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DIY floppy?

pgru2

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Hi and thanks for answering in advance.
Did You known how to make You own floppy disk(e.g. 5,25)? Maybe there is some "recipe" from old times? I known at least one but quite modern - using CDs and compact cassette magnetic tape, but it is from times when was easier to buy a cassette in local shop like Walmart.
 

whartung

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Not clear to me what you're asking here. Are you talking media? Or...what?
 

Gary C

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Your suggesting that someone covered a CD with cassette tape to make a firm floppy ?

Seriously ?, wow that would be a hell of a trick :)
 

Chuck(G)

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I suppose you could coat a substrate with a magnetic emulsion, but then you'd have to design a drive for it. After all, floppy disks date back to the early 1950s (although not digital ones).
 

Timo W.

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Maybe there is some "recipe" from old times?
Not sure what you mean. There are no secrets in how a floppy disk is made. But good luck getting that done yourself.
 

krebizfan

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I don't think using cassette tape would work. I also believe that for much of the existence of floppies, the amount of cassette tape needed would cost considerably more than a floppy. Manually cutting a circle of mylar and coating it in rusty paint is possible. After all, IBM did that in creating the first floppy disk. Would be a lot of work getting one that works in a existing drive because there are so many ways to get the formulation wrong.

Are you sure you didn't get the story backwards? I know of a number of experiments involving cellophane tape coated with rust that gets passed under a tape recorder to demonstrate magnetic storage. Might have been one that used scrapings off a floppy to get the needed rust.
 

SomeGuy

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I am under the impression that the specific formulas and manufacturing processes used for quality magnetic media were kept secret and long since destroyed.

But it would be interesting to see how far an individual could get manufacturing a new floppy disk. Obviously lack of access to the Secret Sauce didn't stop some companies, like Wabash.
 

krebizfan

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The recent resurgence in cassette production shows that recreating average quality magnetic storage isn't too difficult. The problem for floppies is unless someone can sell a million units, the development cost might lead to $50 pricing on a single disk of dubious longevity.
 

pgru2

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Thanks for replies.

Generally about the method - I didn't checked it, found it many years ago. If I remember well the key point of the method was to re-use "coats" of floppies that had broken/not longer usable magnetic disk(media). You had to go to Wal-mart like story, buy a cassette. Remove tape. Melt the tape. The "pulp" (melted tape) had to be made to look like a floppy magnetic disk, and the cheapest thing was to use 2 CD-R. According to author(if it is not another joke on Internet) the magnetic disk can be inserted into the coat, and should work with usual floppy drive.
 

Chuck(G)

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If you're interested in recording digital data, you're best served by using a coating with a square hysteresis/magnetization curve, which isn't the stuff used for audio cassettes.
I seem to recall that an early lab prototypes used a steel platter with a coating of iron oxide formed by heat treatment. ref.:

Harker: Well, the original reason to go to the steel disk was it looked like it was a lower cost recording system because you took a steel disk blank and you put it with a -- clamped with another number of its mates into a furnace with a reducing atmosphere and you formed a ferric oxide coating on the surface. And we'd had enough trouble with that business of coating disks with paint that it looked like a very attractive alternative and it looked like a probe head might be simpler in structure and cheaper to build than a ring head. And that was the technology that it was proposed for and, through most of the program, was used in the ADF became the 1301 and it was only when we realized you just couldn't get steel that was defect-free enough so that you have an adequate error rate in a recording that forced us to go back and switch back to aluminum disks with their paint coating. That is interesting because, now, a lot of the very advanced work in magnetic recording is going to vertical recording <laughter> but this has been said for many years and I don't know yet we've seen real products with it.
 

Al Kossow

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buy a cassette. Remove tape. Melt the tape. The "pulp" (melted tape) had to be made to look like a floppy magnetic disk

Bullshit

That isn't how magnetic tape or disks are made
You start with a mylar base and coat it with gamma ferric oxide in a plastic binder

The basic process is documented, both in books and patents.
Screen Shot 2021-11-14 at 4.03.07 PM.png
 
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Hugo Holden

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It is like a lot of things that appear simple, when the industrial processes to do it on a large scale are perfected.

But, if you try to do it at the kitchen sink it is a whole other story.

One excellent analogy of this is the CRT. The tube on the face of it appears simple, an evacuated bulb with a phosphor and electron gun. But just try a simple part of it like settling the phosphor out of aqueous suspension to the screen (I have attempted it ...very difficult, it also uses a binder agent) then the closer you look you find special metallurgy of the gun structure and before you know it the whole task of say making one yourself is outrageously complex & difficult. Yet, it all looked so very simple when the factory was producing them.

I think less difficult but similar types of problems would exist trying to make a successful floppy, the chemistry would be more complex than it appears and the manufacturing processes very very difficult to replicate as a home project. Certainly if anybody pulled this off and made a reliable floppy at home I would be pretty impressed.
 

whartung

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Is the community that hard up for floppy disks today? Are they that rare that we need to look in to recreating them with stone knives and bear skins?
 

Eudimorphodon

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Painting a CD with ferric oxide and building a crude drive to read and write it would certainly be a fun science fair project that maybe you could pull off with “garage-level” chemistry and machining but, yeah, churning out actual floppy disks that work in normal disk drives, not so much. Especially if you start with such an obviously idiotic and fake internet recipe.
 

krebizfan

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The then communist nations in Europe did have a slight disconnect between computers and storage for those computers. Czechoslovakia planned on producing 150,000 computers in 1990 which would have access to a planned 5,000 floppy drives made in the same year. That encouraged a lot of experimental ideas on storage that no one outside the CMEA would ever try. Half remembered anecdotes about obscure innovations that went nowhere could lead to very confusing reporting.
 

pgru2

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@krebizfan
The Polish computer Elwro 800 JR, was one of the examples how they wanted to deal with the shortage of floppy drives. There was a 1 machine variant with floppy disk controller with access to dual floppy drives, and many other without floppy controller working in Junet network. The computer was "mass produced"(probably less than 20000 computers counting all variants), but if it is true, that because of inserting in it schools, about 1 million of people were using this computers for some time in their lifetime.

The problems behind the Iron Curtain were also other - for example one Poland company started to produce their own floppy drives, but the company that made Elwro 800 JR, used other Eastern Europe floppy drives and didn't fully explained why they can't order it in country.
 

Eudimorphodon

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Here's an early floppy, supposedly inspiration for the 8" computer variety.

That reminds me of the Richo SyncroFax, aka the 3M Sound Page, which recorded audio in a spiral fashion on a piece of magnetically coated paper. (In that device the recording head spun while the paper was held stationary.) Here's an example of a little "executive toy" made in the 80's that also uses the same concept, recording audio on a tiny little non-swappable plastic disk.

For a "garage experiment" in making your own floppies I'm actually kind of liking the idea of punching them out of paper. They wouldn't hold up very well, I'm sure, but they'd be cheap and probably easier to apply a coating to than plastic. Still think making them work in a normal drive's going to be a pretty big stretch.
 

Eudimorphodon

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Just for laughs here's an old paper talking about factors in play for comping up with the optimal recipe for a magnetic coating for tape, including details about the iron pigments, binders, etc. Mostly focused on plastic backers, of course, but does briefly mention paper as having a few good properties. (Mostly dimensional stability.)

Interestingly that same "Brush Development Company" that had the paper disks also sold "Soundmirror" paper tape in a form-factor very similar to the later-standard reel-to-reel for a few years. Apparently there was a brief postwar market opportunity for this sort of thing.
 
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