Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Make a Record Player! (Inspired by Travels with Charlie) #bookingusa

Today I'm going to share with you how I made a record player using materials found around our apartment.  *pauses*  Wait, wait, I know what you're thinking, "What are you doing Leslie?  A DIY record player?  Why would you even try to build one in the first place?" Well, friends, before I answer those questions, let me first show you the finished product:

Kid Science:  How to Make a Record Player

how to build a DIY record player from household materials

Yes.  This baby plays.  Yes.  I have a video of it playing a record down below.  And yes, I will share the inspiration behind this fun project!

Travels with Charlie:  Travelin' the Northeast

Here's why I tried to build my own record player.  Awhile ago, several bloggers across the US and I received a Travels with Charlie book to review from Blue Apple Books.  There are four books in the series.  Each focuses on a different region of America.  I live in New Jersey, so I received the Northeast book.

travels with charlie northeast book

The book shares facts about the different states in the Northeast in a fun and colorful way.  Here's the New Jersey Page below:

travels with charlie new jersey page

I really enjoyed looking through the book.  The illustrations were beautiful and I learned a bunch of new facts about New Jersey.  Chuck had fun trying to find Charlie (a cute white dog) in each picture.  (Not sure if you can tell, but he's in the ferris wheel!)

See the fact about Thomas Edison up there?  That one caught my eye.  Menlo Park isn't too far from where we live and I was interested in learning about Edison.  Did you know that he invented the light bulb AND the phonograph (among countless other things)?  So in honor of resident inventor Edison, I tried my hand at building a record player.  Luckily for me, I found a very basic set of directions for making your own record player online.  I tried them out and then tweaked them.

Materials Needed to Make a Record Player 

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  • Record (Get a large 12 inch one, small ones didn't work for me)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking Tape
  • Styrofoam plate/sheet
  • Books
  • Piece of paper (I chose a magazine page)
  • Straight Pins
  • Scissors 

Directions Needed to Make a Homemade Record Player

make a paper cone and poke a straight pin through the pointy end

1.  First we're going to make the "speakers" and "needle."  Shape your piece of paper into a cone and tape it so that it stays in place.  Trim the excess paper on the larger side.

2.  Stick a straight pin through the pointy end of your cone so that a) about 1/4 cm sticks out, and b) it's angled at a 45 degree with regards to the record.  Use a piece of masking tape to make sure that it's secure.

poke a pencil through the record to make it spin

3.  Now we're going to make the record to spin.  Stick a pencil through the hole in your record.  Wind a piece of masking tape around the bottom of your pencil to ensure that the record doesn't fall through.

place a piece of styrofoam and books down to keep the record spinning

4.  Now we're going to ensure that the record doesn't wobble too much while it spins.  (We want it to stay as level as possible so our needle doesn't skip.)  To do this, cut out a foam circle.  (You will spin the pencil on this foam to make sure it doesn't slide around.)  Then, create two piles of books that are slightly lower than your record that's sitting on the pencil.  (These books will prevent the record from wobbling too much.)  Place these two piles of books around the foam circle.

Now you're got yourself a homemade record player!

how to build a record player from everyday items (DIY tutorial)

To play the record player, simply place the point of your pencil on the foam circle and spin your pencil.  The styrofoam should keep your pencil from slipping.  The two piles of books should prevent the record from wobbling too much.   As the record plays, place your needle onto the record.  You'll soon hear some sounds coming out of your "speakers."  This homemade record player isn't as nice a real one, but it's pretty cool when it works.

Here's a video of our homemade record player playing a record.  (Can you guess what song this is?  Hint:   It's from My Fair Lady)

Build your own record player from Pink Stripey Socks on Vimeo.

Tips for getting music (and not just alien-sounding noises):
  • Make sure your record is clean with very few scratches
  • Get a partner to help (I spun the record while hubby held the needle)
  • Try different rotation speeds and different tracks (At first we just got weird alien sounds.  But then after playing around  we figured out that I was a more consistent spinner and hubby was better at holding the needle.  We also found that this particular track just sounded the best.)

Awesome right?  And this is just the NJ craft.  There are over 50 bloggers participating in the Booking Across the USA Book Project Check out the site to see other great state-inspired activities AND get an opportunity to win all four Travels with Charlie books!

Have fun, happy "travelin' with Charlie," and happy crafting!

Psst- Interested in other fun and easy kids' science-tech projects? 

Check out some of my favorite ones over here: