Paweł Zadrożniak invented the Floppotron to create music and make people happy. On his Patreon page he says about the invention:
“I’m a computer geek, electronics enthusiast and software engineer from Poland.
I also create some fun electronic projects in my free time, such as The Floppotron – the mechanical orchestra consisting of obsolete computer equipment. I have a YouTube channel, where you can find dozens of music covers performed by this exceptional machine.”
Zadrożniak’s latest video on YouTube is a rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Check it out for yourself. We think you’ll be impressed.
The website Boing Boing describes how it works by saying:
“The principle is simple. Every device with an electric motor is able to generate a sound. Scanners and floppy drives use stepper motors to move the head with sensors which scans the image or performs read/write operations on a magnetic disk. The sound generated by a motor depends on driving speed. The higher the frequency, the greater the pitch. Hard disks use a magnet and a coil to tilt the head. When the voltage is supplied for long enough, the head speeds up and hits the bound making the „drum hit” sound. The disk head coil can also be used as a speaker to play tones or even music, but… that would be too easy and too obvious.
Every column of 8 floppy drives is connected to one 8-channel controller built on ATMega16 microcontroller. One controller acts as one voice with envelope simulation – the higher the volume, the more drives are playing. This allows to make ADSR-like shape and simulate a musical instrument, like a piano (exponential decay) or string instrument (sine, „vibrato”). The boards which were made a few years ago were designed as a stand-alone „players” with optional USB-to-UART bridge and was not intended to be chained. My goal was to re-use old stuff and get the job done as fast as possible, so I used the onboard ISP (which in fact is an SPI interface) connector to link 8 drivers in an SPI chain. Long SPI chain with unidirectional communication is not an example good and reliable design, but it did not require any hardware modification and took a minute to build a controller network, so let’s call it… good enough for this kind of project.
Did you catch all that? Luckily for the rest of us, we can just listen and think it’s neato!
Here are some other hits for you to enjoy.
The Floppotron: Smells Like Nerd Spirit
The Floppotron: Sweet Dreams
People are seriously impressed.
Well, now we have seen… er.. heard everything.