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Thread: How to make an IDE cable?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Tasmania, Australia
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    Default How to make an IDE cable?

    I've realised I'm probably best off making my own IDE cable for my 386 machine. Its interior is pretty tight in places, and the layout means it's also quite a stretch to attach both drives (a 3 1/2 and a 5 1/4). I'm pretty sure I've ruined the one I'm using because of trying to squeeze and stretch it in so hard. (One of the drives has become quite touchy as a result.) I really need one custom made to the right size.
    A bit of googling makes the job sound relatively straightforward, but these things rarely turn out that simple for me.
    So I'm just after a bit of advice about any potential pitfalls before I go and order the parts.

    Specific questions:
    What part numbers/descriptions should I look for, especially for the connectors? How specific do I need to be? Will any 34 pin edge connector of the right size work for the 5 1/4 drive for example, or are there other considerations?
    Are all ribbon cables basically the same?
    Do I need a crimping tool, or will a vise suffice?
    Is there any trick to attaching the connector over the "twist"?

    Thanks for the info!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sioux Falls SD
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    Default

    When I saw IDE cable, I thought about a 40-pin IDE hard drive cable, but you need a floppy drive cable. The connector to the motherboard and the 3.5" floppy is an IDE-34 connector, such as http://www.pacificcable.com/Picture_...DataName=IDE34

    The card edge connector is an IDC-34 connector, such as
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/34-Pin-Card...-/391819362310

    Or you could try to find a longer floppy drive cable, such as
    https://www.amazon.com/CablesOnline-...gateway&sr=8-3

    I've made cables with a vise and a crimping tool. Either will work as long as you are patient. Be careful on orienting the connector on the cable so pin 1 is on pin 1.

    For the twist, I make the cable a bit longer than needed so that it extends past the connector. You can stabilize the twist with tape, then trim the excess after crimping.

  3. #3

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    I've got some NOS, 36" universal floppy drive ribbon cables if anyone's interested.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  4. #4

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    There are also round IDE cables, which may be more practical than trying to squeeze a flat one through limited space.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    There are also round IDE cables, which may be more practical than trying to squeeze a flat one through limited space.
    He doesn't want an IDE cable -- he misspoke. He wants a 34 conductor floppy cable.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Tasmania, Australia
    Posts
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    He doesn't want an IDE cable -- he misspoke. He wants a 34 conductor floppy cable.
    Correct. I've always just called every ribbon cable inside a computer an IDE cable - a bad habit from never having been corrected by anybody who knows better!


    Quote Originally Posted by lafos View Post
    When I saw IDE cable, I thought about a 40-pin IDE hard drive cable, but you need a floppy drive cable. The connector to the motherboard and the 3.5" floppy is an IDE-34 connector, such as http://www.pacificcable.com/Picture_...DataName=IDE34

    The card edge connector is an IDC-34 connector, such as
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/34-Pin-Card...-/391819362310

    Or you could try to find a longer floppy drive cable, such as
    https://www.amazon.com/CablesOnline-...gateway&sr=8-3

    I've made cables with a vise and a crimping tool. Either will work as long as you are patient. Be careful on orienting the connector on the cable so pin 1 is on pin 1.

    For the twist, I make the cable a bit longer than needed so that it extends past the connector. You can stabilize the twist with tape, then trim the excess after crimping.
    Great, that's just the info I'm after!

    I was thinking about getting a longer cable, but as I've said, in addition to needing to stretch it a long way, there is also quite little space, so I have a fairly narrow window of length that will work.

  7. #7

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    FWIW, putting this cable together yourself will likely cost about twice as much as buying a fully assembled one.

    And then there's always the possibility of not getting everything lined up exactly correct during assembly and having it not work or maybe worse.
    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 Bworp View Post
    ......I was thinking about getting a longer cable, but as I've said, in addition to needing to stretch it a long way, there is also quite little space, so I have a fairly narrow window of length that will work.
    I tend to Re-work IDE / Floppy cable's to the length i need, I usually find with Pre-made cables they are either way too long / too short or the right length but the secondary conector's are in the wrong place on the cable, If you're careful you can usually remove the connectors without damaging them and move them as required, I have a box full of used cables i keep for that purpose and have some new connectors just in case i need them. I use a table top vice, It takes a bit of practice at first but certainly doable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Kamloops, BC, Canada
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    Default

    I've also just recycled old cables to make my own. The crimping process goes a lot easier if you have a vice or duck bill vice grips to evenly press the entire length at once if you would rather not buy the specialty tool.
    There are also round IDE cables, which may be more practical than trying to squeeze a flat one through limited space.
    NEVER USE THESE.
    These defeat the purpose of each signal line being separated by a ground on higher speed disks and controllers for the purpose of reducing noise and crosstalk. These things are terrible. That being said, those cables that at least braided their pairs were a little bit better.
    = Excellent space heater

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Central VA
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    4,633

    Default

    Same, always just reworked old cables. I had the special tool for IDC dual row connectors, ended up selling it, I find a small arbor press is a lot more convenient. A vise also works, like NeXT said. You could probably make do with a C clamp.

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