Introduction: Phonograph - Sound Recorder/player on Tinfoil
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.
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
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.
First Prize in the
Tinfoil Speed Challenge