Record Player From Scratch!




Introduction: Record Player From Scratch!

About: I love building things, and I'm a twin, we both are electrical engineers and inventors. Feel free to ask anything else
I found a couple of records the other day and I wanted to listen to them but I didnt have a record player so i decided to make my own! you only need a few fairly common items for this project.

parts needed:
- CD drive motor
- Spacer to place the record on
- Power supply (3-12v)
- sewing needle
- 1k pot
- stiff wire or flexible metal for the needle
- receipt for the "speaker"
- A pumpkin
- And of course a record to play

Step 1: CD Drive Motor and Spacer

this is pretty straight forward, you put the motor on a table and place the spacer on top. this motor i salvaged from an old DVD player that quit working, its not very powerful as far as torque goes so its not the best choice for this application but it will work. it can run on a little as 1.5 volts without a "load" on it but we will need alot more power to make this record spin. then i placed a plastic conduit washer on the top of the motor as my spacer. you can use anything for this, but this is what i had available.

Step 2: Powering the Record Player

To power the motor i used a 6 volt wall adapter. you can use anywhere from 5-12 volts for this once the 1k pot is connected. I connected the pot into the negative line between the motor and the wall adapter. i got this pot off a computer motherboard. it has 3 legs on it but you only need 2 of them, so if youre not familiar with pots then you might want to ohm it out with a meter to see which 2 are the adjustable ones since 1 is a constant. then once you have the pot wired up the wiring should be from the wall: positive to motor, negative to pot, then pot to negative on motor. The pot will need to be adjusted after the record player is ready so you can find out the correct speed for the player.

Step 3: The Needle and Speaker

the hardest part of making the thing was figuring out how to make sound come from it. you need the smallest needle you can get otherwise you will damage the record and it wont sound good because it will try to play multiple paths on the record at the same time. i used a sewing needle for this, it seems to be small enough to "read" the record and it doesnt damage it as far as i can tell. you will need to devise a way to let the needle follow the paths on the record as well, the needle cant be in a fixed position because it wont follow the path. i used some stiff copper wire to do this. i wrapped it around the needle and then wrapped another end around a pumpkin's stem.(you can substitute anything in place of the pumpkin) i left it loose enough so it can move from side to side to follow the record. it cant be too flexible though otherwise it will move back and forth on the record while its playing making the sound speed up and slow down. so alot of trial and error happend here for me.
next is the speaker. this could be any piece of scrap laying around your house really, anything from tin foil to plastic and styrofoam cups, to paper. different materials sound different, so play around and have fun with this part. i attached a receipt from walmart as my speaker. all you need to do to attach it is put the needle through it. thats really it! then to make it more stable and look better, just secure it the whatever you have holding the needle to the pumpkin is.

Step 4: Put It Together and Enjoy!

now for the fun part! put your motor on a flat surface and place the spacer on top of the motor. i didnt glue it or tape it, i just set it on there. place the record on the spacer. you can look through the hole of the speaker to to center the record so it wont be unbalanced and spin off the motor. the weight of the record hold it in place.
next place the pumpkin near the record and set up your needle and speaker. it needs to have enough pressure pushing the needle on the record to follow the paths but not too much where it will knock the record off the motor. thats why i used the copper wire, because its easy to adjust.
once the needle is set up, go ahead and power on the motor, making sure the pot is at its most resistance which means lowest voltage going to the motor. alot of power can kill this motor easily so be careful. with the power on, you can adjust the pot slowly until the record spins at a decent speed you think it should be. so now you can place the needle on the record and adjust the pot accordingly so the speed is right.
like i said before, there is alot of trial and error in this part. mainly the speed of the record and and pressure on the needle. too fast of a speed and the record sounds like chipmunks and such, too slow and it wont sound right either. the needle pressure and speaker material is also a factor. with some tinkering you can get the pressure right and speaker making noise, so just adjust the speed and youre good to go.
there is alot of fun in this project and the best part is that you can make it with almost any parts you have and make it your way. my way isnt the best out there by any means but it works for what i want it to . so enjoy and have fun!



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    19 Discussions

    nice job i wonder if i could a make a case for this and pick up real needles off ebay for this i would love to try this on a less important record could i use a arm made out of balsa wood or sheet metal

    2 replies

    you can make the arm out of anything you want to. the arm itself doesnt have to produce the sound. just attach any sort of material that transfers vibrations. you can even attach a microphone to the needle to amplify it.


    You can improve a lot the pick-up, using a disposable coffe cup. The needle can be sticked to or threaded thru the bottom. The cup can be foam (thermal) or PVC or even wax paper. You will not believe how good it sounds!

    1 reply

    My son was in the hospital after knee surgery,his buddy was in the same room after wrist surgery.The problem? Only one TV with earphones.The solution my son came up with? Two empty disposable coffee cups.Cut a hole in the bottom of each and insert one of the earphones in each.They each had an audible speaker to watch TV.Not a bad solution for a 14 year old boy!

    2 replies

    Sounds like you may have a future Instructables Featured Author there. It never ceases to amaze me the solutions that people can find to problems. The coffee cup speakers are a doozy.

    Fun project. "Real" phonograph needles are gemstones polished to a very particular shape, but steel needles were common for victrolas and pull-string talking toys. We did this as kid for making the sound: Push a straight pin through the bottom of a paper cup.

    iIt is a great instructable! but yeah, don't do this to any record you may care about! that sewing needle will destroy those grooves in very short order!
    I remember at the antique shop m wife used to work at they had a standing cabinet style Victrola hand crank record player. It used the old old OLD clay 77 rpm records purely analogue. volume control was achieved via opening or closing a couple of cabinet doors over the sounding board.

    You had two types of needles for these records and record player. steel needles for the big bright sound, but would destroy the records pretty quick, and cut bamboo wooden needles for general playback.

    That old unit would be part of my permanent collection of pointless crap if the antique store hadn't sold it the day before payday >:(
    / shakes tiny internet fist of rage!

    1 reply

    im guessing any needle other than a needle meant for playing records will sooner or later mess up a record. them things are really tiny!

    As much as I admire this idea, I can't get my head around how this could cause irreparable damage to your records. Maybe just stick to thrift store finds and the like, but not things you would want to play on a regular basis.

    it is way to fast
    and a record player costs like 10-20 euros its no money

    As cool as this is, I'm not sure that I could ever mutilate a record like this... Not to take anything away from this, because it is truly ingenious!

    1 reply

    yes, the speed on the video is a little fast, i filmed it before adjusting the resistor properly.

    You are brilliant!!! What an amazing and fun invention. Loved that you included a video. Thanks so much!!!!!

    I scratched Kings of the Wild Frontier doing something like this... Having the pumpkin or something similar would have helped the thing to work better.
    It's nice.