 360k Floppy Drive

    Long winded first post coming.

    I am a high school student who has recently discovered the world of vintage computing. That being said the first computer I bought was an IBM 5160. It is maxed out on ram, has one full height 360k floppy drive and a 10mb hard drive. This was all good and well, but I didn't have any software for it. Enter computer number two, an IBM 300GL with a Pentium 2. My plan was to download software off the internet on a modern computer, put it on the Pentium machine to write the files to a floppy disk, then finally have software on the 5160. I bought a used 1.2mb floppy drive to use in the Pentium machine. After hours of getting the floppy drive to work it reads and writes fine, but the 5160 will not read the disks. I have tried many of the suggestions on the forum on how to get different floppy drives to work together, with no successful results. I have looked online and am not willing to pay the outrageous prices for a 360k floppy drive, so I was wondering if anyone has or knows were a reasonable 360k half height floppy might be.

  2. #2
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    Without spending any money, I'd say switch the floppy drives around and put the 1200k drive in the 5160. A 1200k drive can read 360k disks just fine but can't write them reliably. If I had a drive to spare I'd set it aside for you but all of mine seem to be going bad at once lol

  3. #3
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    YMMV when it comes to writing 360K disks in a 1.2MB drive. Officially it doesn't work. In practice it might. I'm lucky that the particularly combination of drives I have do work together but in your case obviously not.

    What you could do is buy a male-male parallel cable (often sold as a laplink cable) then temporarily connect the 360K drive to your 300GL. It won't fit inside the case but it will work. Finally make yourself a boot disk and copy INTERLNK onto to it.

    From that point you will be able to boot the 5160 and copy anything you need to floppy (or the hard drive, if it's still working) over the parallel cable using INTERLNK/INTERSVR.

  4. #4
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    There are a few gaps in your question that need filling in. Cannot assume everything?

    I understand that you have a 360k drive in the 5160, and a 1.2 Mb drive in the Pentium. That's OK. But, what formats are you using, and what disks are you using.

    The 360k (40T) drive should be able to read a 40T format even though it's written using a 80T drive. You ARE writing the disk using a 40T format? BUT, you should also be using 40T (DSDD) disks, and NOT HD disks. Also, if you write a 40T format using an 80t drive onto a disk that has previously had an 80T format put on it, or a 40t format written by a 40t drive, then you will leave residue from the previous format which the 40T drive will pick up, and be confused by. In which case, use a magnet to carefully wipe the disk, and then use the 80T drive to write the 40T format onto it.

    NB, the magnetic material in the 40T and 80T (HD) disks are quite different. Hold the disks up to a light and see the difference in transparancy. The magnetic properties of the formatting are different, to suit the material. Mixing the two combinations MIGHT work, but it will not be reliable, so I'd not risk it.

    Please check these things out, and report back.

    Geoff

  5. #5
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    A high density drive won't work in a 5160 because of the lack of BIOS and controller support. The 5160 won't know to skip tracks or handle the 360 RPM of the high density drive.

    The next cheapest option would be to pick up Laplink or equivalent and transfer files to the hard disk over a cable. Most of these file transfer programs had short bootstrap instructions where a short BASIC program or DEBUG script would start receiving the full program. No floppy disk needed.

    If you have a later BIOS 5160, it could handle a 3.5" floppy drive (720kB). It will at least be cheaper than finding a 360kB floppy drive.

  6. #6
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    If it were me, I'd also just want a 360k drive in both machines. Much, much, much less of a headache.

    Asking prices on eBeh and shipping costs have been getting insane lately. I still think a fair price for a typical half height 5.25" drive is about $25 but shipping will usually add at least $10. If you are very patient, reasonably priced ones come up ocasionally, but they do sell quickly.

  7. #7

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    You could try formatting the floppies in the 360k drive before writing the data to them in the 1.2M drive. That sometimes works fine. It won't hurt to try.

    Laplink is definitely a possibility and all you will need is a cable, either serial or parallel; the parallel cable is a lot faster.

    I have a Newtronics D503V just like this one:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-New....c100012.m1985

    If you're interested in that you can make a reasonable offer and I will surely consider it.
    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 krebizfan View Post
    If you have a later BIOS 5160, it could handle a 3.5" floppy drive (720kB). It will at least be cheaper than finding a 360kB floppy drive.
    The beauty with this is that 1.44MB drives are still available cheaply and if connected to a 720K only controller they will function perfectly as a 720K drive.

    Although you should then use real DD disks with it I've yet to encounter a problem with covering the second hole over on an HD disk and formatting it down to DD.

    It would also then be much simpler to move data across between the two systems (you could even get a USB 3.5" floppy drive for your modern PC although I would source an older branded one if you're relying on 720K support; el-cheapo Chinese tat usually doesn't support anything other than 1.44MB disks).

    All of that said, it just seems wrong using 3.5" disks on an XT

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by cwathen View Post
    Although you should then use real DD disks with it I've yet to encounter a problem with covering the second hole over on an HD disk and formatting it down to DD.
    I remember ~ 30 years ago when we were punching holes in 720k disks and using them as 1.4M disks. I still have some lying around and I've actually been able to read them successfully for the most part.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  10. #10
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    You could try to find a Micro Solutions BackPack parallel port floppy drive. Probably a bit more expensive solution, but it can be used with any DOS PC with a parallel port. I have two of them and have used them with my PCjr, DTK turbo 8088, and Commodore Colt. When not needed, I don't load the driver as it can interfere with PC speaker sound in some software.
    PCjr, DTK PC-XT Turbo, 386DX 33, 486 laptop, Pentium 120, Pentium III 500, various old laptops, Commodore Colt, all working. I also have a 286 that I need to see if I can repair.

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