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Two Floppy Drives in One Computer

User is offline   Hendricks266 

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  #1

Recently I tried building a Pentium II rig using the wealth of spare parts from my parents' basement. However, I could not manage to get it to recognize more than one connected floppy drive at a time no matter what I tried. My preferred configuration is one 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch, though for the sake of experiment I also tried it with two of each. I seem to remember such a configuration working in the same case (some old business-tier OEM thing) a long time ago, and it's an obvious fact that "B:" exists because there is already an "A:".

I've tried:
Daisy-chaining two drives to the controller on the motherboard.
Daisy-chaining them to a controller in an ISA slot.
Flipping the cable connectors (each of them) upside-down. (The light behavior changed for better or worse but it still would not recognize.)
Putting a controller in an ISA slot and connecting one to it, and one to the motherboard.
Putting two controllers in ISA slots and connecting one drive to each.
Swapping out the cable. (Several, actually.)
Swapping out the drives.
Swapping out the ISA cards (when I tried them).
Swapping out the entire case/motherboard for another one.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong here?
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User is online   MusicallyInspired 

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#2

I can't say. I had it working just fine with a 3.5" and 5.25" myself but that was on old 286 and 486 systems. They'd give me A: and B: respectively. I later swapped out my 5.25" for a CD-ROM drive (and later, that for a DVD-ROM drive) because the case was too small and I needed to access CDs/DVDs more than 5.25" floppies. I'm not sure how it'd work on a newer system like that. I just assumed it'd be as automatic as the older ones. I assume you've tested them both by themselves to see if they're both working in single mode? Is there some toggle in the CMOS/BIOS to allow multiple floppy drives?

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This post has been edited by MusicallyInspired: 20 July 2017 - 07:45 PM

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User is offline   Mblackwell 

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#3

Been awhile since I've done any of this, but did you check for jumpers?

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User is offline   Striker 

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#4

Check the mobo for jumpers, and check the CMOS/BIOS for a pair of settings to control each floppy drive type.

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#5

IIRC, the B drive needs a cable where a few wires are reversed in the middle of the cable or has pins to jumper. Not sure because it has been a looong time. I'm sure a google search will find answers.

This post has been edited by Mark.: 21 July 2017 - 03:50 AM

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User is offline   High Treason 

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#6

In the BIOS there's usually an option to enable second floppy drives. You need to set the type correctly and be aware the letters may swap - there is often an option to toggle this elsewhere.

I doubt if a Pentium II would be new enough where they started limiting you to one drive.

No idea which BIOS you have so I can't give direct instructions, though the process is usually very similar, so for older Award BIOS configurators you would;
Hit 'DEL' as the system starts to enter CMOS Setup.
Enter the 'Standard CMOS Features' page, usually the first one in the list anyway.
The floppy options are usually towards the bottom of the page.
The swap option is usually in the next page from the main menu, in Award that's generally the 'Advanced BIOS Features' option.
Remember to hit F10 and Y to save before exiting the CMOS setup.

Edit: I captured a fairly typical process for doing this;

The menus are at least similar in most BIOSes, I can nab the process in AMI WinBIOS too and from Intel's older OEM setup utility, but they rarely vary much beyond appearance and the options tend to live in the same place.
If all else fails you might be able to boot to a command line - if you're running Win9X hit F8 as the "Starting Windows..." message appears - and run GSETUP, but save that as a last resort because it's not guaranteed to work on all motherboards.
http://www.minuszero...5170_gsetup.htm

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This post has been edited by High Treason: 21 July 2017 - 04:15 AM

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User is offline   Hendricks266 

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  #7

I will try all of these things when I get this machine set up at my new place. I remember scouring the BIOS for options but finding nothing. I am open to flashing a new BIOS if such a thing exists for enthusiasts.

View PostMark., on 21 July 2017 - 03:49 AM, said:

IIRC, the B drive needs a cable where a few wires are reversed in the middle of the cable or has pins to jumper. Not sure because it has been a looong time. I'm sure a google search will find answers.

Yep, I have several of the ribbon cables with the twisted section between the A: and B: connectors.
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User is offline   Drek 

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#8

No clue good reading here though http://www.seasip.in...oppies.html#dos
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User is offline   Forge 

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#9

without more information about the board, it's hard to tell if it's a bios issue or a controller issue.
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User is offline   Jaap 

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#10

Did you solve it yet? I think I recently saw a video on Youtube where someone also had issues with getting two floppy drives to work. He tried different cables, different jumper settings different drives. I think it turned out to be that it was a very specific combination of the before mentioned options. It might help :S I'll try and find that video again.

Edit:
I haven't found the video yet but I came across this video where Nostalgia Nerd explains about a two floppy drive setup where both drives have been setup to be the B drive but by using a cable (that has some wires swapped) one drive will be the A drive:


Other than this I would suggest googling how to do such a setup with the model of drives you have.

This post has been edited by Jaap: 22 July 2017 - 11:03 AM

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User is offline   TerminX 

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  #11

Two disks, one box?

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User is offline   Jaap 

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#12

Some times you want to put it in both slots.
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User is offline   Hendricks266 

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  #13

Unfortunately, according to the manual it looks like the chipset on my motherboard only supports one floppy drive. It's dumb because the case has two 3.5" bays (and three 5.25").

http://www.csit-sun....rd/69460501.pdf

Any recommendations for an add-in card (ISA or PCI) that can support two?
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User is online   MusicallyInspired 

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#14

That's stupid. Too bad. :(

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User is offline   High Treason 

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#15

Oh, an Intel board, that explains it. They loved putting these bulky old National or SMC SuperIO chips on things for whatever reason, though the FDC37C777 should support two drives. I'm sure the SE440BX supports two drives and uses the same parts, but I could be wrong because it's a while since I've been near one, given I prefer QDI / Supermicro boards from this era.

Did you try the GSETUP program I linked? The bits to flip might still be there in the BIOS and the option is merely hidden.

I don't think anyone made expansion cards for such a thing, even the old Multi-IO / Host Adapters were completely under BIOS control, very little logic actually exists between the floppy drive and the ISA interface. There were USB floppy drives but I have no idea how well they'd run under Win9X, I think there were parallel drives too but I doubt there was any support that late on.

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This post has been edited by High Treason: 31 July 2017 - 09:38 PM

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User is offline   Paul B 

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#16

View PostHendricks266, on 20 July 2017 - 07:37 PM, said:

Recently I tried building a Pentium II rig using the wealth of spare parts from my parents' basement. However, I could not manage to get it to recognize more than one connected floppy drive at a time no matter what I tried. My preferred configuration is one 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch, though for the sake of experiment I also tried it with two of each. I seem to remember such a configuration working in the same case (some old business-tier OEM thing) a long time ago, and it's an obvious fact that "B:" exists because there is already an "A:".

I've tried:
Daisy-chaining two drives to the controller on the motherboard.
Daisy-chaining them to a controller in an ISA slot.
Flipping the cable connectors (each of them) upside-down. (The light behavior changed for better or worse but it still would not recognize.)
Putting a controller in an ISA slot and connecting one to it, and one to the motherboard.
Putting two controllers in ISA slots and connecting one drive to each.
Swapping out the cable. (Several, actually.)
Swapping out the drives.
Swapping out the ISA cards (when I tried them).
Swapping out the entire case/motherboard for another one.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong here?


If I recall correctly you can't have the two drives on the same cable one right after another. I think you need to put the 3 1/2in. at the very end of the cable then after the twist in the cable put the second 5 1/4in drive. Both drives should be designated in the bios in the proper order they are on the cable as 3 1/2 (A:\) at very end of cable and 5 1/4 inch second B:\ after the twist 3 or 4 connector down the cable.. It also matters how the cable is connected. Make sure you are using the right end to connect to the motherboard. The cable end after the twist is where you would place the A:\ 3 1/2inch floppy. Failing that if it doesn't work the two drives might be fighting over which one is the Master drive. So you may have to reverse the two drives so that he 5 1/4 inch floppy is at the very end and the 3 1/2 inch is after the twist. I'm pretty sure I recall seeing this at one point before.

Bahh, I was a bit late to the party and I missed the part about the 82077 diskette drive controller supporting one drive.. How Chintzy! I don't recall that happening to me before. =S Then again that's going back 23 years already.


This post has been edited by Paul B: 03 August 2017 - 11:18 AM

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User is offline   Hendricks266 

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View PostHigh Treason, on 31 July 2017 - 09:32 PM, said:

Oh, an Intel board, that explains it. They loved putting these bulky old National or SMC SuperIO chips on things for whatever reason, though the FDC37C777 should support two drives. I'm sure the SE440BX supports two drives and uses the same parts, but I could be wrong because it's a while since I've been near one, given I prefer QDI / Supermicro boards from this era.

Did you try the GSETUP program I linked? The bits to flip might still be there in the BIOS and the option is merely hidden.

I don't think anyone made expansion cards for such a thing, even the old Multi-IO / Host Adapters were completely under BIOS control, very little logic actually exists between the floppy drive and the ISA interface. There were USB floppy drives but I have no idea how well they'd run under Win9X, I think there were parallel drives too but I doubt there was any support that late on.

Thanks for the advice. Trying GSETUP has been at the top of my list for the next time I mess with this. Would I be able to run it from within Windows XP or do I need to also move booting into DOS up my list?

View PostPaul B, on 03 August 2017 - 10:44 AM, said:

If I recall correctly you can't have the two drives on the same cable one right after another. I think You need to put the 3 1/2in at the end of the cable then after the twist in the cable put the second 5 1/4in drive. Both drives should be designated in the bios in the proper order they are on the cable as 3 1/2 in first and 5 1/4 inch second.

I followed the diagrams I found regarding the twist so that my 3.5 drive would end up as A: and my 5.25 would end up as B:, just like my childhood memories. And yes, when I try cables that have both the pin-type connector and the tab/slot-type connector (not sure immediately what their proper names are and can't be arsed to look them up), I never connect two drives at once to the same group of two. I don't think it's physically possible, at least when the drives are in a case. I've also tried cables which only have the tab/slot connector and used an adapter between the two types when connecting to the 3.5.

Unfortunately, the 3.5 drive works perfectly but the 5.25 drive is completely ignored.
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User is offline   Paul B 

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View PostHendricks266, on 03 August 2017 - 10:49 AM, said:

Thanks for the advice. Trying GSETUP has been at the top of my list for the next time I mess with this. Would I be able to run it from within Windows XP or do I need to also move booting into DOS up my list?


I followed the diagrams I found regarding the twist so that my 3.5 drive would end up as A: and my 5.25 would end up as B:, just like my childhood memories. And yes, when I try cables that have both the pin-type connector and the tab/slot-type connector (not sure immediately what their proper names are and can't be arsed to look them up), I never connect two drives at once to the same group of two. I don't think it's physically possible, at least when the drives are in a case. I've also tried cables which only have the tab/slot connector and used an adapter between the two types when connecting to the 3.5.

Unfortunately, the 3.5 drive works perfectly but the 5.25 drive is completely ignored.


Did you try putting the 5.25 inch first in the same group as where you're putting the 3 1/2 and just move the 3 1/2 inch after the twist in the second group. Sometimes those drives need to initialize first. Before the 3 1/2 in. According to your manual it does support 5.25 inch, i'm curious if it will ignore the 3 1/2 inch once you change their positions and only recognize the 5.25?


This post has been edited by Paul B: 03 August 2017 - 11:24 AM

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User is offline   High Treason 

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#19

@Paul B; If you swap the drives around, then yeah, it still won't see the one before the twist. The BIOS can only see what you tell it to see, Plug and Play was barely a distant dream when the interface was made.

View PostHendricks266, on 03 August 2017 - 10:49 AM, said:

Would I be able to run it from within Windows XP or do I need to also move booting into DOS up my list?

You'd need DOS, or something close to it, because XP doesn't have direct hardware access. If you have a spare floppy diskette to hand, you could create a simple DOS boot disk in the Format dialog (Right click the floppy drive in My Computer - Format - Create MS-DOS Startup Disk, or something to that effect) then boot from that disk and run GSETUP from there.

Alternately, your board might support booting from CDs or USB devices, so you can probably get a simple DOS environment running from there if you're not ready to install the real thing yet. If you have a Win98 CD-ROM you can just hammer F8 as the system tries to start from the disc and use "Safe mode Command Prompt" to get a plain command line, this method might remap your actual floppy drive to B: though, due to how the boot loader works, and you'd still need a real disk in there for GSETUP unless you wanted to modify the Windows 98 disc, because DOS can't see NTFS partitions - likely what you selected when installing XP - as that requires another utility. If your hard drive is FAT32 though, you will be able to see it from the DOS version the Windows 98 disc makes use of.

- Crap fact; Windows 9X discs essentially contain 3 operating systems, the DOS version the OS includes (7.x), Windows 9X itself and a "Mini Windows" which is essentially a Windows 3.x which uses the setup program as a shell in place of Program Manager. The bootable CD versions contain an extra copy of DOS because they essentially mount a floppy disk image when you boot from the disc.

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This post has been edited by High Treason: 03 August 2017 - 03:37 PM

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User is offline   Person of Color 

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LOL. Why the fuck would you want dual floppies in a P2? You gonna shut off all the caches and have it become a ghetto 386?

What speed is it? Does your motherboard allow for multiplier adjustment?

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Unlocked P2's are sick. You can dial in any speed you want. The only thing nicer is a K6-2+/K6-III+.

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This post has been edited by Person of Color: 15 September 2017 - 02:33 AM

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User is offline   Hendricks266 

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I was hoping for dual floppies because I want to mess with both 5.25" and 3.5" media without needing a reboot.

It's a 350 MHz. No idea about the multipliers, the motherboard model is MP440BX.
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User is offline   Person of Color 

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#22

Intel makes that thing so changing the multis is a no go regardless of whether or not your CPU is unlocked.

If you want to use it for DOS gaming, make sure the BIOS has an option to disable the L2 cache. If it does, grab. P2 233. If it doesn't, grab a Celeron 266.

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This post has been edited by Person of Color: 15 September 2017 - 02:29 PM

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User is online   MusicallyInspired 

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#23

View PostPerson of Color, on 15 September 2017 - 02:27 PM, said:

If it does, grab. P2 233. If it doesn't, grab a Celeron 266.


Huh. These are two of the exact computers I had growing up. What are the odds. Except it was a 233 MMX not a P2.

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This post has been edited by MusicallyInspired: 15 September 2017 - 02:33 PM

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User is offline   Hendricks266 

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View PostHigh Treason, on 31 July 2017 - 09:32 PM, said:

Did you try the GSETUP program I linked? The bits to flip might still be there in the BIOS and the option is merely hidden.

So I tried GSETUP. Specifying a B drive floppy just made the BIOS not recognize the HDD. Unplugged it long enough for everything to drain and it went back to its previous state.

Oh well. I will be able to complete my primary purpose for building this rig with just a 5.25" drive: a friend does soil chemistry research and their lab's mass spectrometer depends on a custom expansion card in an IBM 5150. They would like to not need to transcribe their results from the output of a dot-matrix printer.

I also put a USB 2.0 PCI card in the rig for flash drives and I have a USB 3.5" floppy drive should I really need it.
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User is offline   Forge 

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#25

i'm not an expert, but the SMC FDC37C777super I/O controller only allows for single diskette drive interface.
afaik, being a super i/o controller, it's 'missing' the physical pins to run an additional diskette drive.
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