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Simulating floppy disk sounds when using a flash emulator #VintageComputing #RetroComputing #Apple #AppleII

Via BMOW – If you’ve ever used an Apple II (or other vintage) computer, then you’ll remember the click-clack-whack sounds of a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive. The internal stepper motor moves between tracks on the disk, and every step makes an audible sound. When the computer first boots, it makes an unforgettable buzzing sound as the stepper is repeatedly whacked into the mechanical stop at track 0.

Modern floppy emulators, like the Apple Floppy Emu and Gotek emulators have no mechanical parts, they do their work silently. What if you want a more authentic sounding experience? Most Gotek mods (Amiga, IBM PC, etc.) use a piezo buzzer to do this if you mod it with flashfloppy. For the Apple Floppy Emu, BMOW writes about simulating the floppy sounds:

Running an Apple II with a Floppy Emu disk emulator is silent. Should we add back some of that old-fashioned noise?

I built a simple circuit with a 12V relay that’s controlled by the Phase 0 signal on the disk interface. Phase 0 is one of the four control signals for the disk stepper motor, and ignoring the other three signals won’t produce totally authentic sounds, but it’s pretty close. The circuit uses a transistor, so the coil current won’t be drawn directly from Phase 0. The relay here isn’t actually controlling any load – the coil is energized simply to create a mechanical click sound. And it works! (demo below)

Relays can be awkward to work with, they require a comparatively large amount of current compared to digital circuits, and a diode to prevent dangerous voltage spikes when the coil shuts off. What about using a speaker element instead? I modified my circuit to replace the relay with a tiny speaker that I had in a drawer, and change the driving voltage from 12V to 5V. To be honest I have no idea what the speaker’s specs are or how much current this might be drawing from the supply, but it works:

The community appears split, is it better to have the silent goodness of a modern upgrade or is having the floppy sounds a must for authentic aura?

Let us know in the comments below which you prefer.

More on the Apple II Floppy Enu and sound emulation in this post.


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2 Comments

  1. This is an interesting idea… maybe I’ll add it to mine. Anybody have audio sounds of a TRS-80 floppy?

    github.com/calphool/TRS80HDD

  2. I believe all the Gotek floppy emulator mods with the flashfloppy free firmware have this capability as well.

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