Rainstick; Really, Really Big and Continuous.




About: I'm a professional entertainer, mostly educational shows for elementary schools. I have one great wife and one great child, (3 years old). My proudest project is a Model of the Wright Brothers plane with a...

So we needed a rainstick for a stage production.  I went to Instructables and found

and took that idea with a twist.

Please bare with me if I repeat the ideas, but there is a twist at the end.

One thing about rain-sticks is that the beads fall from one side to another and then they stop until the stick is turned again.  Is there a way to make the rain continuous , like...rain?
a video of me with the final project


Step 1: What You Need

one 1.5" schedule 40 PVC, 10 Feet long.
4-1.5" schedule 40 PVC slip elbows
2- 1.5" schedule 40 PVC slip end caps (for storage)
2or 3- 1.5" schedule 40 PVC slip connectors (for optional setup)
big box of #10 1.5" screws
assorted beads, beans, and sound making objects.

Drill, drill bits, and screwdriver attachment.
Miter saw, or hack saw,

To make it pretty,
acetone, Plastic primer, spray paint.

Maybe an hour long project.

Step 2: Cut the Pipe

Cut the 10' pipe into 4 equal sections.  They must be equal. 

WARNING, sometime 10' pipe is only 9'11", and obviously when you cut it it loses a 16th of an inch or so with each cut.

Step 3: Drill Lots of Holes

Drill the appropriate size hole for the #10 screws, (or other size, I think the smaller the diameter the better the sound sand less likely to have the beads clog up.

I drilled every two inches, down one side, rotated by a third, drilled another row of holes offset from the first, and then rotated and repeated.

Basically ending up with a spiral of holes no closer than about an inch apart.

Work on one pipe first just 1/2 of the pipe to test out spacing.  But it also depends how big your beads or beans are.

WARNING avoid putting hole near the ends.  As the beads make the turn they slow down and they get clogged up if they hit screws after the turn.

Step 4: Put in the Screws

Drill the screws into place.  I hope you have a screw driver attachment for your drill.

Side note- I originally thought this would be a good way to get rid of all those extra screws at the bottom of my toolbox.  But many were too big or too little, or just didn't make much sound.  so I went out and bought a whole box.

Step 5: Add the Elbows and Beads

Make a square of your 4 pipes using the 90 degree elbows.  Before you put the last one on add your beans, beads.

NOTE:  you really have to try coffee beans.  They make a nice sound, bu mostly they smell great in your instrument.  And I think coffee comes from places in the world that rain a lot, so it's poetic.

Step 6: Perform

You're ready to make rain, continuous rain.  Slow rotate the giant square around and let the beads fall inside.  Some shaking is required.  But you can go round and round and never ever stop.  You may go back and add or remove screws to make the flow just right.  You may change the beads to get the perfect sound.  try plastic, metal, split peas (which I stopped because they got ground up into dust.)

Store them after wards by taking it apart and capping one pipe with the two end caps, with the beads inside.  You now have a short rain-stick that is much like www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-your-very-own-Rainstick/  Thanks again for the inspiration.

Step 7: Another Variation

Now with another $2 you bought the two slip connectors.  Simply make a chain of three pipes and with end caps at both ends, you have a 7.5' rain-stick. 

Oh what the heck go for 10 feet with just one more connector.

Step 8: Two More Variations

I changed the square into an octagon.  Which I think has a more flowing sound, the square version has beans log jam a bit in the corners, and this eliminates that.  Plus it just looks cool.

So I went out and bought at $2.27 a piece or 17.35 total Eight 45 degree angles.  (That’s what they are called but anyone can see they are 135 degrees.)  Cut each of the four pipes in half.  Well carefully measuring because i think in an octagon it is even more important to be precise.
and added the 8 new corners.  And just like they told me on Sesame St. it was an octagon.  I glued every other corner to one pole, to make it more stable and not lose the corner pieces. Except for one pole which has no corners and I use that for storage and another with two corners because I had one left over.

Step 9: One Last Variation, Maybe the Best...

Ever work on a project and spend time and money and then find a solution that cost WAY less and takes WAY less time?

After I thought I was done with this one, by creating the octagon, I found this at my local hardware store in the plumbing section. $5.25.  A drainage pipe, with accordion like sides.  I bought the length about ten feet, filled it with beans, and attached it to itself.  It held perfectly, it was the perfect size, no need for screws because of the ridges. 

However, this version needs rice or some smaller noise making device.  Beans and beads are too big.

And there you go.



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    21 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 8

    "Except for one pole which has no corners and I use that for storage and another with two corners because I had one left over."

    Wha?... Oooooh. Ahahhaahah.

    That was meant to be confusing then funny right? Usually I can tell. Perhaps your wit is even drier than mine.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 8

    What I should have said was ; the pole with no corners is not superfluous, but rather important in it's difference, such as delineating it from the other non-unique poles, as those would have one more cap than those with nil. and of course another pole that would be more unique by having end caps, which are a necessary but optional storage device, for those inclined. So with the obvious exceptions which i need not list here, the piece is complete, except for the parts and piece not yet assembled.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice!  I wonder if you could use some flexible pipe or heat and bend PVC into a circle, add some "spokes" to a hub and an axle and just gently spin the whole contraption...

    7 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    That drain tube was exactly what i was thinking!  I wondered if the ridges would be enough for sound.  Very cool. 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Note, the drain pipe needs rice, or some smaller particle noise maker inside.  The beds and beans seem too heavy.  But for the PVC version the rice won't make enough sound.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    That would seem like a great idea.

    Or maybe you could just connect all four corners (with two pieces of pipe, going through the diagonals of the squares), then maybe rig that up to a wheel, and then rig the wheel to a motor.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    At first look it sounds like you needed more "rain" inside the tubes. I think that if I built one (good job by the way) I would put a (pvc) "T" in the middle of 2 side pipes and connect them across,so you can hold it there and get a more consistent sound as you turn it. Don't know if they make a hub for 4 pipes you could put in the center, but that would be great too. Anyway, thanks for posting.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Oh great now I have new ideas to take back to the shop. :) I was also thinking of using 8- 135 degree elbows and making and octogon. which would be more circleish.   It's possible to bend the PVC, But I've never bent anything that big diameter.  Although there are some thick flexible tubes out there. 

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant!   Looking at the last one, i was thinking you could mount it on a wheel for easy continuous turning,,, although that could be a bit too uniform,,, lack the organic nature of a person randomly turning it... 

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I was using the last one and kind of swirling it around my head and thought that a dancer, maybe world music style, could use this.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You mean like a circle of 30 or 40 rainsticks that I turn and constantly have a rain sound....hmmm
    Or do you mean that the spokes go through to the outer diameter of the circle through the pipe and the beads hit the spokes...
    both interesting ideas.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking of the first, ie a circle of rainsticks.  That would certainly be easier to construct than the second!