Emulator 3.5 ″ drive - stick a flash drive into your 386.

Whatever they say about the fact that on the street 21century and everyone lives in the clouds, floppy disks will not leave us soon. There is still a bunch of equipment that feeds on floppy disks — machine tools, synthesizers, just old computers — and you need to somehow exchange information with it. But on modern computers for a long time there is no built-in drive controller. “So there are USB drives,” an invisible but random passerby will say. There is. The problem is more in the media than in the drives.

This is 20-30 years ago, floppy disks could be consideredmore or less reliable information carrier (until they lie on a magnet). And the last few years, from a pack of 10 pieces, it’s good if 2-3 decent ones come across, and sometimes even less. In order not to suffer with modern floppy disks, a hardware emulator of the drive was created. It connects to the same controller as a regular 3.5 "drive, but uses a USB flash drive as the media.
Purchase and delivery There were no problems with the purchase, it was traveling a little over two weeks, with the track.
Appearance The kit includes the device itself and a disk with documentation and software.

The front panel has a three-digit digital display, a USB port, two control buttons and an activity indicator.

At the back is a regular 34-pin drive connector,power connector and several jumpers for configuration. Although from the settings there is only a choice of the device number on the cable - the first or second. I didn’t touch anything, and it works like that.

The insides.

The largest chip, unsharp, but something can be disassembled.

Dimensions compared to a conventional drive.


The device comes with a disc,which contains several programs in Chinese, some advertising, documentation in Chinese and documentation in Chinese English. Almost everything is useless, I could not use any program. They showed a bunch of hieroglyphs, occasionally flickering words about 2000 and XP, but when I tried to do something with a flash drive, the message "access is impossible" flashed, even when run as administrator.


Although there is still winhex with keygen - it is proposed to use it to create floppy disk images. And the attached instructions even mention that you need to use keygen for registration.
Preparing a flash drive The only useful informationfrom the disk - this is what you can prepare a flash drive for working with the device by sticking it into the connector, holding both buttons and applying power. Then the flash drive will be formatted for use. The rest is almost useless.
But if the device is already installed in the case, then it can be inconvenient to apply the clamp buttons and simultaneously plug in the power, therefore it is easier to use a specially trained program.
On the Internet there is a program from a European office (which site is no longer available), designed to work with a similar emulator. Just in case, I spread itone more place, more copies, useful and identical.
After installation (preferably not in program files, but insome other folder - the program wants to write to its directory, although this behavior is customizable), you can run USB_Floppy_Manager_v1.40i and see the Batch Manage Tool program window. Programmers were somewhat inconsistent.

An attentive person will see something in common with the Chinese program. Yes, there is something. But at least the letters are clear, unlike the Chinese.

On the left is a list of connected flash drives.

Before use, you need to right-click on the desired flash drive and format it.

In this window, you can once again verify that youformat the correct flash drive, select the size of the disks, whether to make them bootable when formatting (the minimum set of files is thrown), choose how many diskettes you want to have on the flash drive. In theory, the device itself supports up to a thousand (0-999), but on the part of this software support only up to 100 (0-99). It’s enough for me.

Formatted computer flash driveperceived as a 1.44 megabyte USB drive. Well, depending on how much you format it (1.44, 1.2, 720k). There you can write something, read - it will then be normally visible on the zero “diskette”. Although someone wrote that when trying to upload a large file there, other images may be corrupted. I did not come across it myself, but just in case I use direct recording infrequently, and I keep the zero diskette free, only the tag file is lying there, in case I suddenly forget that this is a flash drive for the emulator. In disk management, by the way, a flash drive is visible to its full extent as a single partition (I have two gigabytes).

After formatting, you can proceed to work with"Floppy disks." Their list is on the right side of the window. Sequence number, volume, filling, date of the last update. There is no additional information, such as signatures.

Here you can open the “diskette” to work with it, save the changes, write the image to the diskette and save the contents of the diskette to the image. Well, format a specific diskette, not all together.

When you open the "floppy disk" (Open) contentsIt is copied to the hard drive in the working folder, where you can work with files - add, delete, edit. At the end of the work, you must return to the program window and click “Save” on the desired diskette - otherwise the changes will not be written to the disk, and when the diskette is reopened, it will be deleted from the working folder. When you close the program, the files are not deleted and live until you open the "floppy disk" again - after that they will be overwritten.
It uses img files for floppy disk images. It doesn’t support any non-standard formats, so forget about installing Windows 95 from floppy disks, there were 1.6 floppy disks formatted if the memory does not change. Only a bootable normal size was.
You can select several "floppy disks" and perform batch operations on them.

Opening will copy the contents of the selected "floppy disks"to disk and send you to the root of the working directory of the program, and not to a specific diskette. Saving will write the changes to the selected “floppy disks”. Formatting - formats through the same standard window. And recording an image will write one image to the selected “floppy disks”. It’s not possible to record several different images. Just as there is no way to save several “floppy disks” into images - this will have to be done individually.
Well, that’s all from the software side.
The program does not require admin rights for work - unless, of course, the working folders are moved outside the Program files.
Works fine on Windows 10 x64.
How to use it all First, connect instead of the drive.

When power is applied, zeros on the display light up. Dots indicate the absence of a flash drive in the drive.

If you stick a flash drive, then the points disappear. The buttons on the right toggle the number of floppy disks. The right button in a circle switches the units, the left one - tens, the simultaneous pressing of both - hundreds. When accessing the "floppy disk" the light is on. The device does not emit sounds during operation. I’m not going to shoot a video of the work.

Well, a little speed test.
Windows 98SE, full formatting of a floppy disk (from pressing the "Start" button to the appearance of a window with the result):
Drive: 1:55
Emulator: 1:47
Copying a folder with files of 1 megabyte size - 1048576 bytes (DOS from Windows 98SE, copy *. * A: \):
Drive: 45 seconds
Emulator: 34 seconds
Virtues

  • Exists.
  • Works.

disadvantages

  • It works silently, so it creates a feelinginhibitions. A regular drive also slows down, but it makes sounds - you can hear that it works. And this one, after receiving the dir command, for example, will shut up, shut up and give the result after about the same time as the drive. This silent pause is perceived as a brake. Yes, and also can not play music because of silent operation.
  • Problems with native software, you need to look for an alternative.
  • Not universal, emulates a specific typethe drive is 3.5 "HD. But some devices require DD (some synthesizers) and it’s not easy for them to“ format the floppy disk ”to 720, give them a suitable device. The manufacturer also claims other drives (1,2, 720) - but this it’s what other devices, “floppy disk” parameters are flashed and do not change, hence the problems with non-standard formats.
  • There are no comments on the recorded floppy disks, therefore the index must be maintained independently - in a file, on a piece of paper, in the head ...

Alternatives With analogues and alternatives a little tight. They are more intended for another.
First, there is Kryoflux.

This is a converter for connecting regular drives.to USB port. And, first of all, it is intended for saving images of floppy disks (well, writing them back to floppy disks). In the merits - that works with almost all formats. In the minuses - this is not a replacement for the drive itself. Well, it can not be seen in the form of a disk under Windows.
Secondly, there is FC5025 USB 5.25 "floppy controller.

This is about the same KryoFlux, only the pipe is lower - it works only with 5.25 "floppy disks, it cannot write to floppy disks.
some kind of adapter for 5.25
Thirdly, "there is" CATWEASEL MK IV. PCI-naya multicard

True, it is more likely to theoretically, the production was stopped somewhere in the zero and now it is impossible to meet alive.
Fourth, USB drives.
But, as I said, these are not alternatives, they all work the other way - to connect the drive to a modern computer. And do not make the old device happy with a modern flash drive.
Verdict For its price - almost a masthead, there are no competitors. Unless, of course, you generally need a similar device.
And let the old drives retire. For example, play in an orchestra:
Generally thought Still alive put, but then still decided to Final Countdown. Somehow closer in mood and in general the quality of performance is better.
Update: here they threw a link to alternative firmware: zx-pk.ru/threads/25546-proshivka-gotek-floppy-disk-emulator-dlya-raboty-s-zx-spectrum.html
github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy/wiki - this option seems interesting