Fisher Price #816 Record Player Repair

fisher-price-816-record-playerI recently got a Fisher Price #816 battery-powered phonograph from 1983. It played fine for a week and then the speed started to intermittently increase to “chipmunk” speed without warning. Moving the volume control to certain positions also effected the speed. No fun!

I took it apart and found that the player has an electronic speed control, with trim-pots to fine-tune the 33 1/3 and 45 rpm speeds (VR1=680Ω, VR2=5kΩ). When I poked at the trim-pots the speed went crazy. They were probably oxidized. I marked their positions and swept them back and forth a few times to clean their tracks. That totally fixed the speed problem so I returned them to their marked positions. (Technically you should use a strobe disc to re-calibrate the speeds but it sounds close enough to me!)

The other battery-powered Fisher Price record players have the same internals as this one, so if your Fisher Price #820 or Fisher Price #3814 have speed problems then you might have dirty trim-pots. If you have the AC-powered Fisher Price #825 then this won’t help. (Those players have a simple tire-driven mechanism with different sized idlers for each speed. There is no electronic speed control.)

Also, I was surprised to find that my player had an internal switch that was activated when the tone-arm moved to the lock-groove at the end of a side. Strangely, this switch had no effect on the motor or amplifier (Instead it spins endlessly, depleting the battery). I’m not sure what this switch was intended to do, so I jumpered its pads on the PCB and rewired it as a power cutoff. The picture below shows the wiring before my modification.

Fisher Price 816 inside bottomFisher Price 816 circuit board

Further Resources:

This Old Toy has info about Fisher Price phonographs

This thread on Audio Karma has more photos of the interior of a Fisher Price #816

This thread on Antique Radio Forums has photos of the interior of a Fisher Price #820

The Portable Record Player Breakdown from Flea Market Funk summarizes battery powered phonographs