composing a funny joke or a beautiful piece of music may well involve
playful cleverness, but a joke as such and a piece of music as such
are not hacks, however funny or beautiful they may be. However, if the
piece is a palindrome, we can say it is a hack as well as music; if it
is empty, we can say it is a hack on music
An Atmega8 and an FPGA are connected to various parts of the original printer main board. The Atmega handles the incoming MIDI messages, communicates with the FPGA and drives the stepper motors for the print head and paper feed. The FPGA is configured to generate lots of pulse-width modulation signals with independent frequency and duty cycle to drive the individual printer pins.
It's a different kind of hack.
Electric motors and speakers are basically the same things. Speakers are optimized to be more efficient at producing sound, motors are optimized to be more efficient at moving things, but at the core, they're the same device.
Not only that, you can superimpose audio on the intended operation of the motor by putting the signal on the "D axis" which produces no torque. Unless you're in field weakening blah blah blah... But only higher frequencies are typically possible.
This one really got me:
Here's what it sounds like on its own:
Now I'm too sad to work, instead of just being too lazy.
Here is Eye of the Tiger on 8 floppies, for comparison:
Radioheads Big Ideas (don't get any) by James Houston
It reminds me of the old HP ScanJets, which came with SCSI commands to play musical notes (someone at HP must have had too much free time on his hands ;)). Some videos of the scanners are at  and .
Another interesting hardware hack to produce music is the "hard drive speaker". You can see some of them in action in a rendition of Radiohead's "Big Ideas: don't get any" , as well as various printers and other devices used for their auditive side effects.
I have tested it, it works!
(Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible without "deeper" control.)
Here's an article I wrote about it: http://jefenry.com/main/CNCMusic.php
The printer ribbon says 7753 which is an epson model.
A couple years ago my consumer grade b/w laser printer died after five years of rather infrequent use. I decided I'd rather just take a USB stick to commercial printers than ever shell out for some consumer grade piece of crap again. Might a modern dotmatrix be cheap and super reliable? Like, I can buy it and plan on it working for the next 20 years?
Operating costs are relatively low but they are definitely NOT cheap to purchase.
I used to work as a service rep at an airline. We used these things extensively for printing airline tickets. These tickets had four red carbon-copy type pages that needed to be printed at once, and a dot-matrix printer is the only thing that handeled this well. It was a small office and we had just a rickety old Star Gemini II printer, but I must have printed thousands of tickets with it before it was decomissioned when e-tickets made their entrance.