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Sound Pipes

New Frequencies | Projects

  • Sound Pipes: a sound installation that allows children to create a forest soundscape by throwing colored balls down a series of tubes with sensors connected to speakers. 

    There are many methods of teaching children about the world around them, but many of those methods include the children sitting in a classroom while a teacher teaches them about the world. Sound Pipes is an installation that teaches children to associate colors with noises they would typically hear in an area with similar colors. The installation will also get the children to be active while learning by letting them interact with the installation and running around having fun. The children will be creating a soundscape around them, transforming the area into almost anything they want. The reason Sound Pipes was created was simply to have another way of teaching children that did not require them to sit in a classroom. Making learning fun is the best way to get lower schoolers to retain the material being taught, and Sound Pipes was designed to make learning fun for lower schoolers. If the ideology that inspired this installation spread around the world, it could change the way children are taught.

    The creation of the installation was fraught with difficulty and failure. One of the first ideas involved dropping balls down a track that made kinetic noises with the aim of teaching students about basic physics through sound. To add complexity to the project, the initial idea evolved and went through many changes The next idea to be generated was one of the first iterations that would eventually become the final iteration. The final iteration includes two PVC pipes with 3D-printed connection pieces that hold one color sensor, servo motor, and pressure sensor each. Getting to the final iteration, however, took many attempts. Creating the 3D-printed connection piece in the 3d printing program Rhino for the pipe was the most difficult part that did not involve coding. The wiring and coding was the hardest aspect of the entire installation to overcome. All of the coding was done in the programs Arduino IDE and Max msp. Arduino IDE is the program that puts the code that was used into the arduino boards which then makes the installation work. Max msp was the program that recieved the signals from the installation and played the sounds chosen for the final working prototype.



  • The Sound Pipes: a project that allows people to create their own soundscape adventure using different colors to produce layers of sound.

    The project Sound Pipes uses the color of balls and varying sizes of PVC pipes to create different sounds. A pipe of longer length would relate to larger organisms, such as a lion roaring or a falling tree.  A short pipe would relate to a frog croaking in the swamp or monkeys chattering in the trees. The colors of the balls are also associated with different concepts of nature.  For example, green represents flora,  blue represents water, yellow represents, and the other colors relate to animals in the ecosystem. 

    This project was designed to engage the users' imagination through the use of sound. Sound Pipes was designed more towards elementary children, but all people can  enjoy using it. Sound pipes can also be used as a relaxation tool through the soothing sounds that the user can trigger. Some of the problems that the creators of the Sound Pipes faced was that the color sensor needed about three seconds to read the color of the ball. The creators designed a “Ball Stopper” that was 3D printed to fit the precise measurements of the tube. The design of this mechanism went through many iterations in order to ensure more accurate reading of the color sensor. Two other problems that the creators of the Sound Pipes had to overcome was housing the electronic equipment as well as keeping the lighting conditions of the color sensor consistent. Both of these problems were solved through the design of the box. The box allowed more than enough space to house the Arduino, breadboard, and the servo motor. It also created an environment where light remained the same regardless where the installation was placed. 

    The creators of sound pipes envision this installation to occupy a massive field, allowing pipes to be spread out and give the users' more freedom of imagination.