Phonograph - Sound Recorder/player on Tinfoil

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Introduction: Phonograph - Sound Recorder/player on Tinfoil

About: I love to make DIY projects with my son

Phonograph - one of the first ever devices to record and play the sound. It was invented by Edison and... did You know that it recorded the sound in tinfoil (aluminium foil) ? I bet You didn't know that.

The sound quality of the first phonograph was of course hm.. not very good, so later the tinfoil was replaced by cylinders covered with wax. Even after that improvement it wasn't sound like nowadays sound players.


I decided to show my kids how such phonograph works and try to make one by own.

If You like to read more, just google the word 'phonograph' on wikipedia.

Supplies:

So to build the first sound recorder /player you will need to take:
- plastic bottle

- plastic jar

- some wood

- lot, really lot of tinfoil, because it will tear apart during first tries

- big screw rod

- needle

Step 1: The Frame

Frame is made from wood scraps. I took the two parts, drill them and made the sockets for the screws. Then I glued those two parts to the bigger part-the bottom of the device.

Note: The frame should be stable and massive. It should not move during recording/playing because it will generate additional noise in record.

Step 2: The Screw and the Cylinder

The sound will be recorded on tinfoil, but the foil will be glued to the cylinder. I made one from old plastic jar. Drilled the bottom and the top of the jar and the I put it on he screw rod. The whole construction was then placed on the device using the holes made in step 1.

I also added the handle for better turning grip.

Note: to reduce the noise coming from the screw I lubricated it with an oil

Step 3: The Needle

Most important part is the needle and the resonance tube. I made it from bottle, some hydraulic part and the metal top of the jar. I used the hot glue to connect all of those things.
At the end I glued drawing pin at the top of the metal jug cap, like on the pictures.

Note 1: the drawing pin have to be very sharp. I used the sanding paper to sharpen it. Without that it will tear the tinfoil.

Note 2: The needle has to be glued on the element which 'moves' under the sound pressure. Good are plastic or thin metal materials

Step 4: Needle, Tube and Everything

Tube with needle has to be placed on the device in such way, that it allow the move from and to the cylinder. I used the furniture hinge for that. But avoid the loose hinges. The needle should not move left and right (only up and down).

Note: In fact mounting the tube with a needle is hard work. In my case I had several tries. Some of them was so unsuccessful that the needle was always tearing the aluminum foil. You need o be patient and that's all.

Step 5: Tinfoil Preparation

After many, many tries i finally managed to prepare tinfoil in such way it is not teared apart by the needle. So they are two ways:

1. kitchen tinfoil

It is very thin, so You need to fold it many times. Then after gluing the foil to the cylinder it needs to be covered with some lubricant to reduce the tension (the kitchen oil is enough). Unfortunately even with the lubricant it could be broken some times, so I recommend to lower the pressure of the needle. How to do that ? Make the arm for the needle&tube from wood or put the needle on something with less weight like a plastic cup - it will do

2. thicker tinfoil

You can get it in some shops. It works better, but still You need to lubricate the surface with oil.

Step 6: Recording and Playing

OK. We have everything ready to record.


So now, make some coffe/ tea or anything what makes You calm, because the recording is not so easy at all!

You need to maintain the right speed (chose it by trial and errors) of the rod and shout very loudly to the tube. Oh, and of course You need to be very careful to not tear the tinfoil.

After some time You will get everything and then You will have You record ready! Now revert the rod and once again roll it. You should hear the sound (although don't expect crystal clear, high volume voice). The sound quality depends from You and how precise You make needle, tube and the cylinder. In my case cylinder was poorly made (the holes were not in the center) so it produces additional noise in recordings.

That's all. You can hear by own in attached video how the real phonograph sounds.

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    25 Comments

    0
    Maria Evenstar
    Maria Evenstar

    7 days ago

    Congratulations!!! You're in the finals!!!! :) I love your instructibles! :)

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 6 days ago

    Thank You :)

    0
    cfb70
    cfb70

    8 days ago

    I really liked the idea of ​​recreating this great invention of humanity today in a simple way!

    0
    silasclough
    silasclough

    12 days ago

    Definitely got my vote. When i was younger I made the almost identical thing except I know now that I didn't get the foil tight enough. I had over engineered the diaphragm and done so much and it didn't work. I screamed Mary had a little lamb into it, but to no avail. Kudos to you for actually doing it. I was 9 I think then and just had wood scraps and a hot glue gun. I can reminisce about the hours spent on end freezing my feet off trying to build a scuba tank from a basketball (In the winter) and others. Now I am almost 14 and have Fusion360 and have owned 2 3D Printers (Anet A8 and Ender 3) I could probably do it much easier, but the other way is very good. I miss that garage. Good project.

    0
    ChrisWx
    ChrisWx

    Tip 13 days ago

    That lid with the needle might seem flexible, but it's pretty stiff to be affected by sound. Drill a bunch of small holes in a circle around the middle to make it more flexible, and the recorded volume should go up.

    0
    MaClay
    MaClay

    16 days ago

    When reading Edmond Morris' biography of Edison, i came across this link of Edison speaking (telling a joke) on one of his own machines. Fascinating that his voice is forever saved and he tells a fairly good joke. His inventions were world changing, a true 'Maker'. Enjoyed your interpretation of his recorder. Keep inventing! Here's the link: https://archive.lib.msu.edu/VVL/dbnumbers/DB500.mp3

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 16 days ago

    This is amazing. Real voice of Edison. I had problems with understaing some words, but the record quality is astonishing considering it when it was recorded.
    Thanks for the link.

    1
    VinayDand
    VinayDand

    16 days ago

    Amazing and Nostalgic, Good job

    1
    imagega
    imagega

    17 days ago

    Great Instructable! Love that anyone can try it and learn a lot without lots of tools, skills or money.

    1
    JG49
    JG49

    17 days ago

    Excellent work and would also make a great project for parents to do with their children...

    You have my vote... :)

    5
    Gamer4Fire
    Gamer4Fire

    17 days ago

    Have you considered a soda can? It's much thicker aluminum than foil.

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 17 days ago

    no, but it seems like good idea. I saw the guy on youtube which tries to record on plastic cup but says that it's not working very good.

    1
    nearly_trainable
    nearly_trainable

    17 days ago

    Oh, this is brilliant! Thanks! I'm totally guessing, but my guess is Edison used tinfoil that was really tin, not aluminum. You can still find that (sorry, don't know where), and it might be a bit tougher than aluminum foil. Also, Cinefoil is pretty tough stuff. Thick. I'd still work out the bugs with regular aluminum foil, since it's a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 17 days ago

    Yes yes, You are right. I experimented with both. I didn't know that there is the difference (aluminum and tin), so I used namig: kitchen tinfoil (thin) thick tinfoil (thicker, stronger).

    1
    harleytat
    harleytat

    17 days ago

    So cool! I'd be curious how the recording quality would change with other needle dimensions and materials.

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 17 days ago

    In fact I don't know. Adjusting my needle took me a lot of time in fact.
    But if You google there are at least 3 pdf's about the topic on internet and few quite good videos on youtube. In one of them some young person even managed to record using plastic cup with the needle attached.

    1
    fpro
    fpro

    17 days ago

    Simples, bem elaborado, atualização de material condizente, Parabéns!
    Sou mais um que irei tentar.
    Obrigado!
    --------------------
    [English Here]
    Simple, well designed, updated material to match, Congratulations!
    I am one more that I will try.
    Tnks!

    0
    woodenProjects
    woodenProjects

    Reply 17 days ago

    Thanks.
    If You will try so... be patient.. be patient my friend. It takes a lot of nerves when You tear the many, many aluminum foil ;-)

    1
    ka3ros
    ka3ros

    17 days ago

    The result is totally awesome \o/
    That project gets you so close to the origin of the technology, It's pure magic