Introduction: Wind Powered Music Box

Picture of Wind Powered Music Box

Wind chimes are a great way to improve the atmosphere of a garden. But I wanted to see if I could find a way to make the wind play a melody instead of just random notes. So I designed a simple wind powered music box. Now whenever the wind blows, it plays a whole song.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Here is a video walkthrough of the project.

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

Here are the materials and tools that you will need to complete this project.


Crank Operated Music Box

Small Wooden Poles or Dowels

Large Wooden Poles or Broom Handle

Plastic Balls

Spray Paint




Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks (if it regularly gets above 100 degrees where you live, you might want to use a different glue.)

Step 3: Find a Good Crank Operated Music Box

Picture of Find a Good Crank Operated Music Box

The first and most important step in this project is finding a good crank operated music box. The song will play over and over. So you want to find a music box with a song that isn't annoying (unless you really want to annoy your neighbors)

You can find a lot of different crank music boxes at Amazon. I am using one that plays the song Frère Jacques.

Step 4: Cut the Plastic Balls in Half

Picture of Cut the Plastic Balls in Half

The wind will be harnessed using a turbine made from four cups. This is similar in design to an anemometer. The cups will be made by cutting two plastic balls in half. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a slit all the way around the middle of each plastic ball and separate the two halves.

Step 5: Cut the Small Wooden Poles

Picture of Cut the Small Wooden Poles

The cups will be held together with two small wooden poles. You can just use whatever small pieces of scrap wood that you have lying around. Cut the wood pieces so that they are about one foot long each.

Step 6: Glue the Two Wood Pieces Together Into an X

Picture of Glue the Two Wood Pieces Together Into an X

Now you need to glue the two wood pieces together. Start by marking the center of each wood piece. Then line up the two pieces center to center and mark where they overlap. Apply hot glue to the center of one board and stick the two together.

Step 7: Hot Glue the Cups to the Wood Pieces

Picture of Hot Glue the Cups to the Wood Pieces

To complete the turbine, you need to attach the cups to the wooden arms. Apply a large drop of hot glue to the back of each cup. Then stick it onto the end of one arm. Hold the cup in place until the glue has set. Then repeat this process to attach the other three cups. Make sure that all the cups are facing in the same direction.

Step 8: Attach the Turbine to the Music Box

Picture of Attach the Turbine to the Music Box

Before attaching the turbine, you need to make sure that you position it in the correct orientation. When the wind blows, the turbine will turn in the direction away from the cup opening. So you want to match this up with direction that the music box crank needs to turn to play the music. If the cups are facing the wrong direction, it will not work.
Set the turbine down on the table. Then make a large drop of hot glue on the center of the top board. Press on the crank handle of the music box. You want the drive shaft to be centered where the two boards intersect. So the end of the crank will need to be offset a little so that the drive shaft will line up properly. Hold the music box in place while the glue cools. Once this first bit of glue has solidified, add more hot glue around the sides to help strengthen the joint. Again hold the music box in place while the glue is setting. When all the glue has cooled, turn it right side up and try spinning the turbine. It should spin easily and play music.

Step 9: Attach a Pole for Mounting the Music Box

Picture of Attach a Pole for Mounting the Music Box

There are a lot of ways that you can set up the music box in your garden. I decided to just mount it to a wooden pole that I stuck into the ground. So find a wooden pole of the appropriate length. If the end of the pole is rounded, cut it so that the end is flat.

Apply a large drop of hot glue to the end of the pole. Then attach it to the bottom of your music box. Hold it in place while the glue sets. Add more glue around the edges if necessary.

Step 10: Paint Everything

Picture of Paint Everything

At this point your wind powered music box is working and ready to install. But I decided to paint it so that it had a more uniform appearance. Spray paint was the easiest way to do this. Select a paint that is appropriate for your materials and the outdoor weather conditions where you will set it up.

Step 11: The Finished Wind Powered Music Box

Picture of The Finished Wind Powered Music Box

Now your wind powered music box is complete. Set it up in your garden and wait for the wind to blow. As the wind blows, the turbine will turn the crank on the music box and play the song. The faster the wind blows, the faster the song will play.


hexiaole (author)2017-07-21


i have a crank music box,but it doesn't has an acrylic box,where can i get it??

Just find any waterproof cover. You could order them online or you could use tupperware.

GerardZ1 (author)2017-03-15

Love this....

Rubeus Hagrid (author)2015-04-27

Is there a way to make it louder?In the video it was very quiet.

I turned down the volume in the video so that it didn't over-power the narration audio. But you can also mount it on something a little more resonant than a pole. Try experimenting with different surfaces.

A funnel could be used like a megaphone (one of those long funnels for putting oil in a car, or cut from a bleach bottle). I suppose you could array 3 or 4 of them and have it rotate with the music box.

Or use two conical disks (one above & one below) to direct sound in a more planar pattern.

What happens when the wind blows opposite to the way the music box cranks? or is this a music box that plays backward and forward???

NickS21 (author)beatrice.reid.942015-08-17

Turn it upside down. :-)

The cups will only spin one direction regardless of the wind direction.

Most music boxes that I have had, use a directional gear, that slips in reverse, so if you use a music box like that then it would just spin, but if not it should just play the music in reverse.

egam (author)Rubeus Hagrid2015-04-30

A resonance box as most music boxes would have could be the answer. The traction will still be wind but the wood vibrations will amplify the tune. May be some cigar box adaptation.

ridalyn (author)Rubeus Hagrid2015-04-30

I would hot glue the music box to the outside bottom of a small planters nut can and then hot glue the post to the inside bottom of the can. Then paint it. This should make a very nice resonance chamber for the music box. The only downside is that under the right conditions you may get a hum or whistle as the wind blows past the opening of the can (if the wind is strong enough this can actually be almost a howling effect.)

ridalyn (author)ridalyn2015-04-30

The bigger the can the louder the music.

craftvideos (author)2016-04-10

It is so easy to make, kids are going to love it.

rayp1511 (author)2016-02-20

Very creative, I like this one a lot, might be a nice project with the Grandkids

keldoniscool (author)2016-02-11

it looks pretty cool

Ledger Note (author)2015-09-24

I knew it was going to be those classic crank operated music boxes! This is such a great idea. Easy implementation too! Going to build one this weekend :)

DDW_OR (author)2015-04-30

the only two problems i can see are longevity and endurance.

greenbriel (author)DDW_OR2015-04-30

Isn't that one problem?

NickS21 (author)greenbriel2015-08-17

It's a five buck project, Make one a year, no loss. I mean you could put some more into it and make it weather resistant, lets stain and varnish, while were at it might as well use red wood, Now lets enclosed the music box with a weather resistant cover. Nah I will just make a new one each year.

I have longevity, but I lack endurance :-)

long life = longevity
the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear = endurance

perfo (author)2015-05-03

Great Ible, nice and clear with no difficult bits.. A lot of folk can have a bash at this. The variety and cheapness of cranked music boxes on ebay make this a cheap weekend project. May I make a couple of comments.

If you haven't got balls then cut the bottom off fizzy drink bottles, small 300ml bottle for windy areas and the 2l ones for breezes. If it spins too fast at your target wind speed then make the arms longer (conversely shorter, for going too slow). Also use another cup (ball or bottle) and put it over the music box but fixed to the rotor. This is to prevent rain from going down the crank hole and slowly filling the music box or otherwise reduce it's life.


NickS21 (author)perfo2015-08-17

Hey I resent that comment about not having balls.

Raul1312 (author)2015-04-28

Did you make this?

Yes. I assembled the whole project from the parts shown.

So you are the real Jason Poel Smith? If so i am a huge fan of yours!! I love your work!

Yes. I am the one and only Jason Poel Smith. I make the DIY Hacks and How Tos project series for Make Magazine and a few independent projects on the side. Thanks for the compliment.

is there any tips you can give me on being better at DIY hacks and little projects?

Practice. The more projects you work on, the more tricks you will learn and the more easily you will be able to put together the next project. Also take every opportunity to take things apart and figure out how they work.

You got me in trouble man. My wife is going to kill me, I will never be able to figure out how to put her car back together before she gets home. Plus I think I'm missing a few pieces. Where did I put that carb? I hope your satisfied.

Great job on the DIY's man.

Thanks Man, you are really awesome. Im only 20 and not most 20 year olds spend their nights watching your videos and tinkering with stuff! Nice talking with you! and again i love the work you do!

Thank you. It is always nice to hear that people like my work.

(does make know you are cheating on them?)

Yes. Make and Instructables both know about each other. Its an open relationship.

gmendez3 (author)2015-08-16

Great Idea! I will try this with my students but instead of using the ball I'll use a PET Bottle to do some garbage reuse, Have you tried it with a generator instead of a music box?

whatfor (author)2015-05-21

This was really fun to make! I used a "Castle in the Sky" music box. I made a couple variations in that I used a small nail to secure the half balls to the wood, which may be unnecessary as the hot glue worked a lot better than I thought it would. The cross pieces I used were thicker, so I was able to drill a hole for the handle of the music box to fit in to. Plastic "Fat Bat Balls" worked really well. They would go really well unpainted with a "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" music box! :D

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-05-09

It doesn't matter. Any kind of ball or cup can work.

Peggy Hawthorne (author)2015-05-08


DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-05-06

If you live in Texas, it will probably get too hot to use hot glue. You should probably use guerilla glue instead.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-05-06

With a hand crank music box that isn't an issue. These don't wind up. They just play when you turn the crank.

1charmed12 (author)2015-05-03

I LOVE this and can't wait to make one!!!

Gary.n.Sam (author)2015-05-03


wobbler (author)2015-05-03

I like this. The only change I would make would be to first mount the windmill arms onto an upside down can or plastic container or coffee jar lid and then attach that over the music box so it acts as a weather shield for the mechanism. We get a lot of rain here and I don't think it would last so long even if it was Singin' In The Rain. (If you're short of rain where you are, let me know and I'll send you some. I've got plenty spare going free.)

Chico da Rave (author)2015-05-01

I would recomend to put the glue on the wood (instead of the ball) and in the crank (instead of the wood) order.
Always in where are more mass to heat.

martinhui (author)2015-04-30

Why need paint it black?

It isn't necessary. You can paint it any color you want or just leave it unpainted. I just thought that mine looked better in one solid color.

3366carlos (author)2015-04-30

awesome man. here in north TX, that little box would work really hard due to the strong winds we have.

If the wind is too strong, you can slow it down by using smaller cups.

jtechian (author)2015-04-30

I had this same idea, but my thoughts were to do a spinning cam with spring loaded strikers on the sound tubes. Your design is much simpler for all to do.

Thanks for sharing.

User1 (author)2015-04-30

I rate this HOT, HOT, HHHOOOOTTTTT!!!!!!

I think I might drill a hole in the wood for the crank and then cement it for a little more longevity, but I like the idea.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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