Falling Down The Labyrinth With Wooden Microphone Design

It used to be that when we featured one of [Frank Olson]’s DIY ribbon microphone builds, it was natural to focus on the fact that he was building them almost exclusively from wood. But despite how counterintuitive it may seem, and for as many comments as we get that his microphones shouldn’t work without metal in the ribbon motors, microphones like this wooden RCA Model 77 reproduction both look and sound great.

But ironically, this homage features a critical piece that’s actually not made of wood. The 77’s pickup pattern was cardioid, making for a directional mic that picked up sound best from the front, thanks to an acoustic labyrinth that increased the path length for incoming sound waves. [Frank]’s labyrinth was made from epoxy resin poured into a mold made from heavy paper, creating a cylinder with multiple parallel tunnels. The tops and bottoms of adjacent tunnels were connected together, creating an acoustic path over a meter long. The ribbon motor, as close to a duplicate of the original as possible using wood, sits atop the labyrinth block’s output underneath a wood veneer shell that does its best to imitate the classic pill-shaped windscreen of the original. The video below, which of course was narrated using the mic, shows its construction in detail.

If you want to check out [Frank]’s other wooden microphones, and you should, check out the beautiful Model 44 replica that looks ready for [Sinatra], or the Bk-5-like mics he whipped up for drum kit recording.

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Printable Fix For Time Card Clock Has Owner Seeing Red Again

When [Morley Kert] laid eyes on a working time card-punching clock, he knew he had to have it for a still-secret upcoming project. The clock seemed to work fine, except that after a dozen or so test punches, the ink was rapidly fading away into illegibility. After a brief teardown and inspection, [Morley] determined that the ribbon simply wasn’t advancing as it should.

This clock uses a ribbon cassette akin to a modern typewriter, except that instead of a feed spool and a take-up spool, it has a short length of ribbon that goes around and around, getting re-inked once per revolution.

When a card is inserted, a number of things happen: a new hole is punched on the left side, and an arm pushes the card against the ribbon, which is in turn pushed against the mechanical digit dials of the clock to stamp the card.

Finally, the ribbon gets advanced. Or it’s supposed to, anyway. [Morley] could easily see the shadow of a piece that was no longer there, a round piece with teeth with a protrusion on both faces for engaging both the time clock itself and the ribbon cassette. A simple little gear.

After emailing the company, it turns out they want $95 + tax to replace the part. [Morley] just laughed and fired up Fusion 360, having only caliper measurements and three seconds of a teardown video showing the missing part to go on. But he pulled it off, and pretty quickly, too. Version one had its problems, but 2.0 was a perfect fit, and the clock is punching evenly again. Be sure to check it out after the break.

Okay, so maybe you don’t have a time card clock to fix. But surely you’ve had to throw out an otherwise perfectly good coat because the zipper broke?

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A New Wrinkle On Wooden Ribbon Microphones

Not too many people build their own microphones, and those who do usually build them out of materials like plastic and metal. [Frank Olson] not only loves to make microphones, but he’s also got a thing about making them from wood, with some pretty stunning results.

[Frank]’s latest build is a sorta-kinda replica of the RCA BK-5, a classic of mid-century design. Both the original and [Frank]’s homage are ribbon microphones, in which a thin strip of corrugated metal suspended between the poles of magnets acts as a transducer. But the similarities end there, as [Frank] uses stacked layers of walnut veneer as the frame of his ribbon motor. The wood pieces are cut with a vinyl cutter, stacked up, and glued into a monolithic structure using lots of cyanoacrylate glue. The video below makes it seem easy, but we can imagine getting everything stacked neatly and lined up correctly is a chore, especially when dealing with neodymium magnets. Cutting and corrugating the aluminum foil ribbon is no mean feat either, nor is properly tensioning it and making a solid electrical contact.

The ribbon motor is suspended in a case made of yet more wood, all of which contributes to a warm, rich sound. The voice-over for the whole video below was recorded on a pair of these mics, and we think it sounds just as good as [Frank]’s earlier wooden Model 44 build. He says he has more designs in the works, and we’re looking forward to hearing them, too. Continue reading “A New Wrinkle On Wooden Ribbon Microphones”

The hairclip-embedded tool being used on a Tiger 99x game console, clipped onto a spot where the plastic ribbon meets the LCD panel itself, heating it up

World’s Smallest Hair Straightener For Fixing Old LCD Ribbons

[Stephen] writes to us about an LCD repair tool he has created. We’ve all seen old devices with monochrome LCDs connected by thin film, where connections between the PCB and the LCD have deteriorated and the LCD would no longer show parts of the picture. This is a connection heating gadget, that [Stephen] affectionately dubs as World’s Smallest Hair Straightener, made specifically to bring cool old tech back to life.

A resin-printed mold houses a coil of Kanthal wire, easy to source and simple to make. He reuses a hair clip as a housing for the heating element, which also provides pressure needed to squish the film-printed conductive traces into the LCD as the adhesive melts. High-temperature epoxy brings the two together, and with a variable power supply, this tool successfully brought an old Tiger 99x handheld back to life.

This hack was made possible, in part, because of [JohnDevin Duncan] in Hackaday comment section sharing his experience on repairing LCD ribbons back in 2015, giving valuable insights on the problem that we initially thought would be solve-able with a soldering iron. The knowledge shared was distilled by [Stephen] into a tool that we all can now use when we encounter a device we really, really want to revive.

Last time we covered this topic, quite a few hackers popped up with their stories and suggestions. Old game console fix stories are a staple here on Hackaday, a few pop to mind – this high-effort trace repair of a water-damaged GameBoy cartridge, a badly designed NES cartridge socket reinvention, and this GameBoy LCD sunburn damage restoration guide.

Wood Enclosure Lends Warmth To This DIY Ribbon Microphone

We love it when someone takes an idea they’ve seen on Hackaday and runs with it, taking it in a new and different direction. That’s pretty much what we’re here for, after all, and it’s pretty gratifying to see projects like this wooden ribbon microphone come to life.

Now, we’re not completely sure that [Maya Rom├ín] was inspired by our coverage of [Frank Olson]’s homage to the RCA Model 44 studio mic rendered in walnut veneer, but we’re going to pat ourselves on the back here anyway. The interesting thing with [Maya]’s build is that she chose completely different materials and design styles for her project. Where [Frank] built as much of his mic from wood as possible, [Maya] was fine with a mixed media approach — CNC-milled plywood for the case and stand, laser-cut acrylic for the ribbon motor frame, and 3D-printed pieces here and there as needed. The woven brass cloth used as a windscreen is a nice detail; while the whole thing looks — and sounds — great, we think it would be even better with a coat of dark stain to contrast against the brass, as well as a nice glossy coat of polyurethane.

The video below shows the whole design and build process, which was a final project for [Maya]’s audio production class this semester at college. Here’s hoping that it got as good a grade as we would give it.

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Wooden You Love To Build A Ribbon Microphone?

Carbohydrate foams derived from dead trees are not the first material that springs to mind when considering building audio equipment. But really, there’s no reason not to explore new materials for jobs normally reserved for metal or plastic, and when pulled off right, as with this wooden ribbon microphone, the results can both look and sound great.

To be fair, there are plenty of non-wood components in [Frank Olson]’s replica of a classic RCA model 44 microphone. After all, it’s hard to get wood to exhibit the electromagnetic properties needed to turn acoustic energy into electric currents. But that doesn’t mean that wood, specifically walnut veneer, isn’t front and center in this design. [Frank] worked with thin sheets of veneer; cut into shape with a commercial vinyl cutter and stacked up with alternating grains, the wood was glued up with copious cyanoacrylate adhesive to form a plywood of sorts. The dogbone-shaped body was fitted with two neodymium magnets, leaving a gap just wide enough for the microphone’s ribbon diaphragm. That was made from a thin piece of aluminum foil that was corrugated using a DIY crimp roller. Suspended between the magnets and connected to leads, the mic element was adorned with a wood and fabric windscreen and suspended from elastic bands in a temporary frame for testing. The narration on the video below was recorded with the mic, which sounds quite nice to our ears.

We’ve seen ribbon microphones before, as well as wooden microphones, but this is the first time we’ve seen a wooden ribbon microphone. It looks as though [Frank] has more work he wants to do to finish it off properly, and we eagerly await the finished product.

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Hot Wire Ribbon Cutter Ceremoniously Heats Up Productivity

Anyone who’s ever cut ribbon, grosgrain or otherwise, may be dismayed by the frayed edge. There are methods of avoiding this, like cutting the ribbon diagonally, or double-diagonally into a forked point, or cutting it straight across and cauterizing the threads with a lighter. But if you have a thirteen dozen baker’s dozens’ worth of goodies to festoon, ain’t nobody got time for that.

[IgorM92] made this hot wire ribbon cutter for his wife, who has a yummy-looking baking business. It combines the cutting and the heat-sealing into a single step by using the heating element from an old soldering iron. If you don’t have one of those, you could just as easily use the nichrome wire from an old hair dryer, a toaster, or wire-wound resistor.

Since the idea is essentially shorting a power source to heat up a wire, it should be done safely. [IgorM92] used a phone charger to condition mains power down to 5 V. There isn’t much else to the circuit, just a rocker switch, a power-indicating LED, and its resistor, but this simple project will no doubt save a lot of time and labor. Burn past the break to watch it ramp up production.

Nichrome wire is good for cutting foam, too. Here’s a bare-bones version that can be made in minutes.

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