Picture of Visualizing Sound With Fluids

After a brief foray into the realm of visualizing sound through fire I decided to head in the other direction and watch vibrations propagate through some different kinds of fluids. I used water and a corn starch solution to get what I thought were some pretty cool results.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
- Speaker (That you don't intend to use again...)
- Driver for the speaker (I had one laying around but you can build your own, use a guitar amp, etc)
- Plastic lid that is about 4'' - 6'' in diameter with about a 1/2'' lip to contain the fluid
- Corn Starch
- Water
- Hot Glue Gun
- Wire strippers, electrical tape, etc.
- Clear Plastic wrap (this is optional but when using corn starch it can replace the lid and just cover the speaker for some cool results)
- Frequency generator (I just used a program called AudioTest that I downloaded to my computer)

Step 2: Preparing the Speaker

Picture of Preparing the Speaker
Essentially this device is just a lid glued to a speaker. This will allow the vibrations from the speaker to be transfered directly into whatever fluid is in the lid allowing us to observe patterns. The other part of the setup is wiring the speaker to the driver. This part of the process will differ depending on what setup you have but is should be pretty straight forward. I would recommend cutting wires long enough so that your speaker can sit on the table and be far enough to not splash any water on the sensitive electronics. 

Step 3: Running the setup with water

Picture of Running the setup with water
To use this device simply pour water into the lid and play some sounds out of the speaker. If you play a slow sweeping wave you might be able to find out at which frequencies the fluid resonates as their will be a well defined pattern. The fun part of this is experimenting and changing up these frequencies to produce cool patterns in the water allowing you to visualize sound. 
Can you do it with other liquids as well?

Awesome! I've always wanted 3D pattern visualization of frequencies.

ToolboxGuy2 years ago
Oobleck! The quasi-solid!

FoamboardRC2 years ago
Brilliant idea!
zast_bing2 years ago
I did not understand the tentacles of corn starch. How can corn starch have any tentacles at all? Or, do you mean that after one poring corn starch into the speakers ribbon covered with plastic wrap and as sound waves are being fed, one will see tentacles?
ExperiencingPhysics (author)  zast_bing2 years ago
Yeah you will need to follow all of the instructions if you want to see "tentacles"
zast_bing2 years ago
This is good, I want to try it out with my language as a project
bryan31412 years ago
I believe the bit with the corn starch was featured on Big Bang Theory....thanks for more details!
AJMansfield2 years ago
You should try this with a sheer thinning fluid, like paint.
olliebaum2 years ago
They did this on QI! Really cool by the way. Check it out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=579hNOgHUs8
hey, great instructable. using cornstarch liquid is a brilliant way to watch sound wave effects depending on pitch and tone. if you did want to use the speaker again you could of used clingfilm and tightly placed it over the top without tearing it. brilliant instructable though.
sunshiine2 years ago
I liked the example when the corn starch was added, interesting instructable! Thanks so much for sharing your hard work and do have a splendorous day!