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Hardware Hacking Media Music Hardware

Old Floppy Drive Becomes New Turntable 329

Posted by timothy
from the obsessive-reuse dept.
vinyl1 writes "This must be the ultimate in retro-cool hardware hacking. The floppy drive is obsolete, but the turntable is not, and that got one guy to thinking. He provides a full tutorial on how to turn that worthless old floppy drive into a most desirable piece of audio gear."
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Old Floppy Drive Becomes New Turntable

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    No need to mod anything, just get an old 8" floppy drive hook it up to your amp and speakers and pop an EP in it. That leaves you with an inch of headroom. Brings new meaning to the term "scratching" I suppose.
  • by KDan (90353)
    That's probably the most important part of the turntable... seems like you need to rip up another turntable to make this floppy turntable with its unreliable motor...

    Doesn't sound like such a good deal!

    Daniel
    • by biglig2 (89374) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:00AM (#13174507) Homepage Journal
      If you RTFA, you'll see that the floppy is being used as a very cheap source of a small, low-vibration, brushless motor and control electronics, with a fast start up and low power requirements so it can be run of batteries, for someone who is making a custom turntable.
    • seems like you need to rip up another turntable to make this floppy turntable with its unreliable motor...

      If you didn't know, a stylus is *not* an integral part of a turntable. It's a component (replaceable or not) of a *cartridge*. They're sold separately, just like tonearms so no ripping up involved.

      This project only aimed to build a turntable(plinth, platter, bearing + motor), and not a tonearm or cartridge. They would be much more complex to DIY.

    • Use a laser.
      • But floppy drives don't have lasers!
      • Re:What stylus? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bozho (676988)
        Something like a laser turntable [elpj.com]?
        • Wow, 50dB S/N ratio, 25Khz bandwidth and nearly stereo! That's almost like a 50Khz 10-bit PCM file!!! wow!!!! :-)

          No... but old school sounds so much better...

          Tom
        • Re:What stylus? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @08:26AM (#13175117) Homepage
          I think the major advantage of a laser turntable is that you wouldn't have to worry about the records wearing out. If you were careful not to scratch them, they'd probably last a lot longer than with a standard turntable. I imagine the high price tag has to do with low number of sales, as well as the fact that they are probably only going to be used by those with really delicate and rare records.
      • You know, I have one simple request: and that is turntables with frickin' laser beams on their tonearms!
    • I think stylus is a consumable part and therefore wouldn't need to be salvaged from another turntable, but i've not had much experience with them

      If you could rip apart an optical 'intelli-eye' style mouse and make an optical stylus out of it, then you'd have my attention.
    • I can't see this guys site now but I made a 7 inch floppy disc turntable 2 years ago with an old tape deck head as the stylus. Gutted the 7 inch floppy and mounted it on an old 78 rpm turntable. The big problem was that the tape decks recording/playback head being used as the "stylus" needed lots of weight pressed down on the gutted floppy disk to get it to record any sounds or just to playback. The sounds that came were very poor too. From the topic seems as if he is using the whole floppy drive? Hmmm... C
      • I made a 7 inch floppy disc turntable 2 years ago with an old tape deck head as the stylus.

        That's pretty damn cool, actually. Did you consider doing it with the original 7 inch (*) mechanism and read/write head, hacking the head movement and electrical in/out for the magnetic head?

        Strikes me as being two potential problems with that;
        (a) Tracking; no physical groove nor 'intelligence' to keep the head over the spiral track would be a major problem and
        (b) The motors in the floppy drive are probably st
        • I did try it years ago with an old Commodore 64 disk drive mechanism. Stepping was easy - hook the /STEP line up to the /INDEX line, and when the index hole passes the sensor it will step the drive. Since the head is constantly moving, there shouldn't be any noticable "jump" in sound. Unfortunately, I never really got particularly good sound out of it.
  • The rumble from that stepper motor would be awful. Good turntables go to great lengths to isolate the platter, needle, and arm from extraneous vibration and to smooth out any slight variations in rotational velocity.

    Why not simply buy a decent used turntable from eBay? It isn't as if they are all that expensive.
    • Why not simply buy a decent used turntable from eBay? It isn't as if they are all that expensive.

      You can get one of these [bestbuy.com] brand new from Best Buy. It even includes a built-in pre-amp, so you can hook it directly to the line-in on your sound card. I'm sure it'll make audiophiles scream (what doesn't, though?) ... but I'm perfectly happy using this setup to convert vinyl to CDs.

      • by xappax (876447) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @08:33AM (#13175150)
        As you'll notice, the turntable you linked to is "belt drive", which is great for playing records from start to end (like most people do), but if you try to stop and then abruptly start the record again, it takes the belt some time to get it spinning at the correct RPMs again.
        So you get that cartoony effect where the sound starts out all slowed down and gradually reaches the correct pitch.
        If you tried to scratch one of these, it's go like:

        Rock the - rrrrrRRRRROOOOOCK the - rrrrrRRRRROoooock the beat!

        Direct drive turntables are used by DJs and musicians because you can physically stop the record, or scratch it or whatever, and when you let it go, it'll return to the correct speed almost immediately, so it's like:

        Rock the - Rock - Rock the beat!

        Direct drive is better, but significantly more expensive, which is why it's cool that you can make them out of something as crappy as a floppy drive.
        • As you'll notice, the turntable you linked to is "belt drive", which is great for playing records from start to end (like most people do), but if you try to stop and then abruptly start the record again, it takes the belt some time to get it spinning at the correct RPMs again.

          Hmm. Have you ever tried using that little lever that raises the arm? Give it a try sometime!

          But seriously, he said he was using it to rip his vinyl to CD, so all he wants is for it to sound reasonable and play all the way through. Dir
    • by LardBrattish (703549) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:07AM (#13174522) Homepage
      Well according to the article (You did READ the article before sounding off didn't you ;) it's so quiet he couldn't hear the motor in operation and had to add an LED to be sure. The actual turntable is quite cool because it's shaped vaguely like a Fender Stratocaster body with a glass platter.
      • Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I think that geeks ought to know better: that's no Stratocaster body! It looks quite clearly like a Fender Telecaster-style body.
      • It's not the rumble of the motor itself that's the biggest issue (although that also could be picked up by the needle and cause distortion) but the variations in speed of the motor. What the article doesn't say is how smooth the motor and how accurate the controller is. The human mind is very sensitive to jitter, so if your motor's speed oscillates you'll quite likely hear it in the music.

        Think of it as Frequency Modulation - the frequencies in your music are modulated by the error on the motor's speed.

        Jw
    • by biglig2 (89374) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:12AM (#13174538) Homepage Journal
      If you RTFA, you'll see that the floppy is being used by a custom hifi shop to build a custom turntable. They're not doing this because they can't afford a turntable, or don't know where to buy one; they're using a floppy drive as a source of parts. The idea being that floppys are actually very sophisticated devices, and are only ridiculously cheap because of the huge economies of scale involved in their manufacture.
    • by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:37AM (#13174609)
      uh, that's not a stepper motor
    • That's only used for the read head, there's a seperate good quality motor used for spinning the disc.
  • by Prophetic_Truth (822032) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @04:53AM (#13174485)
    I got two floppy drives and a microphone!

    nerdcore rules
  • by rhennigan (833589) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @04:55AM (#13174490)
    Because he can.
  • by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @04:57AM (#13174495)
    There are some times I wish I had spent a little more time studying electronics than doing other things, and this is definitely one of those times. The most impressive part of the project is the variable resistor that allows him to control turntable speed manually. Unfortunately for me, I haven't got the knowledge, much less the gumption, to figure something like that out on my own.

    I don't suppose he tested the torque of the motor to see how quickly he could get the record to playing speed. That's one of the key features that I understand to be important to audiophiles. And for the DJs, I imagine they are interested in what sort of clutch (?) mechanism there is that could help the motor recover from an accidental reversing of direction.

    Seriously, I need to go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a book on basic electronics. It's one of those itches that I just haven't had the resources to scratch.
    • Floppies are fun. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by skids (119237)
      Floppies are very easy to hack into something else due to the easy controls for the step motor. You don't really need to know much electronics -- just TTL. That's the whole point -- most of the electronics are all done for you. A stepper for steering and the spindle motor for drive is enough to make a little robot, for instance.

      Recently I made a heliostat [abrij.org] from one though the design could use a bit more work.

      Lately I've been mulling over the possibility that, since the FM/MFM read heads use a comb frequen
    • Take a magnet in each hand, like poles toward each other. Move them toward and away from each other. Feel the forces.

      How long does it take for the magnets to "recover" from each motion?

      Electric motors do not work by interlocked mechanical devices. They work entirely through the EM force field. They self "clutch." The function of a clutch is prevent interlocking mechanical devices from damage. Take an electric model car and set it to running at slow speed. Now grab a tire. The motor will stop turning. You wi
    • I don't suppose he tested the torque of the motor to see how quickly he could get the record to playing speed. That's one of the key features that I understand to be important to audiophiles

      I think that audiophiles would be more interested in the stability of the system (meaning that there's no variation in the turning speed) than in startup time. DJ's on the other hand...

    • by radish (98371) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @09:39AM (#13175514) Homepage
      Audiophiles are interested in a turntable which:

      Has no vibration from the motor transmitted to the platter/tonearm.
      Has stable speed (startup speed is unimportant)

      Typically you'll see them use fairly low torque belt drive setups (the belt helps with both vibration and speed flutters).

      DJs are interested in a turntable which:

      Starts fast (thus has high torque)
      Has variable speed (pitch)
      Doesn't mind being stopped, reversed, etc (there's no "accidental" about it!)

      These are typically direct drive units, where the platter actually forms part of the motor itself. For example, in the classic SL1210, the coils are in the base of the unit, and the magnets are mounted right onto the (free spinning) platter. There are no gears, cogs, belts or anything else to wear out. The things are virtually indestructable. It's also worth noting that most of the movement of a record under a DJs hand is facilitated not by the platter but the slipmat - the platter continues turning underneath. This is very beneficial to the startup time, as when you release the record friction grabs it and it's up to full speed right away.
  • by fake_name (245088) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:06AM (#13174520)
    ...a hack allows you to read obsolete media of one type with obsolete hardware of another type.
    • ...a hack allows you to read obsolete media of one type with obsolete hardware of another type

      So, considering the converse problem - who will be first to boot from vinyl? Now that would be a cool hack... :-)

      • by Vo0k (760020) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:59AM (#13174664) Journal
        In the good old times when 8 bits was the data word size, I got a vinyl record with songs of some band. And the last track was a program for ZX Spectrum - a quiz about the band. To use it you had to copy the track to tape and then load in the tape-recorder of the computer. Never got around to do this, but I still have the record somewhere.
        Not booting, but...
        • ...the last track was a program for ZX Spectrum

          I just had a quick google, and found this [kempa.com] - apparently during the 70's and 80's there were a few such vinyls. Possibly the one you're thinking of was 'New Anatomy' by Inner City Unit?

          Another cool example (also mentioned on the site I linked just above) was on a record called XL-1 by Pete Shelley (of The Buzzcocks). If the program encoded in the last track was run while the music played - OH WOW images and lyrics in time with the music!

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:07AM (#13174521)
    Guy needs motor with good bearing, eyes old floppy drives, rips motor out, cleverly reuses motor for turntable.

    Hardly a floppy drive hack.
  • LED??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by STFS (671004) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:12AM (#13174532) Homepage
    From the article: "I had to fit a LED to find out when it's on because it's so quiet!!!".

    Ummm... wouldn't the turntable actually turning be a dead givaway???

    • And isn't the point of a turntable to convert the surface of the record into sound? A silent turntable just sounds broken to me.
    • Re:LED??? (Score:2, Funny)

      by BlackMesaLabs (893043)
      No, because IN SOVIET RUSSIA TURNTABLE TURNS YOU!!!!!!!

      Aha.. weren't expecting that were you!?
      Well, I guess you were..
  • Thats wicked (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Freaky Spook (811861)
    I enjoy Vinyl and I love messing around on decks, that project is really great to see, even though the sound quality wouldn't be the best its still something I would like to try on a rainy day!!

    The idea of turntables is you get ultimate control over the music, he's taken this idea one step further & built the turntable too!
    • A shop near my house sells vinyl LP records. My wife bought a couple of disks from them one day and we borrowed an old turntable from a neighbour to play them.

      My dad has a good turntable, and this was the one I used to listen to my records in pre cd days. I put one of my favourite Vangelis records onto the borrowed turntable and imagine my surprise. Electronic music uses a lot of flat tones, played for many seconds, in contrast to acoustic music where notes are pretty short.

      The sound went up and down in

      • Ummmm.....I hope you didn't make the rookie mistake of plugging a TT directly into a line level input. You need the RIAA equalization provided by a phono preamp stage.
      • Re:Thats wicked (Score:3, Informative)

        by radish (98371)
        Seeing as most turntables in use these days are used for playing electronic music, I'd suggest either your vinyl or your turntable is screwed. While flutter and wow are problems for sure, they really shouldn't be noticable unless you're listening really hard. On a good setup, they shouldn't be noticable at all.
  • by DingerX (847589) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:23AM (#13174575) Journal
    As someone who's used his share of cheap belt-drive turntables acquired at garage sales (and then rewired), and who has had some experience at spinning platters this project needs:

    Direct drive. There's a reason why DD turntables cost more. Those pulleys wear out, they slip, they stretch on start up and oscillate as they balance out. Why bother with a brushless motor if you're slapping it to a rubber band? Why praise the electronic speed control features of the floppy motor when you're wiring it to a system that by design can't regulate it? Give me torque. When I press that "go" button, I want it spinning perfectly at 33, 45 or maybe 78 RPM, now, not a quarter turn from now. I'm sure there's a way to wire a floppy to do just that, so get back at it!

    cf. The Hold Steady, "Everyone's a critic and most people are DJs"
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:30AM (#13174589) Homepage
    He's using an old motor AS A MOTOR. My mind is blown. I didn't think such a thing was possible.

    Give this man a prize!
  • Use a Scanner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pklong (323451) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:40AM (#13174615) Homepage Journal
    Not as impressive as the LP Ripper using a scanner [huji.ac.il].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...to hack a BIOS so that we can starting booting from vinyl.
  • by aapold (753705) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:02AM (#13174832) Homepage Journal
    that part's not working out so well....
  • by haakondahl (893488) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @08:01AM (#13175006)
    ...Lots of complaints about how it ought to be a damned vacuum cleaner motor or something. Wow and flutter, etc... Look. The mass of the "table" part and the LP itself are actually going to work in this thing's favor. The drive itself has very fine scale speed adjustments, but it's going to be applied to such a larger mass that the momentum (okay, the Angular Momentum) of the thing will reduce the motor's input to a gentle urge to speed up or slow down. Relatively, of course; the point is it's not going to whip an LP around like it were the moving part of a floppy, but it'll still get it going nice and quickly (YMMV).
    The result will be very smooth, precisely controlled speed.
  • Who ever said the floppy drive was obsolete? Ok, maybe the 360k drives, but 1.44MB is alive and kicking at my place.

    You never know when you'll need a boot disk to reinstall Windows (yes, I've heard that they come on bootable CDs now, but I don't believe it).

    I've also got a box of about 1500 blank floppies that I got in the mid 90s when they were cool.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @09:21AM (#13175397)
    Well, I haven't used a turntable for over 10 years, but I have used a floppy drive 2-3 times in the past year. Therefore the obsoleteness quotient of the turntable is much higher in my book. On top of that there are new types of floppy drives that have built-in flash media readers that promise to be far more useful than the plain old flppy drive - I bought one recently and it looks like I might use it 5-6 times a year!

  • YES!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pole_Position (903030) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @10:21AM (#13175826)
    "... turn that worthless old floppy drive into a most desirable piece of audio gear."

    It'll play my 8-track tapes??

    Oh ...
  • Slashdotted (Score:3, Informative)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @10:43AM (#13176035) Homepage Journal
    Looks like the turntable stopped turning :P

    (use Coral Cache, guys!!! :( How many times do we have to repeat it!)
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @12:39PM (#13177144) Journal
    In 500 years I doubt there will be a single CD that will be playable. In 500 years you will still be able to take a pin and a paper cone and get audio out of a vinyl record. Maybe not more than 3 or 4 times, but you will still be able to hear the music.

    Therefore, analogue is better - scratches and pops and all.

    RS

  • CacheDot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @01:34PM (#13177693) Homepage Journal
    Apache should come with a "bandwidth quota deadman's switch" that senses a spike in demand that threatens to exhaust its bandwidth (throughput or quota), then 1> populates a coral (or other) cache, and 2> issues redirect HTTP headers translating incoming requests to the cache. Such a failsafe would be even better if it included caching for other servers, and an inter-Apache protocol to notify the "REFERER" server that it should instead use the REFERER's caching, or an alternate. Such a distributed "server P2P" network would make the Web much more immune to the Slashdot effect.

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