Homebrew, 3D printed Fisher-Price record-player disc plays "Still Alive"

Pittance sez, "This is my brand new 3D printed Fisher-Price record player record (for the old clockwork music box one, not the new electronic one) playing "Still Alive" from Portal. It's entirely made using Processing and printed at Shapeways and, now I know how to do it, I really hope I can make more with different tunes - suggestions?"

3D Printed Record - 'Still Alive'


  1. I would suggest the plinky bit from “Someone I used to know”. Tubular bells would also sound really creepy!

  2. For it’s apocalyptic tone, I’d suggest the brass band section of the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

  3. I have a specially-treated fused-deposition ABS plastic that will really juice up the harmonics on replicated record players like this–radically reduces wow and flutter too, and drops THD down by a whopping 340%! It’s around $2700 a kilo, but my ears tell me it’s worth it.

    1. But to REALLY appreciate the sound you need to set your music-box-player on my nano-infused SoundMat(tm). It dampens unpleasant vibrations and leves only with the excitations.

  4. something by Akira Yamaoka from the Silent Hill series of computer games. Some of those songs would be even more creepy than they already are.
    Tubular Bells is also a good suggestion

  5. Can anyone describe how the sound generation actually works?I had hoped to see some explanation at the link.

    It sounds like an old music box, so I assume that there are metal pins that get plucked, but — oh wait! The head is straddling the entire record’s radius, isn’t it? So each of the grooves in the record contains the bumps that pluck the pins in the head, yes? And one revolution of the record is the entire song.

    Got it (but correct me if I’m wrong).

    1. I think you’re right. I thought that the printer could render a standard playable record, which would have been way more detail than I thought these things were capable of making. 

      1. I also was not thinking of the resolution limitations of today’s 3D printers and thought this was a normal needle in groove record. I know software has been used to take an optical image of a vinyl record and turn it into fairly accurate audio so I think it’s reasonable one could write software to do the opposite. The problem is printer resolution. Perhaps you could do it if the “needle” was the size of a pencil and the record fifteen feet across.

        Calling this a “record player” is inaccurate, it’s a music box with interchangeable tune media.

    2. I  had one of these as a kid.  And you’re right, it’s just a music box where the player wheel has been shaped like a record.  The grooves in the “record” have steep bumps that pluck the metal pins.

  6. Interesting tune suggestions, I like the idea of Tubular Bells…

    As a couple of people have pointed out it’s a music box, the records are the storage media for the tune.  This means that it can be impossible to set up some tunes since the right notes aren’t available, no matter what key you choose. 

    It’s nice to see a few more ideas since I already made two or three false starts.

    There are (as I discovered) 16 unique notes but 22 notes in total with 6 repeats which I think are to allow some notes to be repeat faster; the mechanism uses a set of toothed wheels that are pulled round by the pegs on the disc and pluck the music box comb – if pegs come around too fast they might miss or jam.

    The timing for the tune is a little off also, I’m wondering if the notes aren’t quite played on a line radially from the centre as I assumed when I set up the model.

    1. The timing for the tune is a little off also, I’m wondering if the notes aren’t quite played on a line radially from the centre as I assumed when I set up the model.

      I wonder if it may have something to do with the fact that even though the music box element is lined up radially, so that all the notes along a common radial line should initiate their triggering simultaneously, the notes farther out will sound measurably earlier than those closer to the axis since they pass under the music box faster, and I imagine each individual note’s triggering mechanism is identical to the others.  You know what I mean: the trigger needs to move a fixed distance (say, 1mm) before the note fires off, and that 1mm is a smaller percentage of the groove’s circumference, and thus takes less time per revolution to traverse, the farther out you go toward the edge of the record disc.  You might need to build in a degree or two of “timing advance” into the shorter-radius grooves, since (as with internal combustion engine spark timing), the note-triggering event is of a constant duration, is it not, being a spring-driven twang… correct?  I’m sure you could calculate a formula of increasingly early offsets as you approach the innermost groove.

  7. I remember having one of these as a kid. I wonder whatever happened to it? Probably going to be thinking about that all afternoon.

    As for songs, I remember that the selection was not that extensive. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is the only one that comes to mind right now. I can’t remember the others.

    As for nominating a song, how about the Legend of Zelda theme, the original one?

    1. Yeah, it occurs to me that the Super Mario Bros theme would work, but I really don’t need to hear that particular melody done in any other context ever again.  I’ll just agree with Tubular Bells and/or The Imperial March.

      Or maybe the ol’ Cantina Band song, as made famous by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes.  Slowed down, that’d make a pretty awesome music box stomp.  I wonder if we have the notes?

  8. Legend of Zelda would be nice… and I would really love Rainbow Connection.  Hmm.  Wonderful World?  You have me practically drooling to get myself one of these despite not even having played Portal… I still have my player and all the records, and you can only hear Edelweiss so many times you know.

  9. You’re all going to hate me.

    It’s a Small, Small World.

    There. I said it.  Sorry.  Now the rest of you can join me in humming it for about the next three days.

    1. I head it off with Yellow Submarine and then break into End of the World by REM.

      That’s my process to obviating ear worms.

  10. Yes, one suggestion comes to mind: take your free time and handiness and put them toward volunteering with Habitat For Humanity or something useful.

    1. People are allowed to have hobbies. You don’t know anything about this guy, why are you judging him?

      1. Ease up, walropodes. Obviously this guy devotes ALL his time to Habitat for Humanity, and pays some third-world-orphan to post comments for him, thus contributing to poverty alleviation.

  11. Do you think you could do Smoke on the Water?

    It’s hard to think of short, slow, lo-rez tunes that are recognizable.

    Ode to Joy, maybe?

    /edit: what are other limitations are there?

  12. Check out these Portal 2 personality spheres, made with the help of a 3d printer:  http://blog.objet.com/2011/06/06/objet-3d-printer-used-to-recreate-portal-2-personality-spheres/  

  13. I’m disappointed – I misread this thinking that the entire record player had been printed. Now THAT would have been awesome!

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