Turntable Repair with a 3D Printer


If you’re cleaning up a storeroom and find a large box with wood veneer on it, you should definitely open it up and see what’s inside. In the case of this project, there was a broken, but possibly repairable, turntable. Getting the device back in working order did take some effort, but with a newly obtained 3D printer, the device is again able to produce beautiful music.

After unboxing, the record player was plugged in, but nothing moved. Fortunately, the problem was only a worn idler wheel and broken bracket for it. A new wheel was purchased, while a new bracket was designed in Sketchup and printed.

The next problem was a missing headshell, the thing that holds the cartridge containing the needle that actually contacts the record. It wasn’t possible to find an exact replacement, so the tonearm was modified to fit a more common model. After the arm’s counterweight was adjusted, things worked nicely. Finally, a new support was printed to fit the manufactured headshell coupling.

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A new preamp and speakers were hooked up, as the preamp that came out of the “mystery box” was beyond repair. There’s a video on the linked project, but I wasn’t able to embed it here.  It sounds quite nice, even after whatever losses came from recording and encoding it on the Internet.

Building a Desktop Music Streamer From A Car Stereo

While it may look like a car stereo, it is in fact an internet audio streaming machine.

While it may look like a car stereo, it is in fact an internet audio streaming machine.


Listening to audio and radio stations on the internet usually involves using a PC or mobile device to do so. That’s no longer the case as an engineer and audiophile named Chris (of niston cloud) designed a stand-alone Hi-Fi internet receiver component that can be connected to independent sound systems and stereos. Incredibly enough, the streamer was built around a Raspberry Pi and Pi-DAC audio card to bring 128Kbps of streaming goodness to our ears.

A GLK series HMI unit houses the Raspberry Pi and other components, giving it a sleek modern look.

A GLK series HMI unit houses the Raspberry Pi and other components, giving it a sleek modern look.


Chris chose Matrix Orbital’s GLK HMI series base plate in USB flavor to house the electronic components, which features a digital face (*192 X 64 pixels), 3-bicolor LEDs and a 7-key tactile keypad to navigate the menu. While the Raspberry Pi does all the math heavy lifting, the HD sound comes from the Pi-DAC add-on card from IQuadIO and features Phono connectors for easy sound system/stereo integration.

The enclosure provides plenty of room to house the RPi and Pi-DAC boards, leaving room for cables to be neatly routed.

The enclosure provides plenty of room to house the RPi and Pi-DAC boards, leaving room for cables to be neatly routed.


Open source firmware in C# was utilized to run on the Raspbian OS, which contains several subsystems for the audio, including the BASS audio library that provides a gap-less transition through station presets. All in all, the Nistron Stream One took 14 hours for the build, 200+ hours for software programming and close to $500 on the materials.


Toddlers Can Play Their Favorite Music With Song Blocks Sonos system

Number 5 is alive! Actually, the wooden block is a music ignition switch of sorts thanks to Sonos.

Number 5 is alive! Actually, the wooden block is a music ignition switch of sorts thanks to Sonos.


Toddlers are inquisitive by nature. Everything must be touched, poked and tasted in order to get a full understanding (at least for them) of what things are. Sound also plays a big role in their lives, the sound of parents voices, giggling keys and music bring smiles and incoherent ‘gurgling’ sounds of delight.

The wooden blocks hallowed out for the NFC tags and magnet placements.

The wooden blocks hallowed out for the NFC tags and magnet placements.


Combining both touch and sound is a no-brainer when it comes to a child’s learning experience and Shawn Kahandaliyanage did just that with his Song Blocks toddler-friendly Sonos controller. Seeing how his son had an interest in the hi-fi wireless audio system, Shawn devised a way that would allow his son to interact with the platform and thus Song Blocks was born.

The Raspberry Pi B+ and NFC controller board run the show and can be placed out of reach from little inquisitive hands.

The Raspberry Pi B+ and NFC controller board run the show and can be placed out of reach from little inquisitive hands.


The platform consists of 12 numbered wooden blocks, each outfitted with a magnet and NFC tag. When a block is placed on a particular drawer, each backed by a series of magnets and an NFC controller board, a Raspberry Pi B+ reads the tag and plays a corresponding song. It also sends out a tweet of both the song and the artist to @songblocks for those interested. To see more visit Shawn’s GitHub breakdown.

A Working 3D Printed Guitar


Have you ever wondered if a working guitar could be 3D printed? That question has now been answered by Jeff Kerr’s beautifuly printed model.  Not only does it look great, it sounds very good too, as seen in the video below.

The design may seem a little strange if you’re expecting a wooden body, but once the initial shock is overcome, the translucent body of the guitar is quite beautiful. To support the thin shell, there are a number of fractal-inspired supports that don’t conduct light as readily, providing an interesting effect.

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Everything on the guitar is 3D printed, with the exception of the metal parts like strings and tuning keys. In addition to making this guitar, Jeff actually designed the printer that made it. The printing area is reportedly quite large, which, given the size of the guitar, would be quite helpful!

The original Foundry Makerspace source states that this guitar is not for sale, but if you’ve got a big enough printer, the models are available here. Happy printing!

Somehow I have this image of an early 90’s hair metal band smashing their guitars onstage, only to melt them down and have them printed into axes for the next show. Maybe I’ll propose this if I ever become a roadie.

Electro Noise Ensemble Designs, And Rocks, Their Own Theremins

Photo: Aleš Rosa

Photo: Aleš Rosa

On Monday nights — most of them — the nine members of the Ljubljana, Slovenia, based Theremidi Orchestra get together to practice. Rehearsal, loosely defined, can mean practicing for an upcoming gig, building new instruments, or working on production. “It’s a cat-like ensemble and it’s a known fact that you can’t herd cats as one does sheep,” explains Dare Pejić, one of the founding members.

The “electro noise ensemble,” founded in 2011, plays Theremins and similar electromagnetic instruments for audiences at workshops, galleries, festivals, and even in theaters. Practice is held at Ljudmila, the Ljubljana Digital Media Lab, a hack lab, build space, and art center that has been in Slovenia’s capitol for around 20 years.

Not only did the members teach themselves to play, they designed and built the instruments. (Several members were on hand at World Maker Faire New York to demonstrate instruments, and even teach fairegoers how to build their own.)

Photo: Theremidi Orchestra

Photo: Theremidi Orchestra

A standby in sci-fi theme songs, Theremins use interference from a player’s hand, placed near the instrument’s antennae, to create sound. The Theremidi Orchestra offers instructions and a kit for one of their simpler designs, and two others: TouchTone (a feedback amplifier system) and Micronoise (a two-channel light sensitive oscillator).

But the group builds other instruments as well, experimenting with DIY electric instruments based on electromagnetics, light, and touch. “It’s a continuous process of learning, exploring, and co-working,” says Pejić. “I don’t think we’re there yet, there is so many things we’d like to try in future.”

Theremidi Orchestra – “Sound Happens!” from Lukasz Antkiewicz on Vimeo.

Photos: Aleš Rosa

Vancouver Maker George Rahi on Playing and Making Gamelan Bike Bike

Western Front Show 40th anniversary resize

Vancouver maker, George Rahi of Publik Secrets, and members of the Gamelan Gita Asmara, here in BC (yep, that’s in Canada!) created quite the spectacle at this year’s Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Not only did they make beautiful sounds, but George and others built all of their own instruments out of old bicycle tubes, bike parts, and pots and pans. The sound and craftsmanship are quite incredible, and I invite you to learn more about both building instruments and playing in a Balinese orchestra in my interview with George below. (Oh! and don’t forget to watch the videos for the full experience).

1. What is gamelan? And how did you get involved in the orchestra?

Gamelan refers to both the musical tradition that dates back centuries in Indonesia and the collection of instruments themselves, ranging from gongs, drums, metallophones, and flutes. The music is intimately bound up with all manner of community gatherings and spiritual rituals for the Hindu and Muslim cultures of Java and Bali. Ensembles can range from a few people to over 30 players in size. It is an immensely rich musical tradition quite unique with its own practices of tuning and composition, and most excitingly, gamelan music is constantly transforming itself through experimentation and revolution.

I became involved in Gamelan music through a community group that has been based at the University of British Columbia under the direction of ethnomusicologist Michael Tenzer and visiting Balinese teachers, most recently, I Wayan Sudirana. The group, Gamelan Gita Asmara, strives to faithfully represent the traditional and contemporary music of Balinese gamelan. In 2013, we took our entire ensemble to Bali for a tour, playing 8 shows. Our home-made bike gamelan project came out of our experience with the “real” instruments and our love and enthusiasm for the music.

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2. How did you come up with the idea to make instruments out of bike parts and pots and pans? 

We definitely did not start out with any specific idea around making a gamelan from salvaged and found materials. Rather, the whole thing kind of morphed out of an altogether different project entirely. Myself and two musicians from the Gamelan group were working on a bicycled operated music box for Burning Man in 2012. We experimented on a trial and error basis for a while trying to figure out how to pull it all together, testing out a lot of different materials such as steel bars, pots, and pans. There was a distinct aha moment when we cut out a section of steel tubing from the frame of a bicycle and it sounded wonderful, resonating for a long time with a shimmering tone. After this we couldn’t help but see more potential in making the bicycle tubes into a gamelan that could be played by multiple people, rather than by a music box that had a fixed arrangement.

Gamelan Bike Bike - promo June 2014

3. Can you describe a bit about how you made the instruments?

At the beginning was a long process of collecting discarded bikes. We would look for steel-frame bikes in the scrap bins at community-bike shops in Vancouver and pick out ones that had appealing colors and qualities. Bikes from the 1960s and 70s sounded particularly good due to the heavier, straight-gauged steel tubing that was commonly used in manufacturing. Starting with the triangle of tubing in the middle of a bike frame, we would cut out each steel tube one by one. Each rough cut tube was then tuned by ear by shortening the length of the tube with a metal chop-saw, thus raising the pitch of each tube. To hold the tubes up in the air so that they would resonate freely, we cut the end of a bike’s fork blade, with the drop outs pointing up into the air. Brake cable housing was weaved through holes drilled in each bike tube which then rested in the drop outs, creating a suspended row of tuned bike tubes. Every choice of materials was limited to what we could salvage and repurpose, making for a very unique home-made gamelan. Guiding us along the way was the basic design of the ‘gangsa’ instrument found in a Balinese gamelan, whose elegant design has continually been refined over centuries by instrument builders in Indonesia.

Gamelan Bike Bike - Promo June 2014 - 2

4. What was it like playing in Bali?

Before going to Bali, our group spent countless hours rehearsing our repertoire of traditional and contemporary gamelan. It was a very taxing ordeal and perhaps as a result, the experience of performing for people in villages that had likely never seen a western gamelan group perform before felt all the more special. We played eight shows in the “mebarung” format, which means two groups share the stage, trading off one piece after another. This meant we got to play alongside many incredible ensembles that repeatedly blew our minds with their precision and sense of togetherness. Having that exchange and a dialogue with the musicians in Bali, many of whom are pushing the boundaries of gamelan itself, was a tremendously rewarding experience.

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5. What’s up next for you? 

We are keeping busy composing new music and shadow – plays for Gamelan Bike Bike as well as performing at many community events around Vancouver. An exciting new collaboration this year is with Miscellaneous Productions, a local theatre company that will be using our custom instruments in an upcoming production! We are also experimenting with new types of instruments. This fall we started making a MIDI-controlled pipe organ in progress as part of a musical playground installation. Check out more of our upcoming projects at www.publiksecrets.com


Crouching Phoenix, Flying Dragon

Many people “find their tribe” at Maker Faire, and there’s just no end to the variety of interests and backgrounds of the makers you will meet. Last year I met husband and wife makers Caipei and Hanfang Cao, who had come to Maker Faire for the very first time. They brought their quadcopters, some decorated in phoenix and dragon paper craft designs, to perform musical and aerobatic demonstrations. The windy weather conditions limited what they could do outside, and another maker group let them use their premium space just inside the main entrance to the NY Hall of Science on Sunday afternoon.

Caipei and Hanfang really showed their stuff. Caipei had designed spherical frameworks out of lightweight carbon fiber rod, safely sealing the spinning blades of the quadcopters away from unintended contact with the audience. They performed aerial tricks in what they describe as a sort of competitive sport intended to promote health and happiness. I think Hanfang was somewhat ahead of her husband on points. Caipei also flew his beautifully crafted paper creations, serenading the colorful phoenix as he guided it in a graceful dance.


After Maker Faire last year, the couple went on to audition for the television show, “America’s Got Talent”. They successfully passed several local rounds, but in the end were not selected for the live show. They are planning on auditioning for “China’s Got Talent” and seeing how far they can go. Caipei and Hanfang will be back at World Maker Faire in New York this September. They’ve added a flying Jesus, accompanying angel, and a flying wizard (not to be confused with Harry Potter) to their menagerie of creations this year. It sounds a bit crazy and maybe it is, but I loved it last year and I’m sure I’ll love it again this year.

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Bass Cannon – The Portable Party


Adam’s Science Website puts it like this: Bass Cannon is a party on your shoulders. A weapon of mass destruction. A thing to make your neighbors angry.

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Bass Cannon is a mono audio system with a pair of x-pass filters, a powerful amplifier and suitable drivers. It’s composed of an AirZooka, a pair of voice coils, epoxy, some miscellaneous analog parts, a class D amplifier, a lithium-polymer battery, birch plywood, and a threaded rod, and assembled with a soldering iron and a laser cutter. There are two potentiometers for the pair of first order filters, and a Pyle PLPW8D voice coil fits perfectly inside the AirZooka case, leaving just enough room for the range driver with a threaded rod support to be placed in front of it. Adam states there is no battery management or protection circuitry, but that it would be simple to add if wanted.

Here is a schematic:


Build A 3D Printed Wearable Daft Punk Helmet

When my daughter was not more than 4 years old, she came up to me, tiny voice and hair in lopsided pigtails from the days activities, and said “Mommy, when I grow up, I wanna be Daft Punk.” She loved them! We’d watch Interstella 5555 every day, over and over and over again. And I was completely OK with this. Thrilled even. Every minute of it. Because I wanted to be Daft Punk too. Now I get to tell my almost 10-year-old daughter that with a 3D printer and some supplies, that we can have our very own Daft Punk helmet. Wearable, lighted and everything. I think this is a dream come true inside all of us.

The project by Adafruit includes a guide, lists of tools and supplies, and helpful prerequisite guides so that you know just what completing the project will take. You’ll need a soldering iron and solder, a few other things, and a very large 3D printer, but basically the project involves downloading the design file, resizing the helmet to fit your head, and printing it out in transparent/translucent PLA filament. In a few more steps, you’ll cover the helmet with tape and spray paint it with metallic paint and add the programmable LED strips by soldering them into the front of the helmet.

Voilà! You can be Daft Punk too.


Come Jam with Burnkit2600

Justin Emerson, Brett Marshall Lefferts, and Thom Uliasz are out to shatter the mystery of electronic music making. The trio perform, run workshops and make and modify electronic instruments under the name Burnkit2600.


Last year at World Maker Faire in New York Burnkit2600 laid down the jams, keeping the crowds entertained all day. The trio of electronic gurus will be at World Maker Faire again this year, and running an official jam session. Show up with your own circuit bent electronic instrument or try out some of theirs.

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You can contact Burnkit2600 at their website or visit their Facebook page.