Record Player Display Sans POV

At first glance we thought this record player had been modified to serve as a persistence of vision device. The device looks very much like an unmodified turntable but it has four tracks worth of display space in it. The messages are actually glowing and don’t depend on a POV effect. Instead, the table has been coated with phosphorescent paint that will glow after being exposed to bright light. The needle has been replaced by a small PCB with downward facing LEDs on it. A microcontroller pulses the lights to expose the paint in patterns that make up the messages. This is the same concept we saw with the Ghost Matrix but this iteration is silent, and the control circuitry is less apparent.

The video after the break is a must-watch. The 60 character long messages are beautiful to watch rotate into the display. Unlike a POV display, ambient light will greatly interfere with the effectiveness of this method. That being said, what a wonderful party decoration this would be if mounted on a wall in a rather dark room.


32 thoughts on “Record Player Display Sans POV

  1. Yes agreed, very cool project, would work particularly well in the northern hemisphere this time of year what with the permanent gloom! Kind of like his gloomy news articles.
    Anybody know of any reliable sources for the phosphorescent he could be using? Might give it a go myself, without a turntable but some other jig, maybe a simple hand-scanner style straight line device!

  2. @Jeff: Spin coat the platters with paint first to get a nice even coat (multiple coats? No idea what it coats like). Could probably add a single LED in place of the head and write the characters one ‘pixel’ at a time.

  3. Wow. That’s sick. Seeing medix’s idea of a single LED and octels idea of a voice coil, I think this would make a sick O-Scope/ visualizer for music if the write head moved side-to-side.

  4. Very nice, and I like the fact that he used gruesome news headlines that are replaced by each other and forgotten as quickly as they scroll on our TV screens …

    As for the paint, you can also buy phosphorescent spray paint in “graffiti” shops, but getting an even application is tricky.

  5. Thinking about it, this is very similar to how the ‘Lightning Screen’ prop worked in the original Frankenstein movies…

    “Another device which employs high voltage and which Strickfaden uses for some of his spectacles is called a “lightning screen.” This is a high-voltage generator which discharges its sparks across a disk with a radioactive backing. When used on a darkened stage, the radioactive material continues to glow along the path of each spark after the current is turned off.”

  6. @mixadj: I’ll do one better.

    I was thinking this over last night and came up with a variation that uses a galvo head to direct a laser (pick the best absorption wavelength for said GITD paint) at a painted screen or backdrop (wall?). Find a way to switch the beam on/off (think acusto-optic cell) and now you’ve got a billboard sized setup. Raster scan, point-by-point, vector writing, etc..

  7. @octel
    Why would it be lost? It’s activated by the light then dims, not sure why that would diminish, you know that’s how CRT’s work only not by light but a more energetic electron hitting it, and CRT’s last a bit, although admittedly the phosphor is in a closed vacuum there.
    I have no real data though, but it seems an odd assumption that it would somehow quickly go to me.

  8. Hey, thank you all guys for your kind words :-)

    You asked for it so maybe I can share some more details with you:

    This is – or better was – a very cheap Turntable we bought around the corner for 10 €. We removed everything not needed i.e. everything that has to do with Audio.
    Then we mounted a servo inside that controls the Arm.
    The rotation is measured with a hall effect sensor.
    Everything is controlled by an Arduino board.
    The RSS-Feeds come in via USB in real time.

    The reason we used that kind of macabre input is the concept behind this thing. It criticises the fact that news today are well oversaturated with death reports. We really think that today macabre news are used to entertain.
    Sad but true. We generate the stream with a Yahoo query asking for words like “death”, “murder”, “desaster” etc. and are receiving about 5 new reports every 30 seconds!!

    But that said, yes we too think it would make a hell of a cool party gadget ;-)

    Read more about it at:


  9. yep that would work.
    also a source of amusement is that the ZnS:Cu paint “quenches” when exposed to red or infrared light.
    cool if you want to wipe before writing, plus it “strobes” nicely.

    and smd uv LEDs can also be used here, i made a pcb using a spare pcb segment from a broken lcd screen and a lot of patience.

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