Are you guys insane?

Yes. As a matter of fact, very much so. But you have to do something to escape stress.

Will you build a dance floor for me?

Yes. Custom dance floors and components are available from Dropout Design, LLC.

How much did it cost?

Too much. Fortunately, we were funded by many generous sources, and many components were donated or scrounged. The total came to around $2,500. Thanks to the economies of scale, larger floor could probably be built for not much more, although a smaller floor would probably cost about as much.

Be aware, however, that this cost does not include the many hundreds of hours of MIT student labor.

Where did you get the idea?

Every year East Campus sponsors the Bad Ideas Competition. Schuyler decided that disco was a Bad Idea, and therefore wanted to build a disco floor, like Saturday Night Fever. Then Grant said, "Harder Better Faster Stronger. We need more tiles, more colors, and faster." Scott said, "Harder Better Faster Stronger. We need even more tiles, even more colors, and even more speed." The driving force for the project became "Multiple Shades of Purple!"

How do I build my own dance floor?

First, get a few dozen engineering students living in the same place. Add pizza, coffee, and music. Shake vigorously.

Seriously, though... we designed our floor to be very, very cheap to build. However, the tradeoff was that it required lots and lots of skilled labor. If you have a few dozen people around that know how to solder, wire stuff up, code, etc, you can do it too. We don't have the time to publish a full HOWTO, but if you're really serious about it, feel free to email us with any questions.

I thought surface mount soldering couldn't be done by hand?

It's just a little tricky. Actually, surface mount soldering can be faster than through-hole soldering, with enough practice and the right equipment. Get a good soldering iron (we like the Weller WESD51), the smallest tip you can find, the smallest solder you can find, and lots of flux and solder wick. You'll also probably want a good pair of tweezers. Practice on big stuff, like 1206 passives, then move down to 0603 and 0402 passives and eventually 20mil pitch packages like QSOPs and MSOPs.

As for toaster-oven soldering with paste, we found we couldn't achieve reliable results this way (with 200 parts per board) and the amount of labor required to touch up the QSOPs made it easier and more effective to just do it by hand.

Can I come visit the dance floor?

If you're in Cambridge and you really want to see it, pop us a line and we'll talk.

I want to come DJ a party/play for a party/etc!

We don't really have the money to pay entertainment for parties, but if you'd like to come entertain us for free just because the disco floor is so amazingly awesome, we'd love to have you. Let us know.

Do you plan to play tetris or twister or DDR or ___ on it?

Yes, calm down. We've probably thought of it. We have classes and stuff to do, too. Stay tuned.

Can you do realtime stuff, synchronized to music, etc?


How long will the disco floor be on First East?

Somewhat permanently, at least until we build a better one or the fire inspectors tell us to take it out.

What kind of covering did you use?

It's 1/4" clear Lexan. We used clear Lexan because it's much cheaper than diffuse. We originally planned on using paper or something to diffuse it, but the Lexan came with a flat white paper backing, so we just left that on there. It does get a bit scuffed up, but it's not noticeable with the room lights off and the floor active. When the lights are on, it just looks like a raised white plastic floor.

How strong/robust is the floor?

Very. It's used as our normal lounge floor. We sometimes prohibit shoes during parties if the weather is bad outside, because we don't want people tracking mud/snow onto the floor. People jump on it, drop stuff on it, spill food on it, etc. frequently.

Can it be linked to Winamp?

Not yet. We don't really like Windows. We use xmms instead, on *nix platforms.

What's the music in the video?

Organ Donor, by DJ Shadow


Bar. (Or baz, if you swing that way.)

Is Mike Anderson single? (this is a very frequently asked queston)

Yes, if you're cute, smart, and female! He's a little shy, but if you're in the area and looking you can email and see if he's up for a date, all "flux pen" jokes aside.

More to be added as we get more questions.