Woah, this is nuts. I remember my dot matrix printer from back in the day. I remember that it simply made a lot of racket, and what a pain it was to have to tear the feeder strips off of each side of the printed pages…
Fast forward to 2014 (like only a week ago), when I got wind of a hacked 24-pin dot matrix printer made by MIDIDesaster – which actually makes a good kind of racket. Long story short, he MIDI-enabled this printer to play Eye Of The Tiger (remember the training montage from Rocky 3?) Yeah, that song. You’ll have to just watch the above video to see how seriously cool this is.
MIDIDesaster is using an Atmega 8 and an FPGA (I researched this, but I can’t find which FPGA board he is using) that he hacked into the printer’s internals to make musical sound, via the pins on the printer head. The printer has 21-voice polyphony, and 16 channels of MIDI capability. There are even a few MIDI messages available, including note on/ off, velocity, frequency, and a couple more.
Definitely check this one out. I think more than anything, I’m really impressed with the creativity in the design and implementation of this project. When the song is over, there’s even a visual record of it, printed on the paper. Props for sure!