Hack Chat interfacing diskette with Adafruit

Join us on Wednesday, February 2 at Noon Pacific for the Floppy Interfacing Hack Chat with Adafruit’s Limor “Ladyada” Fried and Phillip Torrone!

When a tiny piece of silicon covered in plastic can provide enough capacity to store a good percentage of the knowledge collected by mankind, it might seem like a waste of time messing around with archaic storage technology like floppy disks. With several orders of magnitude less storage capacity than even the cheapest SD card or thumb drive, and access speeds that fall somewhere between cold molasses and horse and buggy, the Floppy drives really don’t seem to belong on the modern hacker’s bench.

Or do they? Learning the ins and outs of interfacing floppy disk drives with modern microcontrollers is at least one exercise in hardware hacking that can pay dividends in other projects. A floppy disk drive is, after all, a rather complex little device, filled with electromechanical goodies that must be controlled in a microcontroller environment. And teasing the data of a stream of magnetic flux changes ends up requiring a few neat hacks that might serve you well down the line.

So don’t dismiss the humble floppy drive as a source of hacking opportunities. The folks at Adafruit certainly didn’t, as they worked diligently to get native floppy support built right into CircuitPython. To tell us how they got to where they are now, Ladyada and PT will go through the Hack Chat. Be sure to come with your burning questions about stream transitions, MFM decoding, interface sync issues, and other mysteries of spinning rust players.

Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week, we will meet on Wednesday, February 2 at noon Pacific Time. If you’re stuck with time zones, we’ve got a handy time zone converter.

Hacking cat poster