CAD design for a vinyl record cutter.

VinyGo Stereo Vinyl Recorder Will Put You In The Groove

A long time ago, there were these vinyl recording booths. You could go in there and cut a 45PM record as easily as getting a strip of four pictures of yourself in the next booth along the boardwalk. With their 2021 Hackaday Prize entry called VinyGo, [mras2an] seeks to reinvigorate this concept for private use by musicians, artists, or anyone else who has always wanted to cut their own vinyl.

VinyGo is for people looking to make a few dozen copies or fewer. Apparently there’s a polymer shortage right now on top of everything else, and smaller clients are getting the shaft from record-pressing companies. This way, people can cut their own records for about $4 a unit on top of the cost of building VinyGo, which is meant to be both affordable and accessible.

You probably know how a record player works, but how about a record cutter? As [mras2an] explains over on IO, music coming through a pair of speakers vibrates a diamond cutting head, which cuts a groove in the vinyl that’s an exact representation of the music. Once it’s been cut, a regular stylus picks up the groove and plays back the vibrations. Check it out after the break.

[mras2an] plans to enter VinyGo into the Hackaday Prize during the Wildcard round, where anything goes. Does your project defy categorization? Or are you just running a little behind? The Wildcard round runs from Monday, September 27th to Wednesday, October 27th and is your last chance to enter this year’s Prize.

Not your kind of vinyl cutter? We’ve got those, too.

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‘Quiet On The Set’ Goes For Objects, Too

Unless you’re sonically savvy, trying to sleep, or simply on edge, you probably don’t realize just how noisy common items can be. Pretty much everything makes enough racket to ruin a sound man’s day, or at the very least, their chance of picking up the dialogue between two characters. What you need on a set are noiseless but realistic versions of common noisemakers like paper bags, ice cubes, and to a lesser extent, billiard balls.

If you’ve spent any time at all on Reddit, you’ve probably seen frustratingly short GIFs of [Tim Schultz] quickly explaining how this or that noiseless prop is made. Embedded below is a compendium of prop hacks with more information worked in along the way. Talk about dream job! Problem solving and then hacking together a solution for a living sounds terrifying and delightful all at once.

Speaking of terrifying and delightful hacks, there’s still plenty of time to enter our Halloween Hackfest contest, which runs through Monday, October 11th. Halloween is the best time to go all out, so show us what you can do!

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From Printer To Vinyl Cutter

Some might look at a cheap inkjet printer and see a clunky device that costs more to replace the ink than to buy a new one. [Abhishek Verma] saw an old inkjet printer and instead saw a smooth gantry and feed mechanism, the perfect platform to build his own DIY vinyl cutter.

The printer was carefully disassembled. The feed mechanism was reworked to be driven by a stepper motor with some 3D printed adapter plates. A solenoid-based push/pull mechanism for the cutting blade was added with a 3D printed housing along with a relay module. An Arduino Uno takes in commands from a computer with the help of a CNC GRBL shield.

What we love about this build is the ingenuity and reuse of parts inside the old printer. For example, the old PCB was cut and connectors were re-used. From the outside, it’s hard to believe that HP didn’t manufacture this as a vinyl cutter.

If you don’t have a printer on hand, you can always use your CNC as a vinyl cutter. But if you don’t have a CNC, [Abhishek] shares all the STL files for his cutter as well as the schematic. Video after the break.

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Booting A PC From Vinyl For A Warmer, Richer OS

If you’ve scrolled through the list of boot options offered on any PC’s BIOS, it reads like a history of storage technology. Up top we have the options to boot from disk, often a solid-state drive, then USB disk, optical drive, removable media, and down the bottom there’s usually an option to boot from the network. Practically no BIOS, however, has an option to boot a PC from a vinyl record — at least until now.

Clearly a project from the “Because why not?” school of hacking, [Jozef Bogin] came up with the twist to the normal booting process for an IBM-PC. As in the IBM-PC — a model 5150, with the putty-colored case, dual 5-1/4″ floppies, and one of those amazing monochrome displays with the green slow-decay phosphors. To pull off the trick, [Jozef] leverages the rarely used and little known cassette tape interface that PCs had back in the early days. This required building a new bootloader and burning it to ROM to make the PC listen to audio signals with its 8255 programmable peripheral interface chip.

Once the PC had the right bootloader, a 64k FreeDOS bootable disk image was recorded on vinyl. [Jozef] provides infuriatingly little detail about the process other than to mention that the audio was sent directly to the vinyl lathe; we’d have loved to learn more about that. Nonetheless, the resulting 10″ record, played back at 45 RPM with some equalization tweaks to adapt for the RIAA equalization curve of the preamp, boots the PC into FreeDOS just fine, probably in no more time than it would have taken to boot from floppy.

It’s may not be the first time we’ve seen software on vinyl, but it’s still a pretty cool hack. Want to try it yourself but lack a record-cutting lathe? Maybe laser-cutting your boot disc will work.

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Homebrew Slide Rule Gets Back To Mathematical Basics

In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t all that long ago that a slide rule was part of an engineer’s every day equipment. Long before electronic calculators came along, a couple of sticks of wood inscribed with accurate scales was all it took to do everything from simple multiplication to logarithms and trig functions.

While finding a slide rule these days isn’t impossible, it’s still not exactly easy, and buying one off the shelf isn’t as fun or as instructive as building one yourself. [JavierL90]’s slide rule build started, ironically enough, on the computer, with a Python program designed to graphically plot the various scales needed for the fixed sections of the slide rules (the “stators”) and the moving bit (the “slide”).  His first throught was to laser-engrave the scales, but the route of printing them onto self-adhesive vinyl stock proved to be easier.

With the scale squared away, work turned to the mechanism itself. He chose walnut for the wood, aluminum for the brackets, and a 3D-printed frame holding a thin acrylic window for the sliding cursor. The woodworking is simple but well-done, as is the metalwork. We especially like the method used to create the cursor line — a simple line scored into the acrylic with a razor, which was then filled with red inks. The assembled slide rule is a thing of beauty, looking for all the world like a commercial model, especially when decked out with its custom faux leather carry case.

We have to admit that the use of a slide rule is a life skill that passed us by, but seeing this puts us in the mood for another try. We might have to start really, really simple and work up from there.

Magic Record Stand Can Play Your Records For You

Vinyl remains a popular format, despite taking a huge hit in popularity for a couple decades while CDs ruled the roost. It has a charm that keeps it relevant, and likely will continue to do so until everyone who grew up with a record player dies out. In the meantime, [sp_cecamp] has come up with a great way to experience your collection, with the magic of modern technology. It goes by the name of Plynth.

Fundamentally, it’s a small record stand with an excellent party trick. The prototype consists of a 3D-printed body, which holds a record sleeve at an attractive angle for display. A camera built into the base then images the artwork. The first image taken is run through the Google Vision API, and further images are then run through OpenCV to identify the record. This data is then passed to the Spotify API to play the track. The whole process takes a couple of seconds, and the music is then pumped out of whatever streaming device is connected to the rig.

It’s a fun way to play your old records, and would be a welcome change to those tired of screaming at Siri to play Weezer (Blue Album), not Weezer (Green Album). For those interested, [sp_cecamp] has thrown up a site to gauge interest in the project, and may make a limited production run in future.

Of course, you could instead just go about building your own turntable. To each their own!

Clever Approach To Stylus Alignment

Digitally stored music is just data. But not long ago, music was analog and required machines with moving parts. If you have never owned a record player, you at least know what they look like, now that there’s a(nother) vinyl revival. What you may not be aware of is that the player’s stylus needs to be aligned. It makes sense, that hypersensitive needle can’t be expected to perform well if it’s tearing across a record like a drift racer.

There are professional tools for ensuring alignment, but it’s not something you’ll need each day. [Ali Naci Erdem] shows us his trick for combining a printable template with a mirror to get the same results without the professional tool costs. Instead of ordinary printer paper, he prints the template on a piece of clear plastic and lays it across a small mirror. These are both items which can be picked up at a hobby store, which is not something we can say about a record player mirror protractor.

We love music hacks like this informative introduction to circuit bending, the wonderful [Martin] from Wintergatan, or if you want to get weird, an organ made from Furbies.