Floppy drive music (almost finished but...)

Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to cut the bold between the motor and the head, so the head won't move at all. Would that result in much less sound or will it be ok?

I guess it will result in less volume, when I started testing my floppy-steppers with nothing attached I hardly heard them. Those came from old 5.25 inch drives though and had big steppers, not the kinds used in the last 15 years. But maybe removing the head and constructing some sort of slipping brake would keep it noisy. Having it perform a task that requires some force probably will let the motor vibrate harder as one that just spins. Maybe having it rotate a weight to increase the inertia is already enough.

It's worth to try everything though, finding intact floppy drives for free shouldn't be to difficult.

P.S. Man... do I blame myself for not collecting more of those 5.25 inch drives, by now I'm even willing to pay for 'm ;)

Well, just picked up 2x 3,5" from work today. They would have thrown it in the garbage :astonished:

My current status is that the motor always spins, no matter what I put on motor enable. Maybe my pinout is wrong, so I made a picture

(The cable is twisted)

So is this correct?
And if it actually is correct, why does the motor always spin?

There's the motor that spins the media and there's the other motor than moves the head. If the drive couldn't keep track of where the head is, it wouldn't be much good as a storage device, would it?

Have fun isolating what makes the noise. Every part that vibrates is part of the noise.

It's clearly the motor of the head which is rotating. If you push it forward, it spins back. So why is the motor always spinning even if there is noTone?

The connector is indeed correct, 3 has no pin. All odd pins are connected to ground, you could check that as well.

Problem with floppy drives may be that there have been countless manufacturers. Although the pinout of 99,9% of all drives are the same, all floppy drives behaving the same is something else.

The mastodons I used did respond to just Step and Direction, but a newer/other one may detect the drive isn't selected (pins 12/14). It may therefor automatically sends the head to starting position if it's somewhere else. In a PC a trick like that wouldn't matter since it will be selected before writing/reading in the usual way, but it in this case...

This may... be the problem, but whether it actually causes the drive to behave this way, I don't know.

Question, it does keep trying to move the head, but does it stop once it has reached starting-point ?

Nope, it continues moving after it reached the start point. I connected the audio output to /STEP and tried connecting Arduino 5V to enable or not and it's still moving. Don't know why...

Not every head movement makes noise. Is your drive one of the ones with a lead screw?

This guy makes his talk. The stepper is on the right end btw. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi_oE3ayn0M

BTW, I found this while looking for pictures of FD insides, it's pretty funny.


(an OLD one from the days of the 5 1/4" floppy)

Follow all of these instructions carefully for error-free floppies!!

  1. Never leave diskettes in the disk drive, as data can leak out of the disk and corrode the inner mechanics of the drive. Diskettes should be rolled up and stored in pencil holders.

  2. Diskettes should be cleaned and waxed once a week. Microscopic metal particles can be removed by waving a powerful magnet over the surface of the disk. Any stubborn metallic shavings can be removed with scouring powder and soap. When waxing the diskettes, make sure the surface is even. This will allow the diskette to spin faster, resulting in better access time.

  3. Do not fold diskettes unless they do not fit into the drive. "Big" diskettes may be folded and used in "little" disk drives.

  4. Never insert a diskette into the drive upside down. The data can fall off the surface of the disk and jam the intricate mechanics of the drive

  5. Diskettes cannot be backed up by running them through the xerox machine. If your data is going to need to be backed up, simply insert two diskettes into the drive. Whenever you update a document, the data will be written on both diskettes.

  6. Diskettes should not be inserted or removed from the drive while the red light is flashing. Doing so could result in smeared or possibly unreadable text. Occasionally the red light remains flashing in what is known as a "hung" or "hooked" state. If your system is "hooking" you will probably need to insert a few coins before being allowed access to the slot.

  7. If your diskette is full and you need more storage space, remove the disk from the drive and shake vigorously for 2 minutes. This will pack the data enough (Data Compression) to allow for more storage. Be sure to cover all the openings with scotch tape to prevent loss data.

  8. Access time can be greatly improved by cutting more holes in the diskette jacket. This will provide more simultaneous access points to the disk.

  9. Diskettes may be used as coasters for beverage glasses, provided that they are properly waxed beforehand. Be sure to wipe the diskettes dry before using. (see item 2 above)

  10. Never use scissors and glue to manually edit documents. The data is stored much too small for the naked eye, and you may end up with data from some other document stuck in the middle of your document. Razor blades and scotch tape may be used, however, provided the user is equipped with an electron microscope.

  11. Periodically spray diskettes with insecticide to prevent system bugs from spreading.

Another use for those old steppers... as generators. http://solar.freeonplate.com/floppy_windmill.htm

I now got the problem that the drive doesn't do anything. At startup, the platter motor spins for less than a second and the motor moves to the start position. Then, it has no effect. I plugged in pin 20 for audio output and pin 14 for enable. Still no movement... :~

I now got the problem that the drive doesn’t do anything. At startup, the platter motor spins for less than a second and the motor moves to the start position. Then, it has no effect. I plugged in pin 20 for audio output and pin 14 for enable. Still no movement… :~

You could have bought a controller by now :slight_smile:

What… exactly do you connect to pin 20 ?
It normally requires a digital signal, not audio. The tone()-function might… work since it sends creates tones digitally, not analog. A normal audio-signal (radio/mp3 etc) shouldn’t be used.Testing the head may also be easier by using digitalWrite(HIGH/LOW) and a little delay after each HIGH and LOW. When the stepper-controller gets info too fast (which might happen with the tone() function) it won’t be able to control the motor.

I don’t know how many steps are normally needed for 1 rotation with your drive(s), mine were 200steps/rotation, noticing 'm rotate only 1-2 steps was quite difficult, 50 steps was much easier.

Did you use Pin 18 (direction) as well in your last experiment ? When that signal is wrong the floppy drive might conclude there’s nothing to do since it’s already at starting position.

Last question, using pin 14, does… the head stop now when it reached it’s starting position or does it still tries to go beyond it’s limits ?

Well, I pretty much folowed these simple instructions with the source code below that image in the next post:


  • I common GND of Arduino and PSU
  • Put pin 14 on GND
  • Pin 18 for Direction Change
  • Pin 20 for Step

Using the given source code example, it should work. But it doesn't. It always parks the head in startup position and rests there. When I try to block the head from moving there, it rotates until I let it.

This is what my setup looks like: Black and Green = Arduino GND White = Arduino Pin 3 Red = Arduino Pin 6

This wire goes in Arduino GND.

* Arduino Board * Black is connected to Green via Breadboard

Maybe you just look at this and immediately see what's wrong :D I don't get it...

Did you put a floppy in or at least spoof the sensor? It's been so long... the 5 1/4's had index holes and IIRC those were checked.

Yes, there is a floppy inserted. I also read in that post that it didn’t matter, but anyhow, it’s in.
Did I do any mistake from the looks of the fotos?

I only used the things as floppy drives for about 10 years until 3.5" came out and all my customers finally got rid of the 5.25" drives. Wish I had a few but my boneyard crates got stolen in 1990. I could have picked up many for a song but at the time it was "why?".

You should probably PM Razorblade, Sirbow2 and Texy since they've done what you want to do.

Yes, there is a floppy inserted. I also read in that post that it didn’t matter, but anyhow, it’s in.
Did I do any mistake from the looks of the fotos?

Sorry for not having looked better, if… you use a twisted cable pins 12 and 14 are swapped. Both pins are used as drive select, one connector on the mobo is able to controll 2 drives.

I hope it finally fixes the problem since I’m running out of ideas :frowning:

Last thing I could think of are jumpers on the floppydrive, which I do not expect to find on recently young one, nor that they would (should) make it impossible to get the head out of the corner. On two of three old drives I used I did find a jumper to select density which… resulted in a single/double step, but that wouldn’t matter for getting the head away from starting position, only the distance traveled by the head.

I’ll have a look on the attic this weekend, must still have some old cables + drives which are collecting dust.

I just received a 2$ used floppy drive via eBay and plugged it in and it worked! I'm still looking for a good reason but hey! I did it! I will upload a video soon :)

Anyway, without your help, I'd never done it. So thank you!