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German Youth Club Produce Sweet ‘Floppy’ Music

I’m sure everyone has an old floppy disk drive under their bed or in a box in the attic. How long since you used it? A year? 2? 5? Well a group of german individuals went and rounded up 49 of these relics, joined them together to produce the music of the 8-bit apocalypse.

The instrument, known as the Floppy Orgel or Floppy Organ to the English-speaking world; was devised by a german electronics youth club. It consists of 49 floppy drives and some fancy custom 3D printed parts. To power the ‘instrument’, it’s all hooked up to an Arduino Uno running Sammy1Am’s GitHub “Moppy” Code, which converts standard MIDI signals into motor pulses.

The most intriguing part of this build is how well it works by a simple keyboard interface, despite a small delay between pressing the key and the drive operating; it sounds pretty good. The group originally planned on producing a four-drive unit, but decided against it for the manly ‘go big or go home’.

“Musical floppy drives are made by manipulating the internal motor that moves the read/write heads over the floppy disk. Each floppy disk is divided into 80 tracks radially from the centre, which the notoriously noisy floppy drive motor can send the read/write head to. By pulsing the motor at any of those 80 positions, representing different frequencies, you can create a particular musical note. And, because floppy drives don’t contain their own controller, they’re far easier to manipulate with third-party boards and tools like the Arduino.”

I actually quite like the sound of it, reminds me of video games from the early 90’s. Do you know of any similar musical instruments made from computer parts? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Rikki Wright

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