TECH TALK: DIY Digital Delay & Reverb Units Using 3.5″ Floppy Drives

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 usable, 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This type of analog/digital collision is an excellent deliberate misuse of an outdated technology.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 synced up.

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

(Original Post Courtesy of Michael Una @ CreateDigitalMusic.com)

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