Caroler's Helper

by littleBits December 10, 2013

Make caroling easy this year with scrolling sheet music. Two dc motors turn a paper scroll when you press the pressure sensor on the frame, alleviating the need to remove your mittens.

Bits used: dc motor , long led, power , pressure sensor, wire

Tags: Holiday 2013 Light Motion Gadgets Around the house

Videos and Recipes


  1. 1

    Assemble the circuit:
    power + pressure sensor + wire + dc motor + wire + dc motor + wire + long led + long led

  2. 2

    Prepare a long scroll of carols. Print them or take pages from a music book and glue them in series. The width of the scroll should be about half an inch narrower than the inside of your empty picture frame.

  3. 3

    Cut a cardboard tube to making winding drums. The length you cut should be a little longer than the width of your music scroll and slightly shorter than the width of the inside of the frame. Make two of them.

  4. 4

    Make 4 caps for the winding drums. These caps will fit in the ends of the cardboard tube and 2 of them have a D-shaped cutout in the center so you can connect the d-shaft of the dc motor. The other two caps are connected to a free-spinning axis and bushing.

     On our file, a cap is composed of two parts. The part with tooth (part2) goes into the paper tube and should fit very tightly. The other part (with holes, labeled as part1) is supposed to be glued to the toothed part and goes around the edge of the paper pipe, guiding the scroll. Many of us don’t have a laser cutter at home, so in this case, you may consider using motorMates. Tips & tricks for using the motorMate can be found here --

  5. 5

    Make two free-spinning axes with a section of a bamboo skewer. Then place them into the pipe cap (on the side without the dc motor).

  6. 6

    Make the frame. We hollowed out spaces on our frame for the modules to sit in using a saw, chisels and a router (Be careful!). You don’t have to do this though - the modules can sit on the exterior of the frame.

  7. 7

    Paint the frame however you like.

  8. 8

    Attach the dc motors to the frame. We made two little mounts that we glued to the frame (see template file) for the dc motor modules to sit in.

  9. 9

    Make two bushings. We cut ours out with the laser cutter, but you can find materials around the house that will work. Try glueing a couple washers together. Then glue the bushings on to the frame.

  10. 10

    Place all the modules on the frame. Close the pipe with the caps and set rollers in their place. The motor will be at one end and the skewer should be at the other (in the bushing).

  11. 11

    Attach the top end of the long paper scroll you made to the upper roller and attach the bottom end to the lower roller. Make it tight, having two of dc motors spinning opposite directions. Then set the dc motors to the same direction to scroll a song.

  12. 12

    Go out and fill the whole town with endless happy Christmas songs!

Bits used (9)


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Other Materials Used (5)

  • bamboo skewer 1
  • cardboard tube 1
  • Christmas Carol sheet music 1
  • picture frame 1
  • plywood board 1

Tools (12)

  • chisel
  • glue
  • glue dots
  • laser cutter
  • mallet
  • pencil
  • router
  • ruler
  • saw
  • spray paint
  • tape
  • utility knife

Other files

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