Ad Hoc MIDI To Music Box Project Shows Power Of Hacker Community

Fair warning: when you post a video of you doing an incredibly tedious process like manually punching holes in a paper tape to transfer a MIDI file to a music box, don’t be surprised when a bunch of hackers automates the process in less than a week.

The back story on this should be familiar to even casual Hackaday readers. [Martin] from the Swedish group “Wintergatan” is a prolific maker of unusual musical instruments. You’ll no doubt recall his magnificent marble music machine, a second version of which is currently in the works. But he’s also got a thing for music boxes that are programmed by paper tape, and recently posted a video showing his time-consuming and totally manual process for punching the holes in the tape. Since his source material was already in a MIDI file, a bunch of his fans independently came up with ways to automate the process.

The video below shows what he learned from his fans about automating his programming, but also what he learned about the community we all work and play in. Without specifically asking for help, random strangers brought together by common interests identified the problems, came up with solutions, sorted through the good and the bad ideas, and made the work publically available. Not bad for less than a week’s work.

9 thoughts on “Ad Hoc MIDI To Music Box Project Shows Power Of Hacker Community

  1. This was the way people pirated digital music a hundred years ago. A line punch would be great at sustaining interest in player pianos, as no mass produced roll music is being made now.

  2. The ad hoc MIDI to music box project you mentioned is an excellent example of the power and creativity within the hacker community. By combining their skills and knowledge, hackers can develop innovative solutions that bridge the gap between technology and traditional instruments.

    MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a protocol that allows electronic musical instruments, computers, and other devices to communicate and control each other. Music boxes, on the other hand, are mechanical instruments that produce music using a series of tuned metal pins and rotating cylinders.

    The project you’re referring to likely involves converting MIDI data into signals that can control the music box, enabling it to play the desired tunes. This process may require reverse engineering the music box mechanism, analyzing its inputs, and developing a custom interface to interpret MIDI commands and translate them into the appropriate actions for the music box.

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