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.

Continue reading “Brass Plaque Honors Brother”

Is 3D Printing Up To A Turntable?

Thanks to a feature by Prusament┬ábecause it uses their filament, we’ve been interested to read about the SongBird turntable from the British outfit Frame Theory (Note: at time of writing, they have an expired certificate). It’s a commercial product with an interesting twist for the Hi-Fi business: buy the completed turntable or buy a kit of parts and print the rest yourself.

We’re always interested to see new things here at Hackaday but we’re not in the business of promoting commercial products without a tech angle. This turntable has us interested then not because it happens to be 3D printed but because it’s instantly raised our curiosity over how suitable 3D printing is as a medium for a high quality audio component. Without descending into audiophile silliness we cannot overstate the effect that rigidity and mass of turntable components has on its audio quality. Take a look at this one we featured in the past for an extreme example.

So looking more closely at the design, we find that the chassis is aluminium, which makes sense given its visibly thin construction. Close examination of the photos on their site also reveals the tonearm to be made of carbon fibre tube, so it’s clear that they’ve put some effort into making a better turntable rather than a novelty one. This does raise the question though: manufacturing practicalities aside could you 3D print the whole thing? We think that a 3D printed chassis could replace the aluminium one at the cost of much more bulk and loss of the svelte looks, but what about the tonearm? Would one of the carbon-fibre-infused filaments deliver enough stiffness? It would be particularly interesting we think, were someone to try.

Put Another Dime In The Jukebox

We don’t always acknowledge it, but most people have an innate need for music. Think of all the technology that brings us music. For decades, most of the consumer radio spectrum carried music. We went from records, to tape in various forms, to CDs, to pure digital. There are entire satellites that carry — mostly — music. Piracy aside, people are willing to pay for music, too. While it isn’t very common to see “jukeboxes” these days, there was a time when they were staples at any bar or restaurant or even laundrymat you happened to be in. For the cost of a dime, you can hear the music and share it with everyone around you.

Even before we could record music, there was something like a jukebox. Coin-operated machines, as you’ll recall, are actually very old. Prior to the 1890s, you might find coin-op player pianos or music boxes. These machines actually played the music they were set up to play using a paper roll with holes in it or metal disks or cylinders.

Early Days

That changed in 1890 when a pair of inventors connected a coin acceptor to an Edison phonograph. Patrons of San Francisco’s Palais Royale Saloon could put a hard-earned nickel in the slot and sound came out of four different tubes. Keep in mind there were no electronic amplifiers as we know them in 1890. Reportedly, the box earned $1,000 in six months.

Continue reading “Put Another Dime In The Jukebox”

How To Make Laser-cut Decals On The Cheap

Want to make a sweet adhesive decal with a complex design and floating elements, but all you have is a laser cutter and some tape? Good news, because that’s all you need with this method of creating adhesive tape decals on a laser cutter demonstrated by the folks at [Lasers Over Los Angeles]. The overall technique is very similar to creating vinyl decals and using tape transfer to apply them, but is geared towards laser cutters and nice, cheap tape.

This method also makes applying to non-flat surfaces a breeze.

The way it works is this: paper-based tape (such as blue painter’s tape) is laid down in strips on the laser cutter’s honeycomb bed, forming a nice big rectangle big enough for the intended design. Then, the laser cutter cuts vector art into the tape, resulting in an adhesive decal ready to be stuck to some other surface. Transferring is done by using good quality clear packing tape to “pick up” the decal, then move it to where it needs to be.

To do this, one lays strips of packing tape onto the top of the design on the laser bed, then lifts the design up and away. Move the design to its destination (the clear packing tape helps in eyeballing the final position), press the decal onto the final surface, and carefully peel away the clear packing tape. This works because the packing tape sticks only weakly to the back of the painter’s tape; it’s a strong enough bond to hold the decal, but weak enough that the decal will stick to a surface even better.

It’s true that painter’s tape isn’t as durable as vinyl and the color selection is a bit limited, but design-wise one can go as big as the laser bed allows, and the price is certainly right. Plus it’s easily cut by even the most anemic of diode lasers.

Speaking of desktop vinyl cutters, they may have small working areas compared to most laser cutters, but they have some fantastic workshop applications. They can even do home PCB fabrication, by way of knocking out three essential pieces: the etching mask, solder mask, and solder stencil.

A portable Bluetooth turntable.

Bluetooth Record Player Puts A New Spin On Vinyl

You know, we were just discussing weird and/or obsolete audio formats in the writers’ dungeon the other day. (By the way, have you ever bought anything on DAT or MiniDisc?) While vinyl is hardly weird or (nowadays) obsolete, the fact that this Bluetooth record player by [JGJMatt] is so modern makes it all the more fantastic.

Not since the Audio-Technica Sound Burger, or Crosley’s semi-recent imitation, have we seen such a portable unit. But that’s not even the most notable part — this thing runs inversely to normal record players. Translation: the record stands still while the the player spins, and it sends the audio over Bluetooth to headphones or a speaker.

Inside this portable player is an Arduino Nano driving a 5 VDC motor with a worm gear box. There really isn’t too much more to this build — mostly power, a needle cartridge, and a Bluetooth audio transmitter. There’s a TTP223 touch module on the lid that allows [JGJMatt] to turn it off with the wave of a hand.

[JGJMatt] says this is a prototype/work-in-progress, and welcomes input from the community. Right now the drive system is good and the Bluetooth is stable and able, but the tone arm has some room for improvement — in tests, it only played a small section of the record and skidded and skittered across the innermost and outermost parts. Now, [JGJMatt] is trying two-part arm approach where the first bit extends and locks into position, and then a second arm extending from there and moves around freely.

Commercial record players can do more than just play records. If you’ve got an old one that isn’t even good enough for a thrift store copy of a Starship record, you could turn it into a pottery wheel or a guitar tremolo.

Know Audio: Get Into The Groove

The legendary Technics SL1200 direct-drive turntable, as used by countless DJs. Dydric [CC BY-SA 2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.
The legendary Technics SL1200 direct-drive turntable, as used by countless DJs. Photo by Dydric CC-BY-SA 2.5
For me, the vinyl record player is the spiritual home of my audio listening experience, probably because I’m of the last generation to grow up when vinyl was king. The 12″ album, with its full-size sleeve and copious sleeve notes, used to be an integral part of musical enjoyment that hasn’t been adequately replicated in the age of streaming.

And like anyone who became an adult while CD players were still expensive luxury items, I started my journey into Hi-Fi with a turntable set-up that sounded pretty good. Since a new generation have in recent years rediscovered vinyl, it’s once again something that should be part of any review of audio technology.

I would have started this piece with a full run-down of the constituent parts of a good turntable, but since that’s a piece that I wrote back in 2017, it’s time to investigate some of the audiophile claims about vinyl recordings. It’s fair to say that this is an area where a lot of complete rubbish is spouted by people who should know better, and that’s something I find immensely entertaining to poke fun at. Buckle up. Continue reading “Know Audio: Get Into The Groove”

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.

Continue reading “VinyGo Stereo Vinyl Recorder Will Put You In The Groove”