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posted by janrinok on Saturday June 18, @06:27PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the when-geeks-get-bored dept.

The Floppotron has been upgraded to version 3.0. It's a very amusing project that has been going on for many years now.

The machine evolved into a relatively large system with multiple custom circuit boards and 3D-printed parts. While making the new Floppotron, one of the main priorities (if not the main) was finishing it in reasonable time. It's still a hobby project made after hours and not something commercial or mass produced, so you will find some nice solution as well as some janky, quick-and-dirty ones – and that's the beauty of hobby projects. Let's get a little more technical. To explain how the system works, I'll go through the overview first and then will get into details of each individual block. Here's a simplified schematic of the machine.

To make the old computer hardware play, we need a set of electronic controllers mentioned before but also a proper music (musical sequence) to play. A melody is encoded as a sequence of MIDI events, the same format as all digital synthesizers use. MIDI does not carry any actual audio data, but just short events, like pressing a piano key or twisting a control knob – you can think of it as a digital form of sheet music. Those events are send from the computer to the gateway using USB to MIDI adapter. The gateway is a custom nRF52 microcontroller based device which sits between the PC with MIDI adapter and the network of „instrument" controllers. It receives MIDI data and converts that data to RS-485-based internal protocol which can encapsulate MIDI and some extra stuff. The gateway, protocol and reasoning is described in further section. Those messages are picked by controllers which will turn the digital information into a sound by driving the electric motors or moving the hard disk heads. The controller consists of a common MCU board with Nordic nRF52832 chip and a driver boards specific to the „instrument", like floppy drive string, flatbed scanner or a hard drive. If you're wandering why there is a Bluetooth-enabled chip – I'll explain it too, but let's talk about how the sound is created first. [...]

We know that most people have seen the earlier versions but wait until you see version 3 - including smoke effects! But my personal favourite remains Bohemian Rhapsody - oh those dial tones!

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by looorg on Saturday June 18, @07:35PM (4 children)

    by looorg (578) on Saturday June 18, @07:35PM (#1254260)

    I think the first one I saw that went sort of viral was the Imperial March; at least ten years ago now. Then it was mostly just a really funny thing. There had been things before where music had been played on floppies and such, not recommended if you care about the alignment. But not like this. Not aligning them to actually be used as an instrument.

    I have seen it now and then since then. Showing up. Growing. What started out as a few floppies has now grown massively to 512 floppies, a few scanners and a bunch of harddrives. Doing all the things you are not supposed to do with hardware since it would bring the headers out of alignment etc. That said I don't think these drives have any expectancy of ever working normally again.

    I'm not crazy about the scanner sound, it's a very whiny sound with the scanners make that I don't really like. I sort of think I preferred it when it was just floppies and harddrives with the harddrives keeping the beat and the floppies ticking along; reading and writing and raiding moving the head(s).

    I guess it's hard to pick a favorite, it's always sort of amusing hearing the songs you already knew played this way. That said there seems to be a clear preference to 80's and 90's hitsongs.

    Imperial March; just 8 floppies then ... []

    • (Score: 2) by Revek on Saturday June 18, @10:08PM (1 child)

      by Revek (5022) on Saturday June 18, @10:08PM (#1254280)

      same guy

      This page was generated by a Swarm of Roaming Elephants
      • (Score: 2) by looorg on Saturday June 18, @10:54PM

        by looorg (578) on Saturday June 18, @10:54PM (#1254286)

        Yes. It's the same guy that did the Imperial March video I linked and this Floppotron. Those 8 little floppy drives eventually turned into the Floppotron in all its glorious versions. Humble beginnings or something such.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Sunday June 19, @02:46AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Sunday June 19, @02:46AM (#1254316) Homepage

      Ah, I remember that! Quite impressive hardware abuse. He's come a long way.

      Made me wonder what tunes my old MFM hard drive could play, with its four distinct tones and several other noises (could probably be achieved with a BASIC program or even a batch file, given the four tones were seek, read, write, and delete).

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 20, @12:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 20, @12:18AM (#1254491)

      I mean, some FidoNet folks around here had a computer orchestra which was mic'ed drives printers etc back in the late 90s and they had gigs every month for a couple of years. Wednesday evenings at the Sugar Club, with some other weird acts.

      Anyways, the idea is not at all new, this is just a good instantiation that's ongoing.

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @10:03PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @10:03PM (#1254279)

    rly? u f#ckheads consider this news? nothing about relocating voiceless poor people back into radiation zones of doom?
    sheesh ... what a way to get rid of anonymous contributing posts.
    facit: boomer version 2 are authority here.
    next mission, then, y2k destruction.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @11:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @11:00PM (#1254287)

      You may be a troll but you're not a real troll. The real ones know when to duck their heads until drama blows over then slowly ramp the trolling back up. Weird how easily human psychology can be manipulated.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @11:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @11:12PM (#1254289)

      Not wrong, though.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by anubi on Saturday June 18, @11:38PM

    by anubi (2828) on Saturday June 18, @11:38PM (#1254295) Journal

    Just gotta say thank you for this.

    It's quite a work of art. I can only imagine the time and expertise required to design, build and program the floppotron.

    Wonder if Dr. Evermore ( Forevertron ) inspired this?

    Never underestimate an inspired artist.

    Stuff like this impresses the hell out of me.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @12:14AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @12:14AM (#1254300)

    Reminds me of a program on the C64 that did the same thing with a 1541 Floppy.
    Humans come up with a will and then there is a way.

    I think you loaded it and then turned on the drive independantly.
    So cool until you had to readjust the alignment with a screw.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, @12:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, @12:51PM (#1254877)

      A mainstream platform, the apple ][, had the default sound system consisting in a single memory location that emitted a click when peeked (or poked? I don't recall), so that emitting a tone needed a timed ASM loop.

      So I'd argue that making the floppy sing was par for the course in those days. BTW moon patrol achieved a somewhat multipart soundtrack on the apple.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:36AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:36AM (#1254357)

    there: I just explained in 3 words--that were the subtitle of the video--what it took until the second paragraph of the summary to get around to vaguely mentioning, i.e. what the fuck this thing is.

  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday June 20, @05:28PM

    by Freeman (732) on Monday June 20, @05:28PM (#1254679) Journal

    That's quite odd, but oddly satisfying.

    Missing: Dial-up connection sound effects. Maybe, include them as the introduction.

    Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.