With May fast approaching, garage sale season is kicking off in the US. For the DIY crowd, that means a lot of digging through piles of obsolete technology in the hopes of finding something useable, then bargaining with the seller to pay as little for it as possible.

This year, you can add 3.5″ floppy drives and disks to your shopping list, courtesy of Daniel McAnulty’s project Floppy Audio Effects. Dan figured out a couple of neat tricks to create delay/reverb effects by writing audio to the disks directly, then reading that information back using a tape head.

This type of analog/digital collision is an excellent deliberate misuse of an outdated technology. I can picture someone DJing an entire live set from Floppys pre-loaded with recorded loops of sound, queing up each ring of audio and letting them phase against each other like a cross between Richie Hawtin and Steve Reich.

Here’s another experiment, performing a “continuous record” by multiplexing the sound across multiple drives. This is a great hack to get around each floppy’s somewhat limited record time. Note the use of an Arduino to keep everything synched up.

Dan says he’ll be posting more information shortly for anyone interesting in setting up their own floppy-based delay line system. Keep up the good work, sir.

Thanks to Jon Cates for the link.

  • umm, this looks amazing. I have plenty of floppy's lying around from mr ASR keyboard and MPC. now I just need a drive to use them…

  • joem

    While it is indeed using devices which typically operate digitally, the headline is a bit misleading because the audio here is in fact being stored and read in analog, so it should read "Analog Reverb/Delay."

  • mediawest

    a bucket brigade in a wack way! rube goldberg would be proud.

  • carson

    Wow! that is fantastic…I look forward to hearing more about the construction and implementation!
    thanks dan!

  • oscar

    Jeri Elsworth did something similar on her Fatman and Circuit Girl show. Unfortunately, the how-to specifics are very vague:


  • Hi Oscar, I saw Jeri's video and thought it seemed super cool, I credit her in the 'about' page. The implementation was definitely a bit of a struggle to figure out. However now that it's mostly done I am looking forward to writing up the details, so if you are curious just send me a bit of encouragement now and then and it will stay at the top of my list of things to do. 🙂

    Thanks for the post Michael!

  • simon

    Great! That's the kind of story I like to see here.

  • i am so confused…yet so intrigued…i'm still not sure what is happening in these videos but i'm hoping someone explains.

  • brnnn

    cool!!! i like the results a lot!

  • man. That's cool.
    I know I beat up on people using old tech in the past, but that … that is cool. I mean, I can't see giggin' with it, but for offbeat studio effects … hell yeah.

    See also the "slinky reverb" in the latest issue of Tape Op, for even lower-fi DIY reverb shenannigans (and a lot less soldering).

  • I just added a forum for anybody who wants to get involved or keep track of updates:

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  • J. Phoenix

    Holy crap! I'm shocked to find that there's a musical use for my ancient floppy drive and the disks for it!

    I was going to turn them into artwork, but now… I'm looking forward to finding out what I need to do next to play around with that.

    Now, if anyone finds a musical use for my 10 lb. 2 mb harddrive, I'll be out a future clock, but the results might be fun.

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  • I bought it for my Finance classes and it’s really helpful. It is less complicated than other calculators when it comes to calculating financial figures. Totally recommended this !

  • idiot

    idiotic character. dude.. get some life.