How to Make a Gramophone

Written by joshua jericho
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How to Make a Gramophone
Crank up the music by hand with your homemade gramophone. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

All you need to interpret a record's groove into music is a stylus, and to hear that music all you need is a space the vibrating stylus can resonate. So, if you find yourself without electricity, you can still listen to music by making your own hand-powered gramophone using materials you have around the house.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Two wine bottle corks
  • Screwdriver
  • Record
  • Sewing needle
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Books
  • A pebble and two stones

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  1. 1

    Pierce a cork with a screwdriver. Remove the screwdriver and run a pencil through the hole. The cork should fit snugly over the pencil about halfway down. This is the cradle on which your record will rest.

  2. 2

    Roll the paper diagonally from the corner into a cone shape. There should be a very small hole on one end and a large one on the other. Wrap the small hole with tape.

  3. 3

    Position the cone horizontally and run a sewing needle vertically into the small end of the cone, about 1/2 inch from the apex. The needle tip should go all the way through the tip of the cone, but the eye of the needle should stop at the surface of the cone. Tape the eye of the needle to the surface of the cone and also tape a small pebble as near to the tip of the cone as you can without touching it against the needle for balance.

  4. 4

    Place the record onto the cork cradle. Make sure there is enough room underneath the record to fit your fist under. You will need to be able to rotate the pencil with your hand.

  5. 5

    Pierce a second cork with a screwdriver. Run the pencil through it and push to cork to the centre so that against the top of the record. These two corks will clamp the record, assuring that it spins as you rotate the pencil.

  6. 6

    Position the pencil upright, holding it by one hand and, with the other hand, pick up the cone. Place the needle into a groove on the record. Your cone should be horizontal at this point and a few inches above the ground. Remove the needle from the record.

  7. 7

    Stack a couple of books to form a stand on which the large end of the cone will sit. Place a stone on each side of the cone so it can't move side-to-side when sitting on top of the books.

  8. 8

    Set the large end of the cone on its stand. With the pencil upright and the record suspended horizontally between the two corks, place the needle in a groove on the record.

  9. 9

    Use both hands to spin the record. The cone should stay in place with you holding it. Listen to the music transferred from the needle to the cone.

Tips and warnings

  • Your cone can be any size you want. Use of several pieces of paper to enlarge it. Just tape them together before you roll them into a cone.
  • Your records can be ruined very quickly playing them this way.

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