Making Music with the Wind

[Niklas Roy] built a windmill-powered music box for his backyard, and it was so awesome all the neighbors wanted to take a picture of it. Someone even liked it so much that he stole [Niklas]’s windmill in the middle of the night. (We kind of don’t blame them, it’s a gorgeously clean build.)

In the past few weeks [Niklas] has been mass-producing 20 windmills for the KIKK Festival 2017 to be held in November in Namur, Belgium. The windmills will operate in a cluster, and all play “Für Elise” when the wind blows. However, each one is driven independently and so the music is asynchronous. Since he was building a bunch anyway, he built a replacement windmill for his backyard, and documented how to do it.

Most of the mechanical parts are 3D printed, with metal hardware such as bearings supplementing the plastic prints, with M10 threaded rod serving as the mast. He provides PDF templates for cutting the “flag”. For his instruction video [Niklas] used a double layer of coroplast (recycled political signs) stuck together with double-sided tape;  he used 3mm Forex in his installation. In addition, there’s a rectangle of some harder plastic — random stuff he had lying around — that serves as a resonator for the music box.

[Niklas] is a Berlin-based installation artist and educator and Hackaday regular; his music construction machine
and his wall-hugging fan rig is a must for any small workshop.

18 thoughts on “Making Music with the Wind

  1. ” Someone even liked it so much that he stole [Niklas]’s windmill in the middle of the night. (We kind of don’t blame them, it’s a gorgeously clean build.)”

    I’d blame them for all the obvious reasons. Lest they could have asked is if he’d build one for them.

      1. that was exactly my first thought, just imagine the same tune playing over and over again. It’s too soft to hear it good properly, but too loud to ignore it. I imagine that it creeps into you mind eventually drives you crazy…

        This seems like a cute a nice build, looking pretty with 3d printed parts and recycling and using wind to power it all, but think a little bit longer and you realize that in real life it’s just noise pollution, fun for everyone just passing by but driving you crazy if you live next to it and have no control over it.

        I’m glad this this creative and friendly looking man is not living next to me and I pity the people who do.

        1. The article is slightly incorrect (sorry, John) – the windmill is installed at the sidewalk at the street and not in my backyard. I had another wind powered music box in my backyard years ago and one neighbor had problems with its sound during night, so he just opened the coupling between the wind turbine and the music box. The same would have been possible with the windmill: You just have to take off the driving belt and it’s silent.

          I can also report the feedback that I got from my neighbors: They were all very sad when the first one was stolen. And nobody complained about the sound so far.

  2. I really love the idea.

    What I don’t like are the faces … a touch of “art” that makes me shiver.
    I wonder how long the music boxes can survive even the slightest bit of rain … or just the dirt from cars and street being hurled at them …

      1. I got that. Since I live in Germany and have done my democratic duty that weekend, too, I am happy to put those faces into ANY productive use for sure and I don’t think that anything else but cutting them out of their frames could be considered “practical use”.

        Yet, like I said, I *don’t* like that “touch of art”. It makes me cringe, I find the (visual) result highly unpleasing. That, I apologize, is a personal thing.

    1. I can answer the question about the durability of the music boxes outside: They last surprisingly long, even without any protection. After a few months, they start to rust a bit, but that doesn’t stop them to play music.

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