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March 14, 2018

3D-printed gramophone-style amplifier gives your Echo Dot a vintage overhaul

by John_A

There is something kind of steampunk about tech that brings together old and new worlds. Clearly, we’re not the only ones who are suckers for this type of thing, either, since Florida-based “maker” Bard Fleistad recently debuted a popular new retro-styled Amazon Echo accessory on Thingiverse. And it can be yours provided you have access to a 3D printer.

Called the Gramazon (you know, like a combination of “gramophone” and “Amazon”), it’s an acoustic amplifier designed for Amazon’s Echo Dot. It works on the same principle as old gramophones, with a horn attachment which amplifies the sound of your miniature smart Alexa speaker.

“The speaker is based on the old radio horn speakers from the early 20th century,” Fleistad told Digital Trends. “I’ve always been fascinated by the sleek and elegant design of these speakers, and regarded them as pieces of functional art. Over the years, it became a goal for me to obtain one of these, and if needed, restore it to working order. However, like so many other items from this bygone era, they have become fairly hard to come by these days, and the ones you do find usually fetch fairly high prices. Justifying spending hundreds of dollars on obtaining one was not something I was able to do, so I eventually gave up on the idea.”

Or, at least, it was something he gave up on until he got into 3D printing in 2017. Sitting on YouTube one evening this winter, Fleistad said that a video of a radio horn speaker popped up in his “suggested videos” feed. “I had one of those ‘Hey, I have a 3D printer, I can make that now!’ moments, and began sketching out some ideas for a homemade Bluetooth speaker,” he said. “During the process of modeling the horn itself, I happened to glance over at my Echo Dot sitting at the corner of my desk, and had another one of those lightbulb moments. Rather than sourcing a Bluetooth receiver and other hardware, I figured I could simply attach the horn to the Echo.”

Fleistad printed his finished piece using a Monoprice Maker Select 3D printer, and quickly decided to share the instructions with the wider “maker” community to let others build their own versions.

“Taking on a printing project like this can scary if you haven’t printed anything this large before,” he said. “But when you break the project into its individual parts, it’s not that scary. It just takes time. I’d say that if you have the patience to start it, anyone can make one.”

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