Engineer makes music with 512 disk drives

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Polish engineer Pawel Zadrozniak has an unusual hobby – he created a programmable musical instrument from old hardware – floppy disk drives, flatbed scanners, hard drives. In 2011, he already unveiled a first version with two floppy disks, now he presents the third generation “Floppotron 3.0”.

He designed this from scratch, Zadrozniak reveals on his blog. The technology became more complex from generation to generation: the first “Floppotron” with two disks was followed by a variant with 64 floppy drives, eight hard drives and two scanners.

512 floppy drives, 16 hard drives, 4 scanners
Version 3.0, which the inventor is now demonstrating in a YouTube video, consists of 512 3.5-inch floppy drives, 16 hard drives and four flatbed scanners. Zadrozniak himself programmed the control software for the “Floppotron 3.0”. According to Golem.de, the system is played via MIDI commands.

Drive and scanner motors make music
The sound – in the YouTube video above Zadrozniak plays “Invasion of the Gladiators” – is produced by the motors of the individual components in the peculiar hardware organ. Using control software, these are moved at different speeds, so that they produce different sounds.

The flatbed scanners complement the setup in the high frequency range, the hard drives become the “drums” as the engineer bumps their read/write heads against the chassis due to the overload of the motor.

Frequently dead disks, high consumption
With this setup, the hardware is of course operated outside of its specifications: none of the components used is intended for making music. This ensures a certain failure rate – Zadrozniak has to keep replacing floppy drives.

The power consumption is also high: the system, which Zadrozniak has wired and provided with controls, is supplied with power via 16 power supplies and has a power consumption of 1.15 kilowatts at maximum load. In times of rising energy costs, this makes the “Floppotron” a very precious pleasure to maintain.

Source: Krone

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