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Thread: Amstrad / ZX Spectrum +3 Floppy Drive Hack.

  1. #1
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    Default Amstrad / ZX Spectrum +3 Floppy Drive Hack.

    Well, I recently acquired an empty floppy case from Clueless - probably a bit of a strange request you may think? Well, here's why.

    1st. Take one standard PC HD Floppy. Here's a black facia one I got from evilbay for a few quid.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now, I need to make sure it only operates in Low Density mode. This is easily achieved by shorting out the High Density Floppy sensor. This means that even if a High Density disk is inserted, the drive thinks it is low density, so no need to tape over the hole any more.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now. The drive's ready signal needs to be "always on" for the Amstrad and Spectrum to recognise. A solder bridge from ground to pin 33 sorts this out. Plus, due to the physical hardware of the CPC drive, I need to be able to manually select which head of the 3.5" drive to use (The CPC / +3 floppy drives were single sided - the disks were flipped to change side). if Pin 32 is grounded, Side B is selected, otherwise Side A.

    Also and the ability to select "primary" or "secondary" floppy will be a nice thing to have. Grounding pin 12 makes the drive secondary, leaving it open makes it primary. Leaving it open has the added benefit of seemingly overriding the internal drive. This is totally optional, but as the drive is only ever going to be used for Low Density floppy disks, I thought this would be a good idea.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Next - power. Neither the +3 or CPC had a power out for external floppy drives, so I need to power this somehow. I had an old phone charger, which had a mini usb connector on the end, and guess what - its 5v, ideal for the drive unit.
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    The wire from the charger connected to one of these will make the IDEAL floppy power source.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Getting data signals to and from the drive would be useful. Fortunately, the "Drive B" port on the back of both the Spectrum and CPC 6128 is identical to an old style 5.25 floppy connector, so you need an old skool PC floppy cable with both 5.25" and 3.5" connectors on it:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And after a bit of butchering, the cable looks like so, - perfect for connecting the drive.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Right. Fun time! Out with the Dremel and drill - its time to attack the unit Clueless kindly supplied. Lets have a game of Spot the Difference.

    Before:
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    After:
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    I have added 2 5mm holes to stick the rocker switches I have bought through, and "widened" the old floppy connector jack hole, so the new ribbon cable can fit without being folded.
    Last edited by Chinners; 6th April 2010 at 14:12.

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    Continued.

    Right, I need to block some holes, and narrow the ribbon cable hole slightly, just to make it look a bit more professional. Araldite and bits of metal cut from floppy disk shutters will sort this out:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    (please note - the wife was annoyed I used her best kitchen scissors for cutting metal, so if you do this, don't tell the owner of the scissors!)


    Now, lets go overboard with a glue gun to make sure things dont move:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And finally, time to put the case unit back on.
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    Hmmm. That will not do. Look at the colour of that. Its supposed to be attached to a Black Spectrum, or a Dark Grey CPC. Time to dig out a can of "Retr0Dark"... (ok, Ford Mercury Grey spray paint will do!)

    And, once it's stuck all back together.

    Front:
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    Ahh, that colour is much better.

    Back:
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    Does it work? Well, on my floppy driveless CPC:

    The Floppy drive side select works. This floppy has Jack The Nipper on Side a, and Renegade on side b
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And yes, games load in. Neat!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I now have one fully working, self powered 3.5" floppy drive for my CPC6128, that can be drive A or B with the flip of a switch, and can select sides at the flip of another switch. I built something similar over a year ago when I had my Spectrum +3, and yes, it worked perfectly on that!
    Last edited by Chinners; 6th April 2010 at 14:16.

  3. #3
    BANNED Kin Hell's Avatar
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    Awesome work.

    How about editing the title of this brilliant work to suggest PC to Amstrad/Spectrum Floppy Hack or similar.

    Best wishes,

    Kin

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    Amibayer! clueless's Avatar
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    Thats turned out really well. Some nice modding indeed, good to see what you were up to.

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    Congrats! Really nice modda.
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    AROUND YOU IS A FOREST. A SMALL STREAM FLOWS OUT OF THE BUILDING AND
    DOWN A GULLY.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kin Hell View Post
    Awesome work.

    How about editing the title of this brilliant work to suggest PC to Amstrad/Spectrum Floppy Hack or similar.

    Best wishes,

    Kin
    I did try, but I can see how...

    (ok, I looked slightly harder and found it.!)

  7. #7
    Ya' Like it Retr0? VIP Zetr0's Avatar
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    @Jasey


    NICE!!!!!!
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    If you ever consider selling one of these (or making them for peeps) please let me know!

  9. #9
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    It looks like one of the Mods is going to have to change the main title as it still lists as a "Floppy Drive Hack". This appears to be something to do with the Pre-title selection options.

    Kin

  10. #10
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    It's an awesome mod.
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