Visualizing Sound Through Fire in 3D

Introduction: Visualizing Sound Through Fire in 3D

About: I am a physics student at Wheaton College who likes building interesting physics demos and other stuff that I think is awesome!

After building a reuben tube I was inspired by youtube videos of "Pyroboards" and "Firetables".  This was my attempt to create the same effect that I saw in the video. This attempt was only semi-successful and there were known design flaws in the whole setup. The goal when creating this was to replicate the 3D sound effect as cheaply and as quickly as possible. So rather than use a membrane to separate the speaker from the gas chamber it was just placed right inside for simplicity. However I think that when used for short periods of time this design works well and I decided to post it here so others could maybe take inspiration and modify the design. My recommendations for improving the design are listed in the last step of this instructable

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Step 1: Gathering Materials


- Matching set of cookie pans
- Silicone sealant 
- 5 feet of 3/8’’ polyutherane tubing
- T-splitter (for tubing so attach it to the pans in two places and create a uniform gas flow)
- Propane tank and regulator
- Hammer & nail (to dent the top pan in preparation for drilling)
- 1/16 inch drill bit
- Circular drill bit to drill a hole for the speaker in the pan
- drill
- speaker

* Everything was purchased an home depot except for the cookie pans

Step 2: Drilling the Cookie Pans

The first step is to prepare the two halves of the cookie pans that will become the gas chamber. One half will have one big hole in it to house the speaker. The other half will have tons of smal holes drilled in a grid pattern for the gas to come out in cool fire patterns.

Bottom Half:
- Drill the big hole with a circular drill bit big enough to house your speaker
- Also drill two holes near the corners in the walls of the pan. These holes need to be big enough for 3/8'' tubing to fit into so the gas can          be pumped into the gas chamber

Top Half: (This takes a long time...)
- Drill a grid of small holes in the top sheet. I suggest first marking the grid with a sharpie  Then denting each mark with a hammer and nail and finally drilling the holes. The closes the holes the better resolution your fire visualizer will have and the cooler it will look.

Step 3: Sealing the Two Halves Together

Once Both Halves are drilled you will have to seal everything together with silicone. Before the two halves are sealed together a few components need to be sealed 

Bottom Half:
- Seal two sections of tubing to the gas holes in the walls of the bottom pan
- Seal the speaker in the circular opening that we made earlier

Once the bottom half is good to go then just seal the two halves together with silicone and then cover with duct tape for good measure.

Step 4: Setting Up the Gas System

The gas system is made by modifying a normal propane torch regulator to provide more gas flow and using a t connector and tubing to connect everything together.

Modfying the regulator:
- Unscrew the piece on the end
- Drill into the tiny pinhole to widen everything out I think that i used a 1/16 inch drill bit to widen out the regulator

Setting up the T-connector:
- It takes a bit of pressure to fit everything the tubing onto the T-connector but make sure that you have an airtight seal
- Make sure that you have cut the tubing long enough that there is space for everything to move around without causing trouble

Step 5: Firing It Up!

Setting up the speaker:
When all of the silicone is dry then you should test out your speaker. If you don't have one you should connect your speaker to a driver (instructions for a driver can be found on instructables or you could modify the original housing that your speaker came in by just extending the wires or something).

Once your speaker is working screw the propane tank into the regulator gently turn the knob on the propane regulator. Then use a lighter to light the gas coming out to the grid on holes like lighting a grill. Then you can play sounds through the speaker and should observe some pretty cool effects.

Recommendations for averting the same fate as the apparatus shown in the video:
* If you followed the design exactly as presented in this instructable then the temperature will eventually reach the flash point of the conducting paper that the speaker is made of and the speaker will burn and oxygen will enter the gas chamber causing problems. *

- I would recommend trying to attach a rubber membrane over the hole in the bottom plate or maybe even connect a pipe to the bottom hole and then setup a rubber membrane and a speaker like you would for a ruben tube. Anything to separate the speaker from the heat generated by the fire would be beneficial for this design. Perhaps just making the gas chamber bigger would have solved the problem. Anyway If you decide to build this be careful and have fun with your flaming sound visulizer!

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thanks for this nice tutorial, any idea whats the propane consumption when running it?


    4 years ago

    air tight speakers... think you could help give a link on how to find those?


    5 years ago

    How about replacing the speaker with an acoustic driver attached to the bottom of the pan? Or some thing like that.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Two questions. Could you use steel mesh instead of drilling a million holes? Can it be run on natural gas or must it be off propane or something else heavier than air?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think a mesh would work really, because what you are effectively making is a grid of bunsen burners, whereas a mesh would be more hole than metal. The reason the grid is like that is so oxygen can't really get under the metal. If you used a mesh, I think you would end up with the gas hose spouting fire, and the mesh not doing much. I might be wrong though ?

    However, if you can find a metal sheet with the holes pre punched, that would work, and be waaaayyyyy easier, so let me know if you find anything like that :)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I would have to guess that a mesh would work great if it was fine enough. Connecting the mesh to a cookie pan would be a bit different. I would probably weld the two together so that there is less of a chance for a leak (but that's because I like to weld). I would also find a way to protect the speaker :D


    This is super rad, and thanks for the great pictures of your gas plumbing!