Tuning Fork Oscillator

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Introduction: Tuning Fork Oscillator

This is something I wanted to make for a long time. An oscillator with a tuning fork instead of a LC, RC, crystal or other resonator. I do not have (nor can I think of) a practical application for it. I build it just for fun.

I have failed a few times. The problem wasn't how to make the tuning fork resonate, a simple electromagnet as actuator does the job. The problem was how to detect the vibration for the feedback.

Step 1: Photo Interrupter

I tried with HAL-sensors, coils and magnets. Always the influence of the magnetic field of the actuator was the problem. Recently I thought of photo interrupters, they at least aren't sensitive to magnetic fields. But I didn't know if the vibrations of the tuning for would be enough to measure with a photo interrupter. On Ebay I found a photo interrupter with a gap between the (IR) led and photo transistor wide enough to allow for a leg of the tuning fork.

Step 2:

It worked first time! With a little bending forward and backwards of the photo interruptor (see picture) , the leg of the tuning fork sits nicely halfway between the led and photo transistor. The vibrating leg produces about 500mV of signal. A dual opamp amplifies and schmitt-triggers the signal to a square wave. This is fed into a small signal npn transistor that in turn switches on and off the npn power transistor.

Step 3: Result

This is the signal coming out of the second opamp. As you see the frequency isn't what it is supposed to be, 440 Hz. The Chinese tuning fork is about 1.5 Hz too low. I could fix that by filing off some length of both legs but I don't think I ever will. (to lower the frequency, file a bit off where both legs meet)

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    39 Discussions

    0
    la-jetee
    la-jetee

    Question 4 months ago on Introduction

    Lovely! Looking at the 22 ohm electromagnet, would this be suitable for battery power? What's the current from the 5v source?

    0
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Answer 4 months ago

    I switched it on again to check, 175mA. So it is suitable for battery power depending on the capacity and how long you want to keep it switched on. A powerbank with 4Ah at 5V could keep it runing for almost 24 hours.
    I build it just for the fun, what do want to do with it?

    0
    la-jetee
    la-jetee

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thanks Wilkol! I was thinking about a 24/7 clock.

    0
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Reply 4 months ago

    I won't stop you, but you do know that 440Hz is audible, right?

    See my tuning fork clock.....

    0
    la-jetee
    la-jetee

    Reply 4 months ago

    Yes, I do. It's possibly for a friend. I've told him about the noise. He seems unperturbed.

    0
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Reply 4 months ago

    Well, maybe you can keep the noise down better than I did, good luck!

    0
    wphilmlee
    wphilmlee

    12 months ago

    Maybe you could drive a clock like the old time Bulova Acutron watch.

    0
    Muzammal Baig
    Muzammal Baig

    1 year ago

    You should remove the word "Chinese" as it seems racist and hateful. After all they provided the fork that your nation did not.

    3
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Reply 1 year ago

    Germany provided the car that my nation didn't, now I'm not allowed to called it a German car? :-)

    0
    Muzammal Baig
    Muzammal Baig

    Reply 1 year ago

    All I wanted to point out was that the phrase,
    "The Chinese tuning fork is about 1.5 Hz too low"
    makes it seem like its a mistake of the Chinese and that the Chinese products are not up to your mark.

    have you considered that all the components you rely on are also Chinese? i.e. the op amps the resistors and the transistors etc.

    2
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well, then who's mistake was it? It was made in China and it resonates at 438.5 Hz, not at 440 Hz. Since when it saying that in some way racist?
    And I made it resonate on the right frequency anyway, by filing a bit off the tines.

    So now I have a Chinese tuning fork that resonates at the correct frequency. Am I allowed to say that?

    Try not to see racism in my story Muzzamal, it isn't there.

    BTW, while some of my components come from China, they come from all over the globe.

    0
    Mellonoma
    Mellonoma

    Reply 1 year ago

    This made my entire morning lol

    0
     buttonkey
    buttonkey

    Reply 1 year ago

    "try not to see racism in my article, it isn't there." Allow me to commend your eloquence!

    0
    xenoscientific
    xenoscientific

    1 year ago

    Note that the tuning fork may vibrate at a slightly different frequency in your project than it would if just struck. So it may (or may not) be as inaccurate as you noted. This is because any resonant device (i.e. a tuning fork) can be forced to oscillate at a range of frequencies near to its natural, unforced, oscillation frequency. Without going into the theory, to get the most unforced oscillation frequency you need to time the maximum magnetic impulse to the point in the oscillation of the fork where the deviation of the tines from their resting position is zero. Also, you can test the deviation from the forced to unforced oscillation in your project by simply (1) noting the oscillation frequency with the circuit running, (2) turning off the magnetic drive and then quickly measuring the frequency coming out of the photo-sensor before the tuning fork oscillation dies down. This later measurement may be difficult because it is time limited, but it is the unforced, natural vibration frequency of the fork.

    0
    WilkoL
    WilkoL

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello Xeno Scientific,
    That experiment had to wait. I had broken the tuning fork I was going to put in the tuning-fork-clock. The oscillator had to donate its tuning fork so I could continue work on the clock. But today Peter the Postman brought some new forks and the oscillator is complete and working again.

    And I can confirm that the oscillator does influence the resonant frequency. The new tuning fork oscillates on a 0.09 Hz higher frequency that it resonates when unforced. It is very simple to check this with the oscillator, the Q-factor of a tuning fork is so high that when I switch off the electromagnet it keeps resonating strong enough for half a minute to see the signal on an oscilloscope.

    So you are right (and wrong :-)) Yes there is some influence. Although for the original tuning fork it was in the wrong direction, resonating free, it would go even further away from the correct frequency of 440 Hz.

    And as I was experimenting anyway, I looked at the effect of warming up the fork. When I moved the oscillator in the sun, it went down in frequency about 0.3 Hz with an estimated rise in temperature of 15 Celsius (from 20 to 35 C)

    0
    xenoscientific
    xenoscientific

    Reply 1 year ago

    Very cool that you collected this data! Might be able to compute the approximate Q of different tuning forks from this way. The temperature drift is in the direction I would expect from thermal expansion (my steel string guitar also does down in tune with increasing temp -- strings get longer so less tension).

    In terms of practical uses: there was an electro-mechanical watch in the 1960-70’s called the Bulova Accutron, that used a tiny tuning fork as a time-keeping element. The frequency would’ve been something easily divided down to seconds... I think it was 3600Hz, but I’m not 100% sure. If you put it up to your ear, you could hear the tuning fork — the logo was even a tuning fork. These gave way to purely electronic watches that use quartz crystals for the timebase.

    Also, instead of using optical feedback like your circuit, the Accutron watch used the back-emf on the coil to tell when to give it a kick, otherwise the idea is pretty similar.

    Interesting project!

    1
    Leonardo2016
    Leonardo2016

    Reply 1 year ago

    My Accutron Spaceview is 360Hz and the fork has two coils, one on each tine. One drives and the other senses. The electronics is one transistor, one resistor and one capacitor - the ultimate in simplicity, and all analogue.