Last week the girls were learning about sound, phonographs, and Alexander Graham Bell. Our current record player was on the fritz, but an old episode of Mr. Wizard’s World came back to me in a flash. In a matter of minutes we had our own primitive record player and it was fun and easy to make!
To build your record player, all you need is the following:
- A record – you can get these at Goodwill for a dollar nowadays.
- 1 sheet of construction paper
- Pin – some kind of sewing pin, not a thumbtack or push pin
1 – Make your amplifier
You need something to amplify the sound. As the girls remembered from photographs, cone shaped objects do a great job with this. Roll your construction paper into a cone, and tape it so it doesn’t come loose.
2 – Attach the pin
The pin serves as our record needle. It’s the key element that transfers the sound off the record. Tape the pin to the end of the small opening of the cone. It doesn’t matter how long or short the needle is, as long as it’s secure. As the record spins, the needle will “wiggle” in the grooves cut into the record player. Those vibrations transfer from the needle to the construction paper, and the paper amplifies the sound we have.
3 – Make a turntable
We need something to serve as a turntable. If you take the sharpened end of the pencil, and push it through the hole in the record until it is snug, you make a pretty large looking top. But you also have a way to turn your record to get sound.
4 – Go make some music!
This is where it gets a bit tricky and most likely will require an extra person. One person spins the record slowly. The actual speed will take some practice, but it’s fun to hear how crazy the sound gets based on the speed. The other person will gently lay the needle to the record at an angle. You want the needle to go with the spin of the record and not against it. You’ll still get the sound and reduce the change of really scratching up the record.
Put it all together and you have something like this…
You’re not going to want to get out your pristine collector records for this. Over time the needle can do some permanent damage to the record. Plus it gets a little tiring trying to find the perfect speed to twist. 8^D But it’s fun and the kids learned a few things and solved a puzzle along the way!