5.25 Floppy drive installation

HP Vectra VL400
February 12, 2006 at 07:10:04
Specs: Win2k, PIII/512MB

I would like to install an old 5.25" floppy drive to read some old disks. I have two options: 1) in a PIII/ Win2k box (Vectra VL400) or 2) in a PII/ Win98SE box (Gateway E3110-266).

Unfortunately, my box with DOS/win3.1 doesn't have a free drive bay. My plan is to move the data/software over to a 3.5" floppy or USB flash drive and then transfer the stuff over to my DOS/win3.1 box.

What are the issues I need to consider? Is one of the two options above preferable?

See More: 5.25 Floppy drive installation

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 10:46:58

I'd be looking for another case for your DOS/W3x machine, frankly.

The obvious second choice is the '98 machine

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 10:52:57

Microsoft gave up on 5 1/4 drives about Win 98 time, so that will be the choice.

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 12:22:24

GX1 man, I don't know what yo mean by that. I've got the very right here this one machine that I'm posting on, with X tra P utrid installed, and it has, among other things.........a 5 1/4 floppy drive.

Report •

Related Solutions

February 12, 2006 at 12:31:41

So are you saying win2k won't be able to read a 5.25" floppy even just to transfer the files to a HDD or 3.5"?

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 14:10:11

If name's XP can read a 5.25 floppy, I figure so can my win 2k. So the OS is not a determining factor. But looking around the 'net, it appears that the mobo/BIOS may be a factor. I have been looking at the HP website for info on my Vectra VL400, but can't find anything that would indicate I could - or could not - use a 5.25" floppy drive. I've got to check my BIOS. Shutting down now...

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 17:21:14

"Microsoft gave up on 5 1/4 drives about Win 98 time"

Heh... that's quite a story

Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is not more a science than a heap of stones is a home

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 17:52:35

There are most certainly modern motherboards which don't support 5 1/4 drives in the bios.

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 18:11:44

I found out that my HP Vectra VL400 does not support a 5.25 inch drive, unfortunately. See here.
But I think my Gateway E3110-266 will take a 5.25 drive. Thanks, everyone!

I hope the old drive works after many years spent in my "treasure chest". I'll post back if it works.

Report •

February 12, 2006 at 23:08:00

Make sure you get the drive select jumpers correct on it. Newer 3 1/2" drives default to DS1 but if your 5 1/4 is set differently or you're not using a cable with the 7-wire twist you'll need to change that jumper.

Report •

February 14, 2006 at 06:05:09

Thanks for the tip, DAVEINCAPS, but before I get to jumpers I have a cable problem: My floppy cable has only one connector. Gateway didn't anticipate anyone wanting to put a second floppy, let alone a 5.25" one in their PII system. I did verify that my BIOS will support a second floppy drive. Also my 3.5" floppy has a pin header connector and my 5.25" floppy has a card edge connector. So I will need one of these.

Report •

February 14, 2006 at 19:05:02

OK, I'm ready for some help, please. I got the right cable and have the 3.5" floppy on the end connector (Drive A) after the 7 wire twist and the 5.25" floppy on the middle connector (Drive B) before the twist. BIOS is set up with the two drives as above.

Just to remind you this is a Gateway PII E3110-266. The 5.25" drive is a Teac FD-55GFR-149U. Jumpers options D0, D1, D2, D3 give the drive address.

The problem: Win98SE explorer does not see Drive B at all.

A question: Is the 5.25" drive jumpered as DS1 properly setup as drive B when located before the 7 wire twist or should it be jumpered at DS2 to force configuration as B drive?

Report •

February 14, 2006 at 19:12:59

For a twisted cable both drives need to be at the second drive select so for options of DS0 to DS3 you'd want it as DS1. Make sure you have the drive identifed in cmos as a 1.2 meg.

Report •

February 14, 2006 at 21:24:02

Yes, the 5.25 is jumpered at DS1 and in BIOS, B drive is set as a 1.2MB 5.25 inch drive.

I did verify that my A drive works fine, but still can't see the B drive in Win98. For the 5.25" drive, both the card-edge connector and the connector on the cable have a slot, so it isn't possible to have the connector in backward.

Any suggestions on troubleshooting?

Report •

February 14, 2006 at 22:20:43

Try booting with a bootdisk from a: and then see if b: will read a disk. If so the problem is with windows. I'd expect windows to find it without help but you may want to do an 'add new hardware' search.

If it doesn't read a disk then you may want to check the other jumpers. Here's an explanation of the various jumpers. I don't think it indicates the default settings.

Report •

February 15, 2006 at 04:26:52

I had found the ref you gave earlier and also tried the 'add new hardware' route, without success. I will try your bootdisk idea. Also I'll try placing the 5.25 (only) on the end connector and changing BIOS to make drive A a 5.25. This will at least tell me if I have a bad 5.25 drive, which is a possibility.

Report •

February 15, 2006 at 09:00:27

I tried to boot with a DOS6.22 boot disk from Drive A. I was able to switch to drive B and read a 5.25" floppy. This tells me that my drive is OK. :)<whew!>

Next I tried a normal boot to Win98SE. Again, no signs of B from Explorer. Next from a DOS window I tried B: and it began reading A! when I tried to switch to A: the computer locked up.

It appears that BIOS is set up properly as DOS can see both drives correctly.


Report •

February 15, 2006 at 18:57:49

I removed the floppy drive controller in Device Manager and rebooted. Win98 found new hardware and reinstalled the floppy controller. Now both A and B show up correctly. Thanks all for your help! :)

Key learning for anyone wanting to install a 5.25" floppy drive in addition to existing 3.5" drive:

Must have BIOS support for second drive, with the selectable option for a 5.25" drive

OS is not an issue. All windows version will support a second floppy drive.

You will need a 5 connector universal 34 wire cable with a 7-wire twist. 3 connector is fine if the connectors match your drives.

Jumper the 5.25 as DS1 (same as the other drive!). It's the twist in the cable that does the differentiation.

Use a DOS bootdisk to check out your 5.25" drive first, then get windows to see the second drive using Device Manager per top of this message.

Report •

February 15, 2006 at 21:58:51

Thanks for posting back the results and info. I probably wouldn't have thought to delete and reinstall the floppy controller.

Report •

February 16, 2006 at 05:52:46

I try to summarize a success in case someone else wants to do the same thing. I got the hint from Windows 98 Secrets (a 1207 page book I got for 25 cents. Good investment!?)

I also learned this: DS1 is actually the setting for B drive. It's the 7-wire twist that converts the drive on the end connector to A drive. Great idea! A bit off topic here, but it makes you wonder why the powers that develop standards didn't do the same thing for IDE devices? Say primary slave would be the middle connector and master after a n-wire twist, on the end? I realize this is similar to cable select on modern devices, but it's not as elegant or foolproof.

Report •

Ask Question