Introduction: 3D Printed Turntable

About: Retired University Lecturer in Graphic Design.

Don't build this unless you have time and patience.
If you need a reasonable new turntable buy something like a Rega. They provide the best sound for the money paid. Apologies for this longish screed. Contact me if you're unsure about any aspect.

Step 1: 3D Printed Vinyl Turntable - a Design Experiment

This crazy project was just an experiment for me during 'Lockdown'. I just happened to have the required parts and a junk Crosley-type record player to pull apart. Although the end result is maybe better than a Crosley clone, it will not do justice to music and will be inferior to any reasonable deck. In fact if you're in the market for a turntable I suggest you invest in a good secondhand turntable from the 70s such as a Lenco which is fully supported on many forums. Apologies to audio fans for even suggesting that you can play vinyl on a 3D Printed 'turntable' :-)

This project will help you to build your own turntable, either through originating your own or using the parts I've supplied.

If you don't fancy building this particular deck, you can always use just some of my suggestions and the geometry guide, and maybe the bearing suggestions to design your own. Best of luck to all you audio buffs.

Having said that, all opinions are my own, and prepare for a couple of days printing time, and some soldering and tinkering to get the best out of this project. At the least, if you're new to vinyl you might benefit in learning how to explore turntable design and set-up.

Teachers: If you include this in a class, you could break this up into a teamwork project in electronics, geometry and design studies, and maybe include some history as well.

Update: A lighter arm has now been added.

So with that intro, on to the design of this turntable.

Step 2: ​The Video.

Not the best sound by any means, but a successful experiment in other ways. Life is just one, long, learning experience.

Step 3: Design

The design is intended to provide a starting point for your own experiment in understanding turntable design. It is in no way definitive and you could go on forever with deck design and experimentation.

Although my end result includes parts from a junked Crosley clone it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain that particular model. This design will enable you to get to the stage where you can use it by connecting it to your own amplifier or system.

The printed base that I have used is only a suggestion, you could take the rest of the design and build it onto your own base - maybe wooden or aluminium or a combination of materials - even concrete. As this is a non-sprung design I suggest you make the base fairly heavy. Recent turntable design has moved away from sprung systems to designs where the base is heavy and relies on weight rather than wobbly springs. The user sets up the turntable in a position where there are as few external vibrations as possible to eliminate any interference. My printed base uses 1.0 nozzle to achieve a weighty construction in a small size. Although small, because of the linear design where the arm, motor and platter are in a line, the base is substantial enough to provide enough support. The design still follows accepted geometry although purists and audio buffs will naturally object to this design approach. Despite its small size it does play 12" discs.

The geometry image provides a basic understanding of arm position. This should help if you're designing your own deck. Many forums have guides and suggestions for building your own turntable and what materials to use.

Built-in to the design are typical adjustments that are common to many turntables:

a. The arm can be raised or lowered for vertical tracking.

b. The arm weight (composed of screws held within a printed, slidable block) can be moved to allow for tracking force.

c. The arm support can be adjusted for height.

d. The motor can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to allow for belt tension.

e. The headshell can be adjusted for offset angle. Headshells for both cheap ceramic cartridges and normal two-screw cartridges are provided.

All of these adjustments are coarser than a normal deck, but not difficult in practice.

Platter design
A solid main platter, best printed with a nozzle of 0.6 for added strength and weight. A light outer platter printed with 0.4 nozzle - this is a tight push fit - and four risers to help eliminate warped records. An inner top platter that hols the central record spindle of 7mm diameter. The platter assembly is sandwiched between several hard disk platters which when screwed together form a solid and strong assembly with little run-out.
I'll explain the main platter bearing in the next section.

Arm design
This a typical swing arm with two raised top bearings that are a tight push fit. The arm wand might be better printed with a carbon fibre filament for extra rigidity. The headshell and finger lift is attached with a screw which allows a small movement for offset. The arm could easily be adapted to use a single or dual 6mm carbon fibre tubes if you wish to experiment. Arm weight has a central locking screw to allow for sliding to adjust weight. There are many guides to setting up arm balance that you will find all over the web. Essentially, you set the arm for horizontal balance and then move the weight forward for the final stylus weight of 3-3.5 gm, but experimentation will be beneficious. I'll explain the main swivel bearing in the next section.

There is a channel running through the arm to take the cartridge wire and an exit hole near the arm swivel. Do not use support for this channel.

Note that there is no ant-skating device. This is a complex procedure that I have not included.

Now on to Inspiration and the key parts that make this deck feasible.

Step 4: What Makes This Project Feasible.

Hard Drive Motors/Bearings

In a typical 'good' turntable the platter and arm are mounted on bearings that are engineered to a high standard. If you are going to make your own deck, then you need to take this into account. Where can you buy good bearing modules that lend themselves to this purpose?

Well, if you look at a hard drive, the drive motor is very highly developed and virtually friction-free as they are brushless. In fact the layout of a hard drive is very much like a mini turntable with it's platters and an (actuator) arm. There are typically two types of motor and if you examine the back of the drive you will either see three screws that secure the motor in place or a push-fit motor that has no visible screws. This turntable design uses both types. So if you intend to build this, you will require two hard drives - one for the platter and one for the arm. In my experience both types of motor from whatever manufacturer are very similar but you might have to file a little to the perfect fit. See the images for each type and contact me if you need advice.

The three screw type can be easily unscrewed and the push-fit type can be removed by placing a wooden dowel on the back of the motor and lightly hit with a hammer. Once you've done this save all the parts and screws that hold the platters in place.

If you cannot find the larger, three screw motor, three screw motor, I've provided a
platter base for the more commonly available push-in type. See images above and the list of STL files.

These are the key parts that make this project possible. They enable the platter to spin true and very freely, and enable the arm to achieve the required freedom.

Many people have old, used drives in their parts box, so have a look and see what you can find.

So, the very first thing you need to find are these two motors. Note that these are NOT used as motors but as bearings.

Once you've found these motors you can move on to find the other parts and prepare to print.

Step 5: The Disk Drive Bearings

Shown above are the two types of motor/bearings from disk drives. The one on the left is the three-screw type that can be identified by looking at the back of a drive, the other one is the push-fit type that can be knocked out of the DD housing.

The other photos show the bearing in position in the platter and arm.

If you cannot find the larger, three screw motor, I've provided an alternative platter base for the more commonly available push-in type. See images above and the list of STL files.

Step 6: Required Hardware

All the bits

Crosley-type turntables of whatever brand - 1byone, GPO, Denver, Zennox or Bush are very similar. They might have different features but they almost always use the same platter and arm component. A plastic thing that has no proper bearings, an arm that has no adjustment at all, and a platter that is worse than a poorly tossed pancake.

The clone that I used is shown in the main picture - a 1byONE - a clone with USB record and playback. The deck is typical Crosley and the electronics are made very poorly.

You can see another two of these turntable above. Both of them use similar components such as the arm/platter deck, but just add extra features such as a radio or CD player.

But they do have the necessary parts that can be adapted to better use. This is the intention of this project. If you do a search on Youtube you'll find many videos extolling both the virtues (often done for advertising purposes) and other videos where we are warned not to purchase. Compared to a good deck from earlier years of the 60s and 70s a Crosley is a playtoy. Apologies to those that like their Crosley.

I would suggest that the best you can do if you have one of these decks is to adapt it for use in this or a similar project. You'll end up with a much better arm, a platter that spins properly and a turntable that you can call your own.

A clone Crosley is the cheapest way to obtain the required components.

However, if you're not using a cheap turntable like Crosley or equivalent then you'll need the following parts.

Old Hard Disk Drives used for platter and arm bearings. See previous steps for more information. Contact me if you're unsure about this.

A generic motor which is easily available on eBay. These are all 12v and can be powered from a 12v wall transformer.

A cartridge - ceramic or magnetic. Again, easily available on Amazon or eBay for a few pounds.

You'll require some arm wire, but you could use some cheap headphone cable if you're handy with a soldering iron. Make sure to strip the insulation before you solder.

To control the 78rpm speed you'll require a small trimmer of 300ohm Although if you only intend to use the deck on 45 or 33rpm you can do without this. At the base of the motor you'll find two adjustments for 45 or 33rpm speeds. Once the deck is set up you adjust these to fix the speed and forget it. A diagram for connecting the motor to the switch and the power supply is shown above.

To output the signal from the cartridge to an amplifier - if you're not using a clone with a built-in amplifier you might need some phono sockets.

If you're using several speeds on the motor a switch is required to select them.

Power is required for the motor. This is a typical 12v transformer that you might have in your parts box.

And to get that 12v into the deck you will require an input power socket that matches your transformer. You might have one of these in your parts box on a scrap board.

You'll need a drive belt of 40 - 42cm in total and 5-6mm in width.

What you won't have on the Crosley clone are two small bearings: 10x4x5m inside dia. that you'll need for the arm.

And finally various M3 screws and nuts - not too many - and a couple of M5 screws and nuts to locate the arm bearings.

All of this adds up and you have to calculate is it worth it. I would suggest not unless you can put your hands on a clone and strip it for all the required parts. An eBay search will give you an idea of prices for these clones. £20 or so should get you at least a secondhand one and it will be cheaper than buying the parts separately.

Step 7: The Required Printed Parts

Print specs

I used the cheapest PLA I could find - mostly from Amazon or eBay.

Support is required on a number of parts. If you're familiar with 3D printing it should be obvious where this is required. I mostly used automatic support generation. In the case of the arm, do not use support within the wire channel or you will not be able to remove it.

All parts are oriented for correct printing and were sliced in Simplify3D and printed on a Creality CR-10 with my modified hot-end frame

If you have any carbon fibre filament you might use it on the arm for a more rigid, lighter print.

In general the larger the part, the larger the nozzle. For example, I printed the base with a 1.0 nozzle and the platter with a 0.8 nozzle. Other parts use a standard 0.4 nozzle.

Printed on a glass bed at 210/60 degrees.

Step 8: The Building Of.

Gather ye hardware and decide if you're going to build just the turntable without any installed amplification, or if you've got a Crosley clone take it apart and check the amplifier board for size. Bear in mind that you will have to allow for placement of the board within your chosen base and any associated knobs and switches and output terminals.

If you're installing an amplifier etc you will have to decide the size and shape of your base and whether it's printed or not. I'm sure many of you have the skills to do so and are capable of this. You might like to design a different base whether you install amplification or not and I've included some suggestions for this, As I said previously, this base does not have to be printed - you might make it out of wood or aluminium or a combination of materials.

Note that you do not have to follow this linear, straight design, the arm can be relocated to a different position as long as it remains on the 210mm circumference - the 'more normal' position of an arm is at top right of a turntable. The motor can also be relocated, dependent on belt length - the 'normal' position for the motor is at top left of a turntable.

See my design where I installed my clone board in a base. This was not easy, and required careful measurements and testing. I've included a video showing the working turntable.

a. Print the main arm assembly and check that the DD bearing fits.

b. Print the main platter and check that the DD bearing fits.

c. Once you have confirmed that these parts are ok, move on to print the remaining parts. Assembly is straightforward after this.

d. If you've acquired the two small bearings mentioned in the required hardware check that they are a good push fit. Any sideways movement can be eliminated with two thin washers. But I did not use them.

e. When assembly is complete wire the motor according to the simple guide and check for correct operation.

f. Now you can wire the arm and check for correct right/left polarity and then connect to output sockets on amplifier.

g. Only ten or eleven screws are required in the arm weight for cheap ceramic cartridges. I've allowed for more screws for heavier cartridges.

h. Place a record on the turntable and adjust the arm to be parallel to the deck. Fine adjust the arm height so that the arm is parallel and the stylus just sits in the groove. Finally, adjust the arm weight by sliding the weight until the arm just 'floats' on it's bearings. I've found that moving the weight forward just 6mm should give you just the right arm weight.

If you've followed all these steps it's time to play your first record!

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