Atomic Powered Robots and Records Played With Optics

mike

If you were a child of the 80’s or early 90’s you probably remember Magic Mike. He went by many names, but he always said the same thing “I am the atomic powered robot. Please give my best wishes to everybody!” [Oona’s] version of Mike had been malfunctioning for a few years. He’d stopped talking! She decided he needed more input, so she disassembled Mike to reveal the flesh colored plastic box in the center of his chest. This talkbox was used as a sound module in several toys. Before the days of cheap digital playback devices, sounds were recorded in a decidedly analog fashion. [Oona] found that Mike’s voice and sound effects were recorded on a tiny phonograph record in his chest. The phonograph was spun up by an electric motor, but the playback and amplification system was all mechanical, consisting of a needle coupled to a small plastic loudspeaker. The system was very similar to the early phonograph designs.

Mike’s record contained two interwoven spiral tracks. Interwoven tracks is a technique that has been used before, albeit rarely on commercial albums. One track contained Mike’s voice, the other the sound of his laser gun. The track to be played would be chosen at random depending upon where the needle and record stopped after the previous play. The record completely sidetracked [Oona’s] repair work. She decided to try to read the record optically. She started with a high resolution image (image link) of the record, and wrote some Perl code to interpolate a spiral around the grooves. The result was rather noisy, and contained quite a bit of crosstalk. [Oona] tried again with laser illumination using a Lego train set. Unfortunately the Lego train / laser system wasn’t smooth enough to get a good image. In the end she used a bit of Gimp magic and was able to pull better audio from her original image. We never did find out if she put poor Mike back together though.

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A Retro, Not Steampunk, Media Center

[toddfx] wanted to put his Raspberry Pi to work and set about creating one of the best stereos we’ve ever seen: It’s called the Audio Infuser 4700, and turns a conglomeration of old disused stereo equipment into a functional piece of art.

[toddfx] used a Raspberry Pi to stream music over WiFi, but also wanted to play some classic vinyl. He took apart an old Yamaha YP-D4 turntable. stripped it to the bone, and created a fantastic oak enclosure around it. To this, he added a seven-band graphic EQ, aux jacks (both in and out), and a tiny 5″ CRT from an old portable TV.

Where this build really gets great is the fabrication. The front panels have all their graphics and lettering engraved via a toner-transfer like method using copper sulphate and salt. [todd] got the idea from this thread and we have to say the results are unbelievable.

Even though this awesome device only used for music, [toddfx] used the tiny color CRT to its fullest. Flick one switch, and it’s an oscilloscope-like display. Flick another switch, and it’s the output of the Raspberry Pi loaded up with a few MAME games including Pacman, Asteroids, and Space Invaders.

[toddfx] put up a build page for his Audio Infuser and an awesome video for his project, available below.

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Fisher-Price Record Player plays Stairway to Heaven

[Fred Murphy] has an old Fisher-Price music box/record player that has lost many of its disks over the last 40 years. It’s a very simple device – concentric grooves in a plastic disk have plastic bumps that are picked up by the tines of the record player ‘cartridge.’ Seeing as how this toy is basically a music box, [Fred] figured making his own records would be well within his grasp; he did the reasonable thing and made a Stairway to Heaven disk for a toy music box.

To figure out where to place the ‘bumps’ for the musical tines, [Fred] built a small tool in Visual C# 2010 that allowed him to place notes on a scale and generate the requisite GCode for the disk. After sending this file to his CNC mill, [Fred] had an acrylic disk that played Led Zeppelin on a child’s music box.

Of course, this Instructable wouldn’t be complete without a video demo of Stairway blasting out of this record player. You can check that out after the break.

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Analog iPhone amplifier made from recycled trumpets

analog_telephonographer

It’s no secret that the audio quality of the iPhone’s built-in speakers isn’t exactly what you would consider to be hi-fi. Sound quality aside, there are plenty of times where even the volume doesn’t do the music justice. While you can always go out and buy a fancy dock to amplify your iGadget’s sound, artist [Christopher Locke] has a different take on the subject.

For a while now, he has been constructing what he calls “Analog Tele-Phonographers”, metal sculptures that can be used to amplify a mobile phone’s audio. Built out of steel and old trumpets, his audio sculptures require no electricity, instead utilizing the same amplification technology as the original phonographs.

While the Tele-Phonographers won’t make your iPhone sound like a high quality tube amp, they do undoubtedly increase the phone’s volume and they are nice to look at. We can certainly get behind this sort of recycling/reuse of old items.

Continue reading to see a quick video of his Analog Tele-Phonographer in action.

[Thanks, Chris]

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CD phonograph brings old-time charm to modern music

phonograph

[Jozerworx] had always wanted to build a CD player that looked like an old-time Victrola Phonograph player, though he never seemed to be able to find the time to do it. With all of his other projects out of the way, he decided to finally get started on building his phonograph.

He went garage sale hunting and found the perfect base for his project – an old wooden box adorned with tarnished brass hardware. He started in on the project immediately, dismantling a cheap CD player and mounting the motor/laser assembly on the top of the box. The CD player internals were installed inside the wooden box, along with a small audio amplifier stripped from a portable iPod speaker.

A brass horn was fashioned out of an ornament, in order to complete the phonograph feel, but also to act as a passive amplifier. He then mounted a series of switches on the top of the box to allow him to control the CD player’s basic functions.

[Jozerworx] says that it sounds decent, though there are some things he would change. He plans on switching out the audio amplifier and possibly the speakers at some point in the future. He is also still keeping his eye out for a larger, and more effective horn.