Wind Chimes in C Major Final Report Part 1



For my final project, I created a set of wind chimes played tuned to play notes in C major.  I felt that I could mold a set of wind chimes into the aesthetic that I wanted, specifically a mix of engineering and naval aviation.  To accomplish this aesthetic I wanted to use an overall steel/haze grey color often associated with engineering and the Navy, respectively.  To complete the aesthetic I wanted to use a model aircraft as the weight at the bottom.



For the materials, I chose to use aluminum for the pipes to serve as the chimes, an aluminum top plate, a PTFE striker, thin wire instead of string to maintain the aesthetic, and a plastic model of a jet as the weight (grey, of course).



Design Process:

After deciding on the basic design, the first thing I had to do was select the notes that the chimes would play.  I ended up choosing to go with the notes in C major because that is the pitch that “Danger Zone”, the theme song from the movie “Top Gun”, is played in.

To calculate the notes that each pipe would play, I had to take into account many factors.  These factors were the material of the pipe (modulus of elasticity), the inner and outer diameter of the pipe, the length of the pipe, and the distance between the hanging point and the end of the pipe.



The next step was to find purchase all the materials, now that I had a good idea of the dimensions of the project.  I got my materials from two places, McGuckin’s and McMaster Carr.  Prices below:

9 ft of Aluminum Pipe ~ $55

Striker and Top Plate ~ $7

Model Jet (F-14 Tomcat) – $15

Wiring – $3

Total: $80



The first step in the building process was to CAD up the pieces I needed to machine in Solidworks so that I could use the shop.  I made one of the pipes in Solidworks, and then inserted a table detailing the lengths of the other pipes and the distance of the hanging point.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 12.39.31 PM

To cut these I actually just used a tape measurer and marked out the lengths I wanted and then used the band saw in the shop to do the cutting.  Each cut was within 1/32″ of what I had intended, and they all sounded good so I did not modify them after this.

IMG_2979 IMG_2981

Then I had to design the top plate and determine how I was going to string the whole thing up.  I looked at existing wind chimes at McGuckin’s and modeled my top plate based off of them.  My final hole pattern can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 12.39.48 PMIMG_3027

For the PTFE striker I just cut four holes all at 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees around the center.

For the jet, I bought a model jet kit and had to assemble it.

After all the pieces were ready, it was a matter of stringing the wire through all the holes and making sure I could get the balance right.  I ended up not needing any glue or tape (except for hanging the jet) due to the bending properties and stiffness of the wire along with friction.

IMG_3031 IMG_3034



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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I love the precision of your work. I also liked that you included a few drawing on your report. it seems like it was a lot of fun, and you got machine shop experience. Your project looks very artistic.

  • I wish I got to see your project at expo, I must have missed you! I’m not familiar with the tune of Danger Zone from Top Gun, but I have absolute pitch and the top link from youtube seems to be in the key of E flat minor. Regardless of that, it looks very pretty and the CAD work looks very well done. The plane is a beautiful touch, and I hope that it is overall light so it may be pushed by the wind to ring the chimes. Everything looks great!

  • I like the design and think that basing the tune to match a show was a positive and creative idea. Is there any reason that the hole locations are positioned in their respective spots (vs having all of the holes X” from the center)? What would have been an interesting idea would be to have the plane at the center and have each of the chimes ring when they hit it vs the block. That idea is probably not very feasible though.


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