Vintage Vinyl Laser-Etched On A Tortilla

[UpgradeTech] had a proof-of-concept itch they needed to scratch: making a playable record out of a tortilla using a laser cutter. The idea was spawned from the goofy “tortilla vinyl” YouTube video.

Uncooked flour tortillas were used. Corn tortillas were too lumpy while cooked tortillas shredded on the record player. To get the recording onto the tortilla, Audacity was used to modify a stereo WAV file. Using the RIAA equalization standard is a great choice here as it was originally adopted to prevent excess wear and tear on record grooves as the needle passed through. A Python script generated the files for the laser cutter, creating a text file with the sound data which was then processed into a vector PDF of the grooves. For each record it takes 30 minutes for the laser cutter to turn a simple flour tortilla into the musical variety.

Each tortilla can play 30-40 seconds of music at 45 or 78 RPM, but they start to warp once they dry out. Time to build a humidor around the record player! There is background noise that can make certain songs harder to hear, but there is unarguably audible music. There is plenty of room for optimizing the sound file, grooves, and cutting. We hope this project inspires others to make their own musical tortilla. Playing with your food has taken on a whole new meaning!

39 thoughts on “Vintage Vinyl Laser-Etched On A Tortilla

    1. That’s a spanish tortilla your thinking of, a mexican tortilla is just a thin, flat bread, but if you want to make a record with eggs I’ed suggest you build an Edison recorder and record on the egg shell. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to eat a bean and cheese Los Lobos record.

  1. Don’t tell this the (german) RIAA (equivalent). We pay fees to the music industry for every blank CD-R we buy, if they get to know about this, we’ll have to pay for each Tortilla.

      1. It depends on whether the blank is labeled as “Data” or “Music”. Music blanks are more expensive because they include the RIAA Tax, but their usage is mandated by hardware restriction on certain consumer CD Recorders.

        Check the venerable CD-R FAQ. http://www.cdrfaq.org/faq07.html#S7-17
        “What’s the difference between “data” and “music” blanks?
        “Consumer” stand-alone audio CD recorders require special blanks. See section (5-12) for details. There is no difference in quality or composition between “data” blanks and “music” blanks, except for a flag that indicates which one it is.

        The “music” blanks are more expensive than the “data” blanks because a portion of the price goes to the music industry. The specifics vary from country to country. In the USA, the money goes to the RIAA, which distributes it to artists who have navigated through a complicated application process.”

        1. I’m sure in germany it doesn’t matter if you buy Music or Data. We even pay for HDDs, SD-cards, every storage medium. We pay the Press & Book association for Printers because we can copy books with it…

      2. We pay for everything that can hold data or copyrighted material.
        Even if there is never any music on the cd/dvd/hdd/sdcard/floppydisk/printable paper/… we need to pay for it.

        I guess i pay more money for this than for actual cds from artists that actually might get this money…

        And it is technically illegal to copy anything that has some kind of protection. Well… at least all movies you can buy are protected. But you pay for your right to copy them. But only if you don’t break any protection. pretty stupid.

  2. Are they modulating the lasers intensity or are they drawing a waveform side to side along the curved path? I’m amazed this works. Would never have guessed tortilla could be smooth enough or rigid enough to produce an output like wax. Neat.

  3. No, no, no… The INVERSE RIAA equalization was not adopted to prenent wear and tear excess. Bass frequencies grooves take more room on a record than high frequencies. inverse riaa eq aims to reduce this issue (to prevent the sylus to skate or drop). When the record is done, (regular) riaa eq embeded on record players pcb will bring frequencies to normal. So really nothing related to wear or tear. The only tear I see is the one in my eye reading this riaa definition :-/

  4. https://github.com/kallaballa/sndcut

    amir from metalab.at wrote a very nice piece of software that converts .wav into .svg files for our LASERCUTTER.
    he made records that actually play on a turntable.
    the first test was the imperial march ;) and the record is exhibitet to see and hear at the metalab in vienna now.
    unfortunately i can’t find much documentation on this project for the moment..

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