I purchased an inexpensive Ion USB turntable long ago. It connects to the computer via USB cable like nearly every peripheral and worked out-of-the-box on my XP machine. I have since connected it to my subsequent Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows 8 machines and it works similarly well -- best actually under Windows 8, which allows a finer tuning of the record input levels.
To use it, the sound device must be set under the Control Panel/Hardware & Sound/Sound/Manage Audio Devices/Recording to Microphone/USB Audio CODEC.
To create the actual recording, I use the open source freeware program Audacity. The basic settings that work best for me, and that are set from a toolbar near the top of the window itself rather than by any "Properties" menu items, are "Windows Direct Sound," Speakers to your default speakers (mine is "Speakers - Realtek High Definition Audio", Microphone to "Microphone - USB Audio CODEC," and "2 (Stereo) Input Channels."
There are many, many other settings in Audacity for nearly anything that can affect the quality of recorded output. For nearly all uses, however, the default settings are quite good enough, so if you want to play around more extensively with this, just look up and consult the MANY on-line sources for directions for using and tweaking this fine program
You must set the record levels properly if you want the results to sound right. This can be a bit dicey and it varies from record to record, so you must do it each time you record a new album.
To set the record levels.
1. Start the record playing on the turntable.
2. Hit the Record button in Audacity (the red dot).
3. Observe the tracks.
4. Find the slider to the right of the microphone icon on the toolbar at the top of the Audacity window.
5. Slide the slider right (to increase the volume) or left (to decrease the volume) until the visible tracks are as wide as possible with only the very highest, occasional peaks being outside the boundaries of the ribbon in which they are displayed. If any part of the tracks are outside the boundaries for any noticeable period of time, reduce the volume a little until they are back in bounds.
6. Stop the recording (the button with the khaki green square).
7. Hit the little gray "X" to the left of the words "Audio Track" roughly under the Pause button (two vertical lines). The existing recording will disappear.
Now that you've set the volume, leave the turntable spinning and pick up the needle (with the little lever) and position it poised to start the record. To make the actual recording:
1. Hit the "Record" button in Audacity. Do this FIRST -- you can easily delete the dead area later.
2. Lower the needle onto the already spinning record. It will begin to play and you will see it in Audicity.
3. At the end of Side 1, hit the Pause button in Audacity.
4. Lift the needle, return the turntable arm to its post, and flip the record.
5. Reposition the needle at the start of Side 2 of the record.
6. Repeat steps 1 & 2.
7. At the end of Side 2, hit the "Stop" button. You can now return the record to its cover sleeve and the turntable to its normal dormant state.
Now you have the whole record digitized, but that's really not what you want as a final product. Although it seems like you just performed a lot of steps so far, you really haven't -- those are easy, quick (except actually playing the record at normal speed) and non-labor intensive -- the actual work starts now.
You must set up an appropriate directory structure for your resulting files. My rather obvious suggestion (although tastes differ -- you may not need "Genre") is My Music/Genre/Artist Name/Album Name (Example: My Music/Rock/Jefferson Airplane/Surrealistic Pillow).
Now go to Audacity. The cursor will be at the end of the recording. You can drag the cursor in the normal way to highlight any dead area at the end of the recording and delete it with your "Delete" key. You can position the cursor to a very fine degree with the right and left arrows on the keyboard. You can then move the cursor to the middle and the start and remove the dead areas there in a similar manner. If you make a mistake you can go to Edit/Undo to recover from your error in the normal way.
It's a really good idea to save the project at this point, but being basically lazy I usually don't.
Notice at the bottom of the screen there are numeric entries for "Selection Start," a choice for "End" or "Length" chosen via radio buttons, and one for "Audio Position." The only one of these I actually use for my own procedure is "End."
Now, look at the track listing on the album cover. Most give the title and length of each track (some put the track length on the album label instead of the cover. This is an annoyance.)
Now position the cursor at the start of the recording (it should already be there). In the "End," which is in the format of hh/mm/ss.ss (in hundredths), enter the length of the first track appropriately. Note that these are ALWAYS approximate; you almost always have to adjust this a few seconds shorter or longer. These are musicians, not astronomers.
The recording will now be highlighted as a "Selection" on your screen from the start to the endpoint you just entered. You will have to use the scroll bar near the bottom of the window to scroll to the end of the selection, and then adjust the time -- you can usually see pretty easily where the track ends by the drop in the volume of the track to near zero, but if you can't, hitting the Play button (green triangle) will help you find it.
When you have the first track selected and highlighted, click to "File/Export Selection." A fairly normal file save window will pop up. Move to the folder you created for this album, and name the track with the track's name. I usually preface the name with a number padded to two digits so the directory order is the same as the order of the songs on the album. I "Save as type:" MP3 Files -- this is the most universal standard but there are many other selections available in Audacity including the lossless "FLAC." But EVERYTHING can play .mp3 files.
After you hit "Save," another window, "Edit Metadata," will open up. This is fairly self-explanatory and controls the information that will show on the MP3 player's display. Usually, all of the relevant information is on the album cover, and you can enter whatever else you may think is relevant under "Comments."
When you have all the information entered, hit "OK" and a pop-up window containing a progress bar will display. When it is complete, you're done with the first track.
Now hit the "Delete" key on your keyboard. Track 2 will now be the beginning of your recording. Slide the scrollbar back to the beginning and repeat the procedure you completed for track 1. For this and subsequent tracks, you will already be in the directory you used for Track 1 and the metadata will all be the same. All you will need to change is the name and number of the track, both for the filename and for the metadata, and any comments you may wish to make pertinent to each particular track. (Note that "Comments" are totally optional; I rarely use them.)
Repeat this for each track on the album. Voila! You're done. The quality of the output will be remarkably good.
Some hints: Pops and clicks from scratches on the record appear as single, minimum-length, high-amplitude (higher than any real content) vertical lines on the recording. If you want to put the labor into it (which is truly extensive), these can be removed by highlighting ONLY that one vertical line and deleting it. The rest of the sound quality will be virtually unaffected.
Also note that software is available to convert 78-rpm records using a turntable that, like most turntables available today, only spins at 33 or 45 rpm. This software was supplied with my Ion turntable.
If you do this as described, everything will always be in the right order in the folder and on the MP3 player and will display correctly on the MP3 player's display. It will also be very easy to use any competent CD burning program to put the album onto a CD for use in the car or whatnot as a a regular old-fashioned music CD (of course, the ones that can play MP3 files from CDs allow HUGE amounts of content on a single CD -- I have one single CD containing the COMPLETE works, including remix "singles," of the B-52s.)
I hope this helps. It's a really nice thing to do for your dad.