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Replacing my lost floppy drive ability
Created on: 15-02-2020 By Gee
My recent PC build has meant that I now have a super fast computer, in comparison to the old beast I had. I say had, because I gave it to a friend who was using an old mac laptop (and it also got the huge massive pc case out of the house where space it currently at a premium).
I didn't exactly want to get rid of the old computer due to a couple of reasons. The main one being I'm a
The other reason I didn't want to get rid of that computer was due to it still having the ability to natively accept an internal floppy drive. Something my new PC can't. I did have a look at all the different types of USB drive, but most were unable to use disks that weren't 1.44mb, which is absolutely no use to me as I need to make disks in an Amstrad format. Something to do with way the cheap USB floppy drives work internally, from what I've read.
So how have I overcome this floppy drive conundrum I hear you ask!?
With a new Laptop of course!
After looking around on eBay a few times, I found an old XP laptop that was cheap enough and needed nothing but the backlight fixing for the screen. That was fine as I have a few VGA monitors doing nothing that I can use in the meantime. So I bought that and once it was delivered I set about setting it up using one of said VGA monitors. At the time I bought it, I didn't realise that the PSU didn't come with it, but luckily the one for another old laptop I have works fine with it. So, everything was plugged in and turned on. Windows XP booted. Nothing special.
However, along with the screen not working, the mouse pad didn't register anything on screen either. This was a good excuse to open up the laptop and see if there was anything obvious that was stopping the screen from working. This was quite a hope as I could see that the screen was working by shining a torch on it, just no backlight.
Once the thing was open, I stripped it into individual parts, cleaning things that needed cleaning and put new thermal paste on parts that had it. The cmos battery was removed as it was flat. Sadly the battery isn't one that I can just replace easily. Instead it's got the connections spot welded to the battery itself, which then goes to a motherboard connection. I'll take the connections off the old battery and 3d print a holder that I can then use in it's place.
After all this cleaning up, It was put back together quite quickly and then I re-tested it. To no surprise, the screen was the same BUT the mouse now worked. It must've been loose and just taking the ribbon cable out and putting it back in done the trick.
The fact that the original OS was still there with the previous users data still on it made me think that it'd be better to reinstall windows onto the drive. Thinking about it, I was wanting to try Windows 98 just for the sheer nostalgia. After installing XP and the internet stopping working after an update twice, I set about getting 98 to work instead. Another problem then reared it's head. My new PC has no optical drives either. It could do, but the case doesn't have anywhere for them to go. So I never bothered getting one. How do i burn a windows 98 iso?
I managed to find an Apple USB dvd writer called the SUPER DRIVE! because.. Apple. In Typical Apple fashion, the drive wouldn't work with windows without first downloading and installing their own software. Thankfully this was simple enough (doing this on Linux later proved to be slightly more difficult but still relatively easy).
After all this playing about, I installed windows 98 and it really didn't like running on the laptop. the screen resolution wouldn't go above 640x480 with 16 colours. Using a USB stick with the drivers on it required drivers itself which was a bit of a catch 22 situation. So this might be revisited in the future using some cd's with the driver software on it. For the meantime, I have just fired XP back on and not allowed it to do any updates, then fired Firefox on there in case IE was the issue. Which, knowing IE, it probably is.
I got CPCdiskXP installed, along with the floppy drivers. Then downloaded some cpc floppy images from CPC-Power. A quick test of the drive and ... Errors. The disk wouldn't write properly, nor would it read on the amstrad itself. I check the amstrad with another disk and everything was working fine there. Had I bought a duff laptop with a duff floppy drive? No!, I just forgot I had used a HD disk instead of a DD disk. So, using another disk, everything is now working as it should and I now have a slightly more compact disk making computer, If you exclude the external monitor for the time being.
Hopefully I can figure out how the back light circuit works and then replace any faulty components on it. That would be a good end to the story of this laptop.