The Ultimate Puzzle Desk — MYST Eat Your Heart Out

This project is absolutely mind boggling. Created by [Kagen Sound], this desk would fit right at home inside the MYST games. It has a pipe organ inside, and you can open a secret compartment by playing a specific tune.

Besides being an absolute marvel of woodworking, the hidden mechanics inside this desk make our heads hurt. The pipe organ aspect works by pushing in little drawers — this forces air into organ pipes at the front of the desk. But some of the air is redirected into a pneumatic memory board — which can actually keep track of the notes you play. When the correct tune is played, it triggers a pendulum which releases a secret compartment. All you need is a trap door over an abyss and you’ve recreated The Goonies.

Sure, it’d be easy to do that with an Arduino or something… but the pneumatic memory board is made of wood. Entirely made of solid wood. [Kagen] says it took countless hours to design, at least five different versions before he found one that worked.

And yes, it can be reprogrammed… but it’ll take an entire day to do. Besides the pipe organ, the desk features puzzles in almost every drawer. It was commissioned for someone very, very rich, and quite honestly — we’re very curious about the price tag on something like this!

[Kagen] is a master puzzle builder. In fact, he’s been acknowledged as a master craftsperson by the Karakuri Creation Group — a guild of secret box makers in Japan.

We’ve shared lots of MYST style puzzle boxes before, but most of us cheat and use electronics to achieve the puzzle.

[Thanks for the tip Nick!]

11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Puzzle Desk — MYST Eat Your Heart Out

  1. Wow, just wow. I can’t even imagine having the level of skill in terms of both engineering and woodworking to build something like this. This is truly amazing.

    As for it already having been on HaD, so what? I missed it the first time, so I’m glad they re-posted it.

  2. This looks incredible. Mad mad props for actually finding and mentioning the Karakuri group- a select group of artisans in Japan designing special versions of puzzleboxes and other karakuri items (automata, etc.). Didn’t know they endorsed foreigners too, but it makes sense. If you like this kind of stuff- look up Izumiya puzzlebox store in Moto Hakone, Japan. His collection of karakuri boxes was ridiculous in 2005- I can’t imagine what they have now. This looks lifechanging- I will have to look at this closely after xmas.

  3. The pneumatic logic for the tune-code looks fairly simple, it’s reprogrammable by sticking black and white pegs into the back. Which is clever!

    But the logic, at a guess, is simple… The same mechanism for each of the required notes in turn. A load of holes go into the logic block, one from each key (or drawer). If the correct key is pressed, the next mechanism is activated, and the air goes there, otherwise the system is reset. Just need something like wooden flip-flops, a bit of wood that literally flips and flops to divert air down whichever tube.

    I’d LOVE to know how the Greek Key thingy works though, it must allow any of the black / white tiles to be in any place, as long as they make the pattern. Maybe some peg sticking out of the bottom of the black tiles (or the white ones). A big mechanical AND gate, for the whites and the blacks. Or alternately an OR gate that activates the blocker for anything in the wrong place.

    I dunno. Interesting to speculate though right?

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