CLAVDIVS
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Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:48 am

I have a vintage portable computer (Amstrad PPC 640) that I'm turning into an RPi casemod. It has two 3.5" floppy drives which I'd like to replace with things the Pi can use, such as usb ports, an SD card reader, eSATA, and -- if possible -- even a floppy drive. :D Versions of all of these designed for front-panel 3.5" drive bays exist, so at first I thought it would be easy. However, I'm not sure how to go about connecting them; USB doesn't seem to be a common device interface for things installed in the case. :( On top of that, I'm kind of a Pi noob, and I'm not even sure I'd be able to get drivers for whatever I picked.

So, any advice? Am I going to need some kind of extra controller board, or suchlike? Any suggestions for specific devices or brands I should look for/avoid?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

ghans
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:53 am

USB is the only realistic way to connect such accessoires to the Pi. I would be surprised that they used anything than USB anyway, the plugs just tend to look different. In Linux the drivers are in the kernel or precompiled loadable kernel modules. In the context of the Pi would dare say when your USB device isn't plug-n-play recompiling the kernel or patching it is a waste of life energy. Simply return the stuff and buy something better supported.

If you can get the PID and VID of your USB devices one can make better predictions on how well your USB device will work. Sadly most sellers don't know or care about USB PID and VID. If you have an especially cooperative seller ask him/her to plug that thing into a Linux box and email you the result of the "lsusb" command. There might be such tools for Windows too, i believe the Device Manager suffices in most cases.

ghans
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CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:53 pm

Hrm. I kept checking such items on Newegg and Amazon and they kept needing something other than USB.

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thagrol
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:03 pm

ghans wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:53 am
USB is the only realistic way to connect such accessoires to the Pi. I would be surprised that they used anything than USB anyway, the plugs just tend to look different. In Linux the drivers are in the kernel or precompiled loadable kernel modules. In the context of the Pi would dare say when your USB device isn't plug-n-play recompiling the kernel or patching it is a waste of life energy. Simply return the stuff and buy something better supported.

If you can get the PID and VID of your USB devices one can make better predictions on how well your USB device will work. Sadly most sellers don't know or care about USB PID and VID. If you have an especially cooperative seller ask him/her to plug that thing into a Linux box and email you the result of the "lsusb" command. There might be such tools for Windows too, i believe the Device Manager suffices in most cases.

ghans
There won't be any USB devices on the Amstrad PPC 640. It pre-dates USB by quite some years.

The best bet is probably to look for a UBS hub and card reader that fit in a 3.5" drive bay. Failing that, fit blanking plates in the drive bays and run the Pi's USB ports out to them.
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CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:09 pm

I'm not actually using any of the electronics of the PPC, just the chassis.

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thagrol
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:30 pm

CLAVDIVS wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:09 pm
I'm not actually using any of the electronics of the PPC, just the chassis.
Yeah, that's what I expected. I may have misread the posts preceding mine. Sorry for any confusion.

Most of those front panel devices will have a 10 pin female header (for USB 1/2, bigger for USB 3). You'll need something like this to plug them into a Pi:

https://www.scan.co.uk/products/40cm-ak ... boards?v=c

As always, other products and vendors exit :)
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ghans
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:11 pm

I want just to say that USB hardware not working right away with Linux has become a rare occurence. Funnily enough no-name cameras , USB floppys and cardreaders tend to be better supported than brand products.

ghans
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CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:18 pm

Thinking about it, the ones I clicked on all had floppy drives. Maybe everything else was USB but the floppy was still IDE for some reason? (They looked like an IDE connectors in the photos.) Since USB floppy drives have been around for ages I can't imagine why they would... Aside from being cheap pieces of junk that don't have an onboard IDE controller.

ghans
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:26 pm

Floppy drives always connected via the dedicated floppy bus to a floppy controller IIRC. The controller was then integrated into south/north/whateverbridges over time.

You're not going to connect a floppy drive to "the GPIO". At least not without blowing the Pi and/or the drive. You are not going to control a floppy drive over "the GPIO" either.

Stick to USB floppys.

ghans
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CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:34 pm

That was my plan, but floppy drives that are both USB and internal are proving harder to find than I expected.

And I certainly wasn't going to try just plugging the ribbon cable into the GPIO. I was just wondering if I'd need a floppy controller "hat" or some such.

CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:41 pm

thagrol wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:30 pm
Most of those front panel devices will have a 10 pin female header (for USB 1/2, bigger for USB 3). You'll need something like this to plug them into a Pi:

https://www.scan.co.uk/products/40cm-ak ... boards?v=c

As always, other products and vendors exit :)
Thanks for pointing that out for me. I suspected I'd need something like that, but didn't know what it was called. :D

ghans
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:53 pm

The makers of dedicated USB-to-Floppy bridges seem to target "serious" retrogaming enthusiasts or industry applications. The prices seem rather "serious", too ...

ghans
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PhatFil
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:19 pm

realistically i think the best option would be a slight mod to an external usb floppy and or dvd drive to fit as a panel mount variety.

select options with more uniformly square frontage and a 3d-printed surround could be designed to make the bits fit and look good.

CLAVDIVS
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:01 pm

It would seem this thread was based wholly on a misconception: Front panel drive bay accessories are overwhelmingly USB, except when they include a floppy drive in which case they use the original floppy bus for that and USB for everything else. The fact that I was looking for ones with floppies skewed my perception of things. :\

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:38 pm

I mean... Its not rocket science.

You have three choices:
- Buy an external floppy that uses USB and find a way to mount it.
- Buy an external USB floppy drive AND internal IDE floppy drive, and put the external drive inside the internal one's shell somehow
- Buy an internal IDE floppy drive and get an IDE to USB adaptor (which will NOT comprise just a cable). You may need to write your own drivers for it.

Which option you go with depends on your budget and skill level and available tools.
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rpdom
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:44 pm

Imperf3kt wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:38 pm
I mean... Its not rocket science.

You have three choices:
- Buy an external floppy that uses USB and find a way to mount it.
- Buy an external USB floppy drive AND internal IDE floppy drive, and put the external drive inside the internal one's shell somehow
- Buy an internal IDE floppy drive and get an IDE to USB adaptor (which will NOT comprise just a cable). You may need to write your own drivers for it.
I've never heard of an IDE floppy drive. AFAIK they don't exist. I've seen USB, PCMCIA and generic floppy disk interface ones. Also specs for SCSI floppies, but never seen one IRL.

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Imperf3kt
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:52 pm

Oops, not IDE. Rather, whatever connection floppy used to use.

Its been so long since I have even seen a floppy drive that don't remember all the technical info.
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8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018

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thagrol
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Re: Front-panel drive bay accessories?

Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:52 am

ghans wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:26 pm
You're not going to connect a floppy drive to "the GPIO". At least not without blowing the Pi and/or the drive. You are not going to control a floppy drive over "the GPIO" either.
ghans
Not neccessarily. A quick google suggests that as a large number of pins on the cable/connector are grounds there are sufficient GPIO available to support the rest.

The catch is that you'll need level convertion hardware between the gpio and FDD, and you'd have to write your own driver - essentially emulatimg the FDD driver chip.

A USB FDD will be a lot less work even if you have to strip it down and rehouse it.
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