PVC Pipes Play “Popcorn” Perfectly

There are all sorts of fun ways to make music with empty jugs and other things that resonate with a popping sound when poked with a finger. Should you ever get stuck on that proverbial desert island, you can entertain yourself by making cheerful, staccato music with nothing but a fingertip and the inside of your cheek. At the very least, it will keep your spirits up until you can fashion an ocarina from a coconut.

[Nicolas Bras] loves to make homemade instruments. When he saw all the scrap pieces of perfectly finger-sized PVC tubing piling up around the workshop, he decided to make an instrument specifically to play the effervescent synth tune “Popcorn”. (Video, embedded below.) He plays it by plugging and quickly unplugging wood-capped pipes with his fingers, and using another PVC tube to blow across the tops of them to fill out the orchestration.

[Nicolas] started by making a two-octave chromatic scale with 25 pipes ranging from C4 to C6. He kept building on it from there in both directions, ultimately ending up with a poppin’ 68-note pipe organ that sounds fantastic. If you’re interested in getting the sound samples, [Nicolas] has those and the instrument plans available through Patreon.

Be sure to check out the build and demo video below — it’s a joy to see it come together, and the whole thing clocks in under six minutes. Take our word for it and don’t jump to the “Popcorn” cover, because the build-up is necessary for maximum enjoyment.

Hungry for more “Popcorn”? Here’s a robotic glockenspiel busting out a striking cover.

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Air Cannon Serves Up A Blast Of Ferrocerium Sparks

OK, looks like we have a new way to entertain the kids and wreak havoc in the neighborhood, if this spark-shooting ferrocerium cannon is as easy to build as it looks.

This one comes to us by well-known purveyor of eyebrow-singing projects [NightHawkInLight], whose propane torch never seems to get a break. The idea here is a large scale version of an apparently popular trick where the “flints” from lighters, which are actually rods of ferrocerium, an aptly named alloy of iron and cerium, are heated to a nearly molten state and dropped onto a hard surface. The molten alloy thence explodes in a shower of sparks, to the mirth and merriment of those in attendance.

[NightHawkInLight]’s version of the trick scales everything up. Rather than lighter flints, he uses ferrocerium rods from firestarters of the type used for camping. The rod is stuffed into a barrel formed from steel brake line which is connected to the output of a PVC air chamber. His ominpresent propane torch is attached in such a way as the flame plays upon the loaded pyrophoric plug, heating it to a molten state before the air is released from the chamber. The massive display of sparks seen in the video below is pretty impressive, but we’re getting tired of  gender reveal parties and forest fires.  We just hope he had fire extinguishers on hand.

Seriously, be careful with stuff like this. [NightHawkInLight] has a lot of experience working with these kinds of projects, from his plasma-propelled soda bottles to making synthetic rubies with an arc welder. We’re sure he wouldn’t want to see anyone get hurt.

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Candy Slide Keeps Halloween Spooky And Socially Distant

Pandemic got you down about the prospects for Halloween this year? While you may not be able to do the Monster Mash with all your friends and family, there are plenty of ways to hand out candy while upholding social distancing practices. [WickedMakers] built a spooky six-foot candy slide to help keep their celebration in compliance with the CDC.

Their candy slide is almost entirely made of PVC, plus some gauze to mummify it and make it scarier. It’s essentially a six-foot long section of 3″ tubing supported by two ladders made of 1″ tubing that put the top four feet off the ground and a kid-friendly two feet off the ground at the receiving end. [WickedMakers] did a great job of hiding the PVC-ness of this build. We can’t help but wonder how much harder it would be to make the skeleton put the candy on the slide. Check out the build video after the break.

Need some Halloween headgear? You could always build N95 filter material into an EDM helm to hand out candy. Stay safe out there this year, and remember: always check your Halloween candy for malicious payloads.

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Hack A Folding Bike To Help You Catch Some Pike

For many of us, this whole pandemic thing has produced some unexpected upsides. One of [George Turvey]’s was finding a nice new scenic route to work that goes by a lake with bike trails. [George] thought it might be nice to go fishing after work, and use a folding bike to cover a lot of ground while looking for good spots on the shore. There was just one problem — riding a bike while transporting tackle is awkward.

The bike comes with a front mount that’s meant to hold the special bags they make, so that became square one for designing a rod and tackle holder. Then [George] had to weigh the pros and cons of additive vs. subtractive methods for prototyping the holder, or at least the connection between it and the mount on the bike.

Milling won out, at least for the initial proof of concept, and result is a modular mock-up that combines a milled Kydex connector and tackle box holder with a double-barrel PVC rod holder. This way, [George] had a prototype in a fraction of the time it would have taken to design and print it. Cast your line past the break to see how fast [George] can switch gears into fishing mode.

3D printing definitely has a place in the fishing world. How else are you gonna design your own lures?

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Converted Car Lets Toddlers Tool Around

A few years ago, a professor at the University of Delaware started a project called Go Baby Go. It’s designed to bring fun and affordable mobility to small children with disabilities. The idea is to modify Power Wheels cars to make them easier for disabled kids to operate, and to teach as many people as possible how to do it in the process. The [South Eugene Robotics Team] is taking this a step further by replacing the steering wheel with a joystick that controls two motors with an Arduino Nano.

In the first instance you replace the foot pedal with a push button. The plans also call for a PVC frame, a high-backed seat, and a seat belt to make it safer. The end result is a fun ride the kid can control themselves that functions a lot like a power wheelchair, but is much more affordable. It has the added bonus of being a fun conversation piece for the other kids instead of a weird scary thing.

They also replace the front wheels with 5″ casters, because being able to spin around in circles is awesome. Their project shows how to do the entire conversion in great detail, starting with a standard ride-on car that comes with some assembly required. Motor past the break to check out a short demo with an extremely happy child tooling around in a fire truck.

If these kids get too wild, they’re gonna need traction control for these things.

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PVC Pipe Turned Portable Bluetooth Speaker

We’ve always felt that sections of PVC pipe from the home improvement store are a criminally underutilized construction material, and it looks like [Troy Proffitt] feels the same way. Rather than trying to entirely 3D print the enclosure for his recently completed portable Bluetooth speaker, he combined printed parts with a piece of four inch pipe from the Home Depot.

While using PVC pipe naturally means your final hardware will have a distinctly cylindrical look, it does provide compelling advantages over trying to print the entire thing. For one, printing an enclosure this large would have taken hours or potentially even days. But by limiting the printed parts to accessories like the face plate, handle, and caps, [Troy] reduced that time considerably. Of course, even if you’re not in a rush, it’s worth mentioning that a PVC pipe will be far stronger than anything your desktop FDM printer is likely to squirt out.

[Troy] provides links for all the hardware he used, such as the speakers, tweeters, and the Bluetooth audio board itself. The system is powered by an 1800 mAh 3S RC-style battery pack that he says lasts for hours, though he also links to a wall adapter that can be used if you don’t mind being tethered. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like he has any internal shots of the build, but given the relatively short parts list, we imagine it’s all fairly straightforward inside.

While this is certainly a respectable looking build considering it started life in the plumbing aisle, we have to admit that we’ve seen some portable Bluetooth speakers with fully 3D printed enclosures in the past that looked absolutely phenomenal. The tradeoff seems pretty clear: reuse existing materials to save time, print them if you don’t mind reinventing the wheel occasionally.

CNC Machine Rolls Up An Axis To Machine PVC Pipe

Whether it’s wood, metal, plastic, or otherwise, when it comes to obtaining materials for your builds, you have two choices: buy new stock, or scrounge what you can. Fresh virgin materials are often easier to work with, but it’s satisfying to get useful stock from unexpected sources.

This CNC router for PVC pipe is a great example of harvesting materials from an unusual source. [Christophe Machet] undertook his “Pipeline Project” specifically to explore what can be made from large-diameter PVC pipe, of the type commonly used for sewers and other drains. It’s basically a standard – albeit large-format – three-axis CNC router with one axis wrapped into a cylinder. The pipe is slipped around a sacrificial mandrel and loaded into the machine, where it rotates under what looks like a piece of truss from an antenna tower. The spindle seems a bit small, but it obviously gets the job done; luckily the truss has the strength and stiffness to carry a much bigger spindle if that becomes necessary in the future.

The video below shows the machine carving up parts for some lovely chairs. [Christophe] tells us that some manual post-forming with a heat gun is required for features like the arms of the chairs, but we could see automating that step too. We like the look of the pieces that come off this machine, and how [Christophe] saw a way to adapt one axis for cylindrical work. He submitted this project for the 2019 Hackaday Prize; have you submitted your entry yet?

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