Instructables

MAKE A MINI-HARP FROM A PLASTIC THROWING DISC

How to make a miniaturized harp from a plastic throwing disc or "frizbee disc". The instrument uses a disc only 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick including the resonator chamber. The strings are polymer elastic to make up two and one-half octaves.Sharps are made separately as will be shown.
The elastic plastic strings gives several advantages: easy tuning, good pitch stability,unbreakable, replaceable, low cost, easy to amplify, ease of portability and easy to play by anyone.
Also if anyone wishes to make professional wood construction harps and lyres see the web page
misticmodels81.com or email gumistic@yahoo.com for more information.


 
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Step 1: MATERIALS

1-Disc.Here I had available a 10 inch Pro-Flyer with a .125 to .15 in. side wall thickness. Another disc was found at a dollar store. It had a .062 wall thickness but worked satisfactorily when the 5/8 size cup-hook screw used for tuning was inserted into a predrilled 1/16 bit hole. Some plastic discs are very flexible and need to be re-enforced with a glued on resonator dish on the back for rigidity before string assembly. After the glue sets cut out a 4 inch round disc from the resonator .I like to use flower pot saucers but even a soup plate will work..
2- Tuner- Use 5/8 size nickel or brass plated cup-hook screws.Use the type with a washer collar molded on .The hook needs to be closed with a plier. This is necessary to tie the string to inside the loop thus formed.A 1/16 in. drill bit is needed for the holes used by this size screw.
3- Crimps- Strings are held in place using jewelry crimps. They can be u-shaped, tubes or bead crimps.They are available in art-craft stores and are economical.One crimp is used at the screw end and one at the anchor end under the disc.Plastic strings when knotted come unravelled so crimps must be used or glue in place . Long nose pliers are ok for crush-crimping.
4- Strings- I use stretch-cord made of space-age polymer found under Arts and Craft jewelry..Clear material can be colored using color perm-markers. The E-6000 glue will not soften the plastic 1mm. diameter strings.
4-Tools- See figure- Also a Dremel is ok for hole drilling. using 1/16 bit.
5- Cost of materials --under $5.00

Thank you for posting the directions for this awesome instrument. I made this harp for a High School Physics project. I was able to follow the directions and get it to work perfectly. I used a $15 guitar tuner that sensed vibration to tune all of the strings. The only suggestion I would give to improve this project is the inclusion of a better picture of how the strings are tied to the cup hook screws and/or a better explanation of this part of the process. I found this to be the most confusing. I enjoyed making it and, if you dont want to make a simple pvc pipe flute with holes in it for your instrument, I recommend this project.
mistic (author)  jrokswiman361 year ago
Thanks for the complement. I am happy that you liked the project.The tie to the cup hook can also be performed using a larger diameter eyelet, place the string thru the eyelet string the end thru the hook and back to into the eyelet. then hold the eyelet with a plier and snug it up to the cup hook and squeeze.. I should make a diagram of this.The method I show in the DIY is a knot but needs a end crimp to keep the knot from slipping thru or unwinding ..Keep up the good works.
Can all of these be bought at hobby lobby and home depot?
mistic (author)  Kyosuke Kiryu1 year ago
Yes But---. The tuning screws size 5/8 I found at a hardware store and wal-mart. Crimp eyelets are easy to use but not found easily.Hobby shops have them.
Discs might be a problem in some cases because some are made of very thin plastic and are too flexible too.
I found a good disc for $1.98 at a Pet-Smart store, It was a 9 inch diameter.Dogs love flying discs.It was a harder material.
You could re-inforce the flexible ones by gluing a steel ring or another disc on the back side before stringing it.If you use steel ring it is found at Micheals stores under knitting or crochetting I believe.They also have plastic 9 inch rings that I used for disc re-inforcements.
Any other questions let me know. Good luck.
MandooNess2 years ago
Hi,
How do you get the strings to stay on the cup screws? I'm having trouble getting mine to stay. I'm using the plastic strings - the same type that you illustrated on the materials page. I crimped one end and it just doesn't stay when I wrap it around the screw.
mistic (author)  MandooNess2 years ago
Hi-M__N
If I have it right - you crimp the string around the looped screw.
And it comes off. right> This can happen when the open looped screw is not closed completely with the pliers. A small slit opening remains and the string can slip thru.
My solution for that is to get a larger jawed plier and really close that slit up.
On the other hand if it is still a problem I tie the sting with a small crimp on the end in the loop then dress down the string while rotating the string counter-clock-wise. This will be fine if the slit end is opposite the winding around at the collar of the screw. Tension will hold it away. Alternately you can dropplet a small amount of goop glue on the slit and let it harden before you attach the string.

XxAlziexX3 years ago
So I brought my instrument in, as we had to play an octave and perform a song, and everyone LOVED it, and I had my iPod with me so I could use my piano app and tune it real quick and I got bonus points for it being so easy to tune.

Everyone wanted to play it.

Great job, and thank you so much!! :D
mistic (author)  XxAlziexX2 years ago
Thank you Xx--You don't know how happy this makes me feel, as I never get any one to tell me how their projects worked out.
I'm happy for you... keep up the good work. A lot of my mini-musical instruments can be easily made in 5 nights of effort.
Can you post a YouTube video or a emailed picture? You could become famous...
george
I just e-mailed it :)
i'd do a video but the frisbee got really warped due to all the tension on just one side. i got a 90 on my project, and the points taken off were for the research paper lol, not the instrument. but i had a blast making it, and it ended up pretty much getting passed around the classroom haha. :D

thanks again.
Allyson
mistic (author)  XxAlziexX2 years ago
That's OK Xx- you had fun making something new.
Just a note on discs.. I usually use a thicker more costly frizzbe whose walls are about 1/8 in. thick. These are now 8 years old and still easy to play.
george
XxAlziexX3 years ago
Could fishing line work for the strings?
I also just snapped a guitar string and I need new ones anyway so the other 5 could possibly work? no?
mistic (author)  XxAlziexX3 years ago
I tried nylon fish line.. It was too darn sensitive to tune . This is why I ended up using stretch polymer strings -they are very easy to tune.
They also need a very low tensioning and the tuning mechanism is very simple. The steel and the non-stretchable nylons need a very high tension.
Thanks! I have to go to the craft store anyway to get the hooks, i was trying to see if i could squeak out of going haha.
I too have to do this for Physics, hopefully it comes out good, I wanna see if I can play Hey There Deliliah on it for my grade :D
I can play it on guitar, should be simple enough to translate if I did it right, I think.
phum13 years ago
What should the length of each string be? I'm confused. :S Please respond soon?
mistic (author)  phum13 years ago
sorry for the lost time-- String length-
If you follow the diagram th string length is indicated as shown. The length is not too important for the device to generate the notes because the note generation is mainly adjusted by tensioning or pulling on the string end in construction then tying it or anchoring it down .
mistic (author)  phum13 years ago
The diagram shows the length of the strings after it is in place.
The first or lowest note string is about 3 in long . But it is not critical on length . It can be 2.5 to 3.5 inches and it will work ok.
The string itself as cut from the spool is about 3.5 inches long . It can be up to 4 in. long.and is long enough to make a anchoring and twoturns around the tuning screw after it is stretched to the desired note. Notice -you have to pull on the string and it will stretch about 1 to 5 inches beyond thebase anchor point. to get to the proper note.. In the stretched condition the string is then anchored but its length will remain as shown about 3. inches at point A note.
Hope this helps...
phum1 mistic3 years ago
Thank you very much! I'm using this article to make a similar musical instrument for my physics class. I find your article very helpful! Thaks again!
mistic (author)  phum13 years ago
You might find it useful to review my Inst-able "How to make a mini-Ukulele" date published Jan 14, 2010.
Here we used stretch strings for this 3 string Mini. good luck
livestron4 years ago
Which way are the strings suppose to turn. I have been working on this and it doesn't seem to come out correct. Can you help me?
mistic (author)  livestron3 years ago
turn the strings so theywind on the tuner screw clockwise.
What kind of glue is that?
mistic (author)  themoonpeach3 years ago
The glue that was used here was E6000 that is what you look forwhen you buy it.
It is a perclorethylene solvent based plastic .That means you need to be sure you have adequate ventilation while it is hardening. It is a very strong plastic after it hardens completely in about 4 hours to 5 hours. An alternate is Goop Glue that is available also in art and craft stores and hardware stores.
MPLS_CBG3 years ago
Thanks! I have been toying with the idea of a "no keys" piano for sometime now but had hesitated due to the complexity. This looks like a doable approach.
mistic (author)  MPLS_CBG3 years ago
Good luck and let me know if you have any problems on the construction.
nifty item, there was once on the web a gent who listened to singing telephone poles. He rigged up a resonator (think string and cup) sort like your resonators and used it to listen to and record the vibrations we do not hear coming off phone poles . I lost the url and the saved copies of his pages , so any clue how to do that one and or have you ever seen the pages, or anyone else out there.please post back .

thanks (he called them singing telephone poles, I tried google many ways plus other search engines but no go)

thanks
sparkie
mistic (author)  spark master3 years ago
That is an interesting phenomina of vibrating wires observation. I have never read about the method used hear. I did try vibrating plastic strips 4 feet long and attached a mike to the resonator to amplify the sound.
the gent made "speakers" using cups or tin cans (don't remember). I thought this was very cool but had no time to do it. I lost his url's and the way back machine can't locate it. IT IS OUT THERE (oouuuhh how Xfiles), but I know not where. I think I know how to do it but am not sure . It has interesting applications for other things shown here on instructables. If you google "singing telephone poles" you get everything but his page/site.

sparkie
zourza4 years ago
 That is wonderful! im always looking for good quality homemade instruments, and this one is definitely one of the better ones i've seen. please, keep 'em coming :)
mistic (author)  zourza4 years ago
One can use this basic design idea and build harps and zithers from almost any resonating device  like a tin pan, etc. lots of fun. some one could start a club  .
jahmad934 years ago
Can this play at least 5 different notes?
mistic (author)  jahmad934 years ago
it can play chords and melodies.  like a piano. sharps are  an added finger manipulation  unless one tunes the key to that note. F key would be tuned to F#.
an e-mailer wanted to know if it can be amplified. Yes. I used a wireless mike but also it works fine with a n earphone as a small pick-up to my Radio shack pre-amplifier.glue the earphone bud to the bottom.
mistic (author) 5 years ago
A question was sent to my email gumistic@yahoo.com : Could my son make this as a science project?-- Yes. But some adult aid may be needed in using a drill and strong glue solvents. He can demonstrate science of vibrating strings as used in musical instruments. Use a ventilated area. good luck.
mistic (author) 5 years ago
Yes, honestly .It really plays music.....
mistic (author)  mistic5 years ago
a novel idea using this invention- notes can be easily bent.Kids love to play it.