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Sony 1.44' 3.5' Floppy Disk Drive Representation
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mmedia5.gif The Floppy Drive Cable Explained
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The Floppy Disk Controller Cable

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Any time an external device is added to a system, a separate controller device is required to control the communication between the device, the CPU, and any other devices the peripheral communicates with. On newer PC’s the floppy controller is located directly on the motherboard but older computer systems require the use of a separate interface card to control the actions of the floppy drive. Often these cards are inexpensive, costing less than $30,. and include a hard drive and floppy drive controller, two serial port controllers, a parallel port controller, and a gameport controller. Most systems support two floppy drives consisting of a 3.5” and 5.25” drive or two 3.5” floppy drives, usually used for making multiple copies of disk data quickly and easily.

The Floppy Drive Controller Cable

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The Floppy Drive Cable Explained

The floppy drive cable is a standard 34 pin cable typically having three edge connectors: one for the drive controller, one for the first drive, labeled drive A, and one for second floppy drive, labeled drive B. The floppy drive cable transfers data one bit at a time, therefore, the floppy drive cable is classified as a serial cable. The fist end of the floppy drive cable attaches to the controller itself while the middle part controls Drive B. Drive A is attached to the end of the cable and has a twist in the end to identify it as a Drive A controller. The typical floppy drive cable usually supports two floppy drives whether the drives being 3.5” or 5.25”. As you can tell from the illustration shown above, the standard twist close to the top of the cable indicates the top connector will control drive A and the bottom controls drive B in a PC.

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Floppy Disk Drive Configuration Settings

The table below summarizes various configurations of both floppy drives A and B.

Drive Configuration Setting
A: Should be connected to the twist in the floppy cable.
Should retain the terminator chip
Should be selected as the second drive.
B: Should be connected to the non-twisted cable connector
Should not have the terminator
Should also be selected as the second drive.

To change drive designations on floppy drives, you must select the appropriate drive select jumpers on the floppy drives typically labeled DS0 or DS1. They are typically preselected by the manufacturer, so you have to change the drive designations through the BIOS. You enter the BIOS by hitting the DEL key or CTRL-ESC keys at boot time. This process varies between machines. Once you are into the BIOS, go to standard CMOS settings and switch drive designations there by making the A drive B and vice versa.

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