Relive the days when storage was counted out in kilobytes, not gigabytes, using the Adafruit Floppy FeatherWing on a Feather board. This is perfect for interfacing with 34-Pin IDC Connector floppy drives that were ubiquitous on PC's. This 'Wing has level shifting and a ready-to-plug connector that works with 3.5" or 5.25" floppy disks for reading or writing!

Floppy disks have an interesting data transfer method where raw bit transitions are measured and converted to data. This data streams pretty fast from the disk drive, so you'll want to use a fast microcontroller that has large SRAM storage and ideally, a peripheral to DMA the data signal. For that reason, we only have this FeatherWing working with the Feather M4 or Feather RP2040. ESP32, ATmega, nRF52, etc have not been ported to our support library!

Floppy disk drives require 5V power and logic. For the logic level shifting, we have a small boost converter on the 'Wing that will give 5V logic levels out the 34-pin connector. It will also shift the incoming signals down to a Feather-safe 3.3V.

For floppy drive powering you will likely need a separate external 5V power supply that can provide 5V at 2 A. You can't power most drives off of USB power, they have big motors that require more current than USB can provide!

There is code and there are examples for three use cases:

  • Reading floppy disks and storing the raw bit patterns and/or converted data format for data archiving. For this use case we recommend using the 'Wing with a Feather programmed to act as a greaseweazle or fluxengine client device. Then run those command line programs on your computer to have the Feather send the raw track data to the computer for analysis, bit-repair and format interpretation. You can also write some formats via those two programs, for use with older computers. There is a 'Write Disable' switch on the board specifically for this use case so that it is not possible for the write-enable pin to accidentally be activated.
  • Reading/Writing FAT formatted floppy disks from Arduino, CircuitPython or a computer that is connected via USB. Floppy disks can still be used to save, read data from! This is great for retro-themed projects or if you want to write data to floppy disks for them to be used by IBM PC compatibles or other devices that are expecting FAT-formatted floppy disks
  • Cool floppy music sequencing!

Each order comes with one FeatherWing with the 2x17 header attached and level shifting circuitry built in. Before it can be used to read/write floppies, you will need to:

Many of these items are no longer sold, and will require some sleuthing to locate!

Angled shot of a black rectangular microcontroller with GPIO header.
Relive the days when storage was counted out in kilo-bytes not giga-bytes, using the Adafruit Floppy FeatherWing on a Feather board - perfect for interfacing...
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Angled shot of rainbow-colored 34-pin IDC ribbon cable.
Often used for floppy drives, 34 pin IDC cables have a 2x17 array of pins. This cable will let you connect one port...
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4-pin AT/ATX/IDE power cable
For big projects, with big power needs, an AT or ATX power supply is a handy place to grab 5V or 12VDC. Only problem is that these supplies have connectors that only plug into...
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Angled shot of black rectangular microcontroller "Feather RP2040"
A new chip means a new Feather, and the Raspberry Pi RP2040 is no exception. When we saw this chip we thought "this chip is going to be awesome when we give it the Feather...
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Double prototyping feather wing PCB with socket headers installed
This is the FeatherWing Doubler - a prototyping add-on and more for all Feather boards. This is similar to our
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1 x Compatible 3.5" Drive
3.5" floppy drive with 34-pin IDC connector
1 x Power Supply
+5/+12V power supply with Molex and/or Berg Connector

Compatible power supplies can be bought inexpensively as part of a "USB to IDE" kit. See this one as an example, they can be found at many retailers for reasonable prices.

Optional for 5.25" floppies:

1 x Compatible 5.25" Drive
5.25" drive with 34-pin card-edge connector
1 x 34-pin IDC to card-edge connector
For connecting a 5.25" floppy drive

This guide was first published on Feb 28, 2023. It was last updated on Jun 22, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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