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MMD > Archives > November 2014 > 2014.11.14 > 05Prev  Next


PianoDisc PDS-128Plus Floppy Drive Replacement
By Rob Goodale

[ Vo Dahn wrote in 141112 MMDigest:

> I was wondering if anybody has tried to replace it with a floppy
> drive emulator.  I know there are 720k (MFD-DD format) floppy drive
> emulators out there that I can get.  However, I'm not sure if it
> would be compatible with the PDS-128Plus controller.

I am a certified PDS technician.  I have never personally tried
a floppy emulator, (which will convert and existing floppy drive
to a thumb drive and/or SD card), but I have wondered about that
possibility myself.  PianoDisc is rather anal when it comes to
disclosing software and firmware information and often even I can't
get a straight answer out of them.   When it comes down to it they
want you to upgrade, not modify, the system so they are notorious
for not being cooperative in situations like this.

The floppy drive in the PDS-1000, PDS-32, PDS-128, and PDS-228 is
somewhat proprietary.  That is, the system reads the encoded MIDI
as a stream and not as a self-contained file.  This is known as MIDI
"Type 0" format.  Conventional MIDI is "Type 1" format.  Thus when
music is playing the floppy drive runs continuously as the data is
streamed somewhat like a CD player.   As a result they have done
"something" to the floppy drives they install that is different,
I don't know what.  I've tried replacing them with regular off the
shelf drives and have never gotten them to work.  I haven't ordered
a replacement floppy in a long time but I don't think they charge
that much anyway.  Nevertheless it is dreadfully obsolete.

It occurs to me that a floppy emulator should work since it is nothing
more then a memory storage device.  Assuming it does you will still
need to transfer all of your existing floppy files onto the thumb
drive or SD card.  That presents another problem since a normal PC
won't read them, which is another part of their proprietary features.
There is, however, some third party software that will extract and
convert them to regular MIDI.  As long as you resave the MIDI as
"Type 0" format then it should work.  I've pulled many MIDI files off
the Internet, converted them to format "0", and they play perfectly.

A simple search on eBay for "Floppy Emulator" will bring up endless
lists of them for sale.  They are cheap, ranging in price from about
$15 to $35 depending on the features.  If you try this please let us
know if it works.

Rob Goodale, RPT
Las Vegas, Nevada


(Message sent Fri 14 Nov 2014, 03:06:49 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Drive, Floppy, PDS-128Plus, PianoDisc, Replacement

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