Disk-O-Mat: A Photobooth For Records


A photo booth is a simple concept – drop in a coin and get a few pictures in a couple of minutes. That’s only a visual record, though. What if you wanted to record audio? Thus the disk-o-mat was born.

The disk-o-mat is one of [flo]’s projects. In place of the miniaturized dark room found in a photo booth, [flo] put a record cutting setup. The 7″ records are polycarbonate sheets, each transferred to the turntable by a vacuum gripper. When the plastic disk is loaded, a stylus is set down on the disk and the record light goes on.

There isn’t a computer or any other digital means of saving audio and playing it back later. Everything is done just as how 45s – or more specifically, really old 78s – were cut; whatever goes into the microphone is cut directly into plastic.

The disk-o-mat was originally built in 2009, and has traveled to a few venues. [flo] is working on speeding up the process and making the machine a bit more reliable. Still, an awesome build and an awesome concept.

Videos below.


15 thoughts on “Disk-O-Mat: A Photobooth For Records

    1. thanks for the link. i collect those records too.
      and yes they where around. but i think the last ones where out in the 60ies. i wish i could go out and use one. this is why i made one myself.
      and i collect peoples stories about those machines as sound files and i once want to press a record with it. so if you ever used one back in the day would be great to send me an mp3 or any other recording telling the story in 1-2 minutes.
      thanks flo

  1. These machines were often found on piers at seaside resorts in the UK in the 1940s (cutting 78s) – for example one forms a very important part of the plot in the classic book and film, ‘Brighton Rock’.

  2. Wish I could find one around here. I want to create a recording of my parents and my voice that can be played back in 50-100 years by my great great grand children and nothing digital will last that long or even be playable then good old grooves in plastic will as you can build a simple player to pack with the record in the time capsule.

      1. The magnetic discs would probably survive, but a standard hard drive stores some essential data on a flash chip meaning it will die when the flash does.

        There is also the question of interface. Look back at what was used before PATA (40 pin IDE) drives, could you find hardware today to extract that data and move it to a modern system without extensive research and going through several formats? Would those old machines still boot up without a lot of work?

        Using contemporary media and simply transferring the data every time a new storage technology takes over is probably the most viable means of saving data for 100 years.

        1. You could theoretically include a simply flash player in a capsule, and use some sort of long lasting powersource to every 5 to 10 years rewrite a flash storage medium to make sure it does not degrade. That should last at least 50 years surely.

    1. There was a time when there was a whole range of movies about bands starting out by going to a kiosk and making a demo like this.
      And I would not wonder a few did start like that in real life.

  3. Does anyone remember the portable
    cutters ?
    I think another family member still has
    several of those old green(?) discs
    that were made on one.
    I actually came across a portable unit
    about 15 years ago, but it was pretty well trashed
    So very reluctantly I ended up
    getting rid of it.
    I got to see some interesting stuff
    through a good friend who was an architectural salvage owner.
    ….If only I’d have had access to Hackaday through about 20~12 years ago.

  4. Great projects Flo, keep up the good work!
    Check out Jack White’s Record Booth – http://youtu.be/vlFysAciLrU , really nice experience, may give you some ideas.
    I’m also obsessed with vintage tech and public installation.
    I’ve made multiple iterations of Rotobooth, a rotary dial photobooth, and have plans to branch out and make new experiences for public settings.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.