There was a time when recording sound was a complicated endeavor involving delicate wax cylinders or, later, unwieldy reels of magnetic tape. Now you can just pull out your smartphone and activate the voice memo app to record hours and hours of crystal clear audio. But there are still times when you might want that old school recording feel. It could be fun for a kid’s toy, a geocaching “treasure,” or an escape room clue. If that sounds appealing to you, Luklev has a tutorial explaining how they built a steampunk-esque voice recording toy called Voicetron.
Voicetron has the kind of aesthetic that practically forces passersby to pick it up and play with it. Many of the doohickeys and gizmos adorning the enclosure are purely decorative and don’t actually do anything, but the device still looks very cool. It’s easy to imagine Voicetron sitting inside of a geocache box so geocachers can leave messages for each other. It was also quite affordable for Luklev to build, even though it looks very fancy. That’s because most of the components have been upcycled from old junk, and the voice recording functionality is handled by a cheap and easily-acquired commodity board.
That board is based on the ISD 1820 chip, which is designed specifically for recording and then playing back short voice clips. That board can be purchased for just a few dollars. Luklev combined it with a DC-DC converter board to bring 9V from the battery down to the 5V required by the board. It’s housed within an old speaker enclosure that was repainted. Numerous decorative elements — some 3D-printed and others repurposed — are glued to the outside of the speaker enclosure. The microphone is fed through the flexible metal tube from a barbeque lighter. It functions exactly as you’d expect: just flip on the switch and push a button to start recording. Then you can playback that clip whenever you want!