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With computers no longer coming with a floppy disk drive the user must buy and install one by himself if he wants to be able to read floppy disks. Even though floppies are less and less used you may have old (and important) data saved on floppies. In this tutorial we will teach you how to install a floppy disk drive using as example a very interesting unit from Mitsumi (model FA404M), which is a floppy disk drive with a 6-in-1 card reader embedded, allowing you to read floppies and six different kinds of memory cards.
In Figure 1, you can see the floppy disk drive we will use on our tutorial. As we mentioned, this unit from Mitsumi has an embedded 6-in-1 card reader, which can read Compact Flash (CF), Micro Drive (MD), Smart Media (SM), Memory Stick (MS), Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMedia Card (MMC) formats.
Since this model has a memory card reader we need to install the cable that comes attached to the unit to an available USB header on the motherboard. So if you have a floppy disk drive without a card reader (which is the most likely scenario) just skip the parts we talk about the installation of this cable to the motherboard.
In Figure 2 we show you the connectors available on a floppy disk drive.
All you need to buy is the floppy disk drive (make sure to buy one that matches the color of your case, i.e., black if you have a black case, beige if you have a beige case, etc) itself and maybe a floppy disk drive flat-cable, if you don’t have one. This cable comes with the motherboard, so take a look at the boxes you have stored because this cable is probably there.
In Figure 3 we show you how this cable looks like. It is a 34-wire flat-cable using two 34-pin connectors at the ends of the cable (and optionally one 34-pin connector at the middle). The most distinctive feature of this cable is that it has a twist at one of its ends (at the end that should be connected to the floppy disk drive, by the way).
For installing the floppy disk drive you will also need four 4-mm M3x0.5 round-head screws – a.k.a. short thin-thread rounded head screws, see Figure 4. These screws come with the case. For a detailed explanation about screws, read our Everything You Need to Know About the Screws Used on the PC tutorial.
Now that you were introduced to the floppy disk drive and to its cable, let’s show you the step-by-step guide on how to install a floppy disk drive on your computer.[nextpage title=”Step 1 – Open The Case”]
The first step is obviously opening the computer case. For that, unplug your computer from the power grid, just to make sure that nothing wrong will happen.
To open your computer you need to remove the four screws that hold the two side panels of the case. Some cases, however, have one of the panels permanently attached to the case, as it happened with our case. Looking to the rear side of your computer, these screws are the two on the right, as shown in Figure 5, and the two on the left on the same direction (not shown in Figure 5 because unfortunately our case had its other side panel permanently attached to the case).
After removing these screws, remove the case side panels. Without the side panel your computer will look like the computer in Figure 6.
[nextpage title=”Step 2 – Remove the Front Panel Cover”]
Now look at the front panel of your case (see Figure 7). There you will see that there are big empty places for installing optical drives like DVD burners, called 5.25” bays, and small empty places for installing floppy disk drives, called 3.5” bays. Locate the 3.5” bay that you want to install your floppy disk drive and remove the plastic cover that exists there.
How this is done depends on the case. The case we used (Antec Sonata III 500) had two levers that when pressed and then pulled released the cage for installing the floppy disk drive (Figure 8). But this isn’t the most common option. On the majority of cases you will need to either remove the plastic cover by pushing it from behind with your hand (just insert your left hand inside the case and push the front cover) or, if your case has a metallic cover behind the plastic cover, using a flat-tip screwdriver to pull the cover out. Also, if you case has this metallic cover behind the plastic cover, you will need to literally break it. This is done by holding it with a flat-tip screwdriver or with a pliers and swinging it up and down until it is broke. Both the plastic cover and the metallic cover can be thrown away.
The order of the next three steps will depend on the kind of case you have. We are going to post in the same order that in necessary for the case we had (Antec Sonata
III 500). If your case does not feature a removable cage (Figure 8), which is probably your case, please skip to step 4.
[nextpage title=”Step 3 – Install the Floppy Disk Drive to the Cage”]
This step is necessary only if your case has a removable floppy disk drive cage (Figure 8). If this isn’t your case (which is more likely) skip to the next step.
The first thing to do is to remove the front plastic cover by unscrewing it from the cage. In our case we will use the lower 3.5” bay, so we removed the lower cover.
Next put the floppy disk drive in the cage (see Figure 12) and then screw it using all four screws, two at each side (see Figure 13).
[nextpage title=”Step 4 – Install the Cables to the Floppy Disk Drive”]
Now you will install the flat-cable to the floppy disk drive. You have to be very careful here in order to not invert the cable. One of the wires of the flat-cable has a different color, indicating that this wire corresponds to the first pin (pin 1) of the connector. On the cable we used, which was black, this wire was white. The colors aren’t important, what is important is to locate the side that has a stripe using a color that is different from the rest of the cable.
Then on the floppy disk drive connector you need to locate where the pin 1 is located. Usually there is a “1” or “2” marking indicating that this is the side corresponding to pin 1. If you can’t find it, look for a “33” or “34” marking: the side with such marking is the opposite side of pin 1.
So when installing the flat-cable to the floppy disk drive the pin 1 marking on the flat-cable must match the pin 1 marking on the connector, as shown in Figure 15.
Once you get the flat-cable in the correct position, go ahead and install it by pushing its connector with your thumbs, as shown in Figure 15, until the connector on the cable reaches the end of the connector on the floppy disk drive.
Now you need to install the power connector. First, pull the power supply floppy disk drive connector from inside the case through the 3.5” bay that is opened, as shown in Figure 17. This connector comes from the power supply and your power supply should have one or two of them. Pay attention to pull the right connector: the floppy disk drive power connector is smaller than the traditional peripheral power connector (see the difference in size and physical aspect between the connector that is on our hand and the other connector that is located inside the 3.5” bay in Figure 16).
If this cable is too short and you are not able to pull it to outside the case, don’t worry. Just ignore it and the rest of this step. You can connect it after the floppy disk drive is in place. We will come back to this situation on step 6.
Now go ahead and install it to the floppy disk drive, as shown in Figure 18. It’s easy: push it until it reaches the end of the connector present on the floppy disk drive. The most important thing here is to keep the notch present on the connector facing up.
[nextpage title=”Step 5 – Install the Floppy Disk Drive to the Case”]
Now you should place the floppy disk drive on your case. First, insert the flat-cable and the USB cable (if your floppy disk drive has an embedded card reader) in the 3.5” bay, as shown in Figure 20.
Now put the floppy disk drive in place. In Figure 21 we show this for a case with a floppy disk drive cage (i.e., you executed step 3) while in Figure 22 we show this for a regular case.
If you case has a disk drive
cage, please jump to the next step.
As your floppy disk drive isn’t already screwed to the case, you will need to align its front with the rest of the case frontal panel manually, in order to avoid the drive from being too forward or too backward from the frontal panel. This is shown in Figure 23.
Now screw the floppy disk drive to the case using the four screws shown previously (Figure 4), two at each side of the drive. One tip: while screwing the floppy disk drive to the case, hold the drive with one of your hands, because while rotating the screwdriver the drive has a natural tendency of getting out of place, what would make its front to be misaligned with the rest of the case frontal panel.
[nextpage title=”Step 6 – Install the Power Connector”]
If the power cable was too short and you couldn’t pull it out of the case and install it to the floppy disk drive on step 4, now it is time to do so. If you have already installed the floppy disk drive power connector, skip to the next step.
First, locate the floppy disk drive power connector coming from the power supply (Figure 24).
Next go ahead and install it to the floppy disk drive power connector, keeping in mind that the notch present on the power supply connector must face up.
[nextpage title=”Step 7 – Install the Flat-Cable to the Motherboard”]
Locate on the motherboard the floppy disk drive connector. It is a 34-pin flat-cable connector and usually has the words “Floppy” or “FDD” near it, see Figure 26. Obs: for better picture quality we took the pictures on this and in the next page with the motherboard outside the computer.
Once again you must match the pin 1 marking on the flat-cable with the pin 1 marking on the motherboard connector, as shown in Figure 27.
After you correctly aligned the flat-cable connector with the motherboard connector, just push the flat-cable connector with your thumbs until it reaches the end of the motherboard connector, as shown in Figure 28.
If your floppy disk drive doesn’t have an embedded car reader like ours, you’re almost done. Just put the side panels back in place and screw them back to the case. Now enter the motherboard setup and make sure that the floppy disk drive is enabled as explained on step 9. After that you are ready to use your new floppy disk drive.
[nextpage title=”Step 8 – Install the Card Reader to a USB Port”]
This step is only required if you bought a floppy disk drive with an embedded card reader.
You must be very careful at this step because if you invert the card reader USB connector you may burn your motherboard USB port.
First take a good look at the USB connector from your card reader. You will see that there is some information printed on it, namely +5V, GND, D+ (or Data+) and D- (or Data-), see Figure 29. These pins must match the corresponding pins on the USB header. So be very careful.
Now locate an empty USB header on your motherboard. They have the word “USB” next to them. See in Figure 30 that our motherboard had headers for both USB and FireWire (IEEE1394) ports. Be sure to use a USB header, not a FireWire one.
Look carefully to the USB header you are going to use. Notice that it has 9 pins arranged in two rows, one row with four pins and another row with five pins. So there is one “missing pin” at the end of one of the rows. This “missing pin” is pin 9, so the opposite side is the “pin 1” side.
Now you need to match the +5V pin on the cable, i.e., the red wire, to the pin 1 on the connector. Another way to say this is that the ground wire, which is black, must be next to the “missing pin.” We show this in Figure 31.
In Figure 32 you can see the USB cable correctly installed.
Now put the case side panels back in place and screw them back to the case. Now you need to check if the motherboard setup is configured correctly.
[nextpage title=”Step 9 – Motherboard Setup”]
You need to make sure that your floppy disk drive is enabled at the motherboard setup. The motherboard setup is accessed by pressing Del right after turning on your computer. There go to “Standard Setup” and look for an option to configure “Drive A.” Change this option if necessary so “Drive A” will be configured as 1.44 M, 3.5,” as shown in Figure 33.
Also make sure that the floppy disk driver controller is enabled. This option is usually enabled by default, but since you are already inside setup it is always good to double check this. Look for an option called “On-Board FDC,” “On-Board Floppy Controller” or similar under “Integrated Peripherals.” If your motherboard has this function, it should be set as “enabled.” Our motherboard didn’t have this option and that is why we are not providing a screenshot of it.
Exit setup saving your changes (press F10 or Esc and then choose to save your changes) and you’re all set. No installation or configuration is necessary on the operating system; it will automatically detect and enable your floppy disk drive and your card reader, if you have one (the card reader will appear on My Computer as a new removable drive).