Mini paper tape music box

Thought about whether it would be difficult to create player piano rolls using a laser. But I don’t have a player piano. Then I ran across this little hand cranked music box movement. It should be quite possible to build an application that converted standard midi music files into laserable hole patterns on a paper tape. With the Pro version you could create fairly long rolls. Then laser cut a sound box to put it in. And voila, a laser created music box with laser created tunes.


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Ooooo, that’s really cool! Could make rolls now using my vinyl cutter. Just need the app!

The one pictured has 15 tones. Just noticed they have a 30 tone version. Converting Midi tones to a laserable format would probably take some smart person a couple days. Would take me 2 or 3 weeks to get it right. But might still put it on the future project list.

Edit: Apparently we would just need to align everything and laser the holes. There is already an application or two for creating these strips.


As a fan of paper tape readers, I agree, this is neat.

I’m also wondering if there’s a decent way to create a traditional music box cylinder, however… complete with bumps for the metal tines. Since we’ve seen some nice depth being produced, I’m thinking you could take some wooden vaneer that’s thin enough to place onto a cylinder without much splitting.

Might find a use for all my gears and rods from scanner and printer tear-downs. I’m fascinated with Ronald Walters’s Senior 20 Busker organ build on YouTube that uses a perforated roll. A laser might help immensely with building something like that. Also, have to refer to this classic site of Melvyn Wright about peforated music rolls (not for pianolas). Also a link for some software to design the rolls.


This is what I’ve been looking for, not that hard though but still I have the piano and now just wait till the end of June :slight_smile: won’t have to worry about rolls tearing anymore, and also can add some modern music to the mix!!!

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So where are the automatic rollers that will mount outside of the GF that allow for continuous feeding from roll-to-roll? Ideally, the speed would be adjustable and co-ordinated with the GF control.

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start designing them now, make them when your 'forge arrives!

I’m continuing this thread instead of creating a new on the same topic.

It should be quite possible to build an application that converted standard midi music files into laserable hole patterns on a paper tape.

Martin from Wintergatan said the same thing about a week ago.


Building a device to read the paper tapes would be a fun Arduino project!

too bad mod files aren’t a thing any more. could encode the samples on the same tape and have a lot of fun.

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Should be double. I don’t know much about audio though. But I guess there are tons of examples availabe for all kinds.
I’m thinking some form of array of optical sensors for the holes, LEDs and LSRs or maybe ir. Perhaps some switches to set the voice (square, saw etc) and tuning.

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