Star Wars Imperial March Played by Dual Floppy Drives

Although many have made some sort of music with improvised electronics, few sound as cool as this Imperial March from Star Wars played by two floppy drives. According to [Pawel], “It’s nothing new” and quite simple. This may be true as we’ve featured an Imperial March-playing floppy drive here before, but it was only one drive. Although it may not be the London Symphony Orchestra, the two drives together sound quite good!

According to him, the FDD has a fairly simple interface. To move the head, one simply needs to pull the DRVSB pin low and then activate the STEP pin on a falling edge.  This will make the head move one direction dependent on the DIR pin state. In this case, an ATMega microcontroller is moving everything. An explanation of the pins used in this hack can be found here.

Although it may look like an intimidating hack on the surface, something like this might be a neat project to try with some old hardware and an Arduino or other controller! [Pawel] did have the idea to hook up a 5 1/4″ and 8″ drive to make a full FDD orchestra, so we can’t wait to see what he comes up with!


  1. Khanzerbero says:

    Cool! if there were a way

  2. Beat707 says:

    Ahhhhhhh! Loved it!!! :-)

  3. pl0x says:

    oh my geek! so cool!

  4. notmyfault2000 says:

    Now what we need is someone to make one that reads the song to be played from the floppies in the drives…

  5. jim says:

    Thank you for your contribution, Art Garfunkel.

  6. teroj says:

    Absolutely fabulous hack. This reminds me of some app in Amiga that did the same, but that was only mono due to lack of more than one disk drives.

  7. PJ Allen says:

    Don’t fall behind on your ‘quite quota': “quite simple” and “quite good”.
    Ugh, that’s awful.
    What is it with HaD writers’ obsession with “quite”? Can anyone there type two dozen words without using (or misusing) “quite”?

  8. Dan says:

    Different guy, but there’s some 5 1/4 drives in the mix

  9. Jon says:

    PJ Allen, You should learn to crochet so you can pick knits all day. I would imagine that if HaD thought they where posting articles that where merely, “good” then more people would complain. As it is, they only need to call the whaaambulance for you.

  10. hawkeye18 says:

    Maybe he can get a Zip drive or two for some percussion.

  11. Fwirt says:

    I dunno where you’d find an 8″ drive, but hook up two 5 1/4″ drives and you’d wind up with something like what this guy’s got:

  12. zacdee316 says:

    I’d like to see this integrated into a retro computer rebuild and still keep them functional. Maybe run a few switches to switch between usability and awesomeness.

  13. aggaz says:

    I did something similar with my arduino, if someone is interested in code/schematics:

  14. Phrankie says:

    An external controller is just cheating. Do it using the original system hardware for MAXX SCORE.

  15. Hirudinea says:

    How about one drive to read midi files and one drive to play them!

  16. Rachie says:

    It should be possible to do this entirely in software on a normal PC. Good luck finding a modern motherboard with floppy drive ports though.

  17. George Graves says:

    I assume the music “data” was a MIDI file? How do you go from MIDI data to the driving the stepper?

  18. audiophil says:
  19. As it happens I have three 5 1/4″ drives here as well as a pile of 3 1/2″

    Reading from the disk is feasible but very complicated, you’d need to use most of the program memory on a high end PIC just to read.

  20. There is a small chance that you could use 4000 series logic here, as the commands to read from the FDD could be stored on the disk itself. It would be a lot of work but pretty neat if someone could pull it off.

  21. defyboy says:

    Gave this a quick go today but couldn’t get much clarity, I need to work on the tones.

  22. george says:

    excellent thank you

  23. ScouseChris says:

    Twin Floppy Drives…. only used for one thing…. copying from disk to disk, truly the dark side.

    Pompey Pirates 4 eva.

    • ewanuno says:

      oh young skywalker!

      you don’t remember the dark days of the floppy.

      having two floppy drives is essensial for a jedi knight.
      otherwise the frustration of switching floppies will lead you to the dark side.

  24. 666 says:


  25. ed says:

    That would have scared the bejebus out of me if my computer were to start playing that out of my floppy drives all of a sudden. Would’ve been a great virus back in the day.

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