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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Another Whistle

I've just made a second whistle, this one is longer - in the key of G and, this time, using the black PVC pipe. I made the fipple block a bit longer and cut it at a sharper angle. This makes it a bit easier to play in my opinion.

If you didn't read my last blog, these are "penny whistles" made to the design of Guido Gonzato.

The black pipe makes a perfectly serviceable instrument, but it is much harder to see the pencil marks, and, conversely it shows the scuff-marks from sandpaper much more clearly! A strip of masking tape along the tube was useful to mark out the positions for the holes.
Here's a picture of the two whistles together.
73 Hugh M0WYE

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Low-Tech Whistle

I've got one of those cheap "Generation" tin whistles in the key of "D". It's quite fun to play, but it is quite high and squeaky and when I try to play with other instruments, it is horribly sharp. I like the sound of the lower pitch whistles, such as you hear played on tracks by Capercailie and on the Transatlantic Sessions television programs, but, although not very expensive, still looking at upwards of £50.

But I found an interesting website by Guido Gonzato here: Guide to making low-tech whistles

Now I have found designs for whistles before, but I have had difficulty getting the same materials as were used in the original. If you substitute a different type of tubing it has an affect on the length and hole position. But I found 2 meter lengths of this 20mm diameter PVC pipe in B&Q and Wickes for 99p and 18mm diameter hardwood dowel which can be made to be a snug fit inside by sanding off about half a mm.

So today I made one, and I am very pleased with the result (photo left). I won't go into detail about how I made it because Guido's instructions (in the above link) are very detailed and I followed them very closely.

I made the Alto B-flat instrument, and I found that I needed to leave the tube about 1mm longer than was specified in the diagram.

In fact, because my tube started out quite long, I checked his overall lengths at F#, G, G#, and A and found they all needed to be 1mm longer than specified - that probably comes down to the type of tube, he says "not all PVC pipe is created equal".

So I wanted to upload a sound-sample for you, but I don't see a way of doing that on Blogger, so it will have to be in the form of a video ...
Sorry I'm playing it a bit like a recorder, it's just to give an idea of what it sounds like! Guido has some much better sound samples on his website.

I'm intending to make some more of these, in different keys, and perhaps even longer and more mellow :-)

Anyway, if you like making simple musical instruments, I encourage you to have a go at making one of Guido's low-tech whistles.
Hugh M0WYE

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Lidl's Vice

I've got a variety of bull-dog clips, clothes pegs and "extra hands" to hold small items when soldering. I did have a small table-top vice, but my son "borrowed it" and it has obviously proved very useful to him ... haven't seen it since :-)

When I saw that Lidl's were offering a table-top vice for eight quid, I thought I would give it a try.
Lidl's Table Top Vice Offer.

Some of their tools are very good value for money, occasionally I have wished that they were better quality!
This product seems ok ... but there are some important things to be aware of. One is quite obvious when you pick up the box in store - it isn't very heavy! It is not made of steel, it is made of an aluminium alloy (clearly stated in the instructions) and this means the casting is not going to be very strong. Don't expect to use it like an expensive Record vice for hammering and bending thick metal, it will break.

The aluminium will likely not be as hard-wearing as steel would be.

The main tommy-bar, used for tightening the jaws of the vice is quite nice, with a detent at each end, so that the bar clicks into place at each end of its travel. However I found that all the screw threads felt rough and "graunchy" - not smooth at all. Although the instructions make no mention of lubrication, the first thing I did was to apply grease to all the threads and the grooves where the moving jaw of the vice slides. I also greased the ball and socket and now it feels much nicer to use.
hopefully that will extent the life of the threads a bit too. Time will tell.

The vice is supplied with soft, plastic covers for the jaws, which could be useful for holding some items, but will obviously be useless for soldering, because they will melt! Underneath the plastic covers are smooth metal jaws, one of which has two grooves at right-angles. The grooves are for holding round objects.

Supplied with the vice is a clamp for holding tubes of between 38 and 43mm diameter. This seems rather a limited range to me, and it is complicated to fit the tube attachment. To do this you have to remove a the jaws, which requires the use of the supplied hexagon wrench. However, the fact that the jaws can be removed does allow for the user to create their own attachments.

I'm thinking that this will be very useful for holding plugs, sockets and circuit broards instead of chasing them round the bench with the soldering iron.

Hugh M0WYE

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Oh bother ...

Wondered why I had no audio this morning. Went to unscrew the cover on the mic jack and it fell apart in my hands. Yuk! cheap plug. Now replaced by a gold plated on - hopefully last a bit longer!