Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

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donniej
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Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by donniej »

Over the past several weeks I've been building a modern, electronic 2 & 4 minute cylinder player that's priced closer to what a collector may be able to afford. Here's a little update for those who are interested, and I could use some input from those who may be knowledgeable about turntable components...
Pics will follow this week...

The machine is made mostly from off-the-shelf, high-quality components; the machinery is all metal (aluminum, steel and brass) and the core components are made in the USA. The core mechanical components all have working tolerances of better than 0.001". The mandrel bearings are massive, completely silent and have tolerances of better than 0.0005". The mandrel itself is extended and tapered, to accommodate shrunken or enlarged cylinders; the mandrel is 7" long.
The mandrel and feedscrew both use direct-drive, variable-speed, reversible motors. Finding motors which were both powerful enough to drive the machinery but also near-silent has been very challenging, and those motors are mounted in substantial (custom made) rubber mounts. Both the mandrel and feedscrew have separate controls with digital readouts for mandrel RPM and carriage feed-rate. The mandrel can be run from 80 - 200+ RPM and the carriage can be run well beyond (slower or faster) the feed rates needed for 2 or 4 minute cylinders. The player can be run in either direction. The carriage can be moved into position by either its motor or by a manual hand-wheel.

The tonearm assembly is mounted to a platform, which is adjustable on all three axis; up/down, front/back and (obviously) left/right. The up/down and front/back tonearm adjustments are graduated in 0.001" so precise positioning can be set for different cartridges, stylus or to help playback of "problematic" cylinders.
I'm still working on the plinth, and will likely offer a few different options, including finished wood, aluminum and/or mounted to a flight case. The size will be approximately 18" wide X 12" deep and 12" tall. Depending on the plinth, the entire machine will weigh ~20 - 30 pounds. Input power is 12V DC (an external power supply is included), so it can be used anywhere in the world and can also be configured to be portable. The output is phono-out, and I can recommend or pre-install line-level or USB pre-amps or converters. Other possible custom options include adding lights, microscope, laser-line centering, adjustable mandrel (for out-of-round cylinders), mandrel for Concert cylinders, and essentially whatever you can think of. Ortofon OM cart (my preferred cart for verticals) with custom stylus are also available.

The current hurdle is the tonearm. At present, the best option I've found is to use a quality one from an existing machine and swap the arm for a straight one of the correct length and adjust the counterweight. The aftermarket ones I've found would all dramatically increase the price of the machine, and most of their "premium features" are ones that aren't very helpful for cylinder playback. I've designed one to make from a Teflon billet (with aluminum arm), but this is a lot of labor. ***If anyone knows where I can order a new, quality tonearm with pivot, counterweight, etc... that's not more expensive than a mid-priced turntable then please post a comment or send me a message****.
Additional input is encouraged!

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travisgreyfox
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by travisgreyfox »

This sounds REALLY cool. You got any pics of one for reference?

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TinfoilPhono
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by TinfoilPhono »

Sounds like a great project!

melvind
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by melvind »

This sounds very interesting and I can't wait to see pictures and hope for availability sometime soon. Great work!

52089
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by 52089 »

I'm assuming you're doing this with the intention of selling some. Much as I love all the possible bells and whistles, I'd like to suggest you also make a very basic model that's actually affordable. I like the idea of having a good electric cylinder system, but I don't really need it to be high end. I just want to be able to enjoy cylinders and maybe record them easily.

donniej
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by donniej »

Thanks everyone.
My goal is to have a machine that has a base model and several additional upgrades. I’m mostly done the prototype and will have pics later this week. I intend to price the base model, which has all the features listed above (for playing 2 & 4M cylinders) <$2,000.
Since the core machinery is very rugged, and most components are off-the-shelf, it will be a very durable machine that can be upgraded and maintained for an indefinite period.

Upgrades will become available based on demand, likely starting with a mandrel for Concert (and other) cylinders as well as an adjustable mandrel (which may also be done this week).

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drh
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by drh »

Well, this outfit claims to have a straight arm for Technics tables, aimed at the DJ market, for $330 retail with counterweight: https://www.djhenraycustoms.com/technics-tone-arms.html (I have no experience with the company personally; just found it trolling the Web.)

Another approach would be to sell the machine with only provision for mounting an arm and then let the customer add an arm of his own choosing from other sources. Many high end turntables are sold this way, and the approach has an advantage in that the buyer can match arm to compliance of his chosen cartridge and his budget, perhaps even harvesting a suitable used arm.

Sounds like an exciting project. Best of luck with it! When adding other mandrels, please remember Pathé salon size; personally, I'd find that much more useful than an option for the larger "concert" sized cylinders.

AmberolaAndy
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by AmberolaAndy »

Don’s making machines now? Now This I gotta see. (Possibly buy) Will the cost be up with original machines?

VanEpsFan1914
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by VanEpsFan1914 »

Well! this is a game changer all right.

donniej
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Re: Electronic Cylinder Machine - The "Wilson Home"

Post by donniej »

I just finished the final mock-up of the controls for my upcoming “Home” cylinder machine and wanted to share a pic of the (nearly finished) prototype. A demo video will be ready later this week, after the (fully adjustable) tonearm mount is complete.
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