Computer hardware orchestra The Floppotron reaches v3.0 • The Register

The Floppotron computer hardware orchestra has reached version 3.0. The question is, where do you even find 512 floppy disk drives? Its creator, Paweł Zadrożniak, tells all.

The Floppotron is a marvellous bit of engineering. Its tones frequent many a YouTube video (this writer was rather taken by the rendition of “Take On Me” performed by the device’s second iteration) and as a repurposing of obsolete hardware, it would be hard to come up with a more imaginative approach.

The first version made its debut in 2011 and consisted of a pair of floppy drives. The device’s performance of the Imperial March has clocked up 6.7 million views at time of writing.

Version 2.0 increased the drive count to 64 and added eight hard drives and a pair of flatbed scanners. The latest incarnation ups the ante with 512 floppy drives, 16 hard drives and 4 scanners.

Youtube Video

Zadrożniak has documented the construction of the machine (we’re particularly impressed with the “floppy disk drive wall”). But why?

“The project has started with just a random idea in 2011,” he said. “I’m an electronics hobbyist and like to do those small projects for learning purposes or just for pure fun.

“I also like music. I used to play a little piano and when those projects involve any music then it’s getting more fun to me.”

“Fun” is one word for it, although there is undoubtedly considerable skill in getting MIDI from one end to play out via the instruments (for want of better word) made up of whirring and clunking device motors.

“Maybe it’s not a particularly useful device,” conceded Zadrożniak, “but it was a little challenging and super fun to make.”

Also challenging is scrounging all those parts. After all, where would one even go to find that many working drives nowadays?