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Hardware Hacking

Scanjet Music 240

Popadopolis writes "Hack a day is reporting that HP Scanjets have a hidden ability to play music. According to the article, "The HP ScanJet 3c/4c have a variable speed scan head that is driven by a stepper motor. The Play Tune command can be used to move the head at different frequencies." They also have a video of a scanner playing "Fur Elise.""
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Scanjet Music

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:09PM (#14427810) Homepage Journal
    And so can printers []. (2000)

    Yes, yes, I'm in the process of doing a remake this year along with some other simular songs.
  • neat. (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:09PM (#14427813) Homepage
    That's like the guy who made speakers out of some old hard drives. []
  • by network23 ( 802733 ) * on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:10PM (#14427814) Journal

    I could do that on my Commodore 1541 Floppy Drive.

    Fuck, I'm old. Sigh.


    N3P []: Two-year college level training in how to become a successful Project Entrepreneur in Open Source []!

    • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:14PM (#14427858) Journal
      "I could do that on my Commodore 1541 Floppy Drive."

      You had a floppy drive? Upstart newbie. I had a tape drive on my PET2001, and the only way we could make music with it would be to record a BASIC program, then play the cassette in an audio tape player.

      Of course, this meant that any music we made had only two tones. Which wasn't so bad, considering the #1 album at the time was "Thriller."
      • It's bad that I can remember enough of the sound of C64 tapes to know that Thriller sounds scarily similar...

        I'm old too! ;_;
      • The Timex Sinclair 1000's basic compiler supported some basic sound commands even though it didn't have any sort of audio out capability. However, you could put the box near a radio tuned between stations and hear the music just fine.
      • really, you couldn't vary the baud rate of the tape output? on the TRS-80 one could and so play music
      • If the poster you replied to play too much music on a 1541 floppy drive, he'll have to resort to tapes too. The drive head on the 1541 gets out of alignment fairly easily, particularly when playing "music" by banging it repeatedly against the the end of the track it was on.... (only a screw to adjust, but it was a real pain to deal with)

        Of course, the tape drive was much fun on the C64 as well - you could use it as a one bit sampler, for instance, though the sound quality wasn't exactly great.

        Worked sur

        • by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:28PM (#14428619)
          The drive head on the 1541 gets out of alignment fairly easily, particularly when playing "music" by banging it repeatedly against the the end of the track it was on.... (only a screw to adjust, but it was a real pain to deal with)

          Ye Gods, but that brings back memories. I worked part time at a computer store in Virginia. One of my co-workers was a Navy Master Chief named Bob. I remember a father and son bringing in a 1541 floppy drive for alignment and Bob, with a very serious face, asked the son if the drive was out of alignment from playing games with copy protected discs - or from copying games with copy protected discs - "it takes a different kind of alignment process, don't ya know...". I thought the kid was going to burst into tears right there rather than admit to piracy in front of his father.

          That Bob was a funny guy. He would straighten out a paperclip and drive it lengthwise down the center of a cigarette so the ash wouldn't fall off while he was smoking - then he would walk around the store and demo all the different types of computers we sold (Leading Edge brand PC clones, Commodore 64, Commodore 128 and Commodore Amigas!) the whole time with this cigarette ash getting longer and longer...

          He's also the guy who taught me the trick for people who work in high-security areas. If you work where people wear an ID badge on a lanyard around their neck - and it's magnetically encoded (hey, this was a long time ago - long before RFID badges became common), you can go down to the local craft store and buy a long roll of magnetic craft tape the same width as the thickness of a desktop surface, and then run a length of magnetic craft tape down the whole front edge of someone's desk and every couple of days they'll find their ID badge has stopped working - again!

          Bob worked at the Navy Research Labs in Washington D.C. and one of his co-workers there asked him to take advantage of his computer store discount and buy him a copy of The Haley's Project, an educational astronomy program that was similar to "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?". The manual was made up to look like an important government document, complete with fake "TOP SECRET" stamps on most of the pages. Problem was, they worked in a secure government laboratory and the security guards weren't too keen on Bob's coworker trying to take home a manual stamped "TOP SECRET". Last I heard, he ended up having to stuff it in his underwear to sneak it out of the building... Oh, that Bob...
      • First computer I got to play with (in 1967) was an Elliott 803, near the end of its life at the time. No disks, tapes, punched cards, floppies. For input there were two options: paper tape or manual entry of programs using console switches. Usually, you entered a boot program manually so you could then read a compiler from paper tape and then enter a program also from paper tape. For output, again a paper tape punch was available, or...

        ... primitive as it was it had the ability to produce a wide range

        • Hmm, I thought the 803 typically ran off magnetic tapes, modified 35mm film stock?

          The V&A Museum has a working 401 & 803 at the Blythe House, I might check it out next time I'm in London...

          Did you work with the 803 professionally, or just tinker with it?
          • I used the 803 in my student days. A magnetic tape (enclosed within the machine's main cabinet, not a drive with mountable tape spools) was available for the 803 as an option, but the particular one I had access to was not so richly equipped.
      • by DG ( 989 )
        You had a tape drive?


        If *we* wanted to make music, we had to write PL/1 code that would overdrive the IBM 026 card punch while hand-feeding it rolls of paper towel (the old bleached white thick stuff too, none of this modern namby-pamby recycled "natural finish" crap neither) to generate Duo-Art player piano reels!

        We used to *dream* of having tape drives!

      • I had a tape drive on my PET2001, and the only way we could make music with it would be to record a BASIC program, then play the cassette in an audio tape player.

        I hate to tell you this, but getting music out of a cassette tape could have been done much more easily than this.
    • I remember there was a cricket game for the BBC Micro that used the 'click' of the relay used for the cassette remote control to approximate the sound of leather on willow. (If your cassette player had a remote control socket you could connect it to the computer and then pause/resume of the tape would be under software control.)

      Also, I saw a program published in 'ZX User' or something like that to play music on the ZX80. Despite the fact that the Sinclair ZX80 has no sound chip. I don't know whether it w
      • Despite the fact that the Sinclair ZX80 has no sound chip. No sound chip??? The ZXs had no VIDEO chip either. Video was produced entirely as a software interrupt. While we're at it, the video output doubled as the audio cassette port as well.

        Almost all the I/O on the Sinclairs were produced with bit bang [] tricks.

      • TRS-80 click (Score:3, Insightful)

        A similar techinique was used by the LeScript word processor in the TRS-80 model 3/4. The cassette relay clicked on the keystroke to simulate typewiter sound. If I remember correctly, the device independent I/O on the model 4 (TRSDOS 6) permitted inserting a filter on the keyboard input so you could click in any program, or insert the click-filter on the serial port and have your Compuserve input click like a TTY. A cool but useless hack.
      • As far as I remember, "Into the Eagles Nest" on Commodore 64 used the cassette drive motor to produce an imitation of footsteps far away.

        I also remember the aforementioned original drive music software for the C64 and the infamous 1541 drive. Oh, those were the days when hardware features were shamelessly used for weird tricks. :)
    • I started with an Atari 800 WITH tape drive. I still remember the first game I bought for that was called Captivity, or something like that. A first-person 3D maze game. Took 9 minutes to load from tape. Kinda cool thing about the Atari tape drive was that it only used one channel, so this game had recorded guitar music that played while the game loaded. Rather a bizaare choice...listening to a folksy guitar piece when you are in the "technological age" using one of the first home computers.
    • I hear ya about being old. I remember that program. The folks in my Atari user group figured it was written by an Atari advocate to break Commodor floppy drives. :)
    • The Z80 processor in it run at about 1.2 MHz, overwhelming any AM radio within spitting distance. Someone realized that you could use that "bug" as a feature, and included sound effects in Space Invaders by putting an AM radio next to the computer. Any frequency would do...

      Later I typed in a Basic program (we had a tape drive but no floppy) and played the theme from this great big hit movie from a couple years before -- Star Wars.

      That was 1980. I was in 9th grade. Yeah, I'm feeling old.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:10PM (#14427822)
    Not "Animal Skin Elise".
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:11PM (#14427828) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a program for probably 15 years ago (or maybe 18?) that used an Epson dot matrix printer to make music by printing. I think it only played 3 approximate notes, and really slowly at that. Does anyone recall this software?

    I always figured those motors could be used in this fashion -- whenever you hear them operating you can definitely hear a musical quality.

    HP versus the RIAA, who will win?
    • Well, *I* remember when we used to play "Jingle Bells" by sending a specially-crafted sequence of ctrl-Gs and other characters to an ASR33 teletype.
  • Old news guys... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by herohog ( 626700 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:12PM (#14427847) Homepage
    Old news... I discovered this some 8 years ago! There was some software on the install floppy that came with it that played several different songs!
    • Re:Old news guys... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uradu ( 10768 )
      Yep, and I think they later removed it, since we lost the original floppy and I could never find that app again in any of HP's downloads. Mind you, I think this goes back more than 8 years--when was the 4c relased again?
    • I remember Peter Gabriel [] doing something with a dot matrix printer on his "Melt" album. Sure he followed an easier path: he modified a sample rather than modify the printer. Whilst making music from machines designed for another purpose isn't new, you have to salute the chap with the ambition to do so.
  • The ATM near my house does that "charge" bugle call while it prints a receipt.
  • by Mike the Mac Geek ( 182790 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:14PM (#14427862) Journal
    I worked for an outsourcer doing HP printer/scanner pre-sales in late 99. We knew this then, and used the trick to impress the new guys. I found it on the net then, not even from an HP site. I'll have to hit the wayback machine to see if I can find the original place.

    It must be a slow monday. There is either nothing happening, or this has been in queue for over 6 years, and just got approved. Explains why my stuff never gets approved.
  • by komodo9 ( 577710 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:15PM (#14427873) Homepage
    If you print the linux kernel, it sounds like angels crying.
    United Bimmer - BMW Enthusiast Community []
  • I love stuff like this -- you can make music with a scanner...awesome. Other than usage as a gee-whiz or a joke, is there any practicality to it other than the excercise of making it happen?

    Then again, that's the true spirit of "hacking" -- and I am old enough to remember when a hacker was someone who took hardware like this and made it do something that it was not "intended" to do and quite often, novel applications and entire product lines were born as a result.

    Still, I doubt that this will be attached t
  • by turtleAJ ( 910000 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:22PM (#14427949)
    I was wondering: where the hell do they come up with these ideas?
    Then I saw the server name:
    The GanjaTron...
    Ok, question answered...
  • Marry had a little lamb can also be played on a touch tone telephone manually.

    Man am i bored to pot to this. Oh well.
  • What it actually prints out is "Ouch. Quit it!"
  • Bah.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by JazzyJ ( 1995 )
    Let me know when you have a whole lab of these networked and synced together playing like an orchestra. THEN you might have something!!

  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:33PM (#14428036)
    For instance, as early as 1964, the IBM 1403 line printer was programmed to produce music. Here is a page with a song [] sheet. While I cannot find a reference, I remember someone else at IBM who used multiple tape drives as a kind of orchestra, also in the 1960s.
    • The Univac engineers did this at a site I worked at in the mid 80s. 19 tape drives configured to play Beethovens 5th I think, was quite a sureal thing.
    • Back in my punched-card-and-lineprinter days (please don't ask, and no, I'm not THAT old), I used comments that made a distinctive sound when my job was printed so that I could identify it from across the room.

      Back then it was
      - read in a box of 2000 punched cards, 500 cards at a time
      - wait 15 minutes for the job to complete
      - wade through 500 pages of paper output
      - no profit
      - correct/duplicate some cards
      - repeat ad nauseam
  • Back in early 80's, I was in an industrial band, and we used several dot matrix printers in some of our songs. We also used a large mainframe printer in one song, but it had to be recorded on a tape, as it was way to heavy to move around.
  • On my old Osborne 1 I had a dual floppy drive setup (and no hard disk.) The speaker wasn't capable of much more than a high-pitched beep that sears my soul to this day. The floppy drives were noisy buggers, especially when the disk arm moved, which you could control pretty directly by bypassing the BDOS and going to the BIOS. (Memory protection? What's that?)

    The speed wasn't anywhere near high enough for music, but somebody had written a freeware program that could use them to create a kind of gravelly
  • So did Sinclair ZX80 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jsveiga ( 465473 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:38PM (#14428105)
    In the 80's, the nerd thing to do was to write assembly programs for the Sinclair. IIRC, you would convert the opcodes (which we all knew by heart) to ASCII, write a REM line with that, and run it (which I don't recall how).

    I'd write loops inside loops, with changing and interdependent step sizes, and it would generate sounds on a FM radio sitting on the computer top (I KNOW my Z80 clock was 3.57MHz, way below FM; it was most probably due to harmonics interference or the radio IF).

    I could get beats and interesting disco-like effects, and make alien phony calls. Then computers started shipping with speakers and sound processors and spoiled all the fun.
    • Completely off-topic... but I'm in the aircraft test and evaluation buisness and this is precisely the reason that operation of poratble electronic devices is not allowed below 10k ft. Electronics companies are all about profit; shielding and EMI testing are not high on their list of priorites when they are trying to meet a quarterly product cycle deadline...
  • Wow, cool. (Score:2, Funny)

    by gbobeck ( 926553 )
    Wow, now this was cool...

    I'm waiting for /. coverage of my dog who can fart Beethoven.
  • Wonderful old scanners .. I paid $700 for mine way back when. I'm still using it eight years later, on a Linux machine because HP won't update the drivers to work on newer Windoze operating systems.

    However, they have some nasty problems. Mine keeps causing errors on the SCSI bus, which is very hard to recover from. Apparently even with the cheap supplied ISA SCSI card (Sym53416?) and HP cabling, it still throws a lot of errors. Under Windows the errors were handled pretty transparently. Fedora Core 2
  • Printer and Xerox music

    The User - Symphony #2 For Dot Matrix Printers: []

    Xerophonics: 36825794/sr=11-1/103-5928890-1815068 []
  • I still belive that the dogs barking Fur Esles (sp) is more entertaining.

    Don't kow about the dogs? Google it! It is probably on the same site as dogs barking Jingle Bells.
  • ...when I was a kid, we used to make music on dot matrix [] printers.

  • It doesn't really do anything practically useful, but something you ordinarily wouldn't think of. I always think they're the funnest kind of hack to pull off.
  • by rsclient ( 112577 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @01:11PM (#14428450) Homepage
    HP was happy enough about this that their old "HP Journal" -- a monthly tech. magazine that would go in-depth into HP technology -- had an entire sidebar about the exact escape sequences needed to play the music. It was a sad day when they stopped publication; it was a fun read.

    The same issue had, as its cover story, an article about how strap-on heart monitors work. Very cool, and the cover picture, of a small baby with a monitor on its foot, was striking. The same technology was put onto my oldest several years later when she was in the hospital right after being born.
  • The band treewave [] uses old computers, game consoles and an Epson LQ500 as their instruments. I find it amazing what they can do with old equipment like this.
    • The band treewave [] uses old computers, game consoles and an Epson LQ500 as their instruments. I find it amazing what they can do with old equipment like thi

      i catch them live whenever i can here in Dallas. Their cd has a track that you're suppose to record onto tape and use in a c64. It's a snyth. they wrote or something.
  • The band Man or Astro-Man? used to perform a song onstage called "a simple text file" which involved bringing out an Apple ImageWriterII, setting up a microphone, and letting it play. It's actually a pretty good song.
  • Transformer di Roboter used the Mac boot chime in their cover of Michael Jackson's Stranger in Moscow. []
  • Why did Ludwig write this awful piece?
    It was not free
    Of that I'm sure.
    The money, all in cash, came from Elise
    Thus it was she
    He wrote it Für.

    (sung to the tune of Für Elise, of course)

  • The Mac OS X utility Hardware Monitor can play a tune on the G5's power supply by controlling the amount of load on the processors. Apparently the power supply makes different sounds depending on the load on it. []
  • The big old IBM hardware used to put out enough RF to produce sounds from a transistor radio placed on top. Carefully crafted loops in PL/1 code on punch cards would produce an amazing variety of music.

    We used to impress visitors at my high school's open house with this trick until the Apple ][ and Commodore PET arrived.
  • When I was at my old co-op job at an industrial controls manufacturing company, back in the days before I decided to become a professional student, one of the guys out on the shop floor told me quite a few stories about interesting things that happened there over the years. One of these stories was about a guy who took a handheld tape recorder, recorded himself saying something, and then hooked the output up as a trim to the torque control for a 100hp industrial motor. He started up the motor and brought
  • Has anyone else had a problem with their HP Scanjet drivers requiring multiple GB of space with no option to install only a few MB? Surely the drivers do not need 4 GB of space on my HDD, but when I choose to install the drivers, there it is -- taking up 4 GB of space while presenting me with no options to pare down the install size. My old Mutek scanner I had 10 years ago scanned faster and took up a few megs of space with drivers at the most.
  • by TheVoice900 ( 467327 ) <kamil@kamilkisi e l .net> on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:21PM (#14429689)
    My ScanJet 4p has "Ode to Joy" embedded in the firmware. If you set the SCSI channel to 0 and hold the green "scan" button on the front while switching on the power, it will play. I always thought this was a neat easter egg..
  • The old Palantir scanners - mid 1980s- would play Wagner's Ride of the Vulkuries on the stepper motors during the self-test. It was really amazing and went on for quite a long time increasing in intensity and complexity.

    But along with the original Internet toasters (two implementations in 1987) the Palantir scanners seem to have vanished.
  • ..because it wouldn't run under Windows 98. That's right, there were no drivers for the SCSI card that came with the 3c beyond Windows 95. You could purchase a SCSI card from a third party vendor with which it should work.

    I said 'screw that' and purchased a whole new flatbed scanner for only slightly more, much later
    ( I actually got it running under 98 by disabling the DOS device drivers - but it was quite flakey; only scanned once in a series of attempts. )

    That said.. I miss the 3c. It was relatively fa
  • by wikthemighty ( 524325 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @05:49PM (#14431076)
    ...some time ago.

    Check them out here []

A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson