Steam-powered Rickrolling

This is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half minutes and you’ll realize that it’s also a Rickroll. No, you’re not getting baited into clicking through to Rick Astley’s music video, the LP that’s playing on the turntable is a copy of “Never Gonna Give You Up”; all kinds of awesome.

This all started with a steam engine machined from a stainless steel bolt and a brass cylinder. It was tested using compressed air before building the boiler. But what’s a steam engine without a purpose? The problem with using a steam engine as a turntable motor is speed control. This is where we move to modern technology, using an Arduino to measure the RPM and adjust the steam engine using a servo motor.

The builder makes a comment that this sounds terrible, but considering it’s steam-powered we think it sounds just fine.

[Thanks Simon and Fred]

Comments

  1. Necromant says:

    Steampunk… That’s back to the 80s… 1880s… Anyway, good work.

  2. guffguff says:

    Should have used a centrifugal style braking system, and had the whole thing mechanical!

    Good build though.

  3. kyle90 says:

    Sounds like it could benefit from a little more speed control – a nice big flywheel, perhaps.

  4. LOL, a steam-powered record player! That’s just awesome!

  5. nes says:

    Top work! That’s a really clean build.

    There’s a guy around here who tours the classic car shows with a steam powered gramophone too. I think the steam vent is coaxial with the horn on his. Wish I’d got a photo of it now.

  6. NatureTM says:

    First thing I would do is play my vinyl copy of “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” Perfect song for steam powered turntables.

  7. svofski says:

    When it begins playing, it’s surreal. Good wacky stuff.

    BTW, if you could find some gramophone (spelling? 78rpm anyway) discs, you could make it sound much louder and better — they have deep grooves, designed to be be played back without amplification.

  8. tsherry says:

    Cool, but I wouldn’t want that heat + humidity near my records.

  9. joe says:

    Neat idea. I would’ve preferred a mechanical governor though. and they chose a good song to demo it on. It was bad enough that you hardly noticed the whine and other noise from the engine!

  10. ccl says:

    Maybe use a turbine rather than a piston? And use pressure regulator to regulate the speed.

  11. Aero says:

    Had to resort to an arduino rather than a governor? Fail

  12. nick says:

    I also would suggest a turbine. A piston engine is very non-constant in terms of velocity. Every stroke introduces 4 ramping sections. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piston_motion_equations#Example_graph_of_piston_motion. That’s the warbling you hear from the record. Sound recorded on vinyl is pretty sensitive to velocity variation.
    Neat build.

  13. Erik Johnson says:

    @Aero why do you think it made it on here?

    I’d rather like to see the steam engine be used to crank up a spring system just as wind-up gramophones do.

  14. macw says:

    yeah, one of the spinning-ball governors would be perfect for something like this and every steam locomotive has one of those on top. I dunno how he overlooked that.

  15. Ross Barnes says:

    A very tidy unit and well made. Just love the marrying of old and new technology. It opens up a world of lateral thinking.

  16. ferdi says:

    nice bild but why that fuckking song i hate it but i love steampunk lp player
    i must be think to bioshok that game when i see this

  17. echodelta says:

    Much bigger flywheel, without listening for sure. 3 or more pistons yeah! And of course a flying governor. Arduino schemeeno. 78’s would more suited to the vibe. Sorry Daft Punk. Anyone want to hack up a steam powered cassette jam box?

  18. Aero says:

    Erik,

    I have to say, its a really great looking project, but I’d love to have seen it be completely mechanical.

  19. MS3FGX says:

    Incredible execution, he is clearly very skilled and has an excellent eye for detail.

    Unfortunately, it appears that the concept itself is flawed, as the piston just can’t get the record spinning at the proper speed. Also, like previous commenters, I don’t get why he would use an Arduino and servo rather than the centrifugal governor which has been standard hardware on steam engines since more or less their inception.

  20. Everett says:

    Steam powered MP3 player anyone? Use a steam powered HD…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Would the speed be more steady if the steam engine was running a flywheel, and the electronics governed the speed of the turntable with a clutch?

  22. RBRat3 says:

    This needs a nice size flywheel and an tad bigger cylinder, might calm the erratic speed jumps.

  23. Harvie says:

    OMG have you buyed that LP in 80s because you liked the music? :-D

  24. Hacksaw says:

    I don’t see what all of you arduino haters have to complain about.Yes he could have used a mechanical governor but he could have used a gassifier running on dried chicken shit also and I don’t see any of you complaining about that! Now for the fun one most MP3 players are coal powered so there is no reason to attach one to a steam engine (actually I know of one city at least where the MP3 players are steam powered)

  25. Khordas says:

    This is one of the reasons why some of the historical engine gramaphones used stirling engines. Much more constant torque, and better speed control. I wish the museum of retro technology was still up and running. They had lots of good pictures of such things.

  26. governator says:
  27. June says:

    Remind sme of my steam powered model boat I had as a Kid. What will we have next ? Steam powered food processor, vaccuum machine home tools like saws drills etc…

  28. Mr.Nobody says:

    A sensible steampunk-wise improvement would be to replace the arduino speed control with a mechanical device like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_%28device%29

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