Rainbow Sound Tree





Introduction: Rainbow Sound Tree

About: I am French, living in south of France, I like to make presents for my family and friends. I also like to try several techniques. You can visit my blog in French I also play saxophone.

I like to make myself the toys for my grandsons and girls. For Charles 3 years, I made a diy version of a sound tree he knows from musical activities.

The principle of the sound tree is that the leaves have different sizes and make different sounds when a marble goes down from one leave to the other.

To make the nice rainbow colors I used a simple technique with food colouring products and alcohol.

I had to make 2 versions, because in the first one the marbles were escaping before reaching the ground. It could have been another game to try to find a marble which goes down completely, but I decided to make one which works and I had to redo...

Step 1: First Trials....

I like this phase, when you have a project in mind and try to find out how you will do with the materials and the tools you have.

I decided to do the slots for the leaves in the mitter saw which allows to cut at precise angles and depth. My first intention was to use 5 mm plywood but I quickly found out that it will impose to enlarge the mitter saw cut from 2 mm to 5 mm and it would be very difficult to be repetitive.

I finally found a thin plywood with a thickness of 2 mm which fitted with a tight fit to the mitter saw cut. Perfect!

I also used this trial to figure out the angles. I made a few keaves, which seemed to work ...The angles where 5° slope and 30° above horizontal. This ended up not to be ok... but I found it only after having assembled completely the tree.

Step 2: Cut the Slots for the Leaves in the Trunk and Sand It.

I used the mitter saw with 2 angles, first one 5° and second one 30°, and I made a spacing between slots of 25 mm. It ended up not working. The marbles were going down too fast with the slope of 5° and the angle of 30° was not enough to prevent the marble to go out, after some turns the speed of the marble was too big and the marble was going out... failed!

for the second trial, I used a slope of 2° and an angle of 37°, and it worked fine. I sanded the 'trunk' to remove all sharp edges.

Step 3: Cut the 'leaves'

There are 29 leaves made out of plywood of 2 mm thickness.

The size is increasing from top to bottom. I started with a simple circle the first one is diameter 70 mm the last one 154 mm. I cut them with a chain saw, the circles are easy to follow. And then I sanded them.

Step 4: Paint the Leaves and Assemble the Tree.

It is not really painting the leaves, it is rather tinting the leaves. The tint is made with food colouring and alcohol. With the basic colours yellow, red and blue, by mixing them and putting more or less tint you can reach all the colours of the rainbow. Some spoons of alcohol and some drips of food colouring and you get a nice colour. By adding some drops of red in the rest of yellow you can get a nice orange, and adding again some red, you get a stronger orange until you shift to the red and start mixing with blue. It is quite easy.

To let the leaves drying I prepared a drying tool with some screws on a wood board.

My wife Claude had a broken foot toe and supported me in this process. It was a quiet activity that you can do without moving.

The trunk of the tree is screwed to a base I made and then the leaves are assembled to the trunk.

The first version of the Rainbow Sound tree was done... and as said before, I was quite dispointed to find out it didn't work.

Step 5: Second and Final Version of the Rainbow Sound Tree

After some down mood period, I recovered and decided to modify the first version.

Since the leaves where glued, I had no other possibility than to saw them with a hand saw.

I created a shape that fits in the remaing part of the leave. I did a second version of the trunk with the new angles, and assembled everything again... and it worked well as you can see on the videos.

You can also hear the nice sound with 1 ball which becomes a bit messy with several balls.

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    I love this! Art for the eye and for the ear! It suggests also many interesting variations -- different shapes, metal leaves, channeled leaves so the marbles are farther out and guided.. oh yes, this idea has great promise for creativity!

    So I clicked on this to see what the heck it was and was so impressed. I, too, use what limited skills I have to build things as gifts. What you have here is somehnting any child would truly enjoy.

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    Beautiful project! I really like how you've painted the leaves with food colouring and alcohol!

    This is awesome! I've been wanting to make a marble machine sometime in the future, and I think this would make a great addition to it!