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Updating your floppy drive to a USB Drive.


Technology marches on but your embroidery machine may be stuck in the ninties. Floppy drives are becoming difficult to find and their life span are limited. Finding a computer that will work with a floppy may be an issue too.


Can you update your Floopy Drive to a USB?

If you are thinking about updating your machine from floppy drive to USB Flash Drive you may want to consult your Embroidery parts and supply company.

You can find a floppy drive emulator on the web for $15 to $35. Embroidery parts and supplly companies sell these for about $300. The companies work with these emulators a lot and know many of the troubleshooting issues that may come with the emulator. The Embroidery parts and supply companies have a number to call and a person to talk to when the emulator does not work. It may be worth the extra cost to be able to trouble shoot any problems you may run against.


Here are some things that you might need to know.






The history of computer operated embroidery machines.


Embroidery has been around for ages and started out as an art of decorating and personalizing clothing, table cloths, drapes and other items.

Of course, we turned to machines to make life easier. The picture to the right depicts an early embroidery machine where a worker uses a lever to trace a design and the machine copied his movement and embroidered the design.


Embroidery machines progressed from manually manipulated to Tape operated.  The machine was operated by a paper tape with holes punched in it that told the machine what to do. This operated much like a player piano and is the source of the term “Punching” and in having your design punched.


Computer Controlled Embroidery Machinesfff.jpg

In the mid to late 80's computers were used to control these machines. CNC or Computer Numeric Controlled machines became more common. You probsably use CNC machines every working day in the form of Printers, and FAX machines (for us old timers).


Other CNC machines you may have heard of are CNC Routers, CNC engravers, lasers and many more.


Computers became more advanced and held more information. Over time and the ability to move information advanced in technology. Computers progressed from 8 inch to 5.25 inch and then to 3.5 inch floppy diskettes.

Then the 3.5 inch floppies progressed on their own:

3.5-inch Floppy Disk Capacity

  • SS –Single Sided –280 KB
  • DD –Double Density –720 KB
  • HD –High Density –1.44 MB
  • ED –Extended Density –2.88 MB


USB Thumb drives, or more correctly the USB Flash Drives, are the latest storage devices used in the computer world today.  USB, or Universal Serial Bus is acutally the name of the connector that plugs into a computers port.






Floppy disk hardware emulator:

A floppy disk hardware emulator or semi-virtual diskette (SVD) is a device that emulates a floppy disk drive. Emulate means: To imitate the function of (another system), as by modifications to hardware or software that allow the imitating system to accept the same data, execute the same programs, and achieve the same results as the imitated system.    

I almost went to sleep just copying and pasting the last sentence so to save you the time it takes to translate. This device makes your machine believe it is a Floppy Drive and you use a USB Flash Drive to move files from your computer to the emulator. 


There are basically three things you need to look at when shopping for an emulator for your machine.

1. The correct memory capacity

A machine that uses a single sided disk may not be able to read a Extended Density floppy drive. Most of the newer ones were backwards copatable, meaning that you could use the older, lower memory floppy drives on the newer readers. You may or may not be able to use the larger formatted disk on the older floppy drives. You need to get the emulator that matches your machine.

3.5-inch Floppy Disk Capacity

  • SS –Single Sided –280 KB
  • DD –Double Density –720 KB
  • HD –High Density –1.44 MB
  • ED –Extended Density –2.88 MB




2. The correct connectors

The connectors that plug into your machine also went through an evolution and progressed from 20 to 34 poin connectors and with or without a seperate power connection. So when you are looking for an emulator for your machine you need to match the electronic connection for your machine.

Some emulators have jumper switches. You may need to know which settings go with your machine






3. USB Flash Drives

Many floppy drive emulators are finicky when working with flash drives. You may be using a flash drive for a while  and one day the machine says that it doesnt recognise the floppy drive. Here are some things to check.

Use a low capasity Flash Drive. Some emulators cannot read hiigh capasity Flash Drives. Try to find one with less than 2 gigs of memory. You probably cannot find them in the store, I had to order them from Amazon. 















You may need to format your Thumb drive. "Warning" Formating your thumb drive will erase everything on it.

  1. Right Click on the Flash Drive Icon
  2. choose Format and click to open the Format dialog box
  3. Choose FAT-16 or FAT (Default) and use the default allocation size. (FAT stands for File Allocation Table. Windows 10 defalults to FAT 32. Again choose the lowest version of FAT availible.)