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Compaq Contura Aero Frequently Asked Questions
Section - 2.2.1.7 Repairing the Floppy Drive

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[C] Date: Sat, 29 Nov 97 15:41:58 UT
From: "David Chapman" <avonlogic@classic.msn.com>
Subject: Fixing an Aero floppy

I posted about a week ago a problem I had with a dead Aero floppy and no hard 
disk boot partition. I managed to fix the problem as follows:
I had figured that the problem was out of alignment floppy heads - cleaning 
didn't help. Still got disk I/O error when booted with floppy in. I plugged 
the Aero floppy into an Armada PCMCIA slot in the hope that I could create an 
out of alignment boot floppy, tried everything but could properly disable the 
Armada built in floppy so had to give up.
I took apart the Aero floppy and thought the floppy drive itself looked fairly 
generic although power was through the edge connector - not a seperate 
connector as in desktops. I then dug out the floppy from an Old Tosh3200 in 
the junk pile. This had a different edge connector and the floppy drive itself 
was quite a lot bigger but the edge connector was 26 pins and was 3.5 1.44mb.
I worked out the connectors and lashed up an adapter (26 small pieces of 
tinned copper wire !) to join the lead from the aero PCMCIA card to the Tosh 
floppy.  Unbelievably it works perfectly. I was able to boot using a
standard DOS 6.22 floppy and so could reformat and Fdisk the drive !

[C] Date: Mon, 1 Dec 97 14:02:49 UT
From: "David Chapman" <avonlogic@classic.msn.com>
Subject: Fixing an Aero floppy - detail !

A couple of you have asked for more detail - here goes:

Take floppy case apart, you will see the lead from the pcmcia card is 
terminated by a flexible edge connector that plugs into the floppy drive  with 
a row of 26 pins. You can see pin 1 identified on the edge connector and 
circuit board of the floppy as J1. Remove this VERY carefully, If you bend it 
it will probably break. The engineering is excellent but fragile and light 
(like the rest of the Aero !)

For a donor floppy I used one out of an old Tosh but any floppy from a 
notebook - or even some desktops - should work. The key point is it has to be 
the sort that don't have a seperate power connector. I've never seen them sold 
new and the only desktops I've seen them in are Apricots (usefull for us 
Europeans)

The floppys will all be different but they will have some sort of 26 pin 
connector, normally 2 rows of 13 pins, You need to work out the pin order by 
looking at the edge connector to see if the order is 1-2-3 or 1-3-5 etc.

I then plugged a scrap connector into the new floppy that gave me 26 seperate 
cables that were part of a ribbon cable. I stripped the other end of these so 
that they had about 3 mm showing. Luckily the spacing was exactly the same as 
the edge connector of the aero floppy. I found the smallest soldering iron bit 
I could and tinned the 3mm of each cable. I then tinned the edge connector of 
the lead from the pcmcia card (sadly that means I would have great difficulty 
getting it to fit into an Aero floppy if ever I could find a replacement - but 
I was desperate !) I then carefully pressed each cable onto the edge connector 
with a soldering iron, just a touch was enough, obviously getting the 1-26 
order is critical as it includes a power feed as well as data - keep checking 
and re checking.

Everything then works fine. I booted the aero from a DOS disk (It felt like an 
eternity the first time I tried it and my nose was right by it sniffing for 
any burning smells !!!) I would guess the electronics and clever bits are in 
the pcmcia card as the Aero can't tell what I've been doing to its floppy. 

It doesn't get hot but I've been trying not to use the floppy too much as I 
would suspect it draws more power than the original - nightmare would be if it 
burns out the connector on the pcmcia card to motherboard, for that reason I 
won't dare try hot plug and play - which saves having to load one of the 
service packs !  Of course there is no case but I tended to leave the floppy 
at home anyway, I normally take a network connection and a short parallel 
cable to use someone elses PC when on the road.

Good luck if you try it and thanks to all those who made the FAQ so good, I am 
about to order a 2.1Gb Hitachi disk, now only 150 UKpds ($100) to fit into the 
aero. I might then have another go at putting Win98 on it - wouldn't fit on 
the current 250mb.

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Top Document: Compaq Contura Aero Frequently Asked Questions
Previous Document: 2.2.1.6 You still do not think you need a floppy?
Next Document: 2.2.2 PCMCIA

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