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Pizza Box Phonograph

by echothebat

Published on April 23, 2014

Pizza box phonograph using a littleBits motor and a notebook paper cone with sewing pin.

Credits: Ginger Butcher, Chris Butcher

How To Make It


Assemble the circuit. 

Place motor on ruler with a couple pieces of cardboard to fill the gap between the bit connectors. (This will protect your bit from breaking off the connectors when you attach it). Attach motor securely to ruler with zip ties or twist ties.  (Note - rubber bands will make the record wobbly). Connect the wire bit and tape wire to the ruler. Attach other end of wire to the power bit outside the box because once you close the box, you will NOT want to re-open it to turn your bit on and off.


Mount the ruler with motor. 

Place ruler across the corner of the open pizza box and mark where the ruler crosses the edges of the box. Then cut a slot each spot you marked, but just deep enough such that the top of the ruler is level with the top of the box. Place the ruler in the slots you cut and place a piece of Styrofoam under the ruler (see photograph). The Styrofoam should support the ruler such that when you can push down on the ruler it does not move. Make sure the motor is set to rotate CLOCKWISE.


Finish preparing the box. 

Place a second piece of Styrofoam in the bottom of the other side of the pizza box (this will help secure the chopstick in step 7). Close the pizza box and mark where the flaps hit the ruler. Use scissors to cut a chunk out of each of the box top flaps where they hit the ruler.


Close and attach record. 

Close box and press firmly on the top over the motor to make an impression in the cardboard. Then open the box top and poke a hole with the chopstick where the motor hit the box top. Then close the box firmly, making sure the motor comes up through the hole, and tape shut. Attach motor mate (coming soon) and fit record on to the end of the motor mate.


Create the horn. 

Roll a piece of paper into a cone shape and tape. Then place a sewing pin through the small end of the cone. (The pin should be angle slightly forward with the sharp end of the pin angled toward the small end of the cone). Tape a bendy straw to roughly the center running along the length of the cone. The bendy part of the straw should bend near the large end of the cone (see photograph).


Testing location to mount horn.  

Hold the cone by the short bendy piece of the straw and allow cone to rest on the record. Turn the power bit on. It might squeak a little, so try holding it in different locations. Try to find the best place where the straw can sit on the box top and still reach the record.


Mount the horn. 

Once you find the right place where it sounds best, mark where the short end of the bendy straw is hitting the box top.  Then cut the chopstick a little less than ½ way and push through the box top into the Styrofoam. Place bendy part of the straw on to the chop stick (it should be loose and move freely). 


Trouble shooting. If the cone is too jumpy and won’t stay on the record, try bending the straw more or adding some weight. Just a little weight, like a piece of tape is enough to weigh it down. If you hear a scratching sound - make sure the pin is angled correctly. It should NOT be pointed into the direction the record is turning.


Customize it! How can you make it louder? 

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