3D printing records for a Fisher Price toy record player

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Picture of 3D printing records for a Fisher Price toy record player

A little while ago I stumbled across an old toy record player made by Fisher Price in the 1970s, and decided that what it really needed was some new tunes. I got thinking about it, reverse engineered the way it was encoded, got out my trusty CNC mill and created an Instructable all about it right here.

I was blown away by the response to it, but I only know of one person who had a goat milling their own. Whilst the mill did a great job (and I explained how to convert your own too), a CNC mill is not the sort of thing that everyone has access too.

So as promised, I decided that a 3D printed version would follow to give more people a chance to get creative. More people have a 3D printer or have access to one. And even if you don't, once you have the STL file there are plenty of places that will bring your creation to life and mail you a physical copy.

I thought about just adding to my previous Instructable, but to be honest it's only the music editing side of things that's the same. Everything else from the file creation to the production is very different. I thought a new Instructable would be neater.

Anyway, let's get on with creating your masterpiece...

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Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of What you'll need

For my previous Instructable you needed a CNC mill and some acrylic sheet. Now all you need is some free software. If you have a 3D printer then great; if not, you can get still get a record created for you.

Attached you'll find the new version of my Fisher Price music editing software. It's included as an executable and (if you don't trust randomly downloaded software from the internet) the C# source code is there too. Feel free to take a nose around in the source code and compile it with the free version of Visual C# 2010 Express.

You'll also need a copy of OpenSCAD. This amazing software allows the scripting of 3D CAD objects and is what turns the idea of what you want into the STL file that a 3D printer accepts.

Wow - all this software and no need to pay a penny for any of it.

If this all sounds like too much trouble, then you can just open one of the pre-generated STL files. Your jukebox comprises of Stairway to Heaven, the Star Wars theme and You are my Sunshine. If none of those float your boat then don't complain... get editing. I'd love to hear what you can do.

Step 2: Editing the music

Picture of Editing the music
IDE scad options.png

First fire up my music editing software. This software will let you edit your tune and preview it so see how it sounds before you print it.

The software is admittedly pretty basic. It's not exactly sophisticated musical software but the player is not exactly hifi equipment. It does the job and I hope you'll find it easy to use.

Click where you want to add a note and click again to remove it. Click on the blue + if you want to add a gap. Click on the red X if you want to delete some notes and shuffle everything up. Click the Play button to preview your tune.

The left hand side of the musical stave shows all the note that the player can play. You'll find they are most of the notes from a C major scale and cover about 2 octaves. There are no sharps of flats and a few notes are missing. I guess that's because the original 10 nursery rhymes it can play just didn't need them.

Once you've finished your masterpiece (or more likely transposed someone else's tune) it's time to create the physical product. Click "Build / Create SCAD file..." in the editing software. (There's also the option of gcode files if you were going to CNC mill the disc.) A file with the same name as your music file and an extension of scad will be the result.

You can now create double sided discs! When creating the SCAD file you'll get the following options:

  • Disc thickness. You can create 3mm or 5mm discs
  • Single or double sided. Double sided discs should be 5mm thick. You can also select the music for the second side
  • Song title on the disc. You can now have the song title embossed on the disc surface.
  • Render quality. If your mucking around and making changes, a lower quality cirlce will render quicker.

Of course, all the options are easily found in the SCAD file which is plain text. If you want to create a chunky 2cm thick disc then go ahead and edit the file.

Step 3: Using OpenSCAD to generate the STL file

Picture of Using OpenSCAD to generate the STL file

The next step is simple, but can take a while.

The Fisher Price editing software has dynamically created the scad file which contains all the 3D modelling instructions needed to create your record. If you've not yet installed OpenSCAD then now is the time to do so.

Open the file and all you'll see is the generated script in a window on the left hand side. Press F6 and your script will be run and a 3D rendering will appear. The file is set to use 100 straight lines to create each circle. This means that the circles will be smooth but the rendering may take over 10 minutes. If you're mucking around and are less concerned about accurancy and would rather have some speed, simply remove or comment out the line that says "$fn = 100;". If you think that's slow, a double-sided disc can take about 50 minutes to generate!

You can now see how your disc will look. Spin it. Flip it over. Zoom in/out. Your musicis on its way to becoming a physical product. The next step is to select "Design / Export as STL..." from the menu and OpenSCAD will create a STL file. This won't take as long as the calculations have already been done. This file is what your 3D printer will be expecting.

Step 4: Printing your work

Picture of Printing your work
Shapeways preview.jpg

So, what are you going to do with this STL file? If you have (or have access to) a 3D printer that can manage a print of about 12.1cm (about 4.8") in diameter then get printing!

If you don't, then there are plenty of places that will print this for you. One of the most popular is Shapeways. They'll produce a 3D print for you in various materials from about $30. In fact, you'll find mine are already there:

Obviously the final result will depend on what printer you use. The ones that were produced on the Objet printer that Instructables use have turned out great. In the photo you can see four discs. The purple is a Fisher Price original and the orange one my CNC milled version. The other discs are 3D printed in green ABS-like material and transparent "Vero clear" plastic. The both play well on the player, although the Vero clear has sharper definition than the ABS and the transparent disc definitely looks the best.

A few people have asked to see a video of the printed record playing, so here's the final result.

If you check the comments you'll see that Timmmyboy has has some success printing on a more typical home (Fused Deposition Modelling style) printer, but getting the very thin (0.7mm) ridges on the disc is not easy.

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kbeard113 days ago

I might have missed it (reading while I'm trying to entertain a toddler), but I can't find the STL files for your discs anywhere? I downloaded the zip file & found the source stuff, and also checked the shapeways page, but couldn't download from there either (page not found error). Hoping to avoid having to reinvent the wheel! Thanks!

UpgradeTech21 days ago

Looks like Fisher Price re-released a new version of the record player.

Unfortunately judging by the reviews, they completely removed the mechanical music box aspect and replaced it with electronically generated music.

The ridges on the records are completely smooth without tines or bumps. Looks like the number of grooves match up and depress a number of buttons in the headshell that tell the microchip what to play.

It looks like it's possible to reprogram or gut the electronics to get the record player to do custom songs, but it's no longer physically intuitive.

posty13 months ago

Could you perhaps post the "old" broken for some people version - as I cannot get the 'second side' prompt as seen on the next page to prompt at all, it just creates the scad file immediately.

fred27 (author)  posty12 months ago

Sorry posty1 - I just realised what was wrong. I'd updated the source code in the ZIP file but hadn't updated the pre-compiled executable. Please try again and it should allow you to create a double-sided record correctly.

posty13 months ago

I managed to print out a test one, but I think I've somehow screwed up the second side (I want them to be double sided - I've done enough to replace the default set as a christmas present).

even though my printout was faulty (first thing I've ever done, had to shrink by 1% to get it to fit on the platform, warped a bit,).

The auto generated version works (just, in the right state on the player, it's tight) - but getting the second side to work, I think I've screwed up something.

All I did was take the example star wars / stairway example and paste in the auto generated notes into relevant sections.

the second side I think is somehow an "inverse" version of my song? it sounds nothing like it.

was there anything special you had to do to make the second side work?

I would appreciate some further detail on how to create the second side please - as a single sided record is a bit weird.

Image attached just to prove I did it :)

Photo on 22-12-2014 at 1.12 pm.jpg
posty1 posty13 months ago

please note - I don't actually get the prompt as pictured above where i can choose if i can generate a single side or double - I tried doing it manually.

novelchip6 months ago

cool !

fred27 (author) 7 months ago

I finally found the time to upload v2.2. I hope this has fixed the issues that some people had. Sorry it took so long.

twigley fred277 months ago

Great, look forward to trying it. I have already transposed Paint it Black.

twigley8 months ago

Hi, I'm having a similar problem to yodle below, I've attached a screen shot of the error message when I try to create the SCAD file. I get this with music I have created too.

Great project though, I am very much looking forward to making my own record.

Fisher price screen shot.jpg
fred27 (author)  twigley7 months ago

I hope that version 2.2 has fixed this problem. Thanks for your patience.

yodle1210 months ago

Hi. This is fantastic, and so much fun!

I am having a bit of trouble generating the scad file though. When I select build-generate sccad, I get an error message complaining about the file path. I've tried editing the software, but not being much of a programmer, have had no luck.

I also have trouble converting the .scad file into a .stl file using open scad. I find that even when I use the example files (stairway to heaven for example) openscad is unable to compile or render them, because it can't find the required libraries.

If you have any ideas I'd really appreciate hearing them.I'm sorry that I haven't been able to figure it out myself. It is a really slick system you made, and I feel like I should be able to sort it out.


fred27 (author)  yodle1210 months ago

Thanks for your comments. Someone else mentioned similar problems. I'll take a look when I get a chance.

In the meantime, the scad file is just text, so you can edit that directly. It probably can't find a file called write.scad so you could just remove the line that references that.

yodle12 fred279 months ago
Good call. That seems to solve the compile/render problem. It's (slowly) rendering right now.Thanks!I'll keep playing with your software and see if I can find out how why I couldn't generate the scad file.
Thanks Fred!! The file is on it's way!
fred27 (author) 1 year ago
I'm not sure why you're having problems, but email the fpr file over to and I'll generate the scad and stl files for you. I found that most home FDM printers are just about up to the job, but it might be tricky to print well.
Hey, me again...

So I decided to try and compile and I'm getting a syntax error. I have to wonder why I'm having so many issues right out of the gate...

Can anyone lend a hand? I am trying to put together a record for my wife's birthday. The points I'll get from this would be tremendous (not to mention legitimize my obsession with 3D printing).

I have gotten as far as creating the music with your software.

However, when I selected 'Create SCAD File' I was told there was no FisherPriceTemplate.scad file in Executables/Resources.

So I created a Resources dir in my Executables directory and copied FisherPriceTemplate.scad from the SourceCode dir.

So now, when I select 'Create SCAD File' I get the message that one was successfully created. BUT I don't get the handy-dandy 'how would you like your disk' dialog.

Am I/have I done something wrong?
LXMaker1 year ago
Buy 3D printer first according to their own needs to determine the machine level,after compared to the same level of machine price, choose a suitable machine.Interested in 3D print can log onto the or view details.
Chloe81 year ago
This is cool. Great work!
I'm making a music box that plays the imperial march from your player!!!
DriesDR2 years ago
Hi, I finally managed to get my hands on a fisher price record player and dug your instructable up from my bookmarks.
After making a tune in the software, I tried exporting it to OpenScad. But then I ran into some issues;
- I do not get the option window prompt when exporting (I did manage to change the settings in OpenScad itself, I think)
- When rendering the file in OpenScad, I'm getting very odd results. The cylinders go all over the place and the final model is clearly not what it should be. I tried two different versions of OpenScad, but getting the same results in both. Am I missing some dependencies or something? I made sure Write.scad is in the same directory, but still things look very odd, I'm now suspecting things go bad when exporting from the music editor ... but unsure. Any tips?
DriesDR DriesDR2 years ago
After some more trial and error I found the problem. For some reason, when exporting the OpenScad file the resulting code takes localisation settings into account. In my region we use comma's "," instead of points "." in some cases. So once I switched my localisation settings to US on operating system level, the discs gets generated perfectly. Looking forward to my first print!
fred27 (author)  DriesDR2 years ago
Glad you managed to solve it. Let us know how your print turns out.
Great job I think I'll build one!
Fungible2 years ago
Any thoughts on printing a new player, now? :)
noahw2 years ago
fred27 - I'm still totally obsessed with this project! Let's do a deal. You send one Fischer Price record player to Instructables HQ* and I'll mail you (1) 3D printed disk from our Objet production machines. (We'll print out two disks most likely and keep one for ourselves to show off to folks who visit the office...with your permission of course.)

If this deal isn't sweet enough I'll send you (2) 3D printed disks! That's like $1,000 in print material for a 5 dollar children's toy! Wow, you drive a hard bargain.

*I'm the workshop editor for Instructables, and also, a little crazy.

noahw noahw2 years ago
PS - our print process has a cost/gram that's just ever so slightly more than shapeways.
fernxtwo noahw2 years ago
fred27 (author)  fernxtwo2 years ago
Be careful. The "retro" battery powered version is not the same thing at all. It may look much the same but the "record" just presses a couple of buttons and the music is electronically generated. It won't play one of these custom records. I've see reviews from quite a few disappointed purchasers (e.g. on Amazon). The one you linked to is one of these new versions.
Fungible fred272 years ago
I just learned this the hard way, too. I bought a player on eBay, was excited to open it, and... found it was the wrong kind of player that has grooves to depress certain pins, so it knows what song to play, but not actual "music box" raised bits to make the actual notes.

I guess I should have read all the comments first, but I figured the eBay link would be good enough. Drat!
noahw fernxtwo2 years ago
Thanks for the link fernxtwo, but I'd like to support fred27 directly if possible and support the awesome work they are doing.
.... Dang.. $1000? That could buy me
A. 1 Fischer Price record


B. A nice, 2009/10 macbook pro :)

It must make some nice quality stuff for you to keep that around :)
I may have been exaggerating just a wee bit when saying it was $1000 worth of print material. The Object stuff comes to somewhere between $.30 and $1.00 per gram depending on a variety of circumstances. Costs of prints also vary widely based upon the design and geometry.
fred27 (author)  noahw2 years ago
That sounds like a fair deal - although I'll have to search eBay and probably pay about $50 for one. Can you send me the correct address so I can get it shipped to you? I'm in the UK so will get one sent direct from a US-based eBayer.

I found a UK-based company who would print discs on their Objet 30 printer. They quoted me around $300 so definitely more than Shapeways.

You're more than welcome to print one for yourself. That's what the Instructable is all about! Also feel free to add lettering, the Instructables logo, whatever you like.
fred27 (author) 2 years ago

just had an interesting email from jbwisdom, and thought I'd share it with you all

I just signed up to instructables so I could ask you a couple questions about your awesome custom fisher price records! I am an artist, and I recently recreated some of the original fisher price records in glass, and they actually play. I am really pleased with the results. The glass is beautiful and the sound is really nice. I love to make kinetic/interactive work, so I am trying to develop this project a little further and start customizing my own music boxes. My question is: I tried downloading the program and your instructable folder, but I can't get it to... go. Do these work on Macs? If not, do you suggest anything for a person using a Mac? I am also experimenting with the little music boxes that use cylinders to play a piece of music, so I'd love to play around on this program to see if it is a good way for me to design a template for that format. Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Unfortunately my software only works on Windows. I've developed it using Microsoft tools so it won't run on a Mac. The program really just works out where on a disc corresponds to the note that you want to play. For the 3D printed version it then creates a script for OpenSCAD to create the model and add the "pins" that operate the music box. OpenSCAD will run on a Mac so you could use this to create cylinders with your own music. I'd love to see your work if you've got a link to it. The glass disc sounds impressive. I've uploaded my discs to Shapeways and they can print in a variety of material including ceramics, but I had my doubts about how accurately they could be made.

fred27 (author) 2 years ago
For those of you who have been asking, there's now a video of the finished disc playing on the last page.
fmafma2 years ago
Amazing idea you had, fred!

BTW, does anyone tried to engrave such record with a lasercutter? Don't know what material to use, but it could be nice to give it a try.
fred27 (author)  fmafma2 years ago
I've never used a laser cutter so can't be sure. It should definitely be OK for accuracy in the XY direction. I've heard they can be used for engraving rather than cutting but I don't know if it could neatly cut the grooves to the required depth.

I'd have thought that acrylic would be a good medium. I suppose ideally you could have one layer that the laser could cut through and a base layer that it couldn't.

I've entered this in the Hurricane Laser contest so if I do win a laser cutter I'll definitely give it a try. However, I'm not sure the world needs another Instructable on creating a Fisher Price record!
does the depth matter as long as the pegs are the right hight?
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