Swapping Vinyl For Cardboard With This ESP32 Turntable

Cardboard is a surprisingly durable material, especially in its corrugated form. It’s extremely lightweight for its strength, is easy to work, can be folded and formed into almost any shape, is incredibly inexpensive, and when it has done its duty it can be recycled back into more paper. For these reasons, it’s often used in packaging material but it can be used to build all kinds of things outside of ensuring that products arrive at their locations safely. This working cardboard record player is one example.

While the turntable doesn’t have working records in the sense that the music is etched into them like vinyl, each has its own RFID chip embedded that allows the ESP32 in the turntable’s body to identify them. Each record corresponds to a song stored on an SD card that instructs the ESP32 to play the appropriate song. It also takes care of spinning the record itself with a small stepper motor. There are a few other details on this build that tie it together too, including a movable needle arm held on with a magnet and a volume slider.

As far as a building material goes, cardboard is fairly underrated in our opinion. Besides small projects like this turntable, we’ve also seen it work as the foundation for a computer, and it even has the strength and durability to be built into a wall or even used as shelving material. And, of course, it’s a great material to use when prototyping new designs.

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Documenting Real Hidden Messages In Music

During the 1980s, a moral panic swept across the landscape with the mistaken belief that there were Satanic messages hidden in various games, books, and music that at any moment would corrupt the youth of the era and destroy society as we knew it. While completely unfounded, it turns out that there actually were some hidden messages in vinyl records of the time although they’d corrupt children in a different way, largely by getting them interested in computer science. [Dandu] has taken to collecting these historic artifacts, preserving the music and the software on various hidden recordings.

While it was possible to record only programs or other data to vinyl, much in the same way that cassette tapes can be used as a storage medium, [Dandu]’s research focuses mostly on records, tapes, and CDs which had data included alongside music. This includes not only messages or images, but often entire computer programs. In some cases these programs were meant to be used with the accompanying music, as was the case for The Other Side Of Heaven by Kissing The Pink with a program for the BBC Micro. Plenty of other contemporary machines are represented here too including the ZX Spectrum, Atari, Apple II, and the Commodore 64. The documentation extends through the CD era and even into modern music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

The process of extraction and recovery is detailed for each discovery, making it a comprehensive resource for retro computing enthusiasts stretching from the 80s to now. There are likely a few hidden pieces of data out there hidden in various antique storage media that [Dandu] hasn’t found yet, either. You could even make your own records with hidden programs provided you have some musical and programming talents, and a laser engraver for the record itself.

Stream Vinyl To Your Sonos Without The Financial Penalty

One of the unexpected success stories in the world of hi-fi over the past decade has been the resurgence of the vinyl LP as a musical format. What was once old hat is now cool again, but for freshy minted vinyl fans there’s a snag. Hi-fi itself has moved on from the analogue into the digital, so what can be done if your listening comes through a Sonos system. Sonos will sell you a box to do that of course, but it’s as overpriced as 2023-pressing vinyl. [Max Fischer] has a far better solution, in the form of a Raspberry Pi loaded with open source software.

At the vinyl end is a Behringer audio interface containing a pre-amp with the required RIAA response curve. This acts as the source for the DarkIce audio streamer and the IceCast2 media serer, all of which even with the cost of a Pi and the interface, is considerably less than the commercial device.

We’re guessing that a more humble interface coupled to an older RIAA pre-amp could cut the cost further, and we’d be hugely curious as to whether a simple mic pre-amp could be used alongside some DSP from the likes of Gnu Radio to give the RIAA response.

Either way, he’s made a handy device for any 21st-century vinyl fan. Meanwhile if you’re one of the streaming generation seduced by round plastic discs, we’ve gone into some detail about their audiophile credentials in the past. And if you have found yourself a turntable, of course you’ll need to know how to set it up properly.

Vinyl Sales Ran Circles Around CDs In 2022

How do you take your music these days? For those in Camp Tangible, it seems our ranks are certainly growing, and in the analog direction. For the first time since 1987, vinyl record sales have outperformed CD sales in the US, according to a new report. The CD, which saved us all from the cassette, was a digital revolution in music. But for some, the love was lost somewhere among the ones and zeroes.

Those who prefer pure analog troughs of sound cut into wax have never given up on vinyl, and the real ones probably gobbled up a bunch of it in the 90s when everybody was CD-crazy. But mind you these aren’t used vinyl sales we’re talking about, which means that enough new vinyl has to have been readily available for purchase for quite some time now. Although it doesn’t really seem like that long, new vinyl’s been back for almost 20 years — and according to the report, 2022 was the 16th consecutive year of growth for record sales.

So Why Vinyl?

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, but there was a time in my 1980s childhood when vinyl was all this scribe had to listen to. I have historically been a bit slow to adopt new music formats — I didn’t have a CD player until 1998, and it was given to me for my birthday. I was excited to get the thing, mind you, especially since it had 10 seconds of anti-skip protection (which of course was a huge concern with portable CD players).

But CDs are way different from records. Sure, they’re both round, but the similarities sort of end there. For one thing, the artwork is disappointingly small compared to vinyl. And the whole gatefold album cover thing isn’t really possible with a CD, unless you forego the jewel case and release it in a chintzy little cardboard jacket. But then people will have this one disc that’s four times thinner than the rest and it throws everything off in the collection.

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I’ve Got Two Turntables And A Laser Engraver

Digital media provides us with a lot of advantages. For something like recording and playing back music, digital copies don’t degrade, they can have arbitrarily high quality, and they can be played in a number of different ways including through digital streaming services. That being said, a number of people don’t feel like the digital experience is as faithful to the original sound as it could be and opt for analog methods instead. Creating analog copies of music is a much tougher matter though, as [Marco] demonstrates by using a laser engraver to produce vinyl records.

[Marco] started this month-long project by assembling and calibrating the laser engraver. It has fine enough resolution to encode analog data onto a piece of vinyl, but he had to create the software. The first step was to generate the audio sample, then process it through a filter to remove some of the unwanted frequencies. From there, the waveform gets made into a spiral, accounting for the changing speed of the needle on the record as it moves to the center. Then the data is finally ready to be sent to the laser engraver.

[Marco] did practice a few times using wood with excellent success before moving on to vinyl, and after some calibration of the laser engraver he has a nearly flawless 45 rpm record ready to hit the turntable. It’s an excellent watch if not for anything than seeing a working wood record. We’ve actually seen a similar project before (without the wood prototyping), and one to play records from an image, but it’s been quite a while.

Thanks to [ZioTibia81] for the tip!

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A hand holding a paper cup pours orange resin into a mold. There are several different colors in a spiral inside a circular mold on a circular platform with holes around its perimeter sitting on a wooden table.

Reproducing Vinyl Records In Resin

While most are just plain, vinyl records can be found in a variety of colors, shapes, and some even glow in the dark. [Evan and Katelyn] decided to spruce up a plain old record by replicating it in bright, glow-in-the-dark resin.

By first making a silicone mold of the vinyl record and then pouring several different colors of resin into the resulting mold, [Evan and Katelyn] were able to make a groovy-looking record that still retained the texture necessary to transmit the original sounds of the record. The resulting piece has some static, but the music is still identifiable. That said, audiophiles would probably prefer to leave this up on the wall instead of in their phonograph.

Acrylic rings were laser cut and bolted together to build the form for the silicone mold with the original record placed at the bottom. To prevent bubbles, the silicone was degassed in a vacuum chamber before pouring over the record and the resin was cured in a pressure pot after pouring into the resulting mold.

If you’re interested in how records were originally made, check out this installment of Retrotechtacular. A more practical application of resin might be this technique to reproduce vintage plastic parts.

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Brass Plaque Honors Brother

Brass plaques are eye-catching because no one makes them on a whim. They are more costly than wood or plastic, and processing them is proportionally difficult. [Becky Stern] picked the medium to honor her brother, who enjoyed coffee, motorcycles, and making things by hand. She made some playing card-sized pieces to adorn his favorite brand of hot bean juice and a large one to hang at his memorial site.

The primary components are a vertical salt water bath, DC power supply, metal to etch, scrap steel approximately the same size, and a water agitator, which in this case is an air pump and diffuser stone. You could stir manually for two hours and binge your shows but trust us and take the easy route. The video doesn’t explicitly call for flexible wires, but [Becky] wisely selected some high-strand hook-up leads, which will cause fewer headaches as stiff copper has a mind of its own, and you don’t want the two sides colliding.

There are a couple of ways to transfer an insulating mask to metal, and we see the ole’ magazine paper method fail in the video, but cutting vinyl works a treat. You may prefer lasers or resin printers, and that’s all right too. Once your mask is sorted, connect the positive lead to the brass and the negative to your steel. Now, it’s into the agitated salt water bath, apply direct current, and allow electricity to immortalize your design.

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