MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Berliner Gramaphone Kit and Edison Cylinder Kit, by Gakken

by Adam Kempa

As seen in MAKE 02 Toolbox

Tool photo.

These kits are part of a Japanese series of assembly-required, "adult-education" models. The functioning Edison Cylinder and Berliner Gramophone kits offer the allure of carving grooves into compact discs and Dixie cups.

Both kits have a sewing-needle-based pickup and playback assembly, and are constructed from a motor and various bits of wood, plastic, and Styrofoam. Gakken has provided thoroughly illustrated instructions in both Japanese and surprisingly well-translated English. The
assembly of each kit takes about
an hour and only requires a screwdriver, some scotch tape, and a battery.

Once assembled, it's relatively simple to start recording. On both kits, flipping a switch starts the motor spinning; then you speak into a cup for between 30 and 60 seconds. The cup is directly attached to the needle, which scratches a linear representation of the sound into either a CD or a plastic cup. To play back the recording, the needle rides in the freshly scratched grooves, and the vibrations are transmitted to the cup, producing audible playback.

The Gramophone kit seems to be the most 'show-offable' bang for your buck, though both kits do a fine job of delivering an archaic, hands-on audio experience. Recommended for all ages.

Available at different websites.