How to use both sides of a floppy on a Apple Drive II

    The Apple Disk II drive is capable of reading only one side of a floppy disc. To use the other side of a Double Side (DS) disk, you need to flip it like a vinyl record. However, only flipping won’t do the trick.

    All 5.25 floppy disks have a cutout on the right-hand side which tells the drive they can be written on. However, if you flip it, there will be no notch, and the drive will not be able to write on that side.

    In the past, we had a tool called the Floppy Disk Notcher. But for inexplicable reasons, it became too expensive, and in the end, all you need to do is cut the disk in the right spot.

    I use an X-ACTO knife, but if you’re careful, you can use a good pair of scissors as well. To tell where to cut, I use masking tape (see image below) and trace the line by flipping another disk on top of the one I’m cutting.

    Understanding the Apple IIe keyboard mechanism

    It took me a while to understand the key mechanism because it was different from the one shown in the first video I watched about this topic. Anyway, after several tests and with the help of my son Fernando (yes, he’s helping 👏), we figured it out.

    NOTE TO SELF: If I had watched this other video, I would have understood it in minutes. But what’s the fun in that? 😄

    How it works

    1. The small square (1) inside the key is actually made of two metal pieces sandwiched together.
    2. When a key is pressed, key holder (3) moves down and pushes the center of the metal piece that looks like a Y (2) against the center of the square (1). That’s what closes the circuit and registers the key press.
    3. There’s also a spring (not shown in the picture) that brings the key holder up again after the press.


    In most cases, the solution is simply to bend the Y-shaped metal (2) piece back to its original shape. I think it gets flatter and flatter over time, and the key holder ends up not being able to press it with enough force agains the piece (1).

    A new old Apple IIe

    The Apple II was the first computer I ever used. This is a IIe I recently got on eBay, but unfortunately, it is not working. When I plugged it in, I saw smoke coming from what, I think, is a capacitor on the C15 position on the board. Next step, figure out what that part actually is and order a replacement.

    I have no experience with electronics, multimeters etc. This is definitely going to be a long-term adventure.

    Apple IIe keyboard layout

    To able to put all the keys back together, I took a picture of the Apple IIe keyboard before taking it apart to clean it up. I hope that the picture below will help someone who forgot to photograph the keyboard before disabling it. The layout is European, from Germany. However, if you look closely, you will see that the US layout letters are also on the keys.

    Apple IIe RIFA Capacitors

    There are two RIFA capacitors in the Apple II power supply unit, a.k.a. PSU, that are prone to blowing out and a fuse that may or may not need to be replaced. After watching so many restoration videos, I came to the conclusion that replacing these capacitors should be the first repair done if you intend to embark on a restoration journey. You’ll find below the specifications and a video from lmull3 explaining how to do it.


    • 0.1uF 100nF 275 Vac CLASS X2 CAPACITOR
    • 0.47uF 470nF 275 Vac CLASS X2 CAPACITOR
    • GLASS FUSE F2A 250V

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