Music Player Erected From Floppy Disks

Holding on to a cache of old floppies because nostalgia? Us too, and this might be the coolest possible use for ’em. While it’s fun to imagine that he wrote a compression algorithm to fit a lossless copy of Coltrane’s Blue Train on a 1.44Mb coaster, or somehow rolled his own mini-disc, [Dino Fizzotti]’s Diskplayer uses floppies to serve up Spotify albums.

What’s actually on the floppy, then? The corresponding Spotify album URL. He just pops a disk in the drive, and the Pi does the rest — it detects the floppy event and executes a script that starts an open-source Spotify client. There’s no track skipping and no shuffle, just the entire album as intended, take it or eject it. If you think about it, he’s actually managed to improve on the vinyl experience, since all the songs are on one side. Demo is queued up after the break, and it includes [Dino]’s simple web interface for writing the Spoti-floppies.

When this project started seven months ago, [Dino] intended to bring his vinyl collection into the 21st century with RFID tags, but we’re glad that he decided to involve a fairly obsolete medium. Don’t have a drive or a heap of floppies gathering dust in a closet? Neither did [Dino]. But he found plenty of people selling pretty-colored floppies on ebay, and Amazon has tons of cheap external drives. We think the album art stickers are a nice touch, as is matching album cover color to floppy. He’s right to lock those bad boys up.

Got a bunch of floppy drives? Build a Floppotron and make your own music!

26 thoughts on “Music Player Erected From Floppy Disks

  1. Ok… But honestly a barcode reader and some QR codes could have done this….

    Actually storing usable audio on floppy disc is certainly doable. The way I accomplish this is with the C2 codec and take hour long podcasts/sections of audio books (you can fit 2 hours in a single floppy with the right settings) and pair them with a command line C2 player with with an autostart file and and some appropriate batch to launch the player. The audio quality is good enough to enjoy books or talk shows.

    1. I can’t find anything on an audio codec called C2. I’d also be interested to know about a codec that could compress a typical length song down to 1.44MB and still sound decent.

        1. Codec2 sounds interesting but far from a good solution to playing music from a floppy. The page linked above says that it is for speech only. In the podcast example there is definitely quality loss even at the highest rate of 3.2 kb/s.

          1. Fitting a 4 minute song into a standard 1.47MB floppy only requires a bitrate of 48kbit/sec… Opus sounds pretty respectable at that bitrate. Certainly not transparent, but do give it a try.

  2. I had a digitizer for my Amiga back in ’91 that allowed me to record mono adio DIRECTLY onto a floppy. The disk would be bootable and then played (all be it low quality) audio from the speakers on the 1084S monitor. I also remember a Commodore 64 program from Compute (or Compute Gazette) that would record audio from the C2N drive, then save it to floppy. From there, another program would play the audio back through the SID chip. Sort of early digitizer work back in the 80’s. If the compression was right, and since the floppy drives played data at 9600bps (from what I recall), one might be able to work out a buffered audio player (just for shits and giggles.) Anyway, there’s my 2-cents. Have a great weekend folks. -73 de KC8KVA

  3. I store about 26 songs on floppy disks by using the FD32 format which allows you to store 32 megabytes of data onto a standard 1.44 megabyte floppy disk. I use the mp3 format at 32kbps bitrate.

    I use my QPS QUE! LS-240 USB bus powered floppy disk drive with my android smartphone via a USB OTG cable. It is nice to listen to music from a floppy disk while i go shopping especially in a time and age when most media is streamed from some sort of cloud. I also use 120 megabyte and 240 megabyte floppy superdisks with my smartphone as well. Yet the FD32 floppy disks are my favorite.

    I made a YouTube video where i demonstrate my crazy setup. Fun stuff.

    1. I don’t know if there’s a better way around this but I couldn’t get the udev rules to run the player unless I removed ipaddressdeny from the udevd service. Fun weekend build!

      1. I was able to do make this work on a limited number of android OS smartphones including Kitkat and Lollipop. No root required. Any of your favorite file managers including the stock android file manager will read the floppy disk drive which includes 720kb floppy, 1.44mb floppy, 32mb FD32, 120mb superdisk floppy and 240mb superdisk floppy. I can also confirm that 2.3Gb MO disks work as well. Android Marshmallow got rid of legacy device support including Zip drives. What a shame.

        1. Oh sorry my comment was supposed to be top-level. Your project sounds cool, would love to have a stack of disks in my car and pop one in. New cars don’t even have CD players.

  4. I actually really love this. Something about inserting and removing floppies is super satisfying. A meg and a half can store a whole lot of metadata… I bet there’s some other really fun uses for this, too.

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