Introduction: Droning Machine

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

This device is a tribute to one of the coolest movies of recent memory, Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani. In the movie, the protagonists improvised a lot of cool instruments with the goal of making a pure and beautiful noise. One of the most striking things they made was a droning machine built out of an old fan, an umbrella and some drainage tubing. You can see this device in action 56 seconds into the movie trailer.

After dreaming about making one for a long time, I finally went ahead and did it. It was a lot of fun to make, and it worked pretty much as advertised. The biggest problem I encountered is that I was over driving the fan motor and I probably could have chosen a more powerful one that could have handled more tubing (more weight). I will solve this problem for revision two.

Anyhow, without further ado, here is how to make your own.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

A box fan
An umbrella
Ribbed tubing
A 1' foot metal tube with a diameter slightly bigger than your motor shaft
A rod clamp slightly bigger than your metal tube
Zip ties
Assorted tools

(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)

Step 2: Take Apart the Fan

Remove the front cover from the fan.

Forcibly pull the fan blade mount from the motor shaft.

Step 3: Measure

Measure the diameter of the shaft and get an extruded 1 foot metal tube with an inner diameter of that value.

Also get a rod clamp with a set screw that can fit around the tube.

Step 4: Clamp

Tightly clamp the metal tube to the motor shaft with your rod clamp.

Step 5: Strip the Umbrella

Remove the cloth from the umbrella.

This may require breaking, bending and/or sawing off a clamp at the top of the umbrella that is holding the cloth in place.

Step 6: Saw Off the Handle

Saw off the handle of the umbrella in such a way that you will be able to remove the base off the shaft when done.

Step 7: Remove the Spring

Carefully free the spring from the umbrella. Be careful as the spring is springy and this may cause the spring and/or the pointy bits of the umbrella frame to launch towards or away from you.

Step 8: Simplify

Break off the sharp pointy bits sticking off the edge of the frame (the part that extend past the folding joint).

Step 9: Free It

Entirely remove the folding part of the frame from the main umbrella shaft

Step 10: Remove the Extra Hangy Bits

Carefully break away any extra pieces that may dangle, make noise or otherwise be a hindrance when the frame is mounted on a rapidly spinning motor shaft.

Step 11: Fasten the Umbrella

It is time to fasten the umbrella frame onto the extended drive shaft.

Simple lower the bottom part onto the shaft and don't worry about securing it for now (it will be held in place later by zip ties).

Bring the top part of the frame near the top part of the shaft and drill completely through both the top bracket and the shaft. Insert a metal pin through this hole and bend it to lock the top in place. If the top is loose, you can insert a rubber O-ring to solve this problem.

For my pin, I sawed in half one of those "dangly bits" from the last step, inserted it through the hole and bent it upwards. This worked great.

Step 12: Cut Tubes

Cut your tube into 8" to 18" sections.

Step 13: Zip Tie

Zip tie them onto the motor shaft and frame so that they make a nice 90 degree arc.

While zip tying them, you should also determine that approximate height you want the bottom part of the umbrella frame to sit at and zip tie this in place as well.

Step 14: Plug and Play

Plug it in and let it drone.

I found that you shouldn't run it for more than a few minutes as you are typically over-working the motor and it starts to get worryingly hot.

I have not had the chance to properly record this yet, but I would imagine the ideal place to have a mic would be in close, below the spinning mechanism, pointing upwards at 45 degrees.

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