DIY: Otokibako Electronic Music Box
By James Grahame
Trust the Japanese to combine the old-school mechanical charm of a player piano with modern electronics. Elekit's Otokibako is a hand-cranked electronic music box that plays melodies from paper rolls using optical sensors to detect the black "notes." It offers a 3 octave range with 8 different playback tones and 15 pre-installed melodies. The wooden case just screams "paint me up!" and the experimental possibilities seem mind boggling. I might finally have found a good use for the waxy paper found in public washrooms.
I found the Otokibako while surfing the Elekit site, which is packed with beautiful vacuum tube amplifier kits, humanoid robots and all manner of odd electronic gadgetry. The English version of their site seems woefully incomplete, but you can always try you luck with a Google translation of their Japanese pages.