Raspberry Pi Floppy Disk Interface Reads Retro Disks

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Jasper Renow-Clarke, Picosonic)

If you've got a spare Raspberry Pi and a few old BBC Micro floppy disks lying around, this may be the project for you. Jasper Renow-Clarke, also known as Picosonic, has created a floppy disk interface PCB for the Raspberry Pi.

Some of the best Raspberry Pi projects we've seen use custom PCBs and this one connects one of our favorite retro storage devices to the Raspberry Pi. It's designed to support floppy drives that use 34-pin Shugart bus ribbon cables. The PCB has pins for both the disk drive ribbon cable and the Raspberry Pi 40-pin GPIO.

The floppy data is accessed by the Raspberry Pi through the GPIO connection using SPI. According to Picosonic, this inputs raw data from the disk drive's magnetic flux transitions.

The project was initially designed to read 5.25-inch disks for the BBC Micro and successfully works with both 40 and 80 track floppy disks. However, Picosonic has also managed to read 3.5 inch disks with the help of a TEAC FD-235HG PC drive and it can be used with Acorn, MS-DOS, Commodore 64 and Apple II 5.25 drives.

Visit the project page at Github for more details and a closer look at this retro Pi adaptor. 

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.