Introduction: How to Make Sound Come Alive - Cymatics

Picture of How to Make Sound Come Alive - Cymatics

How to make Sound come alive?? That is simple. This theory is known as Cymatics. Cymatics is the study of visible sound and visible vibrations. By transmitting sound waves through any sort of medium, we are able to see different patterns emerging. So in this Instructable, I will be teaching you how to actually conduct this experiment.

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Made By Manish Kumar, Murtaza Tunio, Minaam Abbas

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

A waterproof Speaker
A Guitar amplifier
Wire Stripper
Crocodile Clips
Speaker Wires
A Tone Generator
A Screw Driver
Soldering Iron
Amplifier Wire (PC to amplifier)

Step 2: Unscrewing

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Unscrew the back lid and the speaker from the amplifier. Disconnect the wire connecting the amplifier to the speaker itself. If the speaker is waterproof, you can use that. But most of them aren't. The one in the previous picture is. 

Step 3: Crocodile Clip Wires

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Step 4:

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Attach the crocodile clip wire to the speaker, as shown in the picture. 

Step 5:

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Pour some water over the speaker. Or you can get a metal box if your speaker isn't waterproof. Pour water in it. 

Step 6: NCH Tone Generator

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Download a tone generator off the internet. I downloaded the NCH tone generator. It was a 14 day trial version.

Step 7: Plugging in the Wire.

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Plug in the power supply, the Amplifier wire. You can see the Amplifier settings I used. 

Note: Higher Frequencies usually require greater amplitude. 

Step 8: Powder

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I started with a solid medium, powder. Here are the pictures of what happened. I used a Sine Frequency. I set the setting for 60 Hz, 80 Hz, 100 Hz, 120 Hz and finally 200 Hz. 

You can see the powder moving due to the pressure differences. Regions of maximum and minimum displacement are made visible in a thin coating of particles.

Step 9: Water

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I used the same frequencies as before and you will notice that with the frequency, the patterns become more intricate and sophisticated. 

Step 10: Cornstarch

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If you mix cornflour and water (Oobleck), you obtain a non-Newtonian fluid. A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose fluid properties change with the pressure applied. It basically changes its state according to pressure. For example, if compressed, the fluid acts as a solid. But it acts as a liquid if something light weight is dropped onto it. 

It's viscosity also depends on the force applied to the liquid or how fast an object is moving through the liquid.

Not all non-Newtonian Fluids behave in the same way when stress is applied – some become more solid, others more fluid. Some non-Newtonian fluids react as a result of the amount of stress applied, while others react as a result of the length of time that stress is applied.

Below is the easiest to make non-Newtonian fluid, oobleck. 

Enjoy :)


jessiehendricks (author)2015-08-08

Very helpful! I took bits and pieces from around the internet to make my own version of a cymatics rig and made a how to video if anyone is interested: I found 25-35 hertz was pretty good for the cornstarch solution, but some direct beatboxing with salt produced some pretty fun results too (that's a different video but they are linked).

Chetan Surana (author)2014-04-15

the patterns in the water are amazing! I just wanted to know if i could do away with the amplifier and just give direct input to the speaker from a phone.Will it work?

Hi Chetan :)

I don't remember if I really tried it without the amplifier. But if you really powerful bass speakers then sure go ahead and try it. You might get some interesting results. Tell me how it goes :)


cesar harada (author)2012-08-01

Hey, Your instructable is awesome. I love the fact that you are using many different materials to test the principle, powder, water, starch etc. 
I just made my version of chladni plate here  and I thought you might enjoy seeing it :)
Best Luck becoming an engineer !

Thank You for that compliment. I really appreciate it. Your Chladni Plate is brilliant too. It was something, I was unable to build Thumbs up for the good work.

Chimex14 (author)2011-09-24

Hey Manishk?
this idea is awesome and all
but you do realize that this contest is only for America and Canada (exclusion of Quebec) right?

howtowithmanish (author)Chimex142011-09-24

Thank you :) I know, but i just wanted to see whether i could win or not :P

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an A-Levels Student at Karachi Grammar School, Pakistan. My passion is physics and mechanics and I want to be a Mechanical Engineer in ... More »
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