Building a six-channel floppy drive synth from start to finish


We’ve seen scores of floppy drives play music, but never before have we seen a project as clean as [Rupert]‘s Moppyduino. It’s an Arduino-based board that controls the stepper motors in six separate floppy drives, coaxing them in to playing music from a MIDI file.

The Moppyduino is more than just a convenient way to control the stepper motors in six floppy drives. It’s also a great example of what can be done with home PCB fabrication; the entire project was designed and constructed in [Rupert]‘s workshop.

After designing the circuit, [Rupert] printed it out on a laser printer onto a plastic transparency sheet. This was transferred over to a copper clad board, etched, and drilled. After assembly, [Rupert] attached a USB FTDI controller to receive data converted from MIDI data with a Java app.

The end result – housed in a custom Corian enclosure – is one of the best looking floppy drive synths we’ve ever seen. You can check out the process of building this awesome instrument after the break.


  1. messmaker says:


  2. Jozef says:

    nice work and etching! I would really like to know more about that etching technique. Mostly about printing part what was that transparent material and how did he bake it on board ,if anyone knows please teach me :)

  3. Hirudinea says:

    Nice! Next mod, read the midi file off a floppy.

  4. ultimateohm says:

    More to see. There is another player like this but made from Raspberry Pi

  5. Ultrawipf says:

    This looks really awesome :) Maybe more channels next time ;)
    I would love to have such a nice pcb for my floppy setup.
    btw. how long did the fabricating take? The enclosure looks also great and makes it look professional. this is a video of mine. really dirty

  6. DarkAnt says:

    What is the midi song?

  7. Scott says:

    Good stuff! Meticulous design, fab and result – the laminator/pcb bake-on was something I hadn’t seen before. HAD should have posted his website:

  8. lasershark says:

    looking forward to the printer alignment tweak update

  9. Galane says:

    Lots more floppy drives to expand the “tone”al range. NEC made a linear actuator 3.5″ drive which made a pretty high pitched but low volume sound. Would likely have to augment its volume with a mic and amp. Then there’s the 5.25″ half height drives. Use the old full height drives for even lower pitches and monster old 8″ drives for some bass notes. Try some of the super slim laptop floppy drives too.

    • Ultrawipf says:

      The smaller drives sound really bad and are too quiet to make some music.
      The 5.25″ are cool. I hope i can get some. But even with the normal floppy drives have big differences in sound. Some drives sound really smooth and others rattle and are very loud and if you use them together you can get some good results.
      The same with hard disks. 3.5″ can be used to make cool sounds but 2.5″ are useless. They are too quiet or are just good to make clicking sounds.

      • koogar says:

        i Found the Alps drives have a nice taught controlled sound
        Its a shame 5.25″ drives are so expensive on ebay they have a nice stepper in them .

        • Ultrawipf says:

          Yes i can confirm that. My best drives are also ALPS.
          But the 5,25″ drives are not only expensive but also need some more Power ;) and as far as i know they step only 80 steps in one direction and not 160

          • Dusty Cases says:

            Gotta love stepper music!

            And to think I trashed at least thirty 5.25″ Alps, Teac and IBM FDD’s a couple years ago. Course, I probably still have around twenty left in my attic along with a 1.2G SCSI FH 5.25″ (maxtor or micropolis, I think) that if it dropped on it would break my foot.

  10. Johan G says:

    That’s a very nice build video. :-D

  11. kailashkumar says:

    Basically, a Floppy Drive reads and writes knowledge to a little, circular piece of metal-coated plastic just like audio tape.

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