Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Programmable DIY Mechanical Music Box

Make Your Own Tune Music BoxMost small music boxes use a cylinder with metal studs mounted to a metal cylinder. As the cylinder rotates, each stud "plucks" a little finger that sounds a corresponding musical note.

Player pianos used a similar principle, but the notes were recorded on large sheets of paper, where a holes were punched in the paper to indicate which note strikes and when. By carefully coordinating the arrangement of holes, entire songs can be composed. Some consider this technique -- especially when it was applied to automated looms -- to be the world's first software.

This music box kit works like a miniature player piano. There are no pins, but a strip of paper, into which you punch holes yourself. That's right... you punch your own songs! You can replicate your favorite tunes or compose new ones. The possibilities are endless. In theory you can program your music box to play everything from classical, to country, to heavy metal, to TV commercial jingles.

In this kit, you get the music box mechanism (2 octaves in the key of C), the specialized hole punch, "Happy Birthday" pre-punched song strip, 3 blank song strips, and instructions. You can order additional paper strips for your magnum opus. A very novel, but at the same time historical, mechanical music toy.

Here is where you purchase your own DIY Programmable Music Box.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

by no pins...do you mean the little rods that produce the sound?... or the little bumps that are on a music box's cylinder?

how does this thing produce notes?

March 25, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Comment #1,

You make a good point. I imagine there ARE pins that go into the holes one punches in the paper scroll.

I am guessing this is sort of a reverse music box cylinder where only the pins that are allowed through the paper are the ones that sound a note.


Dug North

March 26, 2008 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger precious thoughts said...

hi, do you know where i can get one of those music box?

May 26, 2008 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

precious thoughts,

You can order one of these do-it-yourself music boxes from ThinkGeek.com.


Dug North

May 26, 2008 at 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

I wonder how difficult it would be to mount this music box into a decorative case (such as a jewelry box) after one programmed it with a song...so that it could be given as a personal gift

August 13, 2008 at 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Music Boxes and Musical Gifts said...

This is a fabulous idea for those tunes that are not made or for people who want their own composition on a music box. I wonder if this could be modified to play with a small electric motor, so it could be installed in a box. Something to think about!

May 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone can help me, I bought a 30 note music box and I have been desperately searching for a music box transcription of Clair De Lune for my husband because it was our wedding song ( I walked down the aisle to it). I tried to transcribe it by ear but the piece is so long and complicated and I dont think Ill finish it in time for christmas 2015 let alone this year. I bought the piano music but I'm not amazing at reading piano dots and it's just going to kill me!! I even got this app you might like called 'Music Box Composer' but on an iphone it's like Japanese Water Torture to use. This person http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPc31FMCnHY posted a template which has no note grid behind the holes so I can't see what the hell is going on. Argh!

I am happy to pay you for this, I really want to give this gift at christmas. Can you help?

Many Thanks

December 2, 2012 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Hi Becky,

Have you tried writing to person who uploaded that video on YouTube? You can use the messaging system if you are signed in. The link it hard to find! Click on the user's name, then in the right sidebar click the small gray arrow next to their user name. A drop down will appear that says "Send Message". I bet if you plead your case, they will be more than willing to help.

Good luck!

-Dug North

December 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM  

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