The Return of The Revenge of The Comeback to A Day in The Life of The Resurrection of The Sequel to The Reincarnation of The Manifestation of The Preview to The Encore of the Return of the Ancient Mix-Master
I bought my Fidelitone, the Ancient Mix-Master, in the early 2000’s. It was originally built and designed by George K. Culbertson of Minneapolis in the late 1930’s, completely rebuilt several times from period parts by Scott & Crew at Vintage Music Co, and tuned up several times in between by the same people. However it is an ancient machine – and deserves to rest and be revered in homage. The three tonearm, two turntable layout suited my style and past of Sound Collage radio perfectly and I’ve missed doing that kind of mixing. It’s also prevented Frames & Grooves from performing, as I haven’t had my tools, as it were. However, it was an 80-year-old system that had serious limitations, also like an old motorcycle. For the past few years, I’ve thought about making one or hopefully finding someone else to make it for me. The new one would ideally have contemporary features like pitch control and precise stopping and starting capabilities, standard DJ stuff, but also be able to play 78’s.
I found a very good deal on three of the same type of turntable that had all these criteria. So, I bought them with the knowledge that one will be completely taken apart and quite possibly ruined in the process of creating a new Mix-Master.
The short version of this is that I’ll be removing the tonearm assembly & circuitry from one unit and try to attach it in the right location, so that it will play on the other two turntables when they are placed side by side.
I will also have to build some kind of modular box to store the circuitry for the third tonearm’s power-amplifier & output circuit board. Each unit will have both RCA & USB outs. I intend to use the RCA outs to go into a mixer so that like the Ancient Mix-Master, the new version will also have separate volume controls for each tonearm.
Seems straight forward. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.
I will be seeking help and advice from those mad Circuit Benders of you out there. If you’re interested in helping out or have advice, please let me know because I know I’ll need it.
When we left, TT3 was being cut up again. I’m glad to say that although nerve-racking it was successful.
After cutting off the second corner, I reassembled the power and speed section with the earlier removed parts.
From now on the second grey TT will be called TT2, the black TT will be TT1.
The power supply and speed area will have to be moved on TT2 so that the third tonearm assembly can be placed properly. On TT1 the corner with the 45 adaptor will be removed.
The center of the spindle is 210 MM from the pivot points of the tonearms, so the location of the third tonearm has to be at a place where those two arcs cross.
corner to another. This meant cutting off the corners and rearranging them. It also meant that the circuitry would need to be moved.
For one set of wires, the set of two going from the power supply to the circuit board, no modifications would be necessary.
Unfortunately, with the new location, the set of ten wires going from this circuit board to the main control would not be long enough. Fortunately, I have a spare. By cutting the wires at the base of the clip I will be able to connect them to the other set. Nine white and one red.
By starting at one end and clipping one wire at a time I was able to keep the sequence in order and spliced the ten wires together, doubling the length of them.
With Gaff tape and supports the power & speed assembly is moved to another corner and it all works! Both the speed & power selections work and the platter spins unobstructed!
The next steps will be the proper placement and attachment of the third tonearm assembly and the building of the break-out box for that tonearm.
Measure once, cut 17 times.
My initial idea to use the same type of tonearm that came with the turn tables for the third tonearm, might have been wrong. Again, I’m in the position of not knowing what I’m doing but knowing what I want to achieve. A potentially dangerous mix, but in this case, an enjoyable place to be.
Recently I remembered that deep in my collection of misfit toys are several variations of old record players that might be helpful. This first one, a “Sonomaster” was made for the Victor Animatograph Company and is an absolute beast! Solid, detailed and very, very heavy. This dates the unit to before 45 RPM records were viable, but their idea for playing both types of records, 78 RPM & 33 1/3 RPM, was to have a dedicated tonearm for each.
The second is a “Viewlex”. An early “multimedia system” consisting of a record player and film strip projector together in one box. This unit has more of a “kit” feel to it and looks much easier to take apart.
This also has the type of rotational needle system that has both 78 RPM and 33 1/3 – 45 RPM needles included.
The knob on the front of the tonearm rotates and turns the internal unit so that the appropriate needle is in position.
Unlike the contemporary turn tables that use circuit boards, this one has its own amplifier system built in.
The wiring coming out of the tonearm is much simpler as well. I still need to find someone to build me a stand-alone gizmo box for this tonearm. It will need an amplifier and RCA outputs, as do the other tonearms. Not only a gizmo box to house the controls but maybe also for the tonearm to be secured onto.
This tonearm is longer than the other two and will need to placed further back and separated from where I cut out a space for the housing.
So it goes.
My dear friend Fred, AKA, Enrico Delorian has made a DJ case for the new mixmaster project. I am so grateful and impressed with his carpentry skills. The detail, the joinings and hardware choices are all amazing. I love the notch in the side for the cables to run out.
I’ve got foam padding glued in now for protection during transport throughout the interior surfaces. The circuit board for the third tone-arm, the middle one, is secured underneath the grey turntable. The turn tables are raised on wood-blocks. I am working on a frame – support setup for the third tonearm and am getting closer to making that as well. Once that is complete I can begin wiring the tone arm to the circuit board and hope that it works.
Enrico Delorian has always had a thing for polar bears. In fact you can listen to a radio show we did together way back in 1986! The polar bear review of the 1960’s, with the drum jam collage from hell. He had had the idea of creating a drum-jam mix using drum solos from 1960’s R&R chestnuts, but no way of doing it. I happened to have a radio station at my disposal one night a week. This recording was one of the first one’s that I digitized, back when I started doing that stuff. It is still fun to listen to. And now, with Fred’s help, I will be able to make more sound collages with the new mixmaster.
The missing link pieced, or maybe it’s the missing piece linked?
This was certainly one of the more rewarding parts of a very rewarding project. I needed to make a piece that I could both mount the third tonearm to and then attach that to the two turntables. Dang…
The first “draft” or prototypes were made of thick cardboard that could be shaped and reshaped and cut to fit. Once I had the basics down, it once again Fred to the rescue! He lives about 150 miles away from where I do but through the wonders of the US Postal Services we sent back and forth several versions until he made the one that fit just right, just like all the other nursery rimes long for… a happy ending.
Here is the first video taken during the dawn of the new mix master.
Third Arm engaged
The pictures below showcase the third tonearm and the customized counter-weight assembly. Because the tone-arm needed a greater range of motion than standard, the supplied counter-weight couldn’t be used because it limited this motion by bumping against the anti-skate dial. The answer turned out to be a very simple and I think elegant, solution. An allen-wrench with a few washers placed on the end! The allen-wrench fit into the hole that was already in the end of the tone-arm, and clears the dial that it needed to fit over so that it can play on both turntables. Recently upgraded the three cartridges to Ortofons that make the visual act of DJing so much easier