I have built a series of Lego phonographs, but none as successful as this model. Based on an arm design by Jose Pino and using a Lego WeDo motor and the Scratch programming environment, my friends and I built a phonograph that played a record loudly enough to be heard across the room with no amplifier needed: just a nine ounce plastic drinking cup serving as the horn!
This particular phonograph is build from the programmable Lego WeDo Kit. The motor speed is programmed in Scratch, which interacts with the phonograph through a USB hub. You, of course, might already have all the bricks needed to build the phonograph and can purchase the Lego M-Motor and Lego USB Hub separately. This phonograph is by no means high-fidelity but provides the tool to play records from the $2 bin or other vinyl you do not mind damaging as you experiment with building Lego and programming in Scratch. You can use this phonograph to play records recorded at 33 1/3, 45, or 78 RPMs because the motor speed is controllable by the program you write!
For the turntable:
For the arm:
For the horn:
Josh Burker works with elementary age students on constructivist technology projects at an independent school in Connecticut. He has been a Lego maniac since kindergarten.
Photos by Meghan Scheck