2014-07-16

While sitting in the not-quite-scorching shade of a loquat tree, the dischordant tones of a problamatic windchime bothered me. After fixing the poorly tied string of the chimes, it occurred to me that I am lacking a windchime. Unacceptable! Fortunately, I have the internet and some crap laying about.

What Do I Know About Windchimes?

Ahem... "What did I know about windchimes?" "Not much". However, a bit of internet searching led to http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/windchime.html which is a trove of information about the lengths tubes need to be in order to make a musical scale.

What I Now Know
  • The lovely pentatonic scale is:
    1. The Root Note
    2. The Major Second
    3. The Major Third
    4. The Fifth
    5. The Major Sixth
  • A chime should be suspended at 22.4% of the chime's length
  • I should really really really double check my measurement and "cut once"
  • A metric tape measure needs to be in my future because fractions are proof that the imperial system is fucking evil.

Making a Calculator

Before even thinking about what to make the windchime out of, I needed a calculator that would take the largest length of tubing (the lowest note) and compute the lengths needed to make a pentatonic scale of tubes. Originally, I wanted to make the calculator a native application for one of the GNU Linux based mobile operating systems, but none of seem to have native apps. bummer. Anyway I just wrote a crappy Javascript app thingy I'm calling tubell.

The Pain of Fractions

Due to the lack of a metric tape measure, I had to deal with some shitty fractions in order to get a semi-precise measurement. The 1/8th of an inch was my "precise" measurement, and my longest tube would be 2 feet in length; which is 192 eights of a inch.

Sadly, I had to go from eighths to a percent back to eighths. blech gimme that sweet metric system!

The Build

Gather Some Supplies

Make some wrong computations, get some tubes, borrow a hacksaw.

This is my original computations where I use the first 5 notes of a justified scale instead of a pentatonic scale.

Cut the Tubes

Forsome reason, I have not yet built/bought/acquired some form of miter box. Anyway, my hacksaw cuts are a bit wonky, but hey, that's the way I roll.

Make a Metal Drill Bit

After failing miserably to drill a hole through the metal tube with what I can only assume was a drill bit made for wood, I had to improvise.

With my rotary cutting tool, I removed the head from a self tapping metal screw, and used the remaining bit of the screw as a metal drill bit.

The Suspending Frame

The bottom of my PBR bucket was the perfect size for making a circle from which I could suspend my cut tubes.

Divide the Circle Into 5 Parts

Because the windchime will have 5 chimes, it was necessary to mark off the circumference in 5 increments in order to determine where to drill holes in the suspending frame. For this I used a bit of twine, a pen, and a thumb tack.

The smaller circle is from a tracing of my favorite orange cup, and it will be used as the chime hammer.

Make a Metal Drill Bit

Holes were drilled
a rattle can painted things black
scrap was used for the wind catchy thingy
...and the wind chime was hung from an oak tree

In Action

So what does it sound like? Pretty damn good if you ask me!

Comments
2014-07-27 jpope:
Honestly, I'm not a fan of windchimes. My Mom always (and still does) had too damn many of the things. :/

Either way, yours do sound and look quite nice. Good work on such a meh item. (my opinion of course...) :P
2014-07-27 jezra:
From the feedback I've been getting, people either love windchimes, or they hate windchimes. Perhaps I need to make another windchime that is an octave lower and only has 3 chimes.
2014-08-10 Alison Chaiken:
Screw the tubes: I would just pre-record the tones in the right ratio, then use a wind sensor to trigger them. How about a big feather that can blow in front of a cheap photocell and interrupt an IR beam?
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