replacing the disk drive on Express 48/96

I'm wondering if there is an off the shelf solution to replacing the disk drive with a more up to date device such as a USB memory stick.

13 Replies - Page 1 of 1

  • Hi George-

    Unfortunately, there is no such thing - the floppy disk storage is integral to the OS of the console.

    Fortunately, all of our latest desks have USB as well as HDD storage!

    -luke-

  • George

    I have heard of such devices but I don't know how it would work with ETC equipment.  At the end of the day you will not be able to install drivers to support devices.  These devices are called FFD Floppy Disk Drive Emulators Interfaces.   I have heard that you can acquire such devices for about $200.00.  Please note that ETC has not tested such devices and that you should proceed at your own risk.  There is no guarantee that it will work, or that it won't hurt the equipment it is installed in.

    P-

  • I've looked into this before, and the short answer is No.

    The main processor interacts with the floppy disk drive in a very slow and unique way, which doesn't resemble any sort of modern protocol or storage standard. It is theoretically possible to emulate a floppy disk drive controller, and buffer the data into a modern data structure and media. But due to development cost and small scope, don't expect to see a such a product out of ETC.

    I once saw a demonstration from a french hobbyist who built such a device for an old Apple computer, it used a SD card instead of the floppy drive.  I don't think he was planning on creating an product out of it.

    Let us know if you do find such a device though, I'd be happy to take a look at it!

  • In reply to Kevin McMadtown:

    Since everyone beat me to it,  I suppose I should re-qualify my statement.

    As Luke mentioned, the OS is written to work with a specific floppy disk controller. The timings and protocol of this controller is embedded into the Expression OS.  Other devices use drivers to adjust the timing and protocol used to talk to the FDD controllers.   Unless one of those emulators can mimic the specific controller/drive used in the Express(ion) consoles, it won't work. You'll notice that those products list specific models of disk drives that they can emulate. 

    Next you'll probably ask me what controller/drive was used in each console...

  • In reply to Kevin McMadtown:

    Kevin McMadtown

    As Luke mentioned, the OS is written to work with a specific floppy disk controller. The timings and protocol of this controller is embedded into the Expression OS.  Other devices use drivers to adjust the timing and protocol used to talk to the FDD controllers.   Unless one of those emulators can mimic the specific controller/drive used in the Express(ion) consoles, it won't work. You'll notice that those products list specific models of disk drives that they can emulate. 

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the a device such as this device:

    http://www.ipcas.com/products/usb-floppy-emulator-fdd-to-udd.html

    doesn't replace the floppy controller, just the drive.  Wouldn't this work if the drive would work with the controller in an express/expression.

    Steve Martin, Indianapolis Symphony

  • In reply to martinsa:

    I've tried using thus stated device with a microvision FX, I get a "Disk Timeout Error".  Soon i will be trying it on the Express 250. Update will come soon.  

  • In reply to gargonx:

    gargonx, thanks for trying. But your result proves that Kevin's helpful comment about timings was precisely accurate.

    One detail to consider is that timing is of the essence in servicing a disk read or write process. But these were older consoles that also had to continue to output DMX while saving a show. Their (by today's standards, anyway) slow processors and memory controllers probably needed careful consideration of the show save's possible interference with that requirement. Referring to the message preceding yours, the fact that the diskette controller (and its custom programming) are between the drive and the rest of the console practically guarantees that any general-purpose drive replacement gadget is going to fail.

    In retrospect, I'm very grateful that ETC decided to make those show diskettes DOS-compatible. It must have required extra effort and expense that didn't have a lot of customer payoff at the time of development. But it paid off big-time for everyone later in the product development and life-cycle.



    [edited by: tbuchman at 1:13 PM (GMT -6) on Fri, Feb 4 2011]
  • In reply to tbuchman:

    Does anyone have experience with the device in this link?

     

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/230899199195?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

  • In reply to wphdesign:

    Random thoughts...

    $200 will buy A  LOT of floppies, even though they're getting scarse(r).  Brand new ones will continue to be available from ETC for many, many years to come.  Fred Foster said so.

    If the goal is easy transfer of the show file to/from the offline editor on a PC, a USB-to-Floppy reader is $30 or less.

    The fact that the seller of the device requires that the console must be powered down before inserting/removing the thumb drive is a deal breaker for me.  I can't have my stage blacking out just because I need to remove/insert the USB stick.

    The device in question has been cited many times in several forums over the past two? years, but I have yet to hear from a trusted user who actually endorses the product.

    Save the $200 to put toward the future purchase of an Element.

     

     



    [edited by: derekleffew at 10:59 AM (GMT -6) on Wed, Feb 27 2013]
  • In reply to wphdesign:

    I looked at an Expression 3 console that had this hardware installed--it worked.

    >>Does anyone have experience with the device in this link?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/230899199195?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    Does anyone have experience with the device in this link?<<

     

     

     

    Wayne

  • In reply to derekleffew:

    >>The fact that the seller of the device requires that the console must be powered down before inserting/removing the thumb drive is a deal breaker for me.  I can't have my stage blacking out just because I need to remove/insert the USB stick.

    The device in question has been cited many times in several forums over the past two? years, but I have yet to hear from a trusted user who actually endorses the product.<<

    I have used a USB drive to replace the floppy drive in the Expression 3/800 recently purchased for the school at which I work.  You can only store one show on each USB but you can treat the drive just like a floppy drive since the hardware is programmed to make the machine think it is a floppy drive.  I know of another person who has successfully transplanted the floppy drive in an Express board, and I intend to replace the drive in the Express 24/48 at my school soon.  The hardware is from a Chinese company, used to replace commercial sewing machine floppies and Korg/Yamaha/Roalnd keyboard floppies.  The price on the Chinese part varies. I purchased the drive for $28 before December 2012. They were $57 when I looked last month, and are now $55.

    <http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Fusb-simulate-floppy-to-usb-for-Y
    amaha-korg-roland/502725_313603567.html>

    The company that carries out the transaction is first class. They don't
    pay for the part until you have confirmed that it is in your hands.

    Wayne

     

  • In reply to rasmuw:

    One of our other TD's is currently using this exact device in his Express 48/96. He has been using it for about a year with zero problems. The best thing about it is it will hold 100 shows (or more accurately, emulate 100 disks), so no more swapping floppies every time you want to load a show. The latest versions of these will emulate 1000 disks, and the IPCAS V3 can emulate ANY floppy format, and uses onboard flash configuration. Program the drive on your PC, then install on the console. Oh, and no powering down the console to swap drives, etc, on the later versions.
  • In reply to Mark Petersen:

    Thanks for the info!! Link from Wayne no longer works. Are either of these links the same?
    www.alibaba.com/.../FUSB-floppy-to-usb-emulator-for_1341035105.html
    www.ipcas.com/.../usb-floppy-emulator-v3.html
    Thanks! Ed
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