Putting new into the old – a Phonograph upgrade.

[smellsofbikes] recently came into possession of a 1970’s “stereo radio phonograph” cabinet consisting of a vinyl record player, AM and FM radio, and eight track tape player. The radio worked, the turntable didn’t sound too nice, and the tape player didn’t work at all. A new needle fixed the turntable, but the eight-track was in bad shape. So he replaced the tape player with a BeagleBoneBlack which plays streaming internet radio.

Hopefully, this fix is temporary, since he has carefully disconnected the tape player connections in the hope of fixing it soon. The swap out involved a fair bit of engineering, so he’s split his build log into several bite sized chunks. The first step was to set up the BBB, upgrade it and add in all the network and audio related stuff. Audio on the BBB is available only via the HDMI port, but [smellsofbikes] had a USB soundcard handy, so the next step was setting that up. He installed mpg321 – the command line mp3 player and set it up to play music streaming from somafm. Next up was getting some scripts and programs to run automatically during system bootup. The final part of the setup was adding a WiFi router as a repeater connected to the BBB via an ethernet cable. He could have used a tiny WiFi USB dongle, but he already had the router lying around, and he wanted to dedicate USB to audio functions alone, and use the Ethernet port for Internet.

He then worked on identifying the wires that go from the tape player to the amplifier, spliced them, and hooked them up to the audio sound card on the BBB. With this done, the upgrade was more or less complete – the system played streaming music and stations could be switched remotely (via SSH to BBB). [smellsofbikes] reckoned it would be nice to use the existing controls in the phonograph cabinet to control the internet streaming music, instead of controlling it via a remote computer. The cabinet had 4 indicator lamps that indicated which track was being played and a button to switch between tracks. He removed the old indicator panel and put in a fresh PCB, designed in KiCad and cut on his LPKF circuit board plotter. An aluminum knob machined out of hex bar-stock works as the new track change button. At this point, he called it a wrap. The BBB and Asus router go inside the cabinet, and the old (non-functional) tape player is put in place. Quite an interesting build, and we look forward to when he actually gets the tape player working. [Alan Martin], aka “The Most Interesting Engineer In The World” has told him that “it is a moral imperative that you repair the eight-track and get it working”. [Alan] has promised to send [smellsofbikes] a suitcase full of brand new, still in their plastic wrappers, eight-track tapes when he gets it working.

Under Water Record Player is Very Mesmerizing

Once in a while we get a really awesome tip about a technical art installation — there sometimes isn’t much info behind it, but the idea and concept behind it alone sparks our curiosity. That is most definitely the case for this submerged record player.

Artist [Evan Holm] has created this awesome installation which features a black pool of water — with a built-in record player. He’s somehow waterproofed the player itself, and integrated the controls and needle into a tree, which is part of the installation.

He has a very long and artsy description about the meaning of it, how it represents loss and mystery, and the collective subconscious of the human race… We just see it as a really cool hack. There’s also a full documentary about how he sets up the installation at various shows.

We’ve included both videos following the break — it is very tempting to try recreating something similar!

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The Ottoman Empire

ottomon empire

Remember the good old days in the 60’s and 70’s when stereos were built right into the furniture? No? Well, that’s where the inspiration for this project comes from. Introducing the Ottoman Empire — a pun so bad we’re not even going to repeat it here.

[Alec] was inspired by Blaupunkt, which is a German manufacturer of electronics who used to make a line of very nice cabinet stereos (examples) which blended furniture and electronics quite exquisitely.

He had recently finished off a rather cool 8-track data backup system, and was left with a spare BSR record player — or as he likes to call it, the “Ford Pinto of record players.” He decided to turn it into something useful by integrating it into a Naugahyde Ottoman that he picked up from a local vintage store. The problem with old furniture like that? No structural elements — it was actually just packed full of shredded wood! He cleaned it all out though and then proceeded to make his own wooden frame to support the BSR — he’s done a great job modifying it to fit, and even hiding all the electronics to make it very presentable.

Now all he needs to do is add a pressure switch in the top so when he kicks back to relax it starts playing some Chopin.

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LEGO Record Player

Some people claim that the sound of vinyl is superior to digital playback. While this hack wont win any awards for audio quality, [Ryan]’s LEGO Record Player is a unique use of one of our favorite toys. Most of the components including the tone arm, counterweight, and base, are built entirely of LEGO. A large gear from an educational construction set is used for the platter. Unfortunately, the rotation isn’t terribly smooth, and the playback is rather distorted.

The turntable uses a standard cartridge and stylus, which should allow it to be connected to any receiver with a phono preamplifier. Using these off the shelf parts, it’s possible to build the mechanical components a turntable out of a variety of things. As the video demonstrates, getting the platter to turn correctly is a bit of a challenge.

Check out a video of the wobbly playback featuring Cindy and Bert after the break.

Via Make

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Zeppelin on the Fisher Price record player now thanks to a 3D printer

[Fred Murphy] went ahead and revised his method of making custom records for a Fisher Price toy record player. He’s now able to 3D print the discs. The toy works much like a music box, with a comb in the “cartridge” of the record player and notches in the record that pluck the fingers of the comb as it turns. He had previously developed a subtractive method that let him mill records out of a solid piece of plastic. But this additive method means less waste.

The music creation portion of the project is the same as the previous version. That’s because it’s pretty hard to outdo the C# software he wrote which serves as a composition studio. The difficulty comes in getting a clean print for the disk. The ridges on the discs are 0.7mm so you’re going to need a well-aligned printer with fine resolution. [Fred] printed in both ABS and what he calls “Vero clear” plastic. The former works but he got better results with the latter.

Exercise bike actuates your download speeds; messes with music playback

We’re not featuring this project because it involves the tiniest exercise bike in the world. It’s on the front page because the speed-control features which this dynamic duo added are hilarious. They call it the Webcycle and it’s actually two hacks in one.

Way back in 2009 [Matt Gray] and [Tom Scott] slapped an Arduino on the bike and used it to measure the revolutions of the cranks (how fast your feet are going in circles). This was hooked up to the laptop which is fastened to the handlebars. This way you can surf the Internet while you work out, but the bandwidth is directly affected by pedal speed. If you want to watch video you’re going to have to sweat…. a lot. Check it out in the clip after the break.

This March they pulled the Webcycle out of storage so that it may ride again. This time it’s connected to the sound system in their exercise room. A record player motor is the victim in this case. You guessed it — pedal speed dictates the rate of the turntable, modulating the pitch drastically. Make sure the boss isn’t around when you watch this clip because it will be hard not to guffaw.

These guys really have fun with this hacks. It was [Tom’s] birthday that prompted that hacktacular mini golf course.

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Resurrecting a Hi-Fi cabinet

[VintagePC] pulled this old stereo out of a barn. It was in pretty shabby shape, but he managed get it running again and make it look great as well.

While it had been protected from the elements, it had not been protected from the rodents. Mice had chewed their way through the fiberboard backing and made a nice home inside. He mentions that they chewed the string which operates the tuning dial, and we’re sure they were the cause of other problems as well. He gives the wise advice of not powering on an old set like this until you have a chance to assess the situation.

The insides of the amplifier were about as disorderly as the last radio repair we looked at. But after carefully working his way through the circuits, replacing capacitors and resistors as needed, he started to make some progress. The receiver coil needed to be rewound and he used wire from an old CRT monitor for this purpose. The loop antenna was remounted and the record player arm was given a new cartridge and balanced using a clever LEGO apparatus. Some veneer work and wood finishing brought the case itself back to its original beauty. We’d say the hard work was well worth it. He’s got a big piece of furniture he can always be proud of!