How to make a cleaning kit for 5.25" floppy drive at home (for free)

 

Old 5.25" floppy disks tend to leave dust and debris on drive heads. Sometimes a single bad floppy can make a difference from a working drive and a not working one. So you would need to use a cleaning kit floppy disk but you haven't at home, and a brand new one on eBay tends to cost 10 or 15 US$.

I find and successfully tested a way to clean the drive heads: it isn't as good as a real cleaning floppy, but it's good and safe enough to solve most problems; of course your heads can't be soooo dirty, or it won't work.

 

Note: if your heads are really dirty, you would need to open the drive and clean them with alchool and some paper or a cotton swab, at least once.

 

floppy_01Take and old and useless floppy disk and open it cutting the upper side (see red arrow). Remove the disk and the internal cleaning tissue from the sleeve. Keep the sleeve, discard the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

floppy_02Take a paper like premium copy laser or inkjet white paper (simple, common paper, not glossy). The thicker it is, the better will work. Cut it how shown in this picture. You need to leave a space inside. Don't try to cut it in a disk shape: it won't spin, the spin motor will rip it off and you will have to clean your drive from many little pieces of paper.

 

 

 

 

floppy_03floppy_04 Insert the paper stencil inside your floppy disk sleeve, as shown in these two pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floppy_06Put some alchool on the paper, as shown, both sides. You must to put enough alchool, so don't worry about the quantity: the paper must stay wet and soggy for at least 30 seconds (but it can't drip).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floppy_05From pure Ms-Dos, run Image Disk (click on the link to open the download page or Google it). If needed, set the drive unit (A: or B:) from Settings, then type "C" to enter the Clean Head function.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floppy_08Enter the number of passes: 5 passes should be ok, but since it's your drive, you choose! :-)

Insert the home-made cleaning kit an press Enter twice to start the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floppy_10 The cleaning process will start.

 

Note: of course, the original cleaning kit disk spins while the heads move back and forth, while using our "disk" the heads can count on themselves only: so, in case of very dirty heads, you would need to replace the paper stencil with a fresh one and repeat the process. But in case of a "not-so-dirty" heads, it should work fine.

 

 

 

 

floppy_11As you can see, the heads movement doesn't peel or rip off the paper. Since I used it just to take some pictures, the paper is clean. But you can find some brown marks of dust, meaning the heads were (or still are) dirty. In this case, a second pass would give you better results.

Repeat the process until the paper will be clean.

 

Wait for some time before to put a floppy disk in your drive, the heads must dry! Usually I wait for at least 5 minutes, or more.

 

DON'T LEAVE ANY DISK INSIDE THE DRIVE WHILE THE HEADS ARE WET !!!