How Do I Replace My Mirage Disk Drive?

The most often asked question on the Mirage-Net seems to be "how do I replace my Mirage disk drive?  Little wonder--most original Mirage disk drives are 10-13 years old and are the only moving part on the instrument. (not counting the keyboard)

Before you replace the drive, clean your present one thoroughly with a cloth-type disk cleaner (available from computer shops and Radio Shack).  After all, your original Mirage disks are just as old as the drive and might have deposited all kinds of gunk on the drive heads.  You might squeeze another six months out of the drive with regular cleaning.

Mirages, both DSK (keyboards) and the DMS (rackmount) originally used 3.5" 360k PC-Type single-sided floppy drives.  However, the 360k drives were quickly supplanted by double-sided 720k drives in most computers.  Today, a 360k drive is almost impossible to find.  This article attempts to cover the basics of replacing the drive with a workable 720k substitute.

Why Not Get One From Ensoniq?

Ensoniq has stated in the past that they have run out of drives for the Mirage.  Besides, their support policy requires you to go through an Authorized Repair Station.  They will not sell direct to you and the going price when I checked was $90.  You can often find used drives around for $10-15.

The Basics:  What Won't Work

The Mirage's ROM is set up to look for a 360k drive (one side of a 720k drive) and will not work with today's standard, a 1.44M floppy.  The fact that1.44M drives will read a 720k formatted disk leads many to believe that they will work in a Mirage.  They will not.  End of story.  800k drives that were manufactured for Amigas and Macintoshes will not work either.   Drives configured for 1M or 2M capacity are also incompatible with the Mirage.

There are some older 1.44M disk drives which are hardware-configured by use of jumpers to be used as a 720k drive.  One such drive is the TEAC FD235HF3240.

What Will Work

Here is what Ensoniq listed as original equipment on all Mirages they manufactured:  (From a response to Art Entlich's article in the Transoniq Hacker)

Shugart SA300  Single-sided
Epson SPM-3924 Single-sided
Panasonic JU324  Single-sided
Panasonic JU364  Single-Sided
Panasonic JU254  Double-sided

You can install almost all double-sided PC-style drives in a Mirage--the Mirage will look at only one side of the drive.  However, there is a simple modification that will allow you to switch to either side of a double-sided drive, effectively giving you double the storage.  See Arthur Entlich's excellent article on modifying 720k drives if you want to try this option.

Also, some Mirages used full-height drives, some used half-height.  While either will work in both DMS and DSKs, you may have to make some modifications if you try to use a full drive in a half-sized slot.  Or you will have to live with a 1/2" gap if you use a half-sized drive in a full-sized slot.

Here is a short list of drives I have personally used in my Mirage, or other Mirage-Net members have sent in.  Some model numbers are hyper-linked to a diagram showing special jumper or switch positions.  Please keep in mind that these are not the only ones that work, just ones that have been confirmed to work.

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