Build a Windmill-Powered Music Box

DIY instructions

Berlin, 2017

I've built a little windmill that powers a music box. I set it up in front of my workshop, where it was entertaining the entire neighborhood. People really seemed to like it - quite many took photos of it with their smartphones and spent long time watching it and listening to it. Unfortunately one person liked it a bit too much and stole it during one night.

The music box of my old windmill. It was playing the melody “Singing in the rain”

The windmill is built out of a couple of 3D printed parts and some soft plastic sheet material. The construction is relatively easy to replicate, so I decided to make a whole bunch of them, which will be shown as a large public art installation at KIKK Festival 2017.

Since I was already into mass manufacturing windmills during the past weeks, I also thought that it would be nice to have a new one for my street in order to replace the stolen one. When I was building that new windmill, I filmed myself and made a how-to video. If you also want to have such a charming device, you can now either visit my street at night and steal my new windmill (and make me sad) - or you can watch the video and make your own, which would actually make me happy!

How-to video

Materials list

Amount    Piece Purpose / Resource
1 Set 3D printed parts Download from youmagine or from my server
1 Set Paper templates Download them here
1 Piece Hand crank music box This will make the music!
1 Sheet 3mm thick sheet material
(e.g. Forex, Alu-Dibond or Coroplast)
For base plate and windmill blades
1 Piece Hard sheet material
(e.g. a cutting board)
Used as resonator
1 Piece Driving belt
(worst case a long household rubberband will do the job)
Connects windmill rotor with music box
1 Piece 4mm diameter steel rod (18cm long) Used as axle for the rotor
2 Pieces Ball bearings 26mm outside diameter, 10mm inside diameter, 8mm thick Used for the rotor
2 Pieces Ball bearings 13mm outside diameter, 4mm inside diameter, 5mm thick Used to mount the base plate
5 Pieces Short M3 screws (e.g. 10mm) Used as set screws for the pulleys & to fix the music box on the resonator
2 Pieces 20mm long M3 screws & nuts Used as set screws for the rotor parts
4 Pieces Short M3 screws (e.g. 7mm) Used to fix the music box on the resonator
4 Pieces Long M3 screws (e.g. 40mm) Used to fix the resonator on the base plate
12 Pieces M3 nuts & washers Used to fix the resonator on the base plate
14 Pieces M4 x 20mm screws & nuts Used to fix the wings on the rotor and the bearing mounts on the base plate
1 Piece M10 threaded rod (70cm - 1m) Used to hold the windmill
4 Pieces M10 nuts Used to lock the windmill on the threaded rod

A few more photos

Here's the finished new windmill. As sheet material, I used recycled election posters (which were made out of Coroplast), because I thought that this would look funny. And I find it a pity that all this good sheet material is usually just thrown away after the elections.

The new windmill in all its glory!

My 80 year old neighbor Nauke also wanted to make a windmill for his terrace. I gave him all the parts and since he's quite handy and into building little things, he had no problems to assemble it in one afternoon.

First, he went into his basement to search screws, nuts and a resonator.
Then he set up a working space in his little living room.
I really like his old tools. Many of them are still from GDR times.
The next day, Nauke showed me the finished windmill including the stand that he has built in the evening.

Special thanks

I want to thank KIKK Festival for funding this project!

Additional resources