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Rip those floppy disks!

Fuzzy close-up of a Greaseweazle F7

Keir Fraser’s Greaseweazle is a project for versatile floppy drive control over USB. By extracting the raw flux transitions from a drive, any diskette format can be captured and analyzed - PC, Amiga, Amstrad, PDP-11, many older electronic musical instruments, and industrial equipment. The Greaseweazle also supports writing to floppy disks. The design is fully open and comes with no license encumberment.

A companion code library, Disk-Utilities, converts between flux images and multiple, standardized floppy disk image file formats. These can then be used in hardware floppy emulators, like the Gotek or FlashFloppy, or as disk images in hundreds of pure software emulators.

We are now offering the F7 Lightning Plus, an upgraded model with more features.

Greaseweazle F7 Lightning Plus

  • Reads and writes 8", 5¼" and 3½" floppy disks
  • Jumperless firmware updates via USB
  • Supports multiple drives, simultaneously connected
  • Write-protect jumper (on top right) for safety
  • 40mA buffered output
  • High-Speed USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)
  • 12V input allows board and drive to be powered from a single 12V power brick (not included)
  • Supports flippy-modded Panasonic drives for reading 5.25" flippy disks in a single pass.
  • 3 user outputs

Specs for EE Nerds

  • Layers: 2

  • PCB Thickness: 1.6mm

  • Surface Finish: ENIG

  • Copper Weight: 1oz

  • Fully Probe Tested: Yes

  • Schematics, Gerbers, BOM, & Software: Available on GitHub

Hardware Guide

Picture of the F7 Lightning Plus, with all connectors labelled in pencil.

Picture of the F7 Lightning Plus, with all connectors labelled. Click for a bigger version.

Full software & documentation is available online from the creator's GitHub repository, but here's a quick start:

  1. Before connecting to your drive or PC, set the Power Jumper correctly:

  • Use 12V and connect a 12V, 2A, center-positive power supply (not included) to power any 3 ½" or 5 ¼" drive. 8" drives that only require +5 and +12V may also be powered by this connector.

  • Use USB for a 3 ½" drive, or if powering the drive separately from the Greaseweazle.

  1. If you want to be sure not to write to any floppy disk, remove the Write Inhibit Jumper.

  2. Connect the floppy drive to the Greaseweazle using the 34-pin header and a ribbon cable. Note the position of Pin 1, on the left.

  3. Connect the 4-pin white header at the top left to the drive's power input, if using. (Cable not included.)

  4. The silver connector at the bottom-left is a USB 2.0 Type B connector (square). Connect your own USB 2.0 B-to-A or 3.0 B-to-C cable between the Greaseweazle and your computer.

  5. (Optional) If you need to debug the Greaseweazle, or wish to connect a reset button, use the Debug Header or Reset Switch Pads.


This video demonstrates using the older F7 v1 board, using an external power supply, but the principles are the same. (We're working on a new video right now.)