Music Box / 2013

A hand-cranked music box that plays back a picture.

This is one of the projects I did at the Media Factory FabLab, Aaalto University during the time I spent as Research Assistant there. The Music Box seeks to be a simple conversion of image to sound. A spool with a printed/drawn/sketched score is read and played back by the device. The playback happens through the cranking motion. A digital device that feels wonderfully analog, I regret that I don't have a video yet!

The following images describe the process. Source files are all available here.

Perfecting the gears using InkScape and cutting the first iteration of the design. The first iteration was a huge fail and a huge learning experience. The design was wasting a lot of space and material in pursuit of geometric idealism.

Revisiting the design led to this unconventional slanted form. The form was not a coincidence, the slant had a special affordance: the speaker was now angled up towards the user while the crank was being turned, leading to a better overall experience.

The guts of the device consists of:
– A series of infra-red LEDs that bounce IR-light off the image.
– The reflected light intensity is read by phototransitors.
– The intensity is sent to be processed into sound by an Arduino

The process was a good experience in learning to work with and understand the various fabrication processes in the FabLab. Of course, this particular project mainly used the laser-cutter, electronic workbench and the circuit fabrication facilities.