In the pursuit of answering the big question: “How can we use science and engineering to enact change in the world?“, we started an engineering project in Physics, planning to design an innovative product that may help to answer the big question. We went through the process of finding something within our interest range and building a research question. Then, we created a plan to our project. My main interest has always been music, explaining the choice. Then, when building my research question, I thought about the trouble of carrying instruments around and came up with my question: “How can we make music practice more efficient by making string instruments portable and self-building?” With my research question done, I started making a plan for my project with the process that needs to be taken. From the 7th to the 15th of May, I decided to do my research because I thought that was most important as I did not understand a lot about the physics of string instruments. Then because of the extension, I decided that from the 16th to 20th of May, I would design my project on a 3D printer app, taking less time than research because it should be less vigorous and time-consuming. Finally, on the last day, the 20th, I decided to put everything together into a presentation.
Overall, I have been able to follow my schedule fairly well, except missing a few dates due to other projects and work. However, I was able to catch up and complete my work. Before doing research, I did not know much about the physics of sound and a guitar, excluding the fact that Simple Harmonic Motion occurs through string vibrations. Through research, I have learnt a lot about pitch and how strings effect it. I’ve learnt about things like standing waves, string harmonics and the importance of fret spacing. After my research, it was time to design my product. I intended to design it in a 3D printing app and was searching for one. Back in middle school, I recalled doing 3D printing for a computer class and I was searching for that same one, which I found. Using tinkercad, I designed my ideal theoretical portable guitar. I decided to go with a guitar because of all the string instruments, it is less complex and easier to play. I decided to make it a sliding guitar where the cover acts like a body when you slide it out to play it. The cover has a hole on top so that it can illuminate the sound made by the strings like an acoustic guitar. However, the strings do not cover the hole, they go below the hole. I thought that since the vibration from the strings still hit the back of the body and bounce out through the hole, that it is theoretically possible to have strings behind the hole of the body. Although the major problem with having a hole in the body that also acts as a cover is that the strings will have a higher chance to get damaged if not taken care of well, it should not be too big of a problem because if guitars left out can work fine, it would not change much unless one places it a place where things can enter the hole and so on. Through designing, I felt that my only problem was that the workspace provided was too small and I had a little bit of trouble with the fact that they did not allow one to take parts of a whole away. After that, I placed everything into a presentation, explaining the physics of each part of my guitar.
I think that the hardest parts of my project were the research and the designing. When it came to research, I struggled because there were some concepts that weren’t as easily understood read as demonstrated. For example, when I read fret spacing, I assumed it had to be 1.0595 away from the bridge, but I thought it was too small in number. When looking at diagrams, I finally understood it and then used a mean number of 1 before going onto 1.0595 and so on(The constant: 1.0595 is explained in the presentation). Therefore, there were many parts of the research that was not as easily understood because there weren’t any real-life examples. When it came to designing, I struggled too because there are many varieties that could be designed and they could all be theoretically possible. Because it was not a necessity to have it work, it had to theoretically work. It was hard to decide on which design would be most efficient and most realistic because those two would answer my question well. Then, I remembered a while ago when I saw an advertisement of a rectangular guitar with no body that worked electronically. it was small in size and portable(It’s called the Jamstik) and although I could not find the product, I decided I could base my design off something that is already real so that it is more realistic. I did not copy the Jamstik, but instead came up with my own ideas through the fact that the jamstik was rectangular. However, the process of getting to a final design was not easy. I had to do a lot of thinking and planning to get there.
All in all, the Physics project had great takeaways with a lot of new information learnt and new experiences. With these experiences, I have been able to answer my research question and dive deeper into a topic of interest. However, there was one part that I was not able to answer. The part about self-building. I thought that since I was considering string instruments, it may be possible to make my product self-building so that it can cater to those who play more than one string instrument, helping them save time and money. But, that was not the case. Through my research, I have learnt different lessons about string instrument and how they work. Although it is theoretically possible if the process of building the instrument is easy, it would be just as time-consuming as bringing a real guitar or even more and more tiring. So, I decided that it was not suitable to make my product self-building because it would not fit research done on string instruments and it would not make practice more efficient. Also, musicians would have to learn more things about building instruments that they may not be interested in.
Overall, there was a lot learnt and taken away from this project. It was an interesting project that indeed expanded my knowledge in a field of interest and brought in a new interest in engineering. I hope that one day I might be able to attempt building this instrument in real life and maybe even diving deeper in engineering. I really enjoyed the project and thought it was a great learning experience.