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Test run of my (d)iskette (O)rgan doing Toccata & Fugue.
People have made floppy drives sing before, but this is my personal take on it.
Features two 3 1/2" drives and two 5 1/4" drives connected to a PIC18f14k50 microcontroller. It interfaces to any MIDI source via MIDI over USB. Straight MIDI would also be possible with an additional small circuit and some minor firmware changes. This initial version can respond to all 128 MIDI notes, and pitch bends +/- 2 semitones.
As it can produce only four simultaneous notes, and each drive has a different range and tonal characteristics, best results are obtained by arranging compositions by hand. However, it features two modes of operation: in one mode, MIDI channels 1 through 4 are played directly on floppy drives 1 through 4. In the other mode, all 16 MIDI channels are read, and notes are "intelligently" divvied out on a first-come, first-serve basis. "Note stealing" ensures that melody lines sound, but chords are often cut short. One or the other produces acceptable results for many unmodified MIDI files straight out of your favorite media player.
I apologize for the poor video quality. :)
Update Feb. 10, 2011: Wow, I just want to give a HUGE thank-you to every one of you for the overwhelmingly positive response! It truly means a lot to me.
I'm reading all your comments, and I've been answering individual questions--but due to popular demand, I will be posting a web site with additional information very soon. If you were interested in how this works, how I built it, and what else it can do, check back soon!
Again, thank you everybody for all your kind words!