Easy DIY Design and Build
Tubular-Bell Wind Chime Set
Tubes, Pipes or Rods
Hello & Welcome:
This site is about providing
you with easy options for making good choices when
designing and building tubular-bell wind chimes from
tubes, pipes, or rods. Our goal is to make it easy
for you to incorporate your personality and style
into the design and perhaps create an unusual design
specific to you rather than building to a fixed set
A variety of best practices, patterns and
calculators are provided to accommodate your
particular skill level, your construction resources,
and your budget. Avoid some of the common mistakes
and you can easily design and build an attractive
and great sounding set of tubular bell chimes.
To help simplify your visit the menu has been
organized specific to each section of the chime set.
If you know what you want and just
need dimensions and patterns, see Quick-Start below.
If you're curious about some of the design
considerations read on further.
As my good neighbor pointed out when
faced with the challenge of designing a new state-of-the-art
toaster, you first determine what makes toast, toast; rather
than dried bread, before you design a great toaster.
Clearly the question should have been, what makes a chime a good
chime, rather than what musical notes should be selected when
designing a set of tubular bell wind chimes. I had originally asked
that question back in 2001 and learned I should have also asked what
makes a good chime. While I would not consider myself an expert by
any definition, the findings can be valued for the understanding of
tubular bells. My experience with this project has evolved over time
and is presented to help you design and build a great set of tubular
bell wind chimes. Updates continue almost monthly as development
What's the difference between a pipe and a tube? The way it’s measured and the
applications it’s being used for. Pipes are passageways. Tubes are structural.
For the purpose of tubular chimes we consider them the same. The important
parameter is the outside diameter, the inside diameter and the type of metal.
On the other hand, a rod is a solid metal cylinder that can produce a very
different sound compared to a tube. The DIY calculators on this web site
can predicted the resonant frequency for a tube or a circular rod and the hang
point location. If you want to design and build a chime set using rods rather
than tubes all you have to do is set the inside diameter to zero and enter the
outside diameter and type of metal into the DIY calculator.
If you are trying to decide between using a tube or a rod as the chime element
one important difference is the sustain time of the musical note. Typically a
rod will have a much longer sustain time and in some environments this maybe
desirable and annoying in others.
Another difference is a shorter length requirement for a rod to strike the same
note compared to a tube from the same metal. For example, a 1" steel rod for
middle C, (C4) is 26 1/4" while it is 32 7/8" for a 1" steel EMT.
Two additional issues are the weight difference and loudness difference. Rods
typically have a relative small diameter offering a smaller sound radiating
surface producing a quieter chime, but on occasion the longer sustain time can
offset the reduced loudness and sound quite acceptable.
The Build Plan: Just a few decisions and you’re ready for construction.
There is a lot of information on this page but don’t let it overwhelm you. Most
of the information provides choices for making a decision.
Select the number of chimes (typically 3 to 8) for your set
and the musical notes. It is
helpful to understand the limitations for effective note selection as
discussed in the section on the bell-like chime.
Keep in mind the physical size for the set. Whether you use precalculated
dimensions or one of the DIY calculators, observe the length for the longest
chime as a guide for overall size. Remember to include extra length for the
wind sail that hangs below the chimes. Read
Cut each chime to the length provided by the precalculated
table or the DIY calculator. Best to cut slightly long (about 1/8”) to allow
for smoothing and deburring the ends to final dimensions.
you're new to cutting metal and looking for an easy method, I use an
abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw and it works equally
well with a cut-off saw aka chop-saw. The blade pictured right is under
$5.00 at Home Depot. The traditional tubing cutter or hacksaw works well
Smooth the ends to remove sharp edges and to provide a
professional appearance. Place an old towel or cloth on a table to protect
the chime from scratches. Roll the chime back & forth as you file or sand
the ends smooth. Slightly chamfer or round the outer edge.
Drill the support holes at
the hang-point location provided by the
precalculated table or the
DIY calculator. Deburr the support holes in preparation for whatever
select for support.
How to drill the tubes without a drill press or V block: Using card stock or
a manila folder cut a strip about ½” by 8”, wrap it around the tube and tape
it so that you now have what looks like a “Cigar Band”. Lay it on a table
and flatten it so a crease forms on both sides. Example: Let’s say that the
instructions ask for a hole 10 ½” from the end of the tube. Slide the “Cigar
Band” down the tube to the 10 ½”. Mark at both creases and drill each hole.
They should be opposing.
Select the top support disk cutout
pattern for your specific tubing size and number of chimes in the set.
Download the support disk & striker patterns from the web site and just
print the page specific to your tubing size and number of chimes in the set.
You may need to print two copies one for the support pattern and hole
locations, and one for the striker.
Select either a circular striker, a radial star striker, or a
striker-keeper, all are included in the patterns from step 7.
Select the style for hanging the chime
tubes, i.e. top aligned, center aligned or bottom aligned. Bottom
aligned is best because it allows the striker to easily contact the end edge
of all chimes, the ideal strike location. Top aligned may have a more
aesthetic appeal and on occasion some like center alignment. All three
locations work okay when you keep the striker away from the center dead
Always try your local building
supply store. In addition to visiting the hardware section in these
stores investigate tubing used for closet hanging poles, shower
curtain poles, chain link fence rails and post. Yard or garage sales
can yield surprising results, look for a discarded metal swing set,
tubular shelving, etc. With permission look for discarded materials
on constructions sites. Try your local metal recycler; they can
yield very economical rod and tubing.
Speedy Metals accepts
orders for small quantities of tubes or rods.
Tanks bells can be crafted from out-of-service
compressed gas/air tanks, scuba diving tanks or fire extinguishers.
A most likely source can be your local testing facility for each
type of tank. Ask your local fire department, welding shop and scuba
diving shop for their recommendation for a testing company. You may
be required to provide a letter to the testing company stating that
you will cut the tank in pieces and render it unable to hold
compressed air or gas.
Metal Hoops & Rings
Try hobby stores for rings or
hoops often used for dream catchers, mandellas or macramé. Some are
chrome plated steel and others may require paint. Support rings can
be cut from an out of service aluminum fire extinguisher using an
abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw, a chop saw or
a table saw as described in step 3 above.
Eyelets & Grommets
Small eyelets can often be
located at your local hobby store in the sewing department or a shoe
repair store. You can also use the outer shell of a 1/8 inch or 3/16
inch aluminum pop rivet. Remove the nail-like center and use the
rivet. Heat shrink tubing can be found at Radio Shack®.
Thin braided wire or 1/32 to
1/16 inch rust resistant steel cable, or decorative chain that is
zinc plated, brass plated, or painted can be located in hardware and
home improvement stores. Try a hobby store for small aircraft
control line cable.
Make sure the line is UV
resistant. Choices include fishing line (both 80# braided or 30-50#
monofilament), braided nylon line, braided plumb line, braided
Dacron kite line, venetian blind chord, string trimmer weed eater
line (.065 inch), awning chord, and braided electrical conduit pull
you need to select a musical note? Not necessarily unless you are looking for a
specific sound. All you really need to do is support the chime tube at the
correct location to allow for the best possible sound from that tube.
Say for example, you want a 5-chime set about 24 inches tall not
including the sail. The best thing to do is test a 24-inch tube for a pleasing
sound. First, look at the precalculated tube length
for your specific metal and chime size to learn where a 24-inch tube is
positioned in the overall scale. As long as the note is above C2 and well below
about C5 to C6 you should be good to go. Tie a slipknot in a string and position
it at exactly 22.4% from one end. Multiply the tube length by .224 to locate the
support location. Hold the chime with the string at the 22.4% point, strike the
chime on the edge of the end with something that is medium-hard like a wood
mallet, a wood cooking spoon or the hard rubber heel of a shoe. If you’re happy
with the sound then remove 2-inches from each succeeding chime, 22”, 20”, 18”,
16” and proceed to step 4 above.
I arbitrarily used a 2-inch removal measurement and suggest not
more than 3-inches between any two chimes. You can lengthen rather than shorten
each successive chime for an overall increase in height as long as you remain in
the suggested range from C2 to C6.
On the other hand, if you want a more coordinated sound a
traditional and safe choice by many wind chime suppliers has been the pentatonic
scale (C D E G A). An enhancement to that scale can be the C9 Chord (C E G Bb
& D) which has a wider note separation for a good sound both close in and at a
distance from the chime.
With that in mind we have a DIY calculator for either choice
along with a calculator for all notes where you select the metal and the tubing
size, and the calculator will prove the correct length and hang point for each
A Must Read
Ending your project with a successful and pleasing sound is
important and setting the right expectations will allow that to happen.
Selecting musical notes for a chime is NOT like selecting notes on a piano or
other string instrument, or reed instrument. When you strike C2 on a piano that
is indeed what you hear. Not true for a chime cut for C2. Instead, you will hear
a host of overtones with the fundamental and the first overtone missing. Why
this happens is discussed in the section "The Science of Chiming".
For example, an orchestra grade chime that is physically cut for
C2 will actually sound about like C5. To see a visual representation for what a
chime is apt to sound like see the chart here. On the
other hand, will the strike note for a chime sound pleasing and bell-like? Yes,
absolutely, because of the large complement of overtones even though the
fundamental is missing. Selections from about C2 to C4 sound the most bell-like
but will not adequately radiate the fundamental tone.
Unfortunately this effect complicates note selection if you are
trying to strike exact notes below about C5. Above about C5 the strike
note will actually be the fundamental and you can expect to hear the note you
selected but less bell-like than the C2 to C4 range. In fact orchestra grade
chimes typically begin at the C5 octave.
For the purposes of chime design use the Steel selection in the calculator if
The calculators require any of the following programs to view and
execute: MS Excel TM Viewer (Free)
Get it here; or Apache Open Office
(Free) Get it here; or MS Excel
TM (Cost $)
Get it here;
CAUTION: Do not use these
calculations for an orchestra or a musical setting unless you are certain they
use A=440 Hz. An orchestra or symphony may brighten slightly and will typically
tune for A4=442, 43 or 44 Hz. The above charts use A4 = 440 Hz. Most symphony
grade instruments are shipped with A4=442 Hz. Also, orchestra grade chimes
typically do not go below the C5 octave.
If you're not sure what notes to select and want to experiment
use the Wind Chime Designer software below. Caution,
the loudspeaker connected to your computer has the ability to play the low notes
from C2 to C4 but a chime will not reproduce those sounds.
Thanks to a site visitor for providing this excellent emulation
program from 1996 by Syntrillium. They are now defunct and we believe the
software is considered "freeware". The zip file contains the main program, the
registration codes and a help file. Unzip the download and run the
wind_chimes_1.01_syntrillium.exe file. The program is quite intuitive, full
featured and should be easy to operate. To begin I would suggest you set-up the
program as follows: Number of Chimes "5", Transpose to "0", Scale to "New
Pentatonic", Base Note "C-4", "Center Pendulum". Remember, the loudspeaker connected to your
computer has the ability to play the low notes from C2 to C4 but a chime may not
radiate those sounds.
The program was originally designed to run on DOS 6 using Windows
95, and also runs with Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and currently on
Windows 7, 64 bit mode. I have not tried running it using Windows 8.
A well designed freeware called Wind Chime Designer V2.0,
1997-2006, by Greg Phillips will emulate a chime for notes between A2 (110
Hz) thru B8 (7,902 Hz) in many different scales (82 in all). It will help you
determine what notes sound pleasant on a chime and what scale to use. Wind Chime Designer
Instructions PDF Remember, the
loudspeaker connected to your computer has the ability to play the low notes
from C2 to C4 but a chime may not radiate those sounds.
Download the Zip file here Wind Chime Designer
Zip, 370Kb by Greg Phillips (software + Instructions)
Using right mouse, save
to a folder of your choice Internet Explorer, select Save Target As Google Chrome, select Save Link As FireFox, select Save Link As Safari, select Download Linked File
Click on "wind_chime_designer.zip" to unzip the folder.
(contains Chime32A.exe, TUNING.DAT, and Wind Chime Designer Instructions)
If you have trouble unzipping Greg's new version here are the two
files you need.
TUNING.DAT Using right mouse, select Save Target As and save to a folder of
your choice. Place both files in the same folder
and run the .exe file.
Strike a note or strike a chord? Over the years much effort by many well-intentioned folks has
been placed on exactly what is the best chord for a set of wind chimes? While a
musical chord can be pleasing to the ear, the effort to simultaneously strike
all the notes in a chord using the traditional circular shaped striker/clapper
has been mostly a waste of time. The striker only contacts one, maybe two,
chimes simultaneously. The good news is that with some innovative striker
designs we can now strike a chord. More on this in the
striker section. Also, if you dedicate a striker to each chime tube
(internal or external to the chime) that configuration can ring several chimes
at nearly the same time and approximate a chord.
When using the traditional round striker it is much better to
select notes that have a fair amount of separation allowing the ear to easily
discern a variety of notes. Often a traditional choice has been the pentatonic
scale (C D E G & A.) This choice can sound pleasant close to the chime set but
not so good at a distance. The C9 chord (C E G Bb & D) can be used to
widen the note separations for a five-chime set. The problem at a distance is
the ear has difficulty discerning the closely spaced notes of the pentatonic
Caution at a distance
I often hear the comment, "I have a set of chimes on my deck and they sound
great. However, I was over to my neighbor’s the other day and the chimes did not
sound so good. In fact, they sounded out of tune. Why is this? The answer lies
in the conditions that make up the notes for the chime. As mentioned in the
science section, a chime note is a combination of the fundamental strike
frequency and the many overtones. Some of the overtones attenuate more rapidly
than others at a distance. The original combination of strike frequency and
overtones are not the same at a distance. Remember, not always does the
fundamental frequency contribute to the note and not always are there many
overtones for a given note.
The actual note depends on exactly where in the musical scale the
chime is operating. When you have a chime that contains a larger number of
overtones that are located in the higher frequencies, and mostly missing the
fundamental, you can get this distance effect. High frequency sounds attenuate
more quickly in the atmosphere than do the lower frequencies. At a distance you
are not hearing the same sound you hear close in. Some of the high frequency
sounds can be greatly attenuated or missing. The chime can sound completely
different under these conditions. Typically this occurs when you select notes in
the lower part of the scale.
If your interest is making the chimes sound good at a distance of
say 80-100 feet or more, consider increasing the diameter of the tubing from the
traditional sizes ranging from half inch thru two inches, up to at least 3 inch
or more; 4 to 6 inches are better. A set of chimes designed for the C2 to the C3
octave have good acoustic radiation properties close to the set but not so good
far away because of this distance effect. Additional information later on this
Most often the chime designer considers cost, weight and aesthetics. Your budget
may not approve the cost of copper and aluminum may be more favorable than steel
because of weight. Chimes from EMT (electrical conduit) are galvanized and
resist rust but not the support hole or the ends. Rust could be an issue long
term for EMT. For the purposes of chime design use the EMT selection in the
calculator if you're using steel or stainless steel.
What metal sounds best?
After the issues above are properly considered we can move to the
question of what metal sounds best for a tubular chime? The short
answer is the thicker the wall and the larger the diameter the
better they sound, not necessarily the type of metal. However, what
sounds best is a personal choice and I have not found a good answer
for everyone. Some like a deep rich sound and other like the tinkle
tinkle sound. Copper chimes have a different timbre than steel
chimes. The best I can advise is to visit a chime shop and
test-drive a few chimes of different metals and different sizes.
For the purposes of chime design use the Steel selection in the
calculator if you're EMT.
When it comes to size if you’re on the fence between two sets of chimes and one
set has either a thicker wall or a larger diameter, select the tube with more
mass, i.e. thicker wall and/or larger diameter.
You may hear someone say they like aluminum best or copper best. To better
understand the difference in metals let’s properly build two 5-tube sets of
chimes using the C9 chord beginning with the C2 octave. One set from aluminum,
2” OD with a 1/8” wall thickness, and the other set from steel, 2” OD with a
1/8” wall thickness. While each set will have different calculated lengths, they
will both strike the same fundamental note, but sound quite differently. Why is
Contrary to intuition there are
only two variables that control the sound of a chime, i.e. the
density and the elasticity of the metal. Those two variables control
the specific length dimensions to achieve a desired note for a given
tubing size and wall thickness. From the chart at the right
you can see that aluminum has the lowest density and the lowest
modulus of elasticity (deforms easier than the others) , while
copper has the highest density but is only midrange for elasticity.
What does all of this have to do with what metal sounds best? The
differences among metals cause a difference in timbre for the same
Modulus of Elasticity p.s.i.
Lbm / in3
On occasion you may hear someone say they like aluminum chimes
best. That is likely because the lower modulus of elasticity for aluminum
requires less strike energy for resonant activation, and for a given input of
strike energy the aluminum chime can be louder and have an increased sustain
time. However, the difference among metals does not make one metal good and
another bad. There are no bad sounding chimes when the notes are properly
selected, the tubes are properly tuned and properly mounted; they are just
different in how they sound. It's impossible to have a set of chimes for the
same note range made from aluminum sound the same as a set made from steel or
any other metal because of their difference in density and modulus of
If you want the smallest possible chime set for a given note range use brass.
Opposite to brass, EMT will provide the largest physical set for a given note
range. As an example, see the table below organized smallest to largest for
middle C (C4).
Length for a one inch
diameter chime at middle C (C4) , smallest to largest.
Not all tubing is created equal:
Be aware that some tubing may produce a frequency beating effect when struck.
This is often due to variations in the cross section of the tubing from
variations and inconsistencies in the manufacturing process. The elasticity and
the density of the tubing will be different depending on where the tube is
struck. The tube can produce two closely spaced frequencies and these two
frequencies will produce the beating effect. Some people enjoy this type of
effect and others may find it annoying. If you want to avoid this wah-wah
effect, make sure you acquire high quality tubing – or test a small piece before
buying in bulk. While some tubing may be considered poor quality for musical
requirements it may be just fine for structural needs. The problem with tubing
that exhibits this effect is that it makes precise tuning more difficult.. Listen HERE (mp3) to
the beating sound for the tube shown to the right.
If you can determine the exact material density and the exact
modulus of elasticity, enter those parameters into the DIY Calculator on the
data page when using the DIY calculator.
I want to emphasize that good tuning will certainly help to
accurately produce the appropriate overtones for the selected note, particularly
for the higher note ranges.
Aluminum and brass tubing tend to exactly follow their stated ID and OD
dimensions while copper tubing does not.
Wall thickness for copper pipe varies with the pipe schedule. The four common
schedules are named K (thick-walled), L (medium-walled), M (thin-wall), and DWV
(drain/waste/vent - non-pressurized). The printing on the pipe is color coded
K is Green,
L is Blue, M is Red,
DWV is Yellow. Both type M& type
can be found in the plumbing section of home improvement stores like Home Depot
Caution, these values allow you to get very
close to the desired note (typically within 1%) but if you desire an
exact note, cut slightly long and grind to the final length, but not
required for wind chimes. Do not use these calculations for an
orchestra or a musical setting unless you are certain they use A=440
Hz. An orchestra or symphony may brighten slightly and will
typically tune for A=442, 43 or 44 The above chart uses A = 440 Hz.
Most symphony grade instruments are shipped with A=442 Hz. Also,
orchestra grade chimes typically do not go below the C5 octave.
There are manufacturing dimensional tolerances that may cause slight
inaccuracies in the actual results not to mention the effects of
poor material handling along with slight variations in material
properties and impurities. If in doubt, cut slightly long and grind
to final values. You can measure frequency for verification using
any number of
software programs listed
For the purposes of chime design use the Steel selection in the calculator if
DIY Calculator includes the following features:
Calculates length and hang point for tubes or rods unrestricted at both ends.
> A ratio calculator to predict chime length form a known chime dimension and
frequency. > Look-up tables for standard size tubing
> Look-up table for material properties
> Standard Music Scale
> All dimensions calculated are based on OD, ID in inches and specific material
> OD = outside dimension of tubing (inches), ID = inside dimension of tubing
> Material type = aluminum, brass, cast iron, copper, steel, stainless steel &
EMT (thin-wall conduit)
> Note selection by frequency in Hz
> The calculator uses nominal values for material properties. However, if you
know the exact material density and the exact modulus of elasticity, you
can enter that data for your specific material.
> The embedded top support disk calculator asks you to decide on the chime
(CD), the striker diameter (SD) and the clearance between the
striker and the chime tube (D). The calculator provides the correct
location for placing the chimes
(R) and (CS), and the diameter of the support Disk (PD).
Instructions for use are included with the calculator.
> Location calculator for points on a circle (for use in layout of top support
disk holes or star striker)
> Read about cautions
Caution, these values allow you to get very
close to the desired note (typically within 1%) but if you desire an exact note,
cut slightly long and grind to the final length, but not required for wind
chimes. Do not use these calculations for an orchestra or a musical setting
unless you are certain they use A=440 Hz. An orchestra or symphony may brighten
slightly and will typically tune for A=442, 43 or 44 The above chart uses A =
440 Hz. Most symphony grade instruments are shipped with A=442 Hz. Also,
orchestra grade chimes typically do not go below the C5 octave. There are
manufacturing dimensional tolerances that may cause slight inaccuracies in the
actual results not to mention the effects of poor material handling along with
slight variations in material properties and impurities. If in doubt, cut
slightly long and grind to final values. You can measure frequency for
verification using any number of
software programs listed
The calculators require any of the following programs to view and
execute: MS Excel TM Viewer (Free)
Get it here; or Apache Open Office
(Free) Get it here; or MS Excel
TM (Cost $)
Get it here;
A 45° cut at the bottom or top of the tube can add a nice
aesthetic touch; however, the tuning for each chime tube
will change considerably from the 90° cut value. The shorter the chime the more the tuning will
change. For example, here are the changes in tuning for a 5-chime set made from
2 inch OD aluminum with a wall of .115 inch. The set was originally cut for the
pentatonic scale (CDEGA) beginning at C6 using 90°
cut tubing. After a 45° cut at the bottom end of each tube,
the tuning for each tube increased from about 5% to 9% depending on length.
Unfortunately, the rate of change was not a linear value but instead a value
specific to each length of tubing. Specific values were C6 =+5.5%, D =+6.6%, E
=+7.5%, G =+7.6%, A=+8.8%.
Additional testing was performed for a number of
different diameters and different lengths using aluminum, copper and steel
tubing. The results were very consistent. Short thin-walled tubing of any
diameter changed the most and long thick-walled tubing of any diameter changed
the least. Short tubing (around 20 inches) could increase the tuning by as much
as 9 to 10%. Long tubing (35 to 40 inches or more) could change as little
as 2%. It was impossible to predict the change other than the trend stated above
for short vs. long.
If you want to maintain exact tuning using a
45° cut, cut the
tube longer than the value suggested by the DIY calculator or the pre-calculated
tables and trim to final value using your favorite tuning method.
If exact tuning is not required or important cut the
tubing to the suggested length and trim the end at
If you are attempting to create exact notes for an orchestra setting, exact
tuning is required and the use of an electronic tuning device or a good tuning
ear is necessary. On the other hand, if you desire a good sounding set of chimes
but do not need orchestra accuracy then carefully cut and finish a tube to the
length suggested by the precalculated table or
the DIY calculators listed above.
Measuring the exact frequency and musical note of the chime couldn’t be
Read the caution about chromatic tuners below!
There are a host of apps for Chromatic Tuners available for an iPhone,
iPad or Android. Site visitor Mathew George uses “gStrings” on his Android,
I use the $.99 app “insTuner” on an iPad that includes an FFT spectrum analyzer
in addition to freeware Audacity® on a Laptop described below.. A few scrap
pieces of wood to make two U-brackets, rubber bands and you're in business. Mark
the support nodes 22.4% from each end for locating the rubber bands.
If you have just a few measurements to make a quick and easy support suggestion
positioned at the 22.4% node, pictured right with the iPad.
A word of
caution,it can be tricky at best and at
times impossible to get a chromatic tuner to register correctly for a chime. Two
causes that can render a chromatic tuner useless for a chime measurement are the
non linearity of the human ear and the chime's non-harmonic overtones.
Chromatic tuners listen and display sound as it is being produced on a linear
basis for both amplitude and frequency but our brain process the same
information using "fuzzy logic". Why is this a problem?
Unfortunately, the human ear is probably the most non-linear and narrowband
sound listening device we know of. Similar to other percussion instruments,
chimes do not produce a range of fundamental frequencies and pure harmonic
frequencies like string instruments, wind tubes and reed instruments for which
chromatic tuners are intended.
Instead, there are numerous non-harmonic overtones present which (depending on
their individual frequency and amplitude) can be predominant to a tuner or
analyzer, but make little or no difference to the human ear. A chromatic tuner
may display the predominant amplitude and frequency but that may not be what
your ear actually perceives as a result of the brain's "fuzzy logic" processing
the many overtones associated with a particular fundamental frequency.
It is difficult to provide an exact recommendation for when to use the tuner to
measure a chime's note, but in general I find most any note below C4 difficult
to measure and on occasion below C5. Long low frequencies tubes mostly measure
incorrectly because of the "missing fundamental effect" and the preponderance of
high amplitude overtones. Thick-walled tank chimes/bells can measure with
surprising accuracy because of a single pure tone above C4 that is not cluttered
with unimportant sidebands. However, thin-walled tank chimes/bells seem not to
do as well and they may be impossible to measure accurately.
In addition, poor quality tubing exhibiting dual fundamentals will drive the
tuner nuts and cause it to constantly switch between the two fundamentals, both
of which could be incorrect. If you are not displaying the note you expected,
try moving the chime further away from the tuner to help minimize unimportant
If you get a good steady reading and it is not what you expected, the tuner is
listening to a predominant overtone so just ignore that measurement. Using the
values for length provided by the tables and DIY calculators on this page will
get you very close to the exact note. If the tuner cannot make a believable
measurement use the calculated length for the chime.
good software solution for FFT spectrum analysis measurement is the freeware
program Audacity® used on a Laptop pictured right. A few additional software
sources are listed below. Most any computer microphone will work. In fact, I
have used the microphone on a headset used for Skype and it works quite well.
To eliminate the annoying background noise when using a microphone, use an
accelerometer. I have good success supporting the chime horizontally at one node
by a rubber band and at the other node by a thin wire looped around the chime
and attached to an accelerometer.
freeware, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
Good for fundamental and overtone frequency measurements.
Tune Lab Pro version 4
Laptop freeware good for fundamental and overtone frequency measurements. At a
cost, available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Windows laptops, Windows
Mobile Pocket PCs, Smartphones, and the Android.
The ideal chime support location to allow for a lengthy sustain time is
positioned at either of two locations; at the fundamental frequency node located
22.42% from either end, or at the very end using a string or cable threaded
through an end cap.
If sustain time is not a requirement, such as for orchestra chimes pictured to
the right, then support can be through horizontal holes near the end of the
tube. A chime supported in this manner effectively reduces most of the sustain
time and can be a desirable response for an orchestra chime since the strike
note is typically the most important musical contribution with minimal sustain
You may occasional see commercial wind chimes supported in this manner but they
cannot support the tradition bell-like sound that you may be expecting.
Incorrect support ranks as the number one mistake made by some commercial chimes
sets for sale both on the internet and in stores. They will produce a strike
note but lack the rich resonant bell-like sound that would result from proper
method for a bell-like sustain time uses the traditional fundamental
frequency node which is 22.42% from either end. See the Transverse vibration
mode diagram at the right.
An important objective for a bell-like chime is to preserve the resonance of the
chime as long as possible. Accurate placement for the support holes helps to
assure the high quality (Q) or hang-time, or sustain time for the chime. A hole
size of 1/16 inch can be drilled directly on the location mark but for larger
holes, try to place the top of the hole so it aligns with the location mark.
If you're curious about other support locations, it is possible to support the
chime at the first, second or third overtone node but not recommended. All
charts and calculations on this page are for the support line to be located at
the fundamental frequency node which is 22.42 % from either end.
If you happen to have a background in both mechanical vibration
and acoustic vibration, it is easy to confuse overtones and harmonics. Overtones
= Harmonics -1, or Harmonics = Overtones + 1. This acoustic harmonic
relationship has no connection to the radio frequency definition of harmonics.
1st Fundamental Frequency
1st Overtone, 2nd Harmonic
2nd Overtone, 3rd Harmonic
Animations courtesy of Dr. Daniel A. Russell, Professor of
Acoustics at Penn State University
Forming the inverted V wire pin
This example uses #12 copper wire but use your metal of
Sharpen and fit a pusher board to the ID of
Insert wire thru both holes leaving
sufficient wire to form decorative loops
Form a decorative loop on one side only.
Adjust the loops to not touch the chime below the hole
Position the pusher board perpendicular to
Use moderate pressure to form the inverted
A slip knot works well to secure the line
Form the second decorative loop. Adjust the
loops to not touch the chime below the hole
An inverted V is not absolutely necessary.
A solid 1/8" brass pin epoxy in place works well for aluminum.
For copper or brass tubing , fit a
1/8" brass pin into a 1/8" hole and file smooth
Solder or epoxy the pin in place
File smooth and finish
Steel tubing, fit a 1/8" steel or brass pin
into a 1/8" hole and file smooth
Solder or epoxy the pin in place
File smooth and finish
Finish with a smooth or hammered paint
An alternate inverted “V” support can be the wire arm from a binder clip shown
on the right. Remove the wire arms from the clip, stretch them out a little, and
position in place using needle nose pliers, wiggle the arm until the tips pop
out of the holes. Be sure to attach your hanger line first. The arms tend to be
self centering. The binder clips are available in different sizes so you can
match the clip to the diameter of the pipe. The wire diameter increases with the
size of the clip so make sure to check before you drill the pipes. (Submitted by
site visitor Tom, Thanks)
End Cap, the second support location
is when the chime tube is supported by a cable or cord through a hole in an end
cap. It is important to understand that the end cap lowers the fundamental
frequency and some associated overtones from values calculated by the DIY
calculator or precalculated charts. For 1/2" copper tubing type L, the
fundamental is lowered by about 3% to 6% from calculated values on this page.
For 3/4" type L copper tubing the fundamental is lowered by about 11% to 12%.
The good news is that the end cap noticeably increases the duration for the
first overtone and the chime has a much more bell-like sound. Look at these two
spectral waterfall displays and specifically compare the hang time of the 1st
overtone for each. You will notice a considerable increase in sustain time for
the end cap supported tube.
Caution: be certain to solder the end caps
in place. An unsoldered or loose fitting end cap will completely deaden the
resonance. An end cap must contact the entire circumference at the end of the
chime to function properly.
Waterfall display for a chime tube
supported by a hole in the end cap. Similar to the traditional
Waterfall display for a chime tube
supported at the traditional fundamental frequency node.
1/2" Type M Copper Tubing
support for Rods: It is possible to support a rod at the
end and it's fairly easy to accomplish. You might be tempted to inset a
screw eye at the end but I can assure you that will completely kill the
resonance. Resonance for a tube or rod can easily be stopped by touching the
end. The end cap is a special case that allows resonance to exist without
seriously reducing the sustain time. But adding a screw eye or any amount of
mass to the end can kill the sustain time for a rod. The easy solution that
works very well is to drill a small hole in the end of the rod and epoxy a
50# woven fishing line into the hole. First tie a knot at the end prior to
inserting the line into the hole. This low mass and flexible connection does
not impact the resonance and provides an easy method for connection.
Longevity for a chime is important and careful attention to
the support lines and thru holes should be considered. Rapid wind changes
and UV light can quickly deteriorate support lines, not to mention the many
Non metallic support line: Make sure the line is UV
resistant. Choices include fishing line (either 80# braided or 30-50#
monofilament), braided nylon line, braided plumb line, braided Dacron kite
line, Venetian blind chord, string trimmer/weed eater line (.065 inch),
awning chord, and braided electrical conduit pull line.
Metallic support line: thin wire, decorative chain
(zinc plated, brass plated, or painted), 1/32 or /16 inch steel cable (rust
resistant), small aircraft control line cable.
Deburring: Depending on whether the support line exits the
chime from the inside or outside of the chime, one or the other sharp edges
of the thru hole require deburring. An easy method to deburr the outside
edges of the thru hole is to use a larger drill bit to slightly chamfer the
outer edges. If the inside edge of the thru hole is of concern, first remove
the burr using a long round file or sandpaper on a stick.
By hand, insert the smooth shaft end of the drill bit or other
hardened steel rod into the hole and rotate in a circular motion, careful
not to break the drill bit. This motion will tend to further chamfer the
outside edge and help to burnish the inner edge of the hole.
Grommets/Eyelets: are mostly for protecting the outside edge of the thru
hole. Rubber, plastic or metal (grommets or eyelets) are encouraged,
but small sizes can be a challenge to locate. Small eyelets can often be
located at your local hobby store in the sewing department or at shoe repair
store. You can also use the outer shell of an 1/8 inch or 3/16 inch aluminum
pop rivet. Remove the nail-like center and just use the rivet.
Additional Protection: use a small section of heat shrink
tubing over a non metallic support line where it exits the thru hole from
the inside where it is often difficult to deburr or chamfer.
Include Radio Shack for heat shrink tubing, eyelets from the hobby store in
the sewing department or a the shoe repair store. Grommets can be from a
hardware store, the model airplane store or the hobby store.
The knot in the support line or wire can be mostly hidden
by use of a countersink hole when using thru holes to anchor the line to the
support disk. Pictured below are a few examples for anchoring the line.
Jigs to position the chime
for attaching support line or chain
After you have selected the alignment configuration, top, center or bottom,
a simple jig can assist the installation of the support line. Below are
three possible jigs, a square-grove jig and a v-grove jig, both with red
adjustable stops for alignment. A third jig made from a section of cardboard
or wood strip works well. Scribe a mark for the bottom, center, or top
alignment on the jig. Begin with the longest chime and select an appropriate
length for the attachment line from the chime to the support point on the
support disk or ring and locate a nail, a pencil mark, or the adjustable
post at that location on the jig. Place the longest chime on the template
and secure with tape, a clamp or maybe lay a book on it. Stretch the line up
to the reference post and tie a loop or a knot or mark with a felt tip pen.
Repeat with the remainder of the chime set using the scribed reference mark.
For center aligned chimes attach a small section of masking tape to the
center of the chime and scribe the chime center location on the tape.
Support Disk & Striker PatternsPDF are available in the document to the left. The patterns are for tubing
sizes from ½” to 2” in ¼” increments, and for chime sets for 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8
chimes. Generic layout patterns are also included
You may wish to calculate you own dimensions for the top support disk using the
support disk calculator. You decide on the chime diameter (CD), the
striker diameter (SD) and the clearance between the striker and the chime
(D). The calculator provides the correct location for placing the chimes on
radius (R) and the spacing between the chimes (CS), and the
diameter of the support Disk (PD).
Instructions for use are included with the calculator.
included is a location calculator for points on a circle. Uses include automatic
calculations for locating chimes on a radius, and points used to draw a
multisided polygon such as a star striker or support disk arranged as a star, a
pentagon, a hexagon or an octagon etc. An easy lookup table is provided for
locating 3 to 8 points
Rather than using a protractor to layout the angles for the shape of your
polygon, select the number of points and the radius (R) for those points,
and the calculator provides you with the distance between points. Adjust a
compass to the distance (L) and walk the compass around the circle
to locate the points.
If you want to avoid using the above calculator an easy work-around is to select
an appropriate generic pattern from the Support disk & striker
patterns document and scribe the accurate location for support holes using
A circular striker will typically strike one
chime at a time but can simultaneously strike two chimes. When this
happens you can enhance the overall sound by placing widely
separated notes next to each other For example, below are
location suggestions with chime number 1 as the shortest and moving
upwards in length as the location numbers increase.
chimes, of course, need a human to strike the chime and a rawhide-covered rubber
mallet works well. A rawhide-covered baseball or softball can work well for wind
chimes but only in a very high wind environment where there is ample strike
energy from the sail. An orchestra chime is struck with a lot of gusto but a
wind chime often has little strike energy. Typically there is little
strike energy from normal winds so preserving and applying that energy is the
challenge. Design considerations below include single or multiple strikers, the
shape, the weight, the material, the suspension, the motion, and the strike
An important consideration for a bell-like chime is the
location for the Strike Zone. The optimum location is at the very end of the tubular chime because this
location will assure that all possible overtones are energized to the maximum.
This should not be surprising since orchestra chimes are struck at the end. An
easy solution to assuring the strike occurs at the very end of the chime is to
use bottom alignment and a tapered striker as shown in
Often you will see the center selected as the strike location for
a tubular bell wind chime, perhaps for aesthetic reasons. When the exact center
of the chime is struck the odd numbered overtones can fail to energize, and the
resulting sound can be very clunky even though the even numbered overtones were
well energized. While I recommend striking the end of the chime, there are good
aesthetic reasons to align the chimes for a center alignment or a top alignment.
The ideal strike zone is from the end of the chime to about 1 inch from the end,
or about an inch below the center line as pictured below. Make sure you avoid
the dead zone.
Strike zone for top, bottom or center alignment
Strike Zone for Top Aligned chimes.
Find the center line for the longest chime and position the striker
about an inch or more below that line.
Strike Zone for Bottom Aligned chimes.
Find the center line for the shortest chime and position the striker
about an inch or more below that line, or at the very bottom, the
ideal strike zone.
Strike Zone for Center Aligned chimes.
Find the center line for all chime and position the striker about an
inch or more below or above that line.
The Striker Shapeis most often
circular because the chimes are located in circle. An alternate shape is the
circular traveling radial striker which can be effective for striking a musical
chord. The radial striker most often takes the shape of an open star or a closed
star like the keeper-striker pictured here. The striker has a tendency to rotate
CW & CCW as it bounces to and from each chime. A circular striker will typically
contact one or maybe two chimes simultaneously. However, the star shaped striker
can synchronously contact most all of the chimes. The loudness of the chimes
struck with a star striker is somewhat reduced compared to the circular striker
because the strike energy has been distributed among the various chimes.
Striker Weight: A heavy striker for large chimes and a
lighter weight striker for smaller chimes is mostly true. Depending on your
typical wind conditions there may be occasions when you need a light weight
striker for large chimes. Near the seashore winds can be rather strong and you
may need to soften the strike with a light weight striker or switch to a
rawhide-covered baseball or softball. Considerable strike energy can be achieved
by using an oak disk machined to a knife-edge and loaded with a 1oz weight. See
Striker Material: The choice of material depends somewhat on the note
selection. A circular striker used for larger diameter, >2”, lower frequency
chimes with a good movement from the wind sail works better with a soft heavy
striker. Some choices are a hockey puck, redwood, red cedar or treated lumber.
If the wind is quite strong and gusty you may need to soften the striker even
further by using a rawhide-covered baseball/softball. The rawhide helps to
produce a very mellow strike in a strong wind. Smaller diameter higher frequency
chimes benefit from a harder wood like white oak, teak or Osage-orange aka
hedge-apple. Be sure to coat the striker with a UV resistant coating.
On the other hand, a well performing star-striker should be from
a relatively hard material yet light weight allowing for a quick response to
circular movements. The loudness of the chimes struck with a star striker is
reduced compared to the circular striker because the strike energy has been
distributed among the various chimes and a harder material is required for a
strong strike. 1/8 inch soft aluminum or sheet plastic works well to accomplish
Keep it Clean:
A dirty strike can energize a host of
unwanted spurious sideband frequencies as demonstrated by the steel striker in
the blue spectrum display below. A most melodious bell sound is achieved with a
softer strike that energizes overtones without spurious sidebands as shown in
the purple spectrum display below.
produced equal loudness for the fundamental while the steel striker did a better
job of energizing overtones (louder) but at the cost of unwanted dirty
sidebands. The wood striker (hard maple) produced a most melodious bell sound
while the metal strike was harsh and annoying.
Striker Suspension: A small 1/16-inch brass tube about 5
inches long thru the center of the striker allows for the suspension line to be
threaded and used as an axle for the disk. This helps to keep the disk
horizontal during rapid and sudden movements from high winds. A stiff wire like
coat hanger wire can be used as an axle as shown below in
Striker Motion: I happen to live in
a wooded area with little wind and have struggled to achieve good strike energy
with low winds. With that in mind,
I set out to improve the low wind performance of the striker.
The objective is to maximize striker movement with little input
energy from the sail. The easy solution was to resonant the support line that
supports both the striker and the sail using the second mode bending principle.
This resonance will help to amplify and sustain the motion of the striker with
little input energy from the sail. Even though the sail moves in the wind,
it will act as an anchor for the resonant movement of the striker.
You can easily recognize this movement by using both hands to
hold a string vertically and have a second person pluck the center of the
string. The natural resonance of the string will cause the center to vibrate. If
you position the striker at the exact center between the top and the sail you
can achieve this resonance.
It is difficult to provide an exact ratio between the weight of
the striker and the weight of the sail. Depending on the actual weight for both
the ratios can be quite different. In general, when you attempt to resonant the
striker line, I suggest the striker not exceed the weight of the sail and
ideally the striker should be about 1/2 the weight of the sail. I realize that
if you use a CD as the sail a lighter weight striker can be difficult to
achieve. A heavy striker is difficult to resonant regardless of the weight
for the sail. Once you have a striker you like then a little experimenting with
the sail maybe required to achieve good resonance.
On the other hand, for medium to high winds and for a
non-resonant mounting, the wind catcher/sail should have a weight less than 25%
of the striker.
When resonance is working well you will notice as the sail comes
to rest, the striker will continue to bounce off the chimes for a few more
strikes, an indication the striker is dissipating the stored energy from
resonance. See this
Resonant Striker VIDEO
WMV, for a demo. Notice the large movement of the striker compared with little
movement from the sail.
Wind Sails /
Catchers: The pessimist complains about the wind, the
optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails. by William Arthur
The objective of the wind sail/catcher is to cause the striker to randomly
contact all the chime tubes. Traditional wind sails generally work well and can
be configured with a variety of materials, sizes and shapes as shown in the
document on the right.
Patterns for Wind
My dissatisfaction with the traditional wind sail is that
single-direction winds have a tendency to cause the sail to swing like a
pendulum both to and from the direction of the wind not allowing the striker to
contact adjacent chimes. With this condition the chime set sounds much like
dingdong, dingdong as the striker hits only two chimes.
As you may know wind close to the ground can behave differently
than winds aloft and often does not blow horizontally as intuition would
suggest. Instead, it is a multidirectional force with an ample amount of wind
better understand wind turbulence mixed with single-direction winds watch this
60 second video,
Bi-Directional Wind Vane VIDEO
(WMV, 3.2Meg) showing a bi-directional wind vane mounted on my deck. You
probably noticed the swirling motion mixed with single-direction winds and the
random uphill and downhill movement (pitch & yaw). Perhaps we can exploit this
force to make a better wind sail. Let's take advantage of this turbulence to
create a striker movement that is somewhat rotational in nature and does a
better job of striking all the chimes.
first of several solutions to better capture wind turbulence can be quite
simple. Mount the sail at 45° to the horizontal so as
to catch the pitch and yaw forces as pictured on the right. Thread the support
line through two small holes next to the center of an old CD disk and tie the
knot slightly off-center to create the 45° slope. You
may need to glue the line in place for the long term.
A second solution is to hang the sail perfectly horizontal.
Counter intuitive, I agree, but depending on your particular type of wind it can
work surprising well, particularly if the chime set is hung from a high deck or
beyond the first story of the building and the wind is particularly turbulent.
visitor (David) writes to offer an alternate method for tilting the sail. Place
the support line in the hole of the CD and tie to the line an object larger than
the hole such as a shot piece of dowel rod or colorful section of cloth. Now you
have a tilted sail and a sun sail, all-in-one. See picture at left. Thanks
third solution is to make sure the top support disk can easily rotate in a
circular direction. Hang the top support disk not from a fixed ring or hook but
from a single support line as pictured to the right. The very nature of the wind
will catch enough of the chimes to rotate the entire set allowing the pendulum
motion of the sail to strike most all the chimes.
A fourth solution can be the radial traveling star striker
described above. The very nature of the star striker is to quickly rotate CW &
CCW from any input motion of the sail, even from straight line winds, and this
motion will easily avoid the dingdong sound.
Need More Dingdong? At
this point you are most likely saying “WHAT” more dingdong? We just got done
solving the dingdong and now you want more! Yes, there is a condition when
excessive pendulum movement of the sail is useful and not sufficiently supplied
by the tradition wind sail. With the development of the keeper-striker or the
radial-striker, both of which are very effective in striking a musical chord,
there is a need for a robust movement of the striker. The radial striker
produces a more muted sound because the strike energy is simultaneously
distributed among all the chimes by moving in a circular motion. Thus the need
for a more robust strike.
Jerk, Jolt, Surge & Lurch:
We often describe the motion of an object in terms of displacement, velocity, or
acceleration. However, an additional motion description seldom used is the rate
of change of acceleration. The unit of measurement is often termed jerk but is
also known as jolt, surge, or lurch . Jerk supplies the sudden and rapid motion
from the wind sail to the rotary keeper-striker.
Introducing Orthogonal Sailing: We have developed a special wind sail to solve this need for more
jerk. As mention above a normal wind sail will mostly swing to and from the
direction of the wind; however, the orthogonal sail has the unique ability to
fly aggressively at right angles to the wind direction. If the wind is from the
North the sail will fly East and West. Construction details are in the
The orthogonal sail can be dangerous. We do not recommend
hanging the chime set where the sail can contact children, adults, or
animals. The sail makes no noise and can swing a full 180 degrees in a
half circle motion. This quiet operation and wide swing can cause people
to be unaware of the danger. The sail is flat thin metal and can
possibly cut the skin or damage an eye as it swings. BE CAREFUL !
No Sailing Today:
Long and large diameter chimes present a considerable surface area to the wind
and can move sufficiently to cause a good strike without the need for a wind
sail. In addition, the large diameter striker often associated with a large
chime set can capture adequate wind for a good strike. Depending on the distance
between the striker and the chime tube not all chime sets require a sail.
Pictured right are closely spaced chimes that easily contact the striker with
low to moderate winds. Because of the short distance between the striker and the
chime tube the strike in not robust but adequate.
The best solution for you will depend on your type of wind. You
may need to try a few different sails for success.
Out of service compressed gas/air cylinders, scuba diving tanks
or fire extinguishers are often cut and used as a chime or bell. Based on
physical measurements can we pre-determine a musical note for these tanks? To
the best of my research I do not find a mathematical method for calculating a
musical note for these tanks. Both the neck-end and the base-end seriously alter
the vibration performance of the cylinder rendering existing formulas useless.
However, once the tank has been cut to your desired length it is
easy work to determine the fundamental frequency using an analysis program like
Audacity®, a free, open
source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
Do not use any formula, table or chart on this
web site to predict a tanks musical performance.
The frequency spectrum does not always follow the traditional overtone
pattern for a chime tube and can include a host of additional overtones normally
associated with the bell-like sound. See the spectrum diagram to the right.
Energizing all the overtones and avoiding the harsh sound when
using a metal striker can be a challenge. A golf ball or baseball can work well
but requires a robust strike to properly energize the overtones. I have
not had good success using a wood striker unless it's a really robust strike not
typically possible with a normal wind sail
Length Matters or Maybe Not? A most perplexing situation
can exist for some tank lengths. We tested five sets of tank chimes, sets A, B,
C, D, & E pictured to the right. All chimes for sets D and E sounded distinctly
different and each had a different height, and a different fundamental frequency
and overtone structure; however, not true for sets A, B, and C.
In comparison each chime in set A sounded exactly the same and
had nearly identical fundamental frequencies and nearly identical overtones but
represented three different lengths. The same was true for sets B and C. There
was an ever so slight difference in timbre among the bells in each set but
barely discernible, while there was a considerable difference in length for each
has both a neck-end and a base-end chime from a compressed-gas cylinder. While
both chimes strike almost exactly the same fundamental frequency (295 Hz vs. 290
Hz), they are of different lengths and have a slightly different timbre but
sound mostly the same. Tank B was more melodious than tank A but not a lot
The difference in overtone structure is pictured to the right.
I investigated circular mode resonance which is a function of
just material type, OD and wall thickness, and not length, as a possible
explanation for this effect. Unfortunately the circular mode resonance was
considerably lower than the observed resonance and offered no correlation to the
actual measurements. The calculated vs observed resonances were as follows:
Calculated circular mode resonance were Set A = 35.4 Hz vs. 133 Hz; Set B= 29.7
Hz vs. 290 Hz; Set C= 71.7 Hz vs. 354 Hz. The formula was provided by
Chuck from Chuck's Chimes and is: F =
(T/(2*D^2))*SQRT(E/Density) where F = frequency, E = modulus of elasticity, D =
mean diameter, and T = wall thickness.
I remain a bit perplexed on exactly why length appears to have
little effect on the fundamental frequency and the overtones structure above
some critical length point. Clearly this was not a rigorous scientific test, but
enough to cause concern and points to need for further investigation
Pictured right are a couple of examples from site visitor Grey
Yahn from Pennsylvania.
you're new to cutting steel or aluminum tanks and looking for an easy method, I
use an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw, and for small
diameter tanks it should work equally well with a cut-off saw.
The blade pictured left is under $5.00 at Home Depot. I was
pleasantly surprised how easily the blade cut the hardened steel cylinder. The
blade also works well for steel or aluminum tubing and rods.
Caution: All of these tanks are highly regulated by the US Department
of Transportation (DOT), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), by
Transport Canada (TC) and others. Make certain the tank is safe for handling, is
completely empty (fill with water and empty to assure all gases are exhausted),
and is safe for cutting. Wear all recommended safety equipment including eye
protection, hearing protection and respiratory protection. The
tanks are heavy and can be dangerous when handling, use extreme caution.
tube can be stained, dyed, anodized or painted. A light weight
coating of spray lacquer, spray polyurethane, spray paint, a powder
coat or a crackle/hammered/textured finish (pictured right) can be
used without a noticeable reduction in the sustain time. However,
avoid thick heavy coats of latex as they seriously reduce the
sustain time and can kill the resonance.
The Aged Copper Patina Look
: a site visitor sent me a procedure to artificially age copper to provide
the patina appearance. The procedure works well and pictured on the left are the
satisfactory results. I have included the procedure here for your reference. Be
patient with this procedure , it can take several days to complete but the
results are terrific.
You will need two commonly available chemicals to complete this
process. The first is a rust remover that contains phosphoric acid. A couple of
sources are Naval Jelly® or Rust Killer™. Secondly, a toilet bowl cleaner that
contains either hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. Some choices are Zep® Inc. Toilet
Bowl Cleaner, The Works® Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Misty® Bolex 23 Percent
Hydrochloric Acid Bowl Cleaner and LIME-A-WAY® Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Read the
content labels carefully and look for any brand of rust remover that contains
phosphoric acid and a toilet bowl cleaner that has either hydrochloric or
sulfuric acid in your local store.
These are dangerous
chemicals. Wear safety glasses, old clothes, rubber gloves and
follow all manufactures safety recommendations. If the chemical gets
on your skin wash immediately with a liberal amount of water. Use in
a well ventilated area.
Begin by cutting your chime tubes to length and make any
length adjustments necessary for tuning. De-burr and remove any sharp edges
from both ends and the support hole.
Decide how you are going to support the chime, using either
end caps or a support line at the 22.42% location. Attach a temporary line
to support the chime vertically. This temporary line will get messy and can
be discarded at the end of this procedure.
Clean the chime using a soapy solution of dish washing
detergent like Dawn™ or equivalent. I also used a fine grade steel wool to
lightly scrub the surface. Dry completely.
Hang the chime vertically.
Soak a small soft paint brush or dry rag with the rust
remover and completely coat the chime. Allow to drip-dry. This could take
from a few hours to three days depending on your local humidity. This step
slightly etches the surface of the copper in preparation for the next
When the chime is completely dry remove the dried rust
remover from the chime using a dry cloth. Do not use water.
Soak a small soft paint brush or dry rag with the toilet bowl
cleaner and completely coat the chime. This could take from a few hours to a
few days depending on your local humidity. A second coat will help to
improve the patina look. This step causes the bluish green patina to develop
in the etched surface and will darken the smooth surfaces.
Allow a few days to dry and the chime should ready for
handling to install the final support lines.
The finished chime may not look like the picture above when
newly completed. It can take a few weeks to completely darken and turn green
in spots. Re-application of the toilet bowl cleaner may be necessary
I have had this patina set of chimes for several years and
the patina look gets better every year and holds up well in all kinds of
Cleaned and ready
for the process. Tube on the left sanded with 150 grit sand
paper, the right tube cleaned with steel wool.
First coat of rust remover applied
Rust remover dried
Excess rust remover wiped with a
First coat of toilet bowel cleaner
containing hydrochloric acid applied
First coat of toilet bowel cleaner
Second coat of toilet bowel cleaner
dried. At this stage it doesn't look like much happened but be
patient, it gets better with time and weather.
After a few weeks in the weather
After several months in the weather
Reapplied the toilet bowel cleaner
Copper: An easy way to obtain the sparkling copper look is to sand the
surface of the copper chime using an orbital sander with about 150 grit sand
paper. This will completely expose fresh copper and leave behind orbital
scratches on the surface. Coat the sanded chime with a clear spray lacquer or a
spray polyurethane to preserve the new copper look. See picture to the right.
What is a Tubular Chime?
Tubular chimes date to prehistoric times for a number of cultures, back
nearly 5,000 years. Tubular bells (chimes) were developed in the
1880's when using regular bells in an orchestra setting became
impractical. Tubular bells closely imitated church bells and the
practice of using a resonant tube as a bell soon flourished and
became the traditional orchestra bell.
A traditional church bell or a tubular bell can be characterized
by its strike note (the fundamental frequency plus overtones), its
overtone structure, its sustain time and its loudness. That sounds
simple enough but imbedded in that explanation are two definitions.
One definition is when a chime is properly designed and constructed
it can imitate a bell and the other definition is that a chime may
not imitate a bell. One of the objectives of this information is to
assist you in achieving the most bell-like sound as possible when
building tubular chimes.
A unique set of physical limitations and design challenges exist
for a tubular chime that do not exist for a string instrument or for
a brass instrument, and they are detailed below.
The first limitation for loudness depends on the physical size of
the chime i.e. the radiating surface area. Compared to a string
instrument where a sounding board is used to amplify the vibration
of the string, or compared to a brass instrument that is fitted with
a flared tube to amplify the loudness, a chime has no amplifying
assistance other than the inherent surface area of the chime tube.
Overall, this loudness
limitation for a typically sized chime-set will provide serious
limitations for the available range of effective note selection.
On the other hand, if you go beyond the size for a typical
chime-set into the really large mega chimes, then loudness is easily
achieved. As an example, see the chimes-set at the left from
Bilotto. See another large sets
In an effort to answer some of the questions regarding loudness and
note selection see the video to the right.
Somewhat of an exception is when the resonant frequency of the
tube matches the air column resonance for the tube as described by
Chuck from Chuck's Chimes.
Assistance from the energized air column adds a small amount of
Wind Chime Musical Note and Loudness Test
The second limitation for loudness from a tubular chime depends
on the location of the selected note compared to the natural sensitivity of the
human ear. You can view the loudness sensitivity range vs. frequency of the ear
by viewing the Fletcher/Munson Equal Loudness Curves.
The ear has more sensitivity in the range from about 300 Hz to about 4 KHz than
at other frequencies and helps to explain why we can not always hear all the
overtones, even if they are present. This loudness limitation will have a direct
affect on what notes work best for a chime.
Increasing the chime diameter increases the radiating surface area
and contributes to a louder chime but at a cost. The increased
diameter greatly increases the length requirement for a specific
note, which is not necessarily bad; it just makes the chime set
longer as the chime diameter is increased. See the graph to the
right for musical note C4
other hand, increasing the wall thickness has the opposite effect as
an increase in diameter. As the wall thickness increases there is a
small decrease in the length requirement for any specific note. In
addition there will be an increase in the sustain time from the
increased mass. See the graph to the right.
Increasing the outside diameter while keeping the length and wall
thickness constant will cause a substantial rise in the resonant
The strike note vs. the sustaining note:
The perceived musical note from a chime when first struck is not
simply the fundamental chime tube frequency but the addition from a
host of overtone notes. Unfortunately, the strike note (which can
have a very pleasing sound) has a short life or a short sustain time
caused by the rapid attenuation of the overtones. The sustaining
vibration (several seconds) will be the fundamental strike frequency
that may or may not be audible. Note selection will be decided by
whether you are interested in hearing just the strike note or
perhaps more interested in hearing the sustaining note. For example,
a chime used in an orchestra setting is typically a rapid sequence
of notes with the strike note as the predominate sound and little if
no time allowed for the sustaining note. On the other hand, a
tubular bell wind chime is often characterized by the long sustain
time of a note.
The overtone structure
for a chime is not an integer harmonic as in string instruments but
instead, non-harmonic as in other percussion instruments. When the
chime is supported at the fundamental frequency node, see diagram at
the right, the higher partials are dampened but the fundamental
strike frequency remains. Overtones exist and in a perfect metal
where the density and the elasticity are constant, have theoretical
multiples of the fundamental multiplied by X 2.76, X 5.40, X 8.93, X
13.34, X 18.64 and X 31.87.
However, in the real world of metal tubing that does not have a consistent
density or elasticity the multiples will drift from the theoretical values
either up or down by as much as +2% to -8%.
If we could hear the complete compliment of all overtones for each note of a
chime tube, it would be a most wonderful bell-like sound. Unfortunately, not all
of the fundamental tones and/or all of the overtones can be adequately radiated
as an auditable sound by the chime tube for all possible lengths of a
chime. This condition also limits the available range of notes that have a
For example, a chime cut for C2 (65.4 Hz), the fundamental
frequency is audibly absent (aka the missing fundamental) along with
little audible contribution from the first overtone (180.5 Hz). The
remaining overtones combine to produce a perceived musical note. The
perceived note does not coincide with any specific overtone and is
difficult to measure without a frequency spectrum analyzer or
perhaps a good musical ear. The good news is that the brain
processes the information present in the overtones to calculate the
can see from the waterfall display at the right (click to expand) that a chime
cut for 272.5 Hz (near C4#), has two characteristics. The
first characteristic is the sound when the chime is first struck, the Strike
Note. It comprises both the fundamental and the first four overtones, and has
that traditional chime sound for a short period of time.
The 1st overtone contributes for about two seconds and rapidly
deteriorates. The remaining sound is solely the fundamental strike frequency.
Note the long sustain time for the fundamental.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th overtones are present and contribute to the
strike note but attenuate quickly. They have little contribution to
the lingering perceived sound, aka sustain time or hang-time
In contrast to the above example, the sound for a chime cut at
fundamental C6 (1046.5 Hz) and above is mostly the fundamental and
the overtones are audibly absent or mostly absent.
In addition to the
many overtones that may be present for a chime we have the difficulty of
knowing which overtones are prominent for each note because of the ear's
sensitivity as represented by
The equal loudness curves.
As you might suspect, the loudness of a particular overtone changes as we move
up the scale. For a typical ear sensitivity range of 300 Hz to 3 KHz, see the
audible fundamental and
overtones for wind chime notes as a simple example for the range of audible
overtones. Obviously this is not the entire audible range of the ear but is
presented as a simple example of the limited ability of the ear to hear all the
frequencies generated by the overtone structure. In particular, the range of C2
to C3 contain a large number of audible overtones while the range of C5 to C7
contains very few. The note range from C2 thru C4 produce the most melodious
sounds, most bell-like, and are easy to build. Precise tuning (+ / - 1/10
Hz) is not required.
The missing fundamental
is when the brain uses "fuzzy logic" to processes the information
present in the overtones to calculate the missing fundamental
To gain a better understanding of the perceived note I examined a
set of orchestra grade chimes manufactured by a major UK manufacture. The set
was 1.5" chrome plated brass with a wall thickness of .0625 inches and ranged
from C5 (523.30 Hz) to G6 (1568.00 Hz). The length of C5 was 62 5/8 inches. The
fundamental frequency for this length is around 65 Hz, about C2# yet
the perceived note is C5 at 523 Hz. The fundamental strike frequency of 65 Hz
and the first overtone at 179.4 Hz (65 x 2.76 = 179.4 Hz) are audibly absent,
aka the missing fundamental. In fact, even the second overtone at 351 Hz will
not be strong in loudness. The remaining overtones (mechanical vibration modes)
combined to produce what the ear hears acoustically, which is C5 at 523 Hz, yet
there is not a specific fundamental or overtone at that exact frequency.
I spoke with the folks at a major USA chime manufacture (symphony
grade) and confirmed that indeed the process of tuning an orchestra
grade chime is a complex process and understandably a closely held
trade secret. The process involves accounting for all frequencies
from the fundamental (whether present or missing) through the many
overtones by the use of math calculations, acoustic measurements,
and the careful grinding of the chime to achieve the correct length
for the desired note.
An orchestra chime is not supported by the classical wind chime
method using a string through the chime at the first frequency node,
but instead, is fitted with an end cap that contains a small top
hole through which a steel cable supports the chime. From testing I
find that the end cap not only enhances the bell-like sound by
increasing the duration of the first overtone, but it also lowers
the fundamental frequency by about 4% to 12 % from calculated values
depending on tube material and diameter. More on this at
Chime tube mechanical
Using the above characteristics for a chime I found a limited set
of notes that will produce a bell-like sound from a tubular chime.
Using the musical scale as a reference, they fall into three
categories as follows:
The 1st chime category(most bell-like)
has a note range from about C2 to the C4 octave. The
fundamental strike frequency is present but audibly absent,
the missing fundamental,
and there are a host of well-pronounced overtones. Often the first
overtone can also be inaudible. The perceived sound is not the
fundamental strike frequency and not the overtones, but an imaginary
note created by the combination of the overtones. To the ear this is
a very melodious sound and clearly a bell-like sounding chime. The
larger physical size of this chime for this note range causes the
loudness to be quite adequate, and easily supports radiation for the
many overtones. Note in the spectrum displays below as we move up
the musical scale the overtone contribution becomes less and less.
The 2nd chime category (almost bell-like) has a note range from about C4
through to about the C6 octave. The fundamental strike frequency is
mostly audible and some overtones contribute to the perceived sound.
The perceived note is not the fundamental strike frequency and not
the overtones, but a combination of both that produce a perceived
musical note. The sound can be acceptable but may not be the sound
you are looking for. This has an almost bell-like sound and can
sound fairly good, but not particularly melodious. The loudness is
acceptable but not great.
3rd chime category
(non bell-like) has a note range from about C6 through
the C8 octave. Not unlike other percussion instruments this category
is characterized by an audible fundamental strike frequency (a
noticeable pure tone) with overtones mostly absent. Overtones have
minimal contribution to the perceived musical note. This note range
may not be particularly pleasing to the ear but should not be
ignored as a pure tone, and is definitely a non-bell sounding chime.
In addition, the loudness is typically low caused by the short
length of the chime causing a low radiating surface for the higher
notes. The rapid attenuation of high frequencies in the environment
causes this note range to quickly diminish at a distance.
I am not aware of
calculations for a tube closed at one end. i.e. a chime with an end
The bending natural
frequency for a tube open at both ends is predicted by Euler's equation where:
w = (B X L)2
(E X I/(rho X l4))
w - frequency radian
per second - for frequency in cycles per second (Hz), f = w/(2
E - modulus of elasticity
I - area moment of inertia = π x d3 x
t/8 for a thin wall round tube
d - mean diameter
t - wall thickness
rho = mass per unit length = Area x mass per unit volume = π
x d x t x density
L - length of tube
x (d/I2) x √
(1/8) x √
(B x L)2
- Constants based on the boundary conditions for a wind chime (Free-Free Beam)
(B x L)2 = 22.373 for the first natural frequency.
(B x l)2 = 61.7 for the second natural frequency.
(B x L)2 = 121 for the third natural frequency.
(B x L)2 = 199.859 for the fourth natural frequency.
To get the units correct you must multiply the values inside the square root by
g = 386.4 in/sec2 for these units.
For a given material
then the frequency of a thin wall tube reduces to:
f = constant x d / l2
The reduced formula
is: Area Moment of Inertia = π
x (OD^4 - ID^4)/64
Area = π x (OD^2 - ID^2)/4
K = √((Elasticity x Moment x Gravity)/(Area x
Clearly there is more to a chime than I had anticipated and I am sure I did not
learn all that there is to know about the physics of a chime. This was
originally a Christmas present project and not a focused research project. I am
convinced that it is not necessary to hand tune a set of bell-like chimes
designed for a musical notes from fundamental C2 through C4 because the formula
achieved the desired frequency well within 1 Hz. Tuning to achieve an accuracy
closer than 1 Hz was a waste of time. However, for a fundamental note from C5
and up, good tuning is required. Good physical measurements are important to
achieve the calculated accuracy.
My favorite design has changed over the years and is currently an
end cap supported chime with the striker contacting the tube at the
very bottom of the chime using either a tapered striker or a star
striker, and having the wind rotate the chime set using a single
line support for the support Disk. Unfortunately, I know of no
formula for calculating the length of a chime tube with an end cap.
I begin with a length from standard calculations on this page and
then tune by trimming off the length. End caps lower the frequency
by as much as 8% to 15%, which requires removal of material to raise
the tuning back to the correct vale. Yes, it's a lot of work if you
want exact tuning.....!
On occasion I have just added an end cap to the calculated value
for an open end tube in order to gain a more bell-like sound, but
not adjusted the length to regain accurate tuning. For the most
part, it has been difficult to acoustically tell the difference
between the un-tuned chime set with an end caps and a set of tuned
chimes with end caps. Perhaps I have been lucky or maybe the natural
shift caused by the end cap is reasonably consistent for all five
tubes, and they remain mostly in tune.
Your particular type of wind (single-direction or turbulent) and
wind speed will determine the best choice for both the wind sail and
for the chime striker. Rotating the chime-set works well to solve
the dingdong sound caused from low velocity single directions winds.
Another phenomena that we observed, but did not have time to
investigate, was the simultaneous production of sound from the
natural bending mode of the chime coinciding with the resonance of
the air column for the tube. The good news is that another engineer,
has done an excellent job detailing this effect I suggest you give
this a look-see. He has excellent information and calculations to
accomplish this special effect.
Q I am working on a Mark Tree (bar chimes, used by
percussionists and drummers pictured right). I checked on the
commercial ones and all of them are using the same hang point on all
the bars. I think it may be because it is cheaper and quicker making
them this way, and looks good hanging, but does it sound as equally
good as the 22.4% hanging point method? I'd like to hear your
opinion about this topic!
A You can actually support a bar or chime at any point and it will ring a
little bit but will lack good sustain time and the rich
contribution from the overtones that produce the bell-like sound. All bars in
the set will sound distinctly different from each other but will not yield the
chime or bar can be supported at any of the points detailed in the graphic to
Most of us select the fundamental note at 22.42% for a chime tube because that
location will better guarantee resonance even if you use a heavy support cord or
method. I have experimented with the other three locations and its very trick to
not impact the fundamental node. Even if you use a tiny hole threaded with
braided fishing line (say 80#) dampening of the fundamental node can occur.
your goal is to accentuate the first overtone and ignore the fundamental then
support at the 13.21% point is the correct choice.
Support away from the 22.42% point is a bad choice particularly for thin-walled
tubes. I have seen several commercial sets hung at a fixed distance and they
sound really bad, more like the tinkle tinkle sound, yet different from each
the other hand, bars are little more forgiving simply because more mass is
involved. A small hole at exactly 7.35% can work although 22.42% is a much safer
and better choice. My neighbor (a very practical engineer) built a xylophone and
did some experimenting with support points for the bars. His choice was 22.42%
because that location provided the best sustain time and the best sound. I
completely agree with his findings.
Q Is there a length where a tube of a given size will not resonant as
intended? Specifically, I cut a tube of 1.5" thinwall
steel conduit to 1002mm, and it sounds higher in pitch than an adjacent 730 mm
tube. I just can't wrap my head around this...:( A Excellent question. The
chime tube appears not to resonant but it is actually resonating. You discovered
part of the
missing fundamental phenomena. The 1002mm length has a fundamental resonance
of about 193Hz and that frequency is hard to hear because of the
low sensitivity of the ear at the lower freq (mostly below 300 Hz).
Therefore you will hear the second overtone better which is 193 Hz x 2.76 =
523Hz. The fundamental for the 730mm chime is about 384Hz which is getting more
into the sensitive range of the ear and you are much more likely to hear it's
fundamental as compared to the fundamental for the 1002mm chime. Also
Q Some chimes are anodized or appear to have a clear coat type finish
for weather resistance or aesthetics I assume. Does a coating (powder coat,
anodize or paint) affect the tone quality, tuning, or note sustain of the pipe? A In general the answer is no. However, if you were to paint it with a
thick latex paint or some such coating, it would have a considerable affect. But
a powder coat or anodizing will have little affect.
Q I have measured some different chimes and the hang point is usually
close but far from exact. Should you drill the hang point hole at the center of
the calculated measurement or is the hang point where the string actually
contacts the tube (upper edge of the hole)? A An excellent question. The answer is yes, the location of the hole
should allow the string to touch the upper edge of the hole at the hang point. I
drill just slightly below the mark to hang on the mark. With a small hole, there
is enough flexibility in the location that even drilling on the mark won't
seriously degrade the Q.
Q Does the hole size that you drill for the hang point matter? A
Yes, if it is large relative to the diameter of the tube it would
affect the modes but a small hole has no affect. I personally use 1/8 inch or
I recently bought two not cheap wind chimes – and they do not
chime in the absence of hurricane gale winds!!! Is there anything we (read – my
husband) can do to get them to catch any breeze that happens by? Would the CD
section in your article be all he needs? I have spent a long time on the
internet looking for some quick fix but can’t find anything. The power company
recently cut down all of the shrubs we have been carefully tending for years and
now we have dreadful road noise. The chimes were an optimistic detraction to
that new situation A
This is a typical problem in that the wind sail is often too
small and too heavy. Without seeing the set of chimes directly I might suggest
you replace the wind sail with something larger and lighter weight. I use an old
CD just to make the point that it needs to be light weight and fairly large in
size. Often an old CD is not large enough. You can use anything that pleases
your eye and meets the size requirements, like a decorative aluminum pie pan or
any such item.
Where do I get the mounting pins and what size is recommended?
I typically use 1/8 inch brass pins and that stock is available
at my local hobby store where a person can buy model airplane parts, model
trains, model cars and the like. I have also seen 1/8 inch round stock at Home
How are they held in position in the tubes? A
If you put a 1/8 inch rod in a 1/8 inch hole it can be loose. Use
a ball-peen hammer to slightly flatten one end of the pin for a force fit or use
a spot of super glue.
How does the string stay in the middle of pin and not slide off
to the side? A A spot of super glue, hot
glue or epoxy will do the trick. A knot works well too. Click
here to see a mechanical
Q I would like to know if it is possible to support a chime in a way
that it is fixed, for example with a nail, without loosing its tune. I'm asking
because I would like to build a music box. Also is it possible to fix it in a
way that I won't need to drill a hole in it? A Yes, the chime can be structured for a fixed support using a number of
methods. Any of the following methods should locate the support at 22.4% from
both ends. An invasive method involves drilling small holes at the support
locations and placing a nail or similar support through the hole. Exercise
caution when using metal to metal since the contacting surface will
tend to buzz when the chime is struck. The use of heat-shrink tubing or
rubber mounts will solve that issue. See example at right. See advice from
Travis Oberg below.
A noninvasive method
is to use the traditional string method for supporting an orchestra grade chime
or bar. The chime can be located above or below the support string. See the
picture to the left.
Tides was to be a series of dynamic public art concerts with
large-scale sculptural kites, tuned wind chimes and performances by experimental
choral singers. Formally dressed in black, choral performers were to improvise
with varying bell note melodies driven by the kite lines they would fly. - See
A lightweight support frame and a lightweight keeper/striker
designed to contain the chime tubes in chaotic winds accompanied the ultra
lightweight chime tubes (1 inch OD, .032” wall aluminum tubing), all of which
remained under two pounds.
2" aluminum, July, 2013 (Set # 2, see set # 1 down the page to April, 2013)
This set is a little larger than the last ones. The tubes are
2" x .065 aluminum with the upper support a combination of 3", 2" & 1-1/2"
copper pipe. Kind of a chandelier design for the support. Overall the whole
thing measures about 5' tall. The striker is again Alaskan Birch with copper
sheet used for the sail. The sail was made a little heavier than normal so it is
not chiming constantly since it is located in a spot that picks up all our
winds. The sound turned out quite beautiful thanks to your chart. The only thing
that was not salvage was the chain used to hang the striker/sail assembly. The
tubes were drilled and copper wire inserted for the hang points.
Tried something new on the top support. Applied Oatey
soldering Flux and let it set for a few days in the rain to give it the patina.
On the sail I used Miracle grow African Violet liquid to achieve that patina.
The Miracle grow patina looks better to me than the flux as it is not so dark
and does not leave the film that the flux leaves.
I wanted to say thank you for all the information I got from your
I used it to make my first wind chime and it came out fantastic.
Roger Deweese, 4" tank top bell, 5"
high, May, 2013
The paint is a metallic red with about 3 coats of clear over it.
There is a 1/4" black striping tape put on prior to putting on the clear finish.
The "clanger" is made out of 1/8" aluminum cut into a star pattern (it
seemed to need a sharp sound to work well).
Roger Nash, 6 pipes of 2" aluminum rigid
conduit, using the pentatonic scale, May, 2013
Jon, 2 inch aluminum, April, 2013
The tubes are 2" aluminum. The top support structure is based
around a 3" copper type L that was drilled out to accept 1/2" copper axle tubes
that support 1-1/2" copper for each tube support. The striker is made out of
3/4" Alaskan birch (4" dia) and the sail is made from some scrap sheet copper I
had laying around. The support lines are made from two strands of phone wire.
Everything used was scrap/salvaged materials except for the small piece of chain
used to hang the chimes.
Jay Do and Hung Do, Houston, TX,
Type L 1 inch copper pipes, March, 2013
I write to you today to send you our warmest gratitude, all the way from
Houston, Texas. You have put forth so much effort, not just in your website and
extensive research alone, but also by personally assisting those who require
additional assistance. With your help, my father and I were able to craft a wind
chime by hand, filled with sentimental value. Far more valuable than something
you could buy at the store.
Firstly, we picked the material we were to use. We decided upon
Type L 1” copper pipes. The smallest chime was 14 inches in length, and we added
one and a half inches to every chime after that, for eight chimes, resulting in
the longest chime being 26 inches. While this did not create any particular
chord, it created an inharmonious, yet tranquil sound. Next, we moved on to the
support disc. The support disc was crafted out of stainless steel, as to not
rust over time. It has several layers, similar to a merry go round. Next was the
striker. The striker was also made out of stainless steel, to withstand the test
of time. Last but not least was the wind catcher. The wind catcher was also
crafted out of stainless steel.
To make our wind chime more unique, we decided the wind catcher
had to stand out. What better way to do that than to show what the chime
creates? I printed out an image of an eighth note and a sixteenth note and glued
one on either side. My father than used an engraver to scratch away at the note,
onto the metal, resulting in a gorgeous, while at the same time unique finishing
touch on the chime.
This project was a wonderful father/son project. Surely, if we
wanted a wind chime we could have gone to the nearest gardening store and got
one for so much less effort and money, but being able to experience firsthand,
all the effort that goes into designing and crafting a unique wind chime by
hand, well, that’s priceless. We are so fortunate to live in a time and age
where people like yourself are able to share their wealth of knowledge with the
rest of the world, and likewise, people like my father and myself are able to
obtain that knowledge, and make use of it with a few clicks of a mouse. Thank
you again for all your hard work. This wind chime will be a treasured keepsake
of the family for many years to come.
by Lutz Reiter, Marco Dondana and Arnim Jepsen from the Chalmers
Institute of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden.
The Chimecloud is
an evocative, responsive sound and visual installation aiming to make
users actively take part in the creation of soundscapes using their body
and movements in interaction with the space surrounding them. It takes
its idea from nature, where the wind is the main element creating
natural soundscapes. The Chimecloud is using this as a metaphor, making
the peoples presence and movement matter and bringing the space to live.
36 actuators (servo motors) triggers 216 chimes from user movements.
chimes by Duc Billy from Viet Nam, Nov./2012
6 inch x .128 Inch wall, aluminum, total weight
about 35 Kg, 77 Lb
by Craig Hewison from the UK, Nov, 2012.
Overall, I'm extremely happy with the
chimes, they sure are a talking point with friends and family. There's
also a footpath leading to a nature reserve that runs behind our garden:
I've caught a few people taking photos of them..! The sense of
achievement I got from making these chimes was worth the money alone,
plus I've got a fantastic piece of functional garden art that should
give me pleasure for years to come. I can't thank you enough for your
help and guidance Lee
3/4" Copper Tubing Type M, by Michael Labbee, July,
Thanks to the use of his father's
workshop (pictured below) Michael Labbee crafted several chime sets as
gifts for family and friends. He customized the wind sail for a friend
with a cat, a Mets fan, a Yankees fan and a 3" x 3" x 3" bird house.
Note the two methods of supporting the chime for applying the finish. A
coat hanger through the support holes, and a nail through a board with a
section of Styrofoam in chime. Everything was finished with Varathane
2.5 inch x .062 inch wall aluminum tubing by Neal, March, 2012
I recently built a wind chime for my mom as a Christmas present. She always
wanted a very large, loud wind chime, but could never find one. I decided to
take on the challenge of building her one from scratch, and I wanted to let you
know that I could not have done it without your website. Thank you very much for
posting the plethora of information.
I am a machinist, so I had easy access to
materials and tools for this project. I used 2.5" round .062" wall aluminum
tubing for the chimes. I had them polished at a plating shop. I made the support
out of a piece of oak, as well as the striker. I turned the outside diameters of
the support and striker on a lathe to make them perfectly round, and radiused
the outside of the striker and stained both pieces. The support has a hole in
the center for the mounting chain to go through, and I attached a hook so the
striker and catcher could be removed easily if there was any unwanted chiming in
the middle of the night.
The catcher is a piece of clear plastic. I
engraved a quote on the catcher, it reads, "The pessimist complains about the
wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails" I used
wire through the drilled holes in the tubing to hang the tubes, and put hooks on
the chains so the tubes can be taken down easily.
The chime sounds great, and resonants very
well. Last Christmas Eve I hung the chime on my parents front porch, and put
just the catcher in a bag to give to my mom. When she opened it, she was
confused until I told her to go outside. Seeing the chime and knowing that I
made it for her made her cry, happy crying of course. I just wanted to take the
time to show my appreciation and share this with you. Thanks again!
1 inch galvanized EMT by Jeff Zabriskie, February, 2012
my wife to make chimes for her mother, I selected the C4 size 1 inch galvanized
EMT. Because I never wanted to have to redo ANY portion of the chimes due to
weathering or wear, I used 3/16” Stainless Steel for the top-plate and dinger.
The support cables are 3/16” Stainless for the primary and 1/16” galvanized for
the chime supports. The internal attachment points utilize 12 gauge copper wire
with the center bent up with the stick method. Once we get into spring, I might
look into adding the mouse-ears to the top plate to get a little rotation if
they need it, although we’ll see. The wind- sail is thin-gauge galvanized sheet
metal modified to act like a CD, but I bent the edges to keep my support line
from bending awkwardly and used rubber grommets so the sail wouldn’t simply
spin. Jeff has a video for
those that may wish to see it.
^ To Menu ^ Aluminum & Copper wind chimes by Dan Shaw, Virginia, January, 2012
Swarovski crystals are used for the strikers while the hand carved Eagles are
from sinker cypress. The Eagles are finished using
Tung oil, white
wood stain and mixed acrylic paint.
1 1/4 inch Rustic Cast
Iron water pipe chimes by David Balfour, June, 2011
I made my striker and sail with small sections of the same wrought iron pipe
(1.68" galvanized water pipe) and welded on hooks. I am keeping the finish
natural (a bit rusty) but did coat it with WD40. The top leg support is made
from a triangle of half inch steel with stubs that the legs slip on to. The top
is an aluminum fry pan and it just sits on the to. I drilled holes into it to
hold the chimes and striker. I chose the metal striker because after I had one
strung up I really liked the clear tonal quality. I had some weed eater string
(.060") that I used for chime support. They kind of sound like church bells. I
didn't do any tuning except to measure the lengths. This was a fun project. I
made it for my wife since she wanted a set of chimes.
A Chromatic Chime Set, By: Dan Larson
Why? Just because I could. I have friends who ring bells in church, and I am
a closet piano player. When Pablo Casals played a Bach cello sonata VERY fast,
someone asked him: why so fast? He answered: Because I can. My son named my
creation C Machine, because it plays a C scale.
Read the entire account of this activity by Dan, very
Download Here pdf January, 2011
1 inch Copper Tubing by: Musician,
I chose 1 inch copper tubing and a chromatic scale C4 thru C5 (C4
was actually a test piece that I used and it's the only 3/4" pipe) and hung the
pipes on a hardwood frame. Using the excel sheet as a guide I cut all pipe
1/16th long (as suggested) for fine tuning later. Using a hand file and a tuning
device I tuned each pipe.
The most difficult was hanging the pipe without getting buzz.
I chose a solid brass rod which I cut to length, and bought a drill bit that was
essentially 'one sheet of paper' smaller than the diameter of the rod. Hammering
the pins (cut from the rod) into the hole allowed a super snug fit; the copper
gave way to the brass, fitting very tight. No buzz! That was the most tedious
part, getting the hole to be drilled fairly straight and hammering each pin
thru. I also built a sustain pedal to allow the chimes to ring a desired length.
This wooden pedal bar pictured at the bottom is spring loaded. All in all the
project was a weeks work and I am super satisfied with the result. Sounds good!
Hip Chimes by John, Troy,
NY, Jan, 2010
Tubular not, but none the less, they are chimes.Yes, these really are
Chimes made from old orthopedic and dental implants that I have in my collection
from 32 years, e.g., hip stems, knee prostheses, acetabular cup prostheses,
dental blade-type implants, etc. Two of the hip stems are Ti (one is actually
just a scrap piece from machining a hip stem) and the other 2 stems are Co-Cr-Mo
alloy. When they are made out of Vitallium (a very hard Co-Cr-Mo alloy, usually
cast, but sometimes wrought), the ringing is terrific. (Ti-6Al-4V alloy
sometimes also rings pretty well.) (See the
(Hip Chime Video Here) WMV
The middle clapper thing is an old-style Co-Cr-Mo acetabular cup replacement,
which was meant to screw into the pelvis. The small rectangular plate above it
is a little Ti plate, which will hopefully catch the wind a bit.
Medical Chimes by John, Troy, NY
Made from orthopedic (and dental) implants. This one has 2 knee joint pieces in
it -- the portions that would attach to the end of one's femur. One is made from
Vitallium and the other from Ti-6Al-4V alloy. Also one of the other hanging
things is an implant-shaped rasp (used to prepare the femoral site for a hip
stem). The 4th item is a porous-coated acetabular cup (with a little inverted
nylon bolt passively running thru it, as a hanger to let it ring decently.
(There's a small dental implant threaded into the shaft of the nylon bolt so I
can hang the whole thing.) The striker is a large chunk of left-over titanium
alloy, which was left from machining another part. The 2 flat wind-catching
plates are pure titanium and Ti-6Al-4V alloy, left over from some cell culture
by Chuck, from Columbus, Ohio Dec, 2009 Nice use of chains.
I made six set of chimes based on the information on your site and gave them
away as Christmas presents. They sound great. Although, I'm not too sure about
using the chain to support the ringer and wind sail. It's probably much too
heavy. See his Chime VideoWMV
One bit of information you didn't explain is the need to create
notes within the same chord in a given key. That way, any two or more notes that
chime together will sound great together. My music teacher friend helped me
select an F major 9th chord and a G major 9th chord.
1/2 inch EMT Chimes by David from Alaska, Dec, 2009
The set is contains 20 chimes from 1-1/2" EMT (electrical metallic tubing) with
a range from C4 to G above C5. The chimes are mounted in a frame of Jacobi wood
(sometimes called Brazilian Cherry). The frame construction is a combination of
mortise/tenon and screwed connections.
I also found a given type of pipe has a limited range of notes
that will ring well. I put a copper wire through the tube and through the last
link of the chain. Then I used a long stick that just fit inside the bottom of
the pipe with a point cut on the end in the middle. I pressed the stick against
the copper wire to put a bend in the middle so the chain will center itself. It
is much prettier, more heavy duty, and more permanent than string. Finding the
brass chain was the most difficult part. I used Trex decking to make the top
support and ringer so they will never decay.
The Sound of Bells
This site has not only nice pages on bell sounds and tuning but offers free
software that lets you listen to the effects of overtones and allows you to
tune your bell or chime using a sound card and microphone.
The Sound of Bells
This site has not only nice pages on bell sounds and tuning but offers free
software that lets you listen to the effects of overtones and allows you to
tune your bell or chime using a sound card and microphone.