USB floppy-replacement


Again I enjoin folks to publish their experiences under the correct thread, or start a new one if there isn't one devoted to the topic already - otherwise we'll end up with a very disorganised forum.

This drive of yours looks great! It's a bit on the pricier side - some months ago I got a similar one for about 3/4 the price from a UK seller - but it may also be because the chip used in the drives themselves, ST32something, is on a global shortage. There is a replacement, but it's got less memory and iinm the custom firmware doesn't work properly on it.

Just to set some matters straight:

  • All these 'drives' are based on the same circuit, made by 'Gotek';
  • Mostly small independent vendors then add a casing, buttons, screens, etc, to the circuit, and sell it as a consumer product;
  • There are many versions of the gotek circuit, but they're usually all the same, only having different firmware, which dictates what the circuit can do (whether it should emulate a PC drive or an Amiga, 720KB or 1440KB...);
  • Some configuration may also be done via jumpers;
  • There are currently two 3rd-party firmwares, which have nothing to do with Gotek, which allow any of the gotek drives to run in any of those modes, depending on a configuration file you put in each pen;
  • The older is HxC, the newer is FlashFloppy. Both can do mostly the same. FlashFloppy is open source and is easier to work with, but may not be able to do 100% of what HxC does. However, both of them can handle the Korg 01/W fine;
  • Putting any firmware in a gotek is not for everyone, it requires a couple of techie skills, but nothing too complex. But at least with FlashFloppy, once you have it installed, any end user can update it if needed;
  • For the synth, it is just a floppy drive. The synth knows nothing about USB pens. It only sees 1 disk image at a time, and thinks it's a floppy you inserted;
  • For more complex uses (e.g. Amiga or Atari demo disks), the images will have to be in a format that preserves a lot of meta-information, such as sector layout, read speed, etc. That's sometimes 'HFE'. For the Korg 01/W, however, all that's needed is the plain raw bytes format we have been discussing here, using a '.img' extension (according to the type of gotek, there may be restrictions on the image filenames as well).

I believe any gotek with FlashFloppy and a single jumper (on S0) should work correctly with the Korg 01/W. I know I had an HxC one working, with the 'seven segment' display (which is now on a Technics WSA-1), and now I have one similar to yours. When a drive 'doesn't work', the problem is usually that it needs to be correctly configured. Of course, configuration may not always be straightforward. In the case of the Korg 01/W, the first thing to do would be to install FlashFloppy if it's not already there. Just take notice that it's not possible to go back to the original gotek firmware once you install a replacement, so in the unlikely case that you have a drive working with some odd device and the gotek firmware, you may not want to replace it.