A steampunk record player.

November 30th, 2010

I finally finished off the last few details on the steam powered record player and gave it the first full test on live steam! The engine and base and other hardware are complete but the software could use some work. It does however run.

IMG_9215_1 Finished steam punk record player.

Before I bore people with details and photos here is a film of it in action on YouTube.

Yes, it’s a steam powered record player. Playing a punk LP. The Sex Pistols – God save the Queen (Victoria obviously).

You can’t really get more steam, or punk, than that!

And yes, I know it sounds terrible.

For those who haven’t followed the whole story here is a brief catchup. This all came about when I decided to build my own small steam engine from bits of junk around my garage. I built the engine first (named Nigel after Sir Nigel Gresley) then I made a boiler from some copper water pipe. After making the boiler and a small throttle valve I was able to test the engine running on steam. Now I knew the engine ran I started on the next part of my scheme – to use it to turn a record. I made up a firebox and heavy wooden platter. By this stage I already had it in mind to create the only true steampunk project on the Internet.

Now steampunk is an odd thing. It’s not really my cup of tea and I got somewhat annoyed after I posted details of my Google Maps Brass Wristlet Navigator that people called it steampunk. That wasn’t the intention! It just happens to be made from brass. But I thought well, if people want steampunk then let’s do something that’s really steampunk. Hence the steam powered gramophone.

My original plan was to use an old fashioned gramophone style pickup and horn. Unfortunately this didn’t work! So I went instead for a more conventional tone arm and pickup arrangement with the sound played through my phono pre-amp and stereo. That was tested and worked well so I next moved onto how to measure and regulate the speed. For this I used some magnets, a coil as a pickup and an Arduino driving a servo to move the throttle to control the speed.

Once I knew that would work I pulled everything apart, finished up a few details like a wooden drawer in the base to hold the electronics and batteries and I made a small brass meths burner to provide the flame. I varnished all the wood and reassembled everything. The visible wires are run through shoelace to give that fabric covered wiring look. All the brass and copper was polished then left to tarnish again to give a nice patina of age and the wooden parts were deliberately varnished in a rather slap dash fashion to give the impression of age (well that’s my excuse).

I also uploaded a film of the first actual test with steam using a different LP before I risked my Sex Pistols one which I have actually grown rather fond of.

First test run on YouTube.

The whistling of the safety valve was totally serendipitous, it wasn’t planned that way but it make it handy to know when it is venting steam pressure. You adjust it by changing the tension on the spring.

Anyway, some pictures of the finished device. I don’t have any plans for this thing. I basically made it up as I went along and experimented to see what would work and what wouldn’t.

The Arduino is a bare bones breadboard version I made up after I had things working well on my Duemilanove following the instructions here.

IMG_9218_1 IMG_9220_1 IMG_9221_1

IMG_9224_1 IMG_9225_1 IMG_9227_1

IMG_9228_1 IMG_9234_1 IMG_9235_1

IMG_9219_1 IMG_9229_1 IMG_9250_1 IMG_9246_1

What’s next? Well, the software still needs some work. One problem is as soon as the platter starts to spin the PID controller immediately pulls the throttle to the minimum RPMs. The throttle should remain at the half way point until things stabilise for a while otherwise the throttle setting can be too low for the engine to continue running. The PID also needs tuning some more to make it run well. With a bit of work I should be able to get the speed regulation a bit more constant.

http://www.asciimation.co.nz/bb/2010/10/31/more-on-nigel

72 Responses to “A steampunk record player.”

  1. Steam-powered record player | Products & Tech News Says:

    […] New Zealand, wrote in to share his Arduino-controlled, steampunk (literally!) turntable. This is my steam powered record player built to play a Sex Pistols LP. Yes, it is true steampunk. The engine was made mainly from bits and […]

  2. beetle Says:

    Very well done. I love it. :)

  3. A steampunk record player « Beetle's Weblog Says:

    […] http://www.asciimation.co.nz/bb/2010/11/30/a-steam-punk-record-player […]

  4. Jha Says:

    Good evening, sir, you have won an Internet for being so effin’ nerdy. I am still gathering my thoughts from the inimitable nerdiness of this contraption.

  5. Steam-powered record player - machine quotidienne Says:

    […] New Zealand, wrote in to share his Arduino-controlled, steampunk (literally!) turntable. This is my steam powered record player built to play a Sex Pistols LP. Yes, it is true steampunk. The engine was made mainly from bits and […]

  6. Tech Gadget Reviews » Watch This Steam-Powered Vinyl Play Doubly Retro Rock and Roll [Video] Says:

    […] From creator Asciimation: […]

  7. Athos Says:

    I think I would have tried to have the steam engine load a spring, like in a clock, and have the speed controlled through gears, and abandon all of the electronics. Or run the electronics off of a steam dynamo, and use a stepup transformer for the phono preamp. Otherwise, this is great.

  8. Sex Pistols on Steam Says:

    […] schreibt: This is my steam powered record player built to play a Sex Pistols LP. Yes, it is true steampunk. The engine was made mainly from bits and […]

  9. Watch This Steam-Powered Vinyl Play Doubly Retro Rock and Roll [Video] | DesignaFire The Gadgets and Technology Website Says:

    […] From creator Asciimation: […]

  10. Simon Jansen’s Steampunk record player plays ‘Sex Pistols LP’ just fine | WebFeeder Says:

    […] turntable made by Simon Jansen of Auckland, New Zealand. Built to play a Sex Pistols LP, the steam powered record player has its small engine made from bits of junk from the maker’s garage. The boiler is made from some […]

  11. Bruce Rosenbaum Says:

    Hi —
    Would you like to exhibit your work in the U.S.? Please visit http://www.steampuffin.com and http://www.modvic.com and let me know your thoughts. I look forward to hearing back. Thanks, Bruce

  12. steam-powered record player: taking steampunk too far - technabob Says:

    […] record player really adheres to what steampunk really should be: powered by steam! It was made by Simon Janson from Auckland, New Zealand, who mated steam-power with an Arduino processor. The engine was cobbled […]

  13. Watch This Steam-Powered Vinyl Play Doubly Retro Rock And Roll | Gizmodo Australia Says:

    […] creator Asciimation: The engine speed is controlled by a throttle being driven from a servo controlled by an Arduino. […]

  14. Handshake | The Guidebook To Modern Geek Culture » A steampunk record player Says:

    […] Read more about the project at asciimation’s blog. […]

  15. Giradischi Steampunk | Lega Nerd Says:

    […] Asciimation Musica giradischi (5), Simon Janson, steampunk (71), vapore (2), vinile (17) […]

  16. Steam Engine-Powered Record Player | NEWS Gate Says:

    […] the above video, it plays “God Save the Queen” by The Sex Pistols. Amazon.com WidgetsLink via Technabob If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! Tags: god […]

  17. Samantha Morel Says:

    Hello there,

    This is a fantastic device! I happen to be working on a Steampunk project and museum exhibition and thought it was interesting that you don’t like Steampunk, yet have created such a very Steampunk device!
    Would you be willing to answer a few questions about your steam-powered record player and thoughts on Steampunk for my project? If you are interested, do e-mail me at the address I have included. I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    – Samantha Morel

  18. Steampunk record player is steam-powered » Its All Random Says:

    […] Asciimation, Make, technabob Tags : record players, […]

  19. Jason Says:

    Great work! This is very cool. :)

    One question: to improve audio quality, why not have the engine drive a heavy cylindrical weight mounted on a bearing and then attach the belt to this weight (a la VPI HRX: http://www.vpiindustries.com/static.php?page=HRX_Turntable). This would act as a low-pass filter to the variation in speed.

    Congrats on such a cool and visually stunning project!!

  20. Mururoar | audiophilosophy, nerdism and crap » Blog Archive » Steampunk Turntable Says:

    […] aber mal in echt! Simon Lanson hat diesen Dampfbetriebenen Plattenspieler gebaut und auf seiner Seite findet ihr mehr Infos über das […]

  21. Simon Says:

    Hi Jason, the platter was deliberately made nice and thick and heavy for just this reason. But yes, a steel one like the one in the link would be good. Fantastic looking machine that one! Also, you have probably guessed audio quality wasn’t high on my list of design criteria!

  22. Steam Powered Record Player « Postcards Of The Hanging Says:

    […] for that classic steampunk look. For more information on all of the technical aspects, check out Lawson’s blog here. The blog has several photos of the record player and all the technical specs your heart desires. […]

  23. Steampunk: Steam-Powered Turntable Puts The Retro… | Bit Rebels Says:

    […] Simon Jensen has created something astounding and beautiful out of an old turntable. Not only is it fully functional, but it also runs on steam. The build is a feat in engineering really, and it uses plenty of clever solutions to drive the servo to control the throttle speed. […]

  24. A Steam-Powered Record Player | trends trendory trend Says:

    […] Asciimation has unveiled an interesting musical concept–a steam-powered vinyl player that echoes influences of the steampunk genre. The creator explains: The engine speed is controlled by a throttle being driven from a servo controlled by an Arduino. The RPMs are measured by a coil detecting the passing of six magnets in the edge of the platter and the approximate revs are displayed on an analogue meter. […]

  25. DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » A steampunk record player. Says:

    […] Read it. […]

  26. Steam-powered Rickrolling - Hack a Day Says:

    […] is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half […]

  27. Alex Says:

    Hi,
    Excellent work!
    I am no big fan of Arduinos but I am doing some work with dsPICs atm and there is a DSP library for the compiler that includes an entire PID controller function, you just state your coefficients and it will do all the work for you in theory.
    Could be worth looking into for a more embedded soloution.
    – A x

  28. Nate B Says:

    Finally, live steam! So glad to see a kindred soul eschewing the “more decorative gears!!!!111″ ethos that pervades retro functional art these days.

    Do you have any plans to implement a mechanical governor? The whirling flyball has always been a hallmark of steam power for me, and I think it would not only jazz up the project, but eliminate the electronics from the control loop.

    Besides, who wants to tune PID loop parameters, when you could just adjust a screw instead?

  29. Scott Says:

    EXCELLENT WORK!

    Some suggestions:

    You’ll get better stability if you can measure and adjust the speed of the driving motor flywheel than the turntable itself.

    The spool-up time for the motor and the time-lagged nature of the physical linkage to the turntable can cause a lot of feedback problems in the control system.

    Holding the flywheel speed steady (as was done with the old hand-cranked phonographs) will stabilize the turntable and the system will be more tightly coupled and have a faster response. The non-linearity of the control valve position can be compensated somewhat, but it’ll be a pain to calibrate.

  30. ZZZ Says:

    Extremely cool.

    Now, get rid of the arduino. A flyball/brake disk mechanism is fairly simple to build and was standard equipment on wind-up phonographs. It works great, even with widely varying loads and spring torque.

  31. mageuru Says:

    Awesome design.

    But I think having the little spindle to the large turntable via string (band), is a waste of a lot of mechanical energy…

    Instead, if possible create a gear system, where the small spindle connects to a small spindle on the turntable side that connects to a series of gears, that can mechanically give you the 35rpm needed while using less energy initially, which could also allow it to run a longer duration, this is done with gear ratios.

  32. Steampunk: Steam-Powered Turntable Puts The Retro In Cool! | Programming Blog Says:

    […] Simon Jensen has created something astounding and beautiful out of an old turntable. Not only is it fully functional, but it also runs on steam. The build is a feat in engineering really, and it uses plenty of clever solutions to drive the servo to control the throttle speed. […]

  33. Steam-powered Rickrolling · Computer Hardware Says:

    […] is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half […]

  34. Nico Says:

    So let me get this straight, you don’t like steam punk, and audio quality wasn’t high on your list of design criteria? hmm.

  35. toodles Says:

    damn kids, record players were electrical devices and were never steam . Don’t they teach anything in school anymore?
    No wonder you are struggling you fools should use electricity and all problems disappear and it is still primitive but because of the records and not electric

  36. Steampunk Thing of the Day: An Arduino-controlled steampunk… | weeklypop Says:

    […] Thing of the Day: An Arduino-controlled steampunk record player that is powered by an honest-to-goodness steam […]

  37. Steam-powered Rickrolling « Black Hat Security Says:

    […] is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half […]

  38. Steam Turntable Actually Improves The Sex Pistols | Technology & Lifestyle Tech News Says:

    […] Steam-powered Record Player [via Galen Carol,an audiophile with a sense of humor] […]

  39. Steam-powered Rickrolling | TechLeaked Says:

    […] is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half […]

  40. spelbynder Says:

    Dear #25 & 26, Imbeciles! You couldn’t create something half so cool with Jules Verne holding your hand. It’s so like the benighted and resourcefully crippled to criticize the curiosity-inspired and ingenuity-enabled. Blast you for your transparently green-eyed jealousy. For shame!

  41. Steam-Powered Record Player Says:

    […] Jansen built a beautiful steam-powered record player, which looks much better than it […]

  42. punkerpan Says:

    the ramones would have been better as they actually started the punk movement.

  43. Oakenheart Says:

    Hmm. Should drive it with a turbine for smoother power. ;)

  44. An Actual Steam-Powered Steampunk Record Player Looks Beautiful But Sounds Horrible [Video] | DesignaFire The Gadgets and Technology Website Says:

    […] manage to create this from spare parts in a garage, well, damn, that must be one helluva garage. [Asciimation via Laughing […]

  45. An Actual Steam-Powered Steampunk Record Player Looks Beautiful But Sounds Horrible | Gizmodo Australia Says:

    […] manage to create this from spare parts in a garage, well, damn, that must be one helluva garage. [Asciimation via Laughing Squid] […]

  46. An Actual Steam-Powered Steampunk Record Player Looks Beautiful But Sounds … · Punk Till I Die – punktilliDie.com Says:

    […] manage to create this from spare parts in a garage, well, damn, that must be one helluva garage. [Asciimation via Laughing […]

  47. comosus Says:

    Why haven’t u used a centrifugal governor to control the speed? IMHO it would fit perfectly to the machine…

  48. Mans Says:

    Old steammachines uses a speed and stability regulator who looks like this:
    http://www.history.rochester.edu/steam/thurston/1878/f29p115.gif
    It has a name, but I have forgotten the name of the unit.

  49. Tocadiscos steampunk funciona con steam y reproduce punk « BN Says:

    […] A mi todo esto me ha dado ganas de comer lentejas. Más detalles de su construcción en la fuente. — Javier G. Pereda [Asciimation] […]

  50. Steam-powered Record Player « Trial By Steam Says:

    […] is my steam powered record player built to play a Sex Pistols LP. Yes, it is true steampunk. The engine was made mainly from bits and […]

  51. ARMTRONICS - Steam-powered Sex Pistols Says:

    […] is a must-have if you find yourself in the woods with no power and a bunch of LPs. The steampunk-o-phone was design by Simon […]

  52. Steam-Powered Record Player | Fun is 2 cool Says:

    […] asciimation Share Tags: New Zealand, Simon Jansen, steam record player, steam tunrntable, steampunk record […]

  53. A Steam Powered Record Player · Gadgets Says:

    […] Simon Jansen built this fully functional steam-powered record player out of a desire to make something authentically steampunk.  His attempts at making a true gramophone, horn and everything, went awry, and so he settled on a turntable that was spun by the power of steam. […]

  54. Because he could: steam-powered Sex Pistols… « (Roughly) Daily Says:

    […] of (among other things) the world’s first Jet-powered Beer Cooler, has built a lovely steam-powered turntable.  In the video above he demos his steam-punk player with “a punk LP. The Sex Pistols – God […]

  55. BETAROCKER >> Endlich eine Alternative zum 1210 Says:

    […] Die plattendrehende Zunft darf endlich erleichtert aufatmen. Nachdem in den letzten Wochen zum wiederholten Male der endgültige Tod des Technics 1210 verkündet wurde, ist nun endlich eine praktikable Alternative gefunden. Besonderes Sahnehäubchen: die Energieversorgung durch ein integriertes Verbrennungskraftwerk. Hier lassen sich dann auch gleich die während der Session anfallenden Kippenstummel oder etwaiger Verpackungsmüll schnell und umweltfreundlich entsorgen. An einer Verbesserung der Gleichlaufstabilität wird derzeit noch gearbeitet, der erste Prototyp macht aber bereits einen sehr vielversprechenden Eindruck. Weitere Details verrät der Hersteller auf seiner Website. […]

  56. Marty Says:

    I describe this as “zany”. God it sounds awful!

    Seems a shame to control something steam-powered with something as modern as an arduino, even if it can be made to regulate speed better….

    So here’s a thought: check your local library, or buy a copy (Amazon) of: “Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook” 3rd. Edition, (by Neil Sclater & Nicholas P. Chironis, published by McGraw-Hill). Pages 362-366 provide various ideas for speed governors. The book is now in its 4th Edition.

    Another book: “Ingenious Mechanisms For Designers and Inventors” Vol. 4, (Edited by Franklin D. Jones, published by Industrial Press).

    On page 299 (Ch. 13) “Speed Regulating Mechanisms”. On the same page, “Instant Acting Centrifugal Governor”. While this device is used with a steam turbine, maybe it could be adapted to your (insane) application.

    This is really demented.

  57. Steam-Powered Record Player | iCrates Says:

    […] Read more about this and many other cool inventions on: Asciimation […]

  58. Steam Powered Record Player Build It Blog Build It Blog Says:

    […] Powered Record Player This post comes form Asciimation. He has created a steam powered record player. This one also comes with a video break down, so I do […]

  59. illume.eu — A steampunk record player Says:

    […] A geek in New Zealand posted his blog entry about making a steampunk record player. […]

  60. TECH.get | tech. gadgets. lifestyle. | steampunk record player is powered by steam, what else? | a convergence of technology, gadget & lifestyle Says:

    […] via Asciimation […]

  61. Steampunk Record Player lets you rock out like it’s 1899 - The Red Ferret Journal Says:

    […] that not use parts applicable to the imagined time period, but are also completely functional. This Steampunk Record Player is a fine example of […]

  62. Sex Pistols auf Vinyl – und auf ‘ner Dampfmaschine… | Alles in allem Says:

    […] die! Auf der neuseeländischen Seite Asciimation lebt ein Bastler seine Retro-Freuede aus, und der Plattenspieler ist echt super geworden. Zwar hört er das Wort Steampunk nicht so gerne, aber wer auf einer […]

  63. Vinylpunk, verbindet verschiedene fiktive Vergangenheiten « 11k2 Says:

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  64. Austin 7 Special » Blog Archives » Arrival! Says:

    […] The radiator is a honeycomb one and seems in good nick. The surround is brass and quite wonderful. I think that will have to stay as it is despite the danger of people claiming it’s steampunk. […]

  65. Steampunk Record Player with Arduino | HACKOLOG - Amazing Hacks and Mods Says:

    […] This was made with small steam engine with a boiler crafted from a copper water pipe and carved some wood for the custom platter and base. Add some magnets, a coil for a pickup and a servo that is controlled by Arduino. […]

  66. Arduino Blog » Blog Archive » Steampunk Record Player with Arduino Says:

    […] steam-powered record turntable made out of juck & re-used things. This was made with small steam engine with a boiler crafted from a copper water pipe and carved some wood for the […]

  67. Steampunk Record Player with Arduino | dev.SquareCows.com Says:

    […] steam-powered record turntable made out of juck & re-used things. This was made with small steam engine with a boiler crafted from a copper water pipe and carved some wood for the […]

  68. Steampunk Record Player with Arduino / Cooking Hacks Blog Says:

    […] steam-powered record turntable made out of juck & re-used things. This was made with small steam engine with a boiler crafted from a copper water pipe and carved some wood for the […]

  69. MAKE | Steam-powered record player Says:

    […] New Zealand, wrote in to share his Arduino-controlled, steampunk (literally!) turntable. This is my steam powered record player built to play a Sex Pistols LP. Yes, it is true steampunk. The engine was made mainly from bits and […]

  70. publisher Says:

    Hi,

    Can we please reproduce pictures of your steam turntable in Hi-Fi World? This is for a News feature.

    thanks

    best regards
    Noel Keywood, publisher

  71. Any interest in starting new open source automated brewing project...for propane? - Home Brew Forums Says:

    […] http://makeprojects.com/Project/One-Ton+Linear+Servo/882/1#.UPWhoqFxe_C Steam-punk record player http://www.asciimation.co.nz/bb/2010/11/30/a-steam-punk-record-player This may seem out-of-place, but it's basically a servo control with hall effect sensors to control […]

  72. Steampunk: Steam-Powered Turntable Puts The Retro In Cool! | Audio Tweak Says:

    […] Official web page of Simon Jensen […]

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