Picture of The Minty Kalimba
My quest for the perfect portable musical instrument has led me to attempt my own creation. Over the years I have indulged myself with the likes of harmonicas, kazoos, and ukuleles in pursuit of the tiny and versatile. Thus I have created a new addition to my portable, quirky, arsenal of sound... The Minty Kalimba.

Due to the obsession of the Instructable community with the deliciously designed Altoids tin, naturally, I incorporated one in the construction of the Kalimba.

Check out the video right down here to see how it sounds! Sorry for the awful visual quality. I think you'll get the idea regardless:

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
The whole project shouldn't cost much more than the price of a tin of Altoids. I just improvised in terms of materials and you may find that you have some stuff lying around the house that would work better than what I used.

You'll need:

1 x Altoids Tin
~1/2 foot of 1/8th inch Steel Bar
1x 1.75" Length of 3/8" Brass Tube
1 x old/broken Rake you are willing to mutilate
2 x 1 inch Machine Screws with nuts and washers (Look around and see what you have)
1 x Inquisitive Mind

OPTIONAL (to make electric):

1 Small Piezoelectric Buzzer from RadioShack
1 1/4" Audio Input Socket
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mbeers made it!2 months ago

I used hair pins, tooth picks and chop sticks in place of the steel. It still worked out pretty well. I haven't yet tried to add a pickup to one of these little things.

julesgirly1 year ago

very cool i love it! but may i ask how many nuts and washer i need for this? thanks so much!

mapatk1 year ago
Awesome Instructable! Thank you!
Cj slier5 years ago
do they sell altoids in england, was it your idea and do you mind if i use this to make an intructable?
Deansrds (author)  Cj slier5 years ago
1st question: Unfortunatly they don't sell Altoids in England. I've read a few complaints about that travesty. 2nd question: As far as I know, it was my idea. I'm pretty sure no one's done this before. 3rd question: I wouldn't mind it at all as long as you cited your source. Cheers
They are available in the UK, Poundland sometimes sell Altoids, but not all the time.
In the video, did you put effects on it?
Deansrds (author)  blinkyblinky3 years ago
No I didn't use any effects. I just ran it through the clean channel of my guitar amp. It has a little bit of gain but that's all. Let me know if you have any other questions!
That sounds so (pardon my language but) rich. Sort of like an organy sound.
I asked THIS QUESTION a while ago. I get mine from Morrisons, but it looks like Tesco, Waitrose and some chemists sell them. Look in the sweets section rather than on the till-ends.
Shame you can only get the mints though, rather than all those interestingly flavoured sweets in the interestingly shaped tins. Hopefully going for a stay in the US next year so I'll stock up. (How many Altoids can you bring back through customs? ;¬)
thank you m8. Even my dad sayz it makez a nice sound. If you dont mind me askin, about how much did it cost the mush? And to make it electric, can you buy the 2 items from electric shops
Deansrds (author)  Cj slier5 years ago
it didn't cost much at all. the pickup setup only cost about 5 bucks all together. yea you can buy the parts from pretty much any electronics shop. thanks for the comment! Don't forget to vote in the contest! THANKS!
they sell em in my town
You could just order them off Or amazon. They come in packs of 12 for about $20. I believe thats about 14 to 15 Euros.
Yes! You can get Altoids, but they're hard to get hold of. If you live near Catford I can tell you where there's an off licence that sells them. Alternatively, Marks and Spencers sells them in a green tin, but just called "Curiously Strong Mints" rather than "The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Peppermints. Altoids"
Krayzi993 years ago
I AM gonna make this... just a soon as I finish this tin of altoids lol. Just got it for this purpose. Anyone want pics of my design when it's done?
mrmerino4 years ago
it might be better to glue the peizo to the top of the kalimba, because thats the soundboard, no?
robo_bob5 years ago
set up a video of what it sounds like
I agree, video! Acoustic and Electric examples would be cool.
Yes, please do that!
bentenben4 years ago
i don't think u need an on/off switch but i just built one. good idea
mason01905 years ago
Wouldn't it be easier to take a drill press and make a 1-inch hole in the middle?
i have completed my minty kalimba, wired the red wire of the buzzer to the "hot" lug, and the black to the ground lug. and no sound. im not sure if i've done anything wrong. or not. i'd really like it to work
Keep in mind that the altoids tin is made of metal. If any exposed part of the circuit is contacting the tin, it will cause a short. This happened to me but I covered the part of the tin which was touching the circuit with electrical tape and that fixed it.
Deansrds (author)  HippieAdrien5 years ago
Hmmmm... this is the same problem that Mr.Bricoleur encountered. I'm not sure what the problem is. The first time I ever used the buzzer pickup setup was for a cigar box guitar i built. Here's a little chit chat on the subject Good luck!
If u want to make it acoustic just drill a bunch of holes in it. that should work decently. Also theres an instructable for making cheap pick ups on here if u wanna be really loud.
Zem5 years ago
What DB is the buzzer?
Also, could I use a piezo element? 
serenace5 years ago
I made one of these in a day. However mine does not amplify very well at all. The only alterations that I made is that I used a copper tube instead of a brass tube and I have five keys. I think the copper may be disrupting something when I try to amplify.
Great instructions btw. I really enjoyed making it. It looks great! Thank you.
BigMac965 years ago
Where did you get the on/off switch?
Deansrds (author)  BigMac965 years ago
BigMac965 years ago
Altoids tin... Check. Nuts, bolts, and screws... Check. Keys from rake? Could I use metal from a garden rake. My leaf rake is wooden!
Deansrds (author)  BigMac965 years ago
I think that the garden rake keys might be too thick and too hard to use. But, a wooden version would be quite the twist! It might sound really good...
Thanks! I found a metal rake right after I posted this. Whoops! Do you think I could wire a red 5mm or 10mm LED into the curcit thats turns on when the kalimba is on (kind of like an amp)?
fearme365 years ago
well, pooh. i was planning on making one of these and making an instructable on it but you beat me to it! good job though, i would never thought of making it electric
Deansrds (author) 5 years ago
Thanks everybody for the support and feedback! VOTE FOR MY INSTRUCTABLE IN THE ART OF SOUND CONTEST!
junits155 years ago
you should use a pickup instaid of the buzzer.
Umm, I tried using that piezo buzzer pickup setup with the wooden kalimba ible and it didn't work. And my dad says piezo buzzers dont work like that... HELP?
Deansrds (author)  MadBricoleur5 years ago
hmmm... I'm trying to think of what might have happened in your situation. It's possible that you wired the buzzer to the 1/4" input incorrectly. Make sure you know which leg is the ground. For my input, it was the middle leg. As for your dad saying they don't work that way. I humbly disagree. I'll find you some material that explains why it works as soon as I get access to some faster internet. I'm running on 40 kps right now and it took 20 minutes to download this page. Anyways, try the wiring again and i'll get back to you as soon as possible.
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