After spending some more time on this project, some more constraints have arisen that I did not see in the beginning.
My top five constraints are:
The pitch – getting the diameter and lengths of the tubes right so that the chimes actually sound good. There are some equations for this but it may take some trial and error which could cost a lot of time.
Time – As mentioned above, depending on how everything goes I may be cutting it close on time, we’ll see.
Machine shop availability – This is an unknown that factors into the time constraint, if I’m lucky I could probably do all of my machining in a few days, if I’m unlucky it might take a few weeks.
Balance – Getting the balance of the system right is going to be a key part to making this look good, function, and last.
Precision – Getting the cuts and holes right on the first go is very important to keep the costs reasonable. Since the aluminum bars will be relatively expensive, it is important not to have to re-buy any. I mentioned getting the diameters and lengths right in the first constraint; for the length part it’s important to cut long, not short and go from there.
Measure twice, think three times, cut once. Have you considered higher test fishing line to string this together? It might work really well if the metal wire solution you were examining doesn’t work out.
You could also use your balance to play with the aesthetic. It may look really cool to make the balance asymmetric (also you don’t have to worry about it being perfect) if that can be integrated into your design.
I have noticed that the shop has become more free recently, but I would still recommend jumping on that quickly before the component design class starts using it. You could probably buy hollow aluminum rods with a close ID/thickness/length and use the mill to add a few last touches.
You make a good point about machine shop availability, I haven’t even thought about that until now. I will need to do a decent amount of machining for my project and having senior projects in the shop could make it near impossible to get anything done. I may have to consider using another resource.