Suitcase Turntable (With Built in Amp and Pre Amp)




Introduction: Suitcase Turntable (With Built in Amp and Pre Amp)

About: I'm a 29 year old guy who's passionate about building and fixing things, sometimes if they aren't even broken. I get a great sense of enjoyment out of creating, designing and building new things. I also love t…

Hey everybody! Please bear with me as this is my first instructable. I apologize in advance for not taking enough photos as I was building it, but it's relatively simple and can be customized to meet anyone's creative desires!

My inspiration for this project came from my vintage 60's suitcase record player. It has a great old-timey sound, but is mono, has poor sound quality and has seen better days! So I set about to build a replacement. The goal was to build a durable, decent quality portable stereo turntable system. Keep in mind that it's a bit of a brute, weighing in at approximately 30 lbs, but it is portable haha. 

I had a lot of fun making this and managed to keep the cost down to roughly $100. If you've already got a turntable to use, then that will save a few bucks right off the bat. I paid $20 for mine from the classified ads in the paper, which was fair for a functional player. I used a Sony PS-LX520 Linear Tracking table, which is fairly heavy actually. The lighter the TT you can get, the better!

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Hopefully you enjoy this as much as I did!

Things you'll need:

-Amplifier (I used a kit amp from my local electronics hobby shop)
-Project box to put your kit amp in (optional)
-Pre amp (I used a Pyle model from the same hobby shop)
-Various hardware (Hinges, latches, etc. I salvaged a few of these parts from an old briefcase)
-Self tapping wood screws (I used #6 brass screws of various lengths)
-Magnetic pop-outs for hinged door on front (optional)
-Self adhesive foam insulation
-Wood (I used 1x3 pine for the sides, front and back, and 1/2" birch for the top and bottom)
-Speaker terminals
-RCA connectors/cables
-Wire clips (Optional)
-Whatever else you want to make it unique!

Tools you'll need:

-Saw (Or you can get the wood cut at your local Home Depot, which is what I did)
-Soldering iron/solder
-Heat shrink tubing or electrical tape
-Tape measure
-Assorted screwdrivers

Step 1: Plan It Out!!!

This instructable is just a general guide. It's always a good idea to make some drawings and figure out all of your dimensions before you start buying everything.

I would recommend getting the amp, pre amp and turntable of your choice before even thinking about designing your case. Just remember that the bigger your TT and amp, the bigger the case you'll need to build. I bought a stereo kit amp that puts out 20W per channel and a project box to enclose it and mount the speaker and RCA connectors.

Once you've decided on your equipment, you can better gauge your case dimensions. I left enough room to have about 1 1/2" on both sides and back of the TT and about 3" room in front of it so I could fit the amp and pre amp on the inside of the front panel. The extra clearance on the sides and back is for the foam insulation strips. They will cushion Your TT during transport. I also left some space above and put a couple additional strips on the inside of the top of the case. Once you've got all of your dimensions figured out, you can go get the wood.

Step 2: Glue or Screw Your Wood!

Now that you've got all of your wood cut, you can start assembling it all. I glued all of my pieces together, but you can screw them or do both if you like. Just make sure to mark and pre drill all of your holes. For the hinged front panel, I glued two 1x3" pieces of pine together, and then had to plane the top inside edge down a bit and smooth it with sandpaper to clear the top when it closed. You may or may not have to do this depending on how much clearance you make. I'm by no means an expert when it comes to wood working, so don't judge me please! Haha.

I first glued the two sides and back of the 1x3" pine together and then glued them to the top and bottom pieces. Then I attached the front panel with small hinges at the bottom, and hinged the top and bottom halves of the case together at the rear. I attached the magnetic pop outs to the inside of the top half and the metal washers for them to the inside of the front panel (You can see them in the first pic).

Step 3: Stain/paint

This step is complete preference. I chose to use some oak coloured stain, and then applied it to a cloth and rubbed it on (two coats), then brushed on two coats of semi-gloss Varathane. You may want to do this before you glue the wood, but it's just as easy after too. 

Once your paint or stain dries, you can mount your outside hardware. I used sliding latch locks to hold the front panel secure, since the handle will be going on here after. Whatever latch you use, just make sure it will hold the weight of everything when you transport it!

I also put on some brass corners just to give it a sort of antique look. If you decide to do this, a good way to keep the wood from splitting when you nail the corners on is to cut the head off of a nail that is the same size as the ones you are using and use it in your drill to make pilot holes for the nails. Then give the pointed end of your nails a little tap with the hammer before you drive them in.

Step 4: Assemble and Mount Your Amp, Preamp and Carry Handle

If you buy a kit amp, it will come with instructions on how to solder it all together. I then made some holes in the back of a project box for the speaker binding posts and DC jack, and two holes in the side for the RCA connectors and two in the front for the volume knobs and then put my amp in and soldered all of the connections to the binding posts and RCA connections. Be sure to check that your amp and pre amp will clear and fit inside with the turntable when the front panel is closed before you mount them to the panel. I had to drill some holes right through the front panel to mount my carry handle. If you go right through, you'll need to do this before you mount your amp and pre amp. Make sure the handle mounting screws will be able to hold the weight of the case! My pre amp didn't have any mounting holes, so I just stuck some adhesive velcro to the bottom and attached it that way. I cut and shortened the RCA cables that connect the amp to the pre amp, since they are just an inch away from each other.

I then screwed a few wire clips along the inside of the box just to keep the RCA cables and ground wire from the TT clean and neatly against the side.

Step 5: Stick on Your Insulating Foam on the Sides and Back

The thickest insulating foam I could find was 1/2", so I had to double it up to make a snug fit around my turntable. I cut 2" pieces for the sides, back and top (See photo). Then you can put your player in, clip in the wires and plug it into your pre amp. I also added a latch to each side of the case on the outside and put some feet on the back.

Step 6: Plug It All In, Pic an Album, Sit Back and Relax!

Plug in your speakers, and your amp and TT to power, throw on some Pink Floyd (Or whatever else you like) and enjoy!

Hopefully this instructable was a useful guide. I know it's a bit lacking with the step-by-step build photos, so if you have any questions or comments, ask away!

Thanks for checking out my instructable!

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job, although I would have gone a step further to make it fully self-contained with permanently mounted speakers and a handle for portability, just like those old time record players.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey thanks so much! There actually is a handle (You can see it in a few of the pics; it's black so it may just be a little hard to see haha). I thought about integrating speakers into it, but that little amp actually puts out a surprising amount of bass and I was just a little worried that it may affect the tonearm and possibly make the needle jump around a bit. May still do it though. There's a fair amount of extra space inside, so still room for some modding.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Ahh yes! I must have been blind to not see the handle :-) Your project caught my eye because I have the same Sony turntable (PS-LX520) and recently changed the arm carriage drive belt. I had an idea to make a "Microwave Turntable" with it but never got around to it - your project reignited my interest. Too many plans/ideas and not enough time!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Haha microwave turntable sounds interesting! Yeah those linear tracking turntables are great...I had to do the exact same thing to mine. The tracking arm was getting stuck around the middle of the second track, but once I changed the belt and lubed the little tracking bar with silicon grease it worked like new again!