Scrap music: man turns computer waste into electronic instrument
Michael Jackson’s 1980s hit Thriller has been given a recycled makeover by science student who has created an electronic instrument out of redundant pieces of computer technology.
Known as the Floppotron it boasts 64 floppy-disk drives, eight hard drives and two scanners, and can play, along with Thriller, and music Paweł Zadrożniak, its creator, programmes it to.
By using the hard drives as a drum set and the floppy-disk drives and scanners to play the melody, the Floppotron already has classics such as The Show Must Go On by Queen, the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive, and the Star Wars theme already in its repertoire.
“Like on every instrument, real or not, any song can be played, but not everything will sound good enough,” Zadrożniak told TFN. “Floppy-disk drives have a fairly limited range of tones, but with a proper rearrangement of the tracks it is often possible to obtain a satisfactory effect. In general, rock songs sound much better”.
The Floppotron might be one of the most creative examples of procrastination ever made. Zadrożniak came up with idea of the machine while attending boring lectures when he was a student at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków.
“The project was created in my free time, for no reason and without purpose,” he explained. “I dabble in electronics as a hobby and I like to build unusual things, especially those that use objects for something different than their original purpose.”
The hardware musician based his instrument on the fact, that all electric motors emit sound. Scanners’ and floppy disk drives’ have different driving speeds, which translates to a range of frequencies – the higher the frequency, the higher the pitch. Zadrożniak revealed: “The construction process lasted about four years with long breaks. Excluding breaks - about two months.”
Living in Kraków, Zadrożniak, 28, now works as a programmer, specializing in embedded systems, a field incorporating both software and electronics but in his spare time, he makes contraptions out of leftover hardware. Along with the Floppotron he has built a temperature recorder, a stroboscopic guitar tuner, a piano made from a computer keyboard and even a remote-controlled device that unlocks the door of his flat when he enters a specific code on the entrance buzzer.