Universal Floppy Image dumper & emulator for odd formats.


I am using some old (1989) HP data aquisition and measurement equipment that uses 3,5" 720kb floppy drives. These devices are still perfect for laboratory using even now (one of them is multichannel 100Mhz oscilloscope with logic analyser), but are limited because of proprietary floppy drives format.

Problem is that floppies are 720kb and they are formated with HFSLIF (not 100% confirmed, but highly possible). Floppy may even not be formatted with any standart FS, as these machines are driven with simple MC68000 microprocessors.
They cannot be read on modern OS / modern floppy controllers. Systems see floppy as unformatted or even not present. Even famous linux "dd" fails. I asked one engineer who used to have these machines and he told me I need computer with 486 or older CPU with specific floppy controller and special DOS utility in order to make a copy of these floppies.

So, my idea is to make a true RAW floppy drive copier that doesnt care about filesystem, format, data density etc. I read some specifications about floppy controllers, and found out that they are really simple to interface as they consists only a motor drivers and head amplifiers with signal shape circuitry.
First goal is to make a RAW byte copy of any inserted floppy.
Next step could be of course to make a floppy emulator with SD card (and get rid of those mechanical solutions :)).

Is it possible to create such universal device?

I found out some useful info to start with here:

and here:

(this forum entry is dead, I`d like to finalize this).

Thanks for responses & tips !

I have almost the same problem on my embroidery machine. There is NEC fd1138c floppy drive, that works in 720k mode.
Do You have any results in your researches at the moment?

I wonder if an old Amiga computer could do this as IIRC the floppy drive chip (Paula) just used to read the raw MFM track and new nothing about the data it was reading, this was all decoded in software/hardware.