Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Project: Ruben's Tube aka Flame Tube

I know this isn't exactly related to electronics, let alone Arduinos... But I thought is was a really cool project that deserved a blog post. So here it goes.

A couple of months ago I stumbled across a video of a Rubens tube playing music and thought it was a really cool project. When I heard that we had to make a physics project for school, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to build one of these things. I followed the MAKE Flame Tube How-To and improvised a couple of steps.

I used an aluminum tube I picked up from my local surplus store, Active Surplus for twenty bucks, which was pretty reasonable compared to a two inch pipe from any hardware store. I used the regulator off of my barbecue propane tank and just screwed it into the PTC connector with some gas fitting tape. The rest of the supplies were pretty much the same as listed on the MAKE project page.
TIPS (Things I would do differently):
  1. The metal tube HEATS UP! I would suggest more than five inches of extra pipe on each end, probably at least 7 inches from the last flame hole to the beginning of the baloon. 
  2. I would suggest using some form of metal couplings rather than plastic ones because the pipe gets very hot
  3. Don't bother with pipe taps, just use pipe joint compound, its less hassle.
The results were pretty impressive, I was able to create different length sine waves using a tone generator on my iPhone. Overall, building a Ruben's tube is a pretty kick ass weekend project!