Introduction: Paper Record Player

About: I'm a physics student. I like to build stuff and learn about electronics.

Wondering around the university I found a suspicious "Top Secret" cardboard folder, probably another cheap ad to attract students. To my surprise, it turned out to be a cardboard turntable, made to manually reproduce a 45 rpm vinyl with some kind of musical puzzle inside. What a wonderful way to recruit students!

I was eager to check the contents of the record. However, when I tried to play it, the cardboard turntable showed some tuning problems which made the task of listening the high notes a misery. Since I love mysteries and crafting, I decided to build my own with paper, hoping to get better results, and so I did!

Step 1: Materials

  • 2 Sheets of paper
  • 1 Belt rivet
  • 1 Needle
  • 1 Vinyl record
  • (Optional) Tape

Step 2: Base Folding

  1. Fold one of the sheets in half alongside the longest side so that you get a rectangle.
  2. Take one of the corners and align the short edge with the long edge and mark the diagonal. Take it back to get the previous position.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the opposite corner of the short side.
  4. Fold the paper by the end of the diagonals to get a square.
  5. Take it back to get the previous position.
  6. Fold the other side of the rest of the paper in half in the opposite direction. This rectangle should be a bit smaller than the square.

Step 3: Make the Complementary

Repeat the whole process in the last step with another sheet to get the other side. Take into account that this time it should be the complementary of the base figure. This can be achieved in two ways (which are the same):

  1. Make the first fold in the same direction (upwards in my case) and start by doing the square from the other side.
  2. Make the first fold in the opposite direction (downwards) and follow the same direction as in the previous figure.

Step 4: Merge and Fold

Using two sheets instead of one increase the stiffness of the structure and creates an space between layers that might help the resonance needed to reproduce the vinyl.

  1. Merge both sheets and make sure it fits by checking the edges and folds.
  2. Fold the paper inwards in the non-squared face to make a flap. I did it using half the length of the needle.
  3. Repeat the process to get a double folding.

Step 5: Insert the Needle

Ideally, this should be done in the middle of the section, but it's fine if you do it by eye, since the record is a radial surface and its going to pass through the needle anyway. I refused to fold the paper in half to get the right point because that could affect the resonance of the paper afterwards.

  1. Pierce the paper by the highest fold of the flap from the other side of the paper.
  2. Turn the paper and pierce the flap halfway and get the needle out again by the edge of the flap.

In case the needle doesn't hold in its place after a while, due to use or trying to correct the piercing direction, a bit of tape can be applied to fix the needle to the paper.

Step 6: Insert the Rivet

  1. Put the rivet in the middle of the outer edge of the squared face, between the fourth and third layer.
  2. Press gently with your finger to get the paper marked.
  3. Without taking the rivet out, pierce the paper with a pen to make a hole for the rivet.
  4. Insert the rivet to the hole.


Step 7: Play Your Record!

It's a bit tricky to use, since you have to hold it tight by pressing to the table to avoid inconvenient movements. It's useful to bend the folds again if the needle goes forward while playing.

The results were quite satisfactory, since the paper version was a bit more sensitive when playing the hidden code of the record, which have different notes and pitches not reproduced by the default cardboard version.The cardboard one was louder, but that's probably an effect of the bigger size, rather than the material used.

Papercraft Contest

Participated in the
Papercraft Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest