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Otokibako: Crank Up the Tunes, Literally.

by Paul Strauss
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This electronic kit from Japan looks like a traditional music box from the outside, but when you open up the cover, it reveals an array of electronics that play music read from specially encoded music sheets.

otokibako electronic music box

Elekit’s OTOKIBAKO plays music data from strips of paper with black and white bars on them. You can generate your own music strips using the provided software (Windows only.) The music box has a 3 octave range, including half-tones, and comes with 15 pre-installed melodies and 8 sound samples (you can hear them here by clicking on the little icons.) And while turning the crank feeds the music to the player, it still needs batteries to generate sounds.

Remember, this is a build-it-yourself kit (assembly time is estimated at 5 hours,) so you’ll need to feel comfortable soldering and assembling electronics. Also, the music software is in Japanese, but it looks pretty self-explanatory. Each OTOKIBAKO kit will set you back

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