Floppy Drive Music with Calculators
Category: EE & Hardware (back to list)
Project Page: Floppy Drive Music with Calculators project page
Summary: Continuing to stretch the boundaries of graphing calculator hacking, hardware, and software, Christopher Mitchell and Cemetech Labs are proud to present music played on a floppy drive... controlled by a calculator.
Begin: November 30, 2011
Completed: November 30, 2011
1. Summary
Continuing to stretch the boundaries of graphing calculator hacking, hardware, and software, Christopher Mitchell and Cemetech Labs are proud to present music played on a floppy drive... controlled by a calculator. Inspired by other projects such as the Star Wars Imperial March played on two floppy drives and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 on four floppy drives, I hoped to implement this concept on a much more limited control device: a TI-83+ graphing calculator. While microcontrollers such as those used in the projects above have dozens of GPIO pins for interfacing with external hardware, the TI-83+ graphing calculator has only two I/O lines, both bidirectional. I did a bit of research on controlling floppy drives, and discovered that if I held pin 16 (Motor Enable) and pin 12 (Drive Select) of the floppy drive low, I need only pulse the Direction In and Step pins (18 and 20) to control the floppy drive's read/write head stepper motor. I put together the circuit, discovering in the process that previous projects had incorrectly identified pins 10 and 14 as the necessary lines to hold low, and then modified my mobileTunes 3.1 media player for calculators to output the necessary control signals to modulate the floppy drive's motor. Other than the floppy drive, the calculator, and a breadboard for making interconnects, the only hardware used is a standard 5/12V power supply for the floppy drive. Enjoy the results as demonstrated by Coldplay's "Clocks" in the video below!

2. More Information
Video Video of "Floppy Drive Music with a Calculator"
Discuss Discuss this project
News Hack-a-Day article, "Making Sweet Floppy Drive Music with a Calculator"
News ticalc.org article, "Rock Out With Your 83+"
News Cemetech news, "Floppy Drive Music with a TI-83+ "

Calculator floppy drive music Calculator floppy drive music

3. Constructions Details and Plans
Disclaimer: If you choose to attempt to replicate my results, I disclaim all responsibility for damage to your calculator, floppy drive, and other hardware. Use common sense, and please don't attempt this if you don't know what you're doing. Exercise normal respect for electricity, especially when handling mains-supplied voltage.

Construction of the calculator-floppy drive music player was relatively straightforward compared with other of my calculator hardware hacking projects such as CALCnet and the Ultimate Calculator. The materials needed to replicate this project are a TI-83+/SE or TI-84+/SE graphing calculator, a floppy drive, four wire jumpers, a 2.5mm stereo plug (or 2.5mm stereo socket and calculator-to-calculator link cable), and a computer power supply. The floppy drive may be taken from any older computer. For the power supply, I used an IDE-USB adapter's power supply, but you may also use a normal computer's PSU. If you do, you'll need to jumper the black and green wires in the motherboard header to force the PSU to power on.

The calculator and the floppy drive should be connected together as per the following schematic. Notice that no discrete components are necessary, only connections between the calculator and the drive. Pin 20 of the floppy drive, Direction In, is connected to the tip of the calculator's link cable. Pin 18, Step, is connected to the ring of the link cable. Pins 12 and 16, Drive Select and Motor Enable respectively, must both be tied low to ground. The common ground present at every odd pin of the floppy drive's connector must be connected to the base or ground of the calculator's link cable.
Schematic for calculator floppy drive music

For software, you will need Doors CS 7 or higher, which you can download at dcs.cemetech.net. The Doors CS shell is used to run FloppyTunes 1.0, a modified version of my mobileTunes 3.0 music player for TI-83+/84+ graphing calculators. You'll also need a song to play. I have included the song from the video, Clocks, by Coldplay, in the required format. The song must be monophonic, and extremely high notes are not replicated well by the floppy drive. If you'd like to make your own song, please contact the author for details. I have packaged FloppyTunes and the Clocks song in the zip below. Simply load both files onto your calculator, then run Clocks from Doors CS to play the song.

Download FloppyTunes 1.0