I wasn’t around for the heyday of vinyl, but I do remember encountering Fisher-Price’s little plastic record player now and again when I was growing up. The toy, originally introduced in 1971, came with chunky plastic records that played tunes like “Humpty Dumpty,” “Camptown Races,” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” In addition to being a nice little musical diversion, it also served as a sort of trainer turntable, familiarizing tots with the delicate ritual of dropping the needle (an art that would eventually be replaced by the comparatively barbaric one of cramming cassettes into boomboxes). Fast forward to today: Vinyl is cool again, wholesome old toys are back in vogue, and vintage Fisher-Price Record Players are a hot eBay item. So it’s actually sort of timely that someone figured out how to make new records for the original toy with a 3-D printer.
Instructables user Fred27 unveiled the project in May, but his first guide covered drilling new discs with a CNC Mill. “I was blown away by the response to it,” he writes in the introduction to his new tutorial, “but I only know of one person who had a go at milling their own.” So he decided to update the instructions for use with a 3-D printer, expanding the disc-drilling opportunities to a slightly larger subset of the DIY crowd.
The new listing includes downloadable 3-D printer files for three tunes: “You Are My Sunshine,” the Star Wars theme, and, naturally, “Stairway to Heaven.” But if you have other songs in mind, Fred’s got you covered: The post includes a link to a piece of self-coded software that lets users key in a desired melody and export the resulting disc as a file that can be read by OpenSCAD, one of the more popular 3-D scripting programs. Of his own application, Fred writes, “It’s not exactly sophisticated musical software but the player is not exactly hifi equipment.” Good point. The rest of the guide walks users through the process of turning those digital files into a physical objects, and for those that don’t have access to a 3-D printer, Fred points out, a site like Shapeways will be happy to do the fabricating for a reasonable fee.
The original toy came with 10 songs on five double-sided records, and for the subsequent 40 or so years, that’s all there were. If you got sick of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” well, too bad, maybe you could pretend it was actually playing the ABC’s. But for the progeny of today’s tinkering parents, the musical possibilities for the toy are endless. The Fisher-Price Record Player can still get little ones acquainted with the turntable, but it will also teach them that in the Internet age, you can pretty much listen to whatever music you want. You wouldn’t believe how many versions of “Camptown Races” there are on Spotify.
[Hat tip: Core77]
[Top Image: Danny Guy]