MacPro 1,1 floppy drive retrofit

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by funkymothers, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. funkymothers macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2014
    Can I retrofit a PATA floppy drive to a MacPro 1,1? I have a working boot camp installation of XP and need to run some software with low level access to an internal floppy drive.

    1. Would it be technically possible to install a floppy drive in the second optical bay?
    2. Would I need drivers for the drive to work in XP?
    3. If the answer to 1. is yes - would such a drive be visible to OS X (currently 10.8.5 but thinking of going back to 10.6.8) without requiring drivers or special kexts?
    Background info: This is now my spare machine and I need to be able to run software to read/write folppy disks for old music equipment (samplers from the late 80's/early 90's).

    My other option is to buy an old XP laptop on eBay but I'd have to find one with a floppy drive first. Also, if I can avoid having to get a "vintage" computer it would be preferable.

    Any help is much appreciated.
  2. Machines macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2015
    Fox River Valley , Illinois
    Years ago deep down inside Vault 1304 , built by Vault-Tec before I moved in , I placed in storage an external USB floppy drive compatible with Mac OS X in order to help a friend who needed to transfer files from an ancient Quadra 700 into a more modern PowerMac G4 . I am not certain if it will work in an Intel Mac running OS X , but if it does it would not be difficult to obtain a PCIe USB card with an internal data connector and snake an USB cable into the Optical Drive Bay and fire it up with the Mac Pro 1,1 (2006)'s Molex power connector , with a Molex to DC adapter available from ModDIY .


    There are a lot of 5.25" > 3.5" > 2.5" form factor adapters on the market , which will ease the physical installation of the drive in the Optical Drive Bay . Install a solenoid trigger connected to one of the PATA optical drive data connectors to open and close the bay door via the Apple keyboard's eject key and it'll be the cat's meow .

    If I didn't have a mountain of projects at the moment , I would dive down for that drive . Good Luck .
  3. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Do you really mean a PATA (40-pin IDE) floppy drive? A standard 1.44MB 3.5" PC floppy drive uses a 34 pin floppy connector, not PATA. There are PATA floppy drives, but they were the more advanced high capacity floppy drives like an Iomega ZIP drive.

    If you really do mean PATA, then yes, I suppose you could just connect a PATA floppy drive to the existing PATA cable in the optical drive bay, and hook up power too. You'll have to hack something together for mounting and probably stick the bay door open.

    If "PATA" was in error and you meant standard 1.44MB 3.5" floppy drives, then you should be able to get any current USB 3.5" floppy drive and it will work in Windows with Windows/DOS-formatted disks. Obviously being external you won't have to hassle with custom mounting it, unless you want to for a clean solution.
  4. funkymothers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2014
    Thank you Machines and ActionableMango for your replies.
    I did mean PATA since my requirement is to have an internal drive for low level access and that's the connector for the second optical drive if I'm not mistaken.

    However, what I need is a floppy drive which can read and write 720K DS/DD disks as well.

    Explanation from software author:

    EMXP runs on Windows XP or higher versions of Windows like Vista, 7, 8 and 10. The floppy disk access feature has only been tested on Windows XP.

    In order to be able to read and write floppy disks, you will need a PC with an internal floppy drive and the OmniFlop floppy driver installed. EMXP requires at least version v2.01n. For more information, see the EMXP manual. The OmniFlop floppy driver can be downloaded here.

    External (USB) floppy disk devices are not supported.

    Would this drive work out of the box?

    I would prefer to just install a floppy drive into the Mac but if it's too much hassle I will buy an old XP laptop if I can find one with an internal floppy drive.
  5. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I have never heard of standard 1.44/720 floppy drives using a PATA interface. The floppy drive you linked to has a picture that clearly shows 34 pins, which is the standard internal floppy interface, not 40-pin PATA. I believe he is using "PATA" in the title in error. There is no way that the pictured floppy drive will connect to your PATA interface in the Mac Pro and work.

    The closest thing I can think of to what you are asking for is a 3.5" floptical drive, which were usually SCSI but sometimes PATA. They worked with both floptical disks and standard 3.5 floppies. These were extraordinarily rare, and the PATA version even more rare. I only ever saw these in PCs in the medical industry around 1993-1994 I think. But even if you can find a PATA floptical drive, it is irrelevant. I don't see how a low level floppy driver would work with it. Undoubtedly that driver would only work with a standard 34-pin floppy interface, not the PATA interface, unless the maker says otherwise.

    You should be fine with any old PC or laptop that has a floppy drive. 1.44 drives read 720 as well.
  6. funkymothers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2014
    Thank you very much for the information, ActionableMango. It looks like I will have to go out and buy that XP computer after all. It will be my first PC ever...
  7. Kaspin macrumors member


    Jan 15, 2015
    I've seen SCSI floppy drives but never a PATA one. USB floppies tend to only support the standard 1.44 MB DOS format, though I haven't tried very many as I have enough PCs with internal drives.
  8. CapnDavey macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2015
    I have one of those old USB floppy drives that I use when I need one.
  9. 1madman1 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2013
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    Imation/3M made the Superdisk in a PATA version. Works with 720k and 1.4MB floppies, but not 2.8MB.

    As for USB floppy drives, I can confirm they DO still work in current operating systems. I have a pair of them here.

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