Back in an age they called “the late 90s”, people used to use floppy drives to store data on computers. These thin, somewhat portable disks could hold a whopping 2.88 MB of data by the turn of the century, so it’s no surprise they were rendered obsolete come the 2000s… at least in terms of storage space.
Paweł Zadrożniak, a Polish electronics enthusiast and software engineer, has found a better use for old computer tech. By stringing together a number of floppy drives, hard disks, and scanners, he created The Floppotron – a one of a kind device which uses hardware sounds to produce sweet, sweet tunes.
Understanding this mass orchestra of computer sounds is pretty simple, according to Zadrożniak. Every device in his ensemble carries a unique electric motor that produces a unique sound. By playing around with the disks and scanners, he can create even more sounds that can be set in time to a microcontroller.
In the case of the floppy drives and scanners, the stepper motors found within them produce louder sounds the faster they do read/ write operations or scan images respectively. The hard disks, on the other hand, utilize a coil and magnet to operate. When supplied with electricity for an extended amount of time, the hard disk head speeds up and makes drumming sounds.
The original 2011 Floppotron used only floppy drives but has since been upgraded. It now holds a whopping 64 floppy drives, 8 hard disks, and 2 scanners. Paweł created the host application using Python 2.7, which makes porting existing songs and converting them into playable computer jams much easier.
Paweł goes more into the Floppotron’s technical details on his webpage, so be sure to check it out if you’ve got the time.
As for me… I’ll be listening to the Floppotron’s beats all night long.