Obscure adapters

Floppy drive emulator enabling a computer with a floppy drive interface to use a USB memory stick as a stack of floppy drives and the button switches the file on the SD card to simulate a new floppy disk inserted.

From time to time I come across obscure adapters for computers, and having worked with embroidery machines that still used floppy disks, there are USB emulators that plug in like a floppy drive and then any USB inserted will be treated like a floppy drive.

Floppy drive emulator enabling a computer with a floppy drive interface to use a USB memory stick as a stack of floppy drives and the button switches the file on the SD card to simulate a new floppy disk inserted.

USB Floppy Drive emulator

There turns out to be quite a number of devices that still use floppy disks, from embroidery machines (where I found them) to musical keyboards and also legacy computers that still use floppy drives. The standard 34 pin floppy drive connector is connected with the ribbon cable and the IEC connector provides the power.

Each floppy disk image is loaded onto a USB stick and you can switch between these images using the two buttons on the front of the emulator.

An Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) connector adapter so that a Compact Flash (CF) module could be accessed as a hard drive
An Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) connector for a SD card to allow the SD card to be accessed as if it were a hard drive on a computer with IDE drives.

IDE to Compact Flash or SD card

It was common for embedded systems to use a memory card to boot from instead of an internal hard drive. It is so much easier to load the files for a sign onto a memory stick and push it in a slot than to mess around with a hard drive.

SCSI to SD card adapter allows a SCSI device to use a SD card as a hard drive

SCSI SD adapter

Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI) was a popular interface used in older Apple Mac computers as well as industrial PCs until SATA and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) replaced it.

There are Raspberry Pi SCSI emulator boards that allow a Raspberry Pi to pretend to be a SCSI device on the bus, which offers a different approach.

Industry Standard Architecture USB card allowing ISA slot computer the ability to use USB devices such as a memory stick as a hard drive.
Industry Standard Architecture slot to USB adapter allowing ISA cards to work with a newer computer


The original IBM PC and its clones were designed in the 1980s so didn’t come with USB support, in fact USB support was introduced in Windows 95. The Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus to USB interface card enables these computers to access a USB memory stick as if it were a hard drive.

The flip side of the ISA card for providing a USB port is the USB adapter that allows an ISA card to be inserted in a slot and accessed using a modern PC.

For PCI and PCIe to USB, there are external enclosures that offer the external GPU through USB-C for that.

An Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) adapter so that a PCI card could be inserted into an AGP slot
One lane PCI Express slot to PCI to convert a one lane PCI Express into a parallel PCI slot
PCI to PCI Express adapter that converted a parallel PCI slot to a one lane PCI Express slot

AGP, PCI and PCIe adapters

Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) was a popular graphics card adapter on computers in the past. It was only used for graphics, whereas the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) adapter was universal. Today the PCI Express (PCIe) slots are common on motherboards in a variety of different sizes (the number of channels used to communicate), so you can use an adapter to switch from a PCIe x1 (1 channel) to a full size PCI slot, and then from that PCI slot to an AGP slot if required.

PCMCIA CardBus adapter that allowed newer ExpressCard cards to be used in older CardBus laptops
Laptop ExpressCard to CardBus adapter to allow older CardBus cards to be used in newer laptops that used ExpressCard

Expresscard and Cardbus

Laptop manufacturers wanted to provide a way for users to extend the features of their laptops without installing them in the laptop itself, so they included a parallel connector called CardBus, which was based on Compact Flash.

If the laptop lacked a port, it could easily be added through the CardBus. This meant modem cards, Ethernet network cards, wifi cards and later FireWire and USB ports could be added this way.

When PCI was replaced by PCIe, ExpressCard replaced CardBus. It used a serial rather than parallel interface which meant the card could be smaller.

Laptop ExpressCard adapter to external PCI Express slot and USB port

ExpressCard to PCIe

Perhaps the strangest interface is the ExpressCard to PCIe adapter to break out a PCIe slot from a laptop to take a desktop card.

I suspect this is a Mini PCIe adapter that has a Mini PCIe to PCIe adapter inserted in it. This of course opens up the potential for a Mini PCIe card to be used in a laptop that doesn’t have the Mini PCIe slot inside or to connect a device that needs to connect to using wires that would be hard to run outside the case.


I’ve just touched on a few of the stranger adapters and emulators there are in this world. There is always something you need to connect one device to another and there will be some way to do that.

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