Tankgrrl's 3D-Printable USB Floppy Housing Is a Commodore 1541-Inspired Throwback for 3.5" Drives

Taking a standard 3.5" floppy drive and a low-cost USB adapter, this case is a real love-letter to storage devices of the 1980s.

Gareth Halfacree
3 months agoRetro Tech / 3D Printing

Pseudonymous maker "Tankgrrl" has designed a 3D-printable housing to give a modern 3.5" floppy drive and its USB adapter a retro twist — taking design cues from classic Commodore peripherals of old.

"I made a thing," Tankgrrl writes of the project. "A case for adding a real 3.5" floppy drive and USB controller board. The design language is taken from old Commodore drives. A standard PC floppy drive screws in from the bottom (I cannot guarantee that other drives will match the hole pattern. Also drives with no bottom shroud should be checked for clearance.)"

While 3.5" drives are less common than they were, the vintage format hasn't completely disappeared yet — and when you need one, typically to recover old files or drivers for irreplaceable hardware, you need one right away. With few modern motherboards including floppy drive controllers, though, you're left with using a USB adapter — and either buying an off-the-shelf USB floppy drive or a bare adapter to hang off the back of a standard drive.

It's these adapters for which Tankgrrl has designed the housing. Inspired in its looks by the Commodore 1541, a 5.25" floppy drive released in the 1980s, the 3D-printable case takes a standard floppy drive and mounts it in a more appropriate housing — and has room at the back to keep the USB adapter board safe and hidden from view.

"Nothing to it," Tankgrrl claims of the chassis' assembly process. "Floppy drive screws into the from the bottom, plug in the USB-to-floppy board, close the case and screw it together. You'll need eight 3×15mm screws: four for the drive, three for the case."

Tankgrrl has uploaded the design to Cults 3D, where it's being made available for just $1. "[I'm] experimenting with charging a buck for it to see what happens," the maker says on Mastodon. "If you want to grab it for free, I'm cool with that, just DM me."

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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