Marble Machine – Glockenspiel with Marbles

M3 - Marble Machine / Make music with marbles and a Glockenspiel

You probably know the glockenspiel: A set of metal plates in a row. The sound is made by striking those plates with mallets.

What about using metal balls instead of the mallet, which fall onto the chime bars and thus make the sound? That is the basic idea of M3, the Marble Music Machine! Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

Design and Function

The glockenspiel of the first M3 version has eight different sound bars, i.e. the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C can be played. 

The chime bars of the glockenspiel

How does it work: In the recesses of a driven wheel, metal balls are transported upwards and then distributed over a ramp to the eight channels above the sound bars. At the lower end of the channels there is a slider that is actuated by an electromagnet and thus releases the corresponding ball. The ball falls onto the sound plate, makes the sound, jumps on a collecting ramp and then rolls back into the lifting wheel.

Overall view of the M3 Marble Music Machine

The keyboard

M3 is played by pressing the eight pushbuttons on the control board. An Arduino micro-controller regulates the communication with the electromagnets and enables the recording and playing of songs. 

Electronic control unit with an Arduino microcontroller

M3 with built-in control unit


The control unit contains a Bluetooth module that enables the communication with a smartphone. So the Marble Music Machine can be played remotely via your phone using the MBITS app. The app enables recording and playback. In addition, the songs can be stored and accessed centrally on a server.

Screenshot of the MBITS Android app

M3 is currently being built on request. Modifications of the machine according to customer requirements (e.g. MINT school project, museum exhibit, "Eyecatcher" trade fair, ...) are possible. If you are interested, I look forward to hearing from you

Photos of the prototype of the Marble Music Machine



This project is largely inspired by Martin Molin's Marble Machine MMX. For further information see Youtube channel Wintergatan