Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bow down to Über-FrankenStereo (diary)

I am in a good mood. After a while of toiling and a few bucks on connectors and cables, I have finally created the awesomest stereo system known to man. Very cheap man. Unlike, I will not actually describe in detail what the end product is until the end. Scroll down if you like.

I started with the following, which I took with me when I moved out of my dad's house:
- A turntable (late 1980s?)
- A stereo with CD, Radio, Cassette, RCA Aux input, and speakers (non-RCA) (1990s)
- Another stereo with a turntable, Radio, RCA Aux input, and 8-TRACK PLAYER!!! (1975)

There were the following problems:
- the belt from the drive motor to the turntable (1980s) seemed to be loose, as it would slow and speed up.
- the turntable did not have a pre-amp, so I had to turn the stereo (1990s) volume up very loud to listen to records, and it sucked.
- the turntable on the stereo (1975) was not working properly and I could not repair it (especially after I took it apart and had extra pieces left over after I put it back together!)
- I didn't have RCA-to-RCA cables to hook my stereo (1975) into the aux input of my other stereo (1990s)

I eventually noticed that I could remove the turntable from the stereo (1975), and that the two were connected with a power deelie and two RCA adaptors.

I went to an audio store (mom-and-pop type with lots of old phones in the window) to see if I could get a replacement belt. He said he couldn't find one of a similar size, and that I should bring in the turntable to make sure that this was the problem, because the cables cost $10 each (yikes!). I also picked up a 3ft RCA-to-RCA cable ($4.99) and an RCA-to-1/8" stereo cable ($5.99, more on that later).

A couple days later, I took another look at the turntable (1980s) and put a strip of electrical tape around the drum to tighten the belt. It seems to have worked. I also took the other turntable off the stereo (1975) to plug the turntable (1980s) into the jacks. Unfortunately, both were male ends. I would need connectors.

I also looked at the 8-track player. Like the 1990s turntable, there was a drive motor connected to a larger rotating drum with a cable. This cable was stuck to the two thingies, and broke when I peeled it off. I fashioned my own cable out of old bicycle tire and some #10 staples. The 8-track player was now turning.

To test the sound, I plugged the stereo into my laptop's microphone jack using the RCA-to-1/8" cable. After a bit of figuring out what plugs into where, and turning my microphone volume on (important step), I was able to listen to 8-track cassettes for the first time. The three cassettes that were in the box of the stereo are all variations on "best disco hits" (I can at least attest to them being disco...). There was a bit of wackiness on account of the cable being held together with staples. Oh well.

The sound on this, though, was absolute shit. 25 years of corrosion didn't want to come off easily. I went to the nearby audio shop and picked up some RCA connectors (a pack of 4 for $2.99), some isopropyl alcohol spray ($5.99), and some electrical tape (didn't actually use this, so I won't count the price). At the counter, I bought some chocolate-covered almonds to support child rape or something like that ($2). The guy said that there was a student discount, but on looking at the receipt, it looks like he didn't give it to me. Fuckhead.

I connected the turntable to the stereo and found that it did have a built-in pre-amp, as I suspected. I plugged the thing into my laptop and started playing music, and had a bite to eat (This is where the chocolate-covered almonds came in). However, after a while, I noticed a loud humming. I played around with the output plugs, but eventually it wouldn't give up.

Figuring I should try plugging it into the stereo (1990s) aux input to see if this would help it, I did so. I regretted getting only the 3' cable and not the 6' cable because my stereo (1975) was on my bed and my stereo (1990s) was on its stand in the middle of my room. No room to walk. Anyway, the loud noise kept coming back.

I seem to remember eating at this point. Maybe I had supper at this time, or maybe I just ate twice. I tend to eat a lot, despite my slender profile.

When I came back, I said fuck it and listened to a cassette in my stereo (1990s). I realized that the volume was really loud, then noticed that the volume knob on my stereo (1975) wasn't all the way up. When I put it up and adjusted the knob on my stereo (1990s), the sound was much more manageable.

I put the other two RCA connectors on the end of the 1/8"-RCA cable so that I could plug the cable from the stereo (1975) right into it (and have a longer cable). This would enable me to record from turntable and from 8-track. Très cool.

So here's the cost:
Laptop (already had)
Stereos and turntable ('stole' from parents)
RCA cables: $10.98 + tax
RCA connectors: $2.99 + tax
Spray cleaner: $5.99 + tax
Parts for 8-track belt: negligible
Chocolate-covered almonds: $2
Total cost of project: $24.95

With this, I will be able to copy all of my (and my friends') records into digital format (once I figure out how I'm going to do this. I am hell bent against buying software).


- RG>

No comments: