The cymatic water tank visualizer takes any sound or data in the form of sound files, and plays them through deep bass "Buttkicker" speakers to vibrate a tank full of water. Different frequencies excite different modes of vibration of the tank and cause different kinds of patterns in the water.
Higher frequencies make a delicate, wispy, spider-web-like pattern on the surface of the water, while lower frequencies make the water jump as the sound creates standing waves.
This instructable shows the steps we went through to build the tank, the frame, and the electronics to run the visualizer.
This project is part of the work of the University of California Santa Cruz's Digital Art and New Media department DANM, OpenLab, and designed and constructed by Sean Pace, Zach Corse, and David Harris.
The water tank is built from acrylic and was made in two stages.
First, we cut the base from a 8'x4' 1/4"-thick acrylic mirrored sheet on a ShopBot CNC mill at TechShop. We covered the underside of the base with masking tape as a protective layer as we knew it would be vibrating against the wooden stand. That tape has shown wear after a while but can easily be replaced.
The sides were made from two long acrylic strips which we used a strip heater and heat gun to make pliable and a form to shape into the correct angles to match the base. We found having three people working on this was essential to manipulate the acrylic. Don't heat the acrylic too much or else you'll get bubbles forming.
The strips were mounted on the sides of the base and glued in place with SciGrip Fast Set clear, medium-bodied solvent cement for acrylics. The ends were joined also with the cement but then covered in rectangles of mirrored glass to cover the joins between the two sides.
With the cement set, we filled the tank with water, found there were a few leaks, and applied more acrylic cement to the gaps. This cement has worked well and stood up to the vibrations allowing us to run the tank for many hours without any cracking or leakage.