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Sony 1.44' 3.5' Floppy Disk Drive Representation
mmedia5.gif Read/Write Heads
mmedia5.gif Head Actuator
mmedia5.gif Spindle Motor
mmedia5.gif Disk Change Sensor
mmedia5.gif Connectors and Jumpers
mmedia5.gif Logic Board
 
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Article Index Page Architecture Of The Floppy Drive Evolution Of The Floppy Drive Formatting and Using
Floppy Diskettes
What Is The Future Of The Floppy Drive? Floppy Drive Replacment Procedures Overview Of The Floppy Drive Cable Conclusions
 
Architecture Of The Floppy Drive
Architecutre Of A Floppy Drive

Floppy drives are similar to hard disk drives in their designs, except floppy drives use what is known as removable media to hold data instead of integrated storage plates hard drives use. The technologies behind a floppy drive limit its data transfer capabilities and quantity of data that can be stored.

Explanations of the various components found on the floppy disk drive are listed in the next sections.

Read/Write Heads

The read/write heads in the floppy drive are used to convert the binary digits to electromagnetic pulses when writing or reading data on a diskette. The read/write heads on a floppy drive are much larger than that of hard disk drive’s read/write heads and are considerably less precise then the ones found on hard disks. The read/write heads contact a track on a diskette when the central processing unit and other parts of the PC call for it.

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Head Actuator

The head actuator is the device that places the read/write heads over a desired track on a diskette. The head actuator is driven by a mechanism called the stepper motor. As the stepper motor that turns and moves through various stop positions, and in doing so, moves the heads in and out one or more times. Each one of these positions defines a track on the floppy diskette.

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Spindle Motor

The spindle motor is the device that spins the floppy disk to access data. When the disk is in the drive, clamps go down and grasp the middle part of a diskette. The clamps are attached to the spindle motor which actually spins the diskette. The average spindle motor rotates at approximately 300 RPM (Rotations Per Minute); hard disk drives employ a 7200 RPM spindle motor.

The following table summarizes the speeds of spindle motors:

Media Density

KB
5.25”

1.2 MB
5.25”

720 KB
3.5”

1.44 MB
3.5”

2.88 MB
3.5”

Drive Spindle Speed

300
RPM

360
RPM

300
RPM

300
RPM

300
RPM

Table 1.1 - Spindle speeds of various floppy drives
 
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Disk Change Sensor

Modern floppy drives employ a disk change sensor to inform the floppy drive controller when a diskette is inserted and injected. This allows for the system to save time accessing data because it does not have to check whether the contents of a floppy have changed.

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Connectors and Jumpers

There are two main jumpers found on a floppy drive used to connect the drive to a PC's motherboard. There are also jumpers used to configure the floppy, but rarely do these requiring changing because the floppy drive cable determines how the drives should behave.

The drive select jumper is used to tell the system what drive letter a particular floppy was assigned (either A: or B:). Virtually all drives come configured as the B drive, and the cable determines the A drive. The floppy drive cable is discussed in the page found here.

There is one power connector on a floppy drive that differ in size, depending on the type of drive being used. The older 5.25” floppy drive use the standard 4 wire keys that are typically used to power hard drives and CD-ROM drives.

The second connector is the data interface cable. It is a 34 pin data cable that attaches the floppy drive to a controller port on a motherboard or (on older machines) to a separate controller card plugged into an expansion slot.

There are two different types of connectors. The older style 5.25” drive uses a slot edge connector on the drive; the 3.5” drive uses the newer 34 pin connector much like that of a hard disk connector only smaller.

If the drive indicator light remains on after boot-up, the cable is most likely inserted the wrong way; reversing the direction of the cable usually solves this problem.

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Logic Board

The logic contains various circuits that control the read/write heads, actuator arm, the disk change sensor and various other devices found on a floppy drive.

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