I don’t know about you, but I love records. I love the way they slide out of a sleeve, I love the smell of a box of old records, and I love the way you can see the music etched in the vinyl underneath a light. I love that when a record breaks, it turns into horribly dangerous shards. I love that it seems like it can be used as a frisbee until someone’s thumb and index finger get cut off. And I love how coffee tastes when there’s a tablespoon of a ground up Simon & Garfunkel record mixed in.
I also love oatmeal, and that’s great because I can make oatmeal pretty quickly any time I want. But I can’t make records any time I want, so therein lies a very real deficiency in my life. I want to make records. I’ve wanted to since I was a young boy, but the universe just refused to give me that kind of power. This dilemma recently ended where most of my problems do: on an Instructables page.
I should probably mention that I love Instructables. This one in particular showed me how to 3D print toy records for an ancient Fisher Price phonograph. I love ancient Fisher Price phonographs. When I see one, I picture a baby with a moustache in a smoking jacket reaching into his shelf of multicolored plastic records, pulling out one by a baby Thelonious Monk, saying, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff,” and then pouring himself a tumbler of formula.
I love Thelonious Monk, but that is entirely besides the point. Please, try to stay focused. For this project, you’ll need a Fisher Price phonograph, this custom Fisher Price music editing software, and OpenSCAD. You’ll use these to write the music and create the template for 3D printing. If you have your own 3D printer, the final step will be easier, and if you don’t you can send away to have one printed.
To start, open up the software Fred27 created just for this purpose. It’s a music editor, but rather than separate tracks, a grid, or any bells and whistles (I love bells and whistles) that you’d find in any modern music production software, you simply have a five bar staff and a bunch of dots. The dots are notes, and you can position them into whatever melodic sequence you please. Fred27 notes that the Fisher Price phonograph is missing flats, sharps, and several other notes because apparently, back in the 60s and 70s, Fisher Price wanted to raise a generation of musical imbeciles (The Knack released their first album 20 years after this toy’s creation. Coincidence?)
Once you’re done composing your song, export a SCAD file. These menues always bewilder me. Don’t be dismayed. It’s not any better than you are.
Start up OpenSCAD, open the file you just created, and see lots and lots of code. Press F6 and OpenSCAD will render all that blargon jargon into an actual image. Hey, that thing looks familiar. It’s a record! I made a record! I’m gonna pick it up and… oh. It’s just a picture on a screen. How do we make the pretty picture into a real boy? Here’s how. First, export it as an STL file.
If you have a 3D printer, you can take it from here. If you don’t have your own 3D printer, first off, that’s so early 2012 of you to not have a 3D printer, but anyhow let’s move past it. Since you don’t have your own 3D printer (seriously, what the hell?), you’ll have to send your design to a place like Shapeways in order to realize it. They’ll do it for like $30, which is less than it would cost you to… OK, you can probably hear a partial, single instrument rendition of “Humpty Dumpty.” It all depends on how badly you want to be in the record industry.