Engineering the Bubble Wrap Jukebox With Simone Giertz [VIDEO]

This inventor created the “Bubble Wrap Jukebox” to make sweet music out of bubble wrap!

Simone Giertz is affectionately known as the “Queen of the $#!tty Robots.” I think this is an unfair title. Who else could have created the “popcorn feeding helmet” or the “lipstick applying robot”? These machines have changed the way people live their lives. OK, that’s an overstatement, but they have changed the “WHY” for people who are interested in making things.

It used to be that people made an invention because they needed a job done, and they engineered a brilliant solution. Simone sees things differently. She’s a maker who’s often looking for a creative solution to a non-problem. Her elaborate robots solve minuscule life challenges. Her projects even occasionally create the problem they are looking to solve, in the best way. Her newest creation is no different. At no time did a person ever say, “we need music, and my only medium is bubble wrap.” But doggonit, Simone solved that problem anyway!

How does a typical music box work?

A music box spins a cylinder that plucks a comb at various intervals. The cylinder has specific bumps on it that correlate to notes, and the comb has teeth of various lengths to create different sounds. As the cylinder spins and those bumps strike the comb, musical notes play. Pretty simple.

The idea for a Bubble Wrap Jukebox

Simone’s idea for the Bubble Wrap Jukebox is very similar. Instead of a cylinder and comb, her “music box” will move bubble wrap over a pan flute to create a series of musical notes.

Challenges of making a Bubble Wrap Jukebox.

Who would have guessed it’s more difficult to mechanically pop bubble wrap than you would think? It turns out that when forced between two hard surfaces, bubble wrap squeezes and deflects instead of popping. But when you use a hard and soft surface, maximum popping yield is achieved.

Simone used this bit of knowledge and scaled up her proof of concept into a working prototype. She CNC’d a cylinder with 300+ recesses, which will contain the padded “feet” to pop the bubble wrap, the same as the bumps on a music box cylinder.

Each of the holes needed to be cut, drilled, and tapped to receive the feet, a task made much faster with a FlexArm Simone borrowed from a friend. The FlexArm enabled Simone to quickly drill and tap hundreds of holes. By providing lifting support and a consistent angle, the FlexArm helped Simone drill more consistent holes much faster than doing each by hand!

Once the cylinder was complete, it was a matter of building the framework to hold the flute and bubble wrap, and adding a hand crank to make it all go! Simone hit more than a few snags along the way, but she knew when to ask a friend for help or borrow a tool to get the job done.

In the end, the bubble wrap jukebox DID play a song. I don’t know if it will overtake the keyboard or electric guitar as the most popular instrument in pop music. Most ridiculous instrument, though? It could give the “Floppotron” and the “Wintergatan Marble Machine” a run for their money!

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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.