Some people would label a person with 49 old floppy disks as a hoarder and film them for reality TV. But you know how the old saying goes: One person’s trash is a German youth club’s potential for a bizarre musical instrument!
Toolbox Bodensee e.V. is a nonprofit club that works to bring young people into closer contact with the world of information technology and electronics. They offer free workshops in 3D printing things to the support of local businesses and the city government.
There are currently 40 members in the club and one result of the creative collaboration of so many young minds is the Floppy Organ. Before you blush, let me reassure you, the Floppy in the title refers to floppy disk drives and the Organ is an instrument for the creation of music.
This instrument was over three months in the making and required 84 3D printed parts in order to be fully functional. During assembly the team installed cables and soldered about 360 joints to bring the whole thing together. The club has two 3D printers that they ran for a total of 30 hours in order to print the necessary parts, which included the supports for the drives and the cable trays.
This isn’t the first time someone has attempted to upcycle old floppy drives into a musical instrument. However, it is certainly the first time that anyone has admitted to making one on this scale.
The initial efforts were for a four-drive instrument but it immediately became apparent to the team that it was time to ‘go big or go home.’ Not surprisingly, one of the first challenges was to get their hands on a significant number of floppy disks. Luckily, the entire city pulled together to pitch in and piles of basement dust were disturbed until the requisite number could be flushed out of hiding.
The completed organ was finally affixed to a table top so that it could be more easily transported for demonstrations. It can either be programmed with a playlist of MIDI files or utilized with a traditional keyboard as is so expertly demonstrated in their video. The group enthusiastically described their invention in a charmingly translated narrative:
“The organ can be played either manually or act as a playback device. So who takes pleasure can also listen the whole day to the sound of the floppy drives.”
They consider the organ to be in a finished state but they do plan to continue to tinker anyway to add features such as corresponding LED lights to light as notes are played, “so that playing the organ is more intriguing in a dark room.”
If you have several dozen old floppy drives you wish to assemble into your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse. If you just would like to contribute to this fountain of creativity, you can purchase a supporting membership or simply make a donation (note site is in German).
Have you ever turned your old floppy disks into something a little more up-to-date? Let us know if the organ might appeal to your senses in the 3D Printed Floppy Organ forum thread at 3DPB.com.