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With spring in full swing and the sun shining longer every day, we’ve got solar on the mind. A great summertime project is a flashback from MAKE Volume 12: the Solar Xylophone! How does it work? A regular xylophone fits inside a solar-powered player box that holds a mallet over each of its 8 chime tubes. Each mallet is powered by a system that includes a solar cell, a simple Solarengine circuit, and a small motor. The systems work in parallel: the brighter the sunshine on each panel, the more frequently its corresponding tube will be struck.

Now you can listen to sol music by day and be lulled to sleep by the gentle sound of your hard drive wind chime (also in Volume 12) at night:


Here’s the Solar Xylophone in our Digital Edition for you to scope and build. And for plenty more where that came from, pick up a hard copy of Volume 12 in the Maker Shed.

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.