Once upon a time, people who wanted to exchange files didn’t upload them to the cloud, send them via email, or copy them to a USB thumb drive. Instead, they relied on floppy disks — ancient relics that held an increasingly pitiful amount of data as time wore on, yet, like bedbugs, proved nearly impossible to kill. Multiple companies tried to introduce replacement products, but neither Zip disks nor SuperDrives could kill the ubiquitous 1.44MB disk.
Geek.com has the story of Dr. Moddnstine, an enterprising hacker who decided to upgrade his ancient Aptiva case with a modern system — and hacked a floppy drive to create a 128GB storage pool as well. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the server room, the 3.5-inch zombie rides again.
This can be done because — probably by chance — the pins on an SD card perfectly align to the individual wires on a floppy drive cable. That made it possible to splice a floppy cable into a USB card reader. He then bent the contact pins for the reader upwards, so they’d make contact with an inserted floppy.
This picture shows the disk drive with a floppy inserted. You can see the reader making contact with the SD card, which happens to fit beautifully inside the shell of an empty floppy.
The result of this insanity is a floppy drive that can read a 128GB disk. There’s a video below of the system in action — Windows has no trouble detecting a “Drive A:”, and since the floppy card reader actually connects to an internal USB port, the system doesn’t need an ancient floppy controller to function. The mod is completely invisible from the outside of the system, and the Aptiva itself has been turned almost invisibly into a Core i7-6700K Skylake rig, with modern ports and capabilities melded seamlessly with the peak of 1990s style and engineering. Beige has never looked so… beige.
I wouldn’t want to take bets on how long the system will work before the card reader contacts pull away from the mount point and stop reading the card reliably. But if you’re willing to pop the system open periodically and bend them back (and anyone willing to do this probably is), it should function indefinitely. As an added bonus, you won’t have to buy a program with 15 of these “disks,” only to discover one of them failed in the box before you even unpacked the software. Well played, Dr. Moddnstine. Well played.