GreaseWeazle

GreaseWeazle

Have you wanted to read and write data off your old 5.25″ floppy disks with a modern computer? Or how about reading/writing floppies for Apple II, Amiga, ST, or a host of other systems? Or maybe even hooking up a 8″ floppy? It is possible!

There are solutions out there, but they can easily run $100 or more. I, however, picked up the GreaseWeazle and read some of my old 5.25″ disks. Best yet, it only cost $31 Canadian and is one of the more capable solutions. You can supposedly even use your old DOS floppy drive to read/write images for other platforms.
If you’re interested in seeing it at work on some unusual formats, this fellow gives a walkthrough of using Greaseweazle to read 3″ Amstrad disks. Pretty darn cool.

Items you’ll need:

  • GreaseWeazle by Decromancer – the plug-in USB board that makes it all possible. Plug in 3.5″, 5.25″ and 8″ drives and read/write the flux data for hordes of different formats.
  • Floppy drive – any 5.25″, 3.5″ or 8″ floppy that uses the Shugart interface. This is almost all old PC drives. Even better, GreaseWeazle can use these older DOS drives to read and write Apple, Amiga, ST, and a host of other formats.
  • Floppy disk cable – CablesOnline has a universal floppy cable Item # FF-002 for $9.99
  • Power supply with Molex connectors for the floppy drive. Either using a PC power supply with a Molex connector, or a stand-alone power supply with Molex connector
  • USB A to B cable (commonly known as a “USB printer cable”) to connect the GreaseWeazle to your PC

Setup:

Your floppy drive won’t show up in a command prompt like they did back in the old DOS days or like modern USB plug-in 3.5″ drives. Instead, you have to load and write whole images to the drive in one go. This means you need to work with floppy disk images.

  1. Set up your physical floppy drive to be used with GreaseWeazle.
    1. Attach the power cable to a power supply
    2. Attach the data cable to the floppy drive and the GreaseWeazle
  2. Follow the instructions on GreaseWeazle setup and software setup guide.
  3. Plug in the GreaseWeazle to your computer’s USB port
  4. Install and run GreaseWeazle GUI to format a disk, read a disk image, write a disk image, etc. Again, this only works on whole disk images. You can’t browse at a command prompt or read/write individual files/directories.

Optional but helpful tools:

  1. WinImage is a great tool for creating and converting disk image formats.
  2. Use the HxCFloppyEmulator to examine and covert the raw disk images to anything you need.

Learn more:

Tech Tangents talks about how preservationists use tools like GreaseWeasle to back up disks.

Resource Links:

4 thoughts on “GreaseWeazle

  1. Is there something like Greaseweazel or Kryoflux but for optical discs?
    Weak aged CD-R/RW discs might be readable if the parameters of reading the waveform were easily adjustable.

    1. I do not know of any boards like this for optical disks. Unless you’re trying to read the actual track jitter/etc, any modern drive should be able to read any formatted CD or DVD format.

      If you’re trying to read track wobble (cough, cough PS2 disks) and other parameters, you’re going to need to get down to the almost the on-driver controller level since much of that is handled by drive firmware.

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