Dementia Friendly Music Player

My dad could no longer operate a CD player or iPod. But he could use the music player that I designed and made for him, because it operates like a familiar two-knob radio. I was inspired to make this by the documentary Alive Inside which shows the profound joy felt by some people with dementia when listening to their favorite music.

My Dad using an early prototype, immersed in Beethoven

Can I make one?

Yes! It doesn’t require much technical skill. No soldering. No woodworking. It mostly requires following the instructions. Takes 3-5 hours, depending on the model. Things you’ll be doing: ordering parts, applying glue, screwing things in, plugging in wires, downloading software, and maybe applying some linseed oil to the wood. An eight year old made one, and a sixty year old made one. Also, it’s the kind of project that friends and family would be happy to help you with. You can do it!

What does it cost?

I don’t sell anything – this is open source. I publish very clear step-by-step instructions with good photographs. You do need some electronic parts – the instructions have a list of electronic parts, which usually cost about $60. And you need the custom case. Most people mail order the case for $30 – $50. The process is a lot like sending a PDF to a print shop, see full details in the instructions. Alternatively, if you have access to a 3D printer or laser cutter, you can make the case yourself using my open source design files.

Heartwarming feedback

I recently assembled a dqmusicbox per your instructions – and it just . worked. Yesterday I turned over my incarnation of the box to my father. It has been a long time since I saw such an emotional reaction from him. I let him at it without explanations at all, and he made it work without instructions. … Some of his favorites triggered immediate responses – I should have filmed it. — Ketil

Make the cherry model

cherry model
Vintage cathedral style
Laser cut it yourself or order case for ~$50
And order the electronic parts for ~$60
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos


Make the 3D printed model

3D printed modelVintage cathedral style
3D print it yourself or with a friend
And order the electronic parts for ~$60
Thanks to Trey Bradley for designing this case
Step by Step Build Instructions with Photos


Make the bamboo model

Laser cut modelEasiest to make
Laser cut it yourself or order case for ~$30
And order the electronic parts for ~$60
Step by Step Build Instructions


If you enjoy making assistive technology projects like this, you might enjoy some of the maker projects at Makers Making Change. They “connect makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technology”. They have a nice library of helpful projects.

Ross Porter



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