Physics Piano Project

This semester in Physics class, we decided to build a sensor run piano. The project was very challenging, but because of this we were able to learn much more than we thought we would. It has been a lot of fun, and we encourage other students in the future with a lot of ambition to attempt this project due to the very rewarding end results. ๐Ÿ™‚

Below, you will find a diagram of the circuit system we used in developing the piano.


The diagram illustrates how the sound was transferred from the Mega, through the resistors, and into the breadboard which essentially connected all the sensors to the Mega. We found that in order for the sensors to function properly, the connection between them must be broken during the start up.

We used 7 sensors during this project to create a full scale octave, with the first sensor doubling as both the first and last note.



In the photos, the resistors are clearly visible. The resistors were used to reduce current flow, and, at the same time, lower voltage levels within the circuit. Each pair of sensors had separate wires which were inserted into their corresponding places in the breadboard.

Our project originally started with the idea of making a piano staircase in our school. We came down from that cloud pretty quickly when we discovered that the connection between the sensors was only strong enough to stretch a couple inches. Based on this, we decided to stick with a regular piano.


This is a picture of our finished project. Below you will find a link to a video we made showing the piano in ACTION.

It’s pretty exciting, so prepare yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyways, we really had fun working on this project and hope that you have gained some knowledge by reading our blog!


Piano Stairs (Basics)

Most of the time Abby is the one who does the writing portion of the blog while Cody and I pitch in ideas of what to post about. This time its switched, I (Whitni) am doing this post, so please do not judge how well this is written, Abby is by far the better writer! Any how on to the project that we are now attempting. Piano Stairs! So far we have learned that we know nothing! Come to find out thats not a bad thing, this is a learning process kind of project. Cody is the one who has a basic knowledge into coding. Abby and I are learning little by little everyday. We had a friend of ours decode some of the code into a simpler form (English!). He e-mailed it to Abby the other day. That is now one less thing we have to do for this project. We still have to figure out what codes go where, but at least we have the codes now! So far into our project we have been able to get basic ideas on how to use the raspberry Pie and the Arduino board. There is still so much more that has to be done, it will take time and patients, now we at least have all of the supplies we will need to get this project up and going. We will keep you posted week to week on out progress. Some weeks may be better than others but just remember we are learning while putting this all together! ๐Ÿ™‚

Taping is Time Consuming

Team Abby and Whitni do not need a cool nickname because we are cool enough just being ourselves have made a lot of progress this week. Taping has proved to be extremely time consuming. We have spent every hour available down in the shop taping the boat, and still have not finished. We have a few outside layers completed and the majority of the inside is also taped. We are actually quite surprised at how long the taping process has taken. With that said, we are almost done! I’m pretty sure I speak for both of us when I say we are more than ready to actually attempt to float our boat. Next week, we are planning on finishing the taping and hopefully by next Friday we will have tested our project. I know we say that every week, but this next week, we are determined to make that statement true! ๐Ÿ˜› We are both very excited and happy with the way in which our boat looks. We have put a large amount of work into this project. & are hoping our little hearts out that it is a successful trip around the pool. Having to fish the boat off of the bottom of the pool is not in our interest. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyways, duck taping is long… and boring. See you Monday! Have a great weekend.

One Step At A Time

Mr. Ludwig, we are pleased to inform you that we’ve taken a massive step forward in our project! Our boat is actually beginning to look like a boat. The frame is together, finally. Mr. Grimsley has provided great assistance in this project. He has been working with our frame and welded it to together over the past weekend. During the course of this weekend we went and took pictures of the pool we will be “sailing” in for our post, but we didn’t thoroughly think this through. It is now Friday and Whitni is absent for state softball! I would like to take a moment to wish her good luck, even though she can not hear me. Good luck Whitni! Pitch your heart out. (: Returning to the original purpose of this post, we planned on duck taping during this week, but we decided to hold off until Monday because we realised that duck taping on Friday and leaving the tape unattended could result in some horrible consequences, such as the duck tape residue wearing off, the duck tape stealing our boat and fleeing the country or of course, the duck tape could potentially sabotage our project. So to avoid all of these horrible scenarios, we are going to hold off on taping until next week. (: Happy sailing. We should be in the water within the next couple of weeks!

The waiting process

Throughout this week we had hoped to get a lot more done than we did, sadly. We have been stuck waiting for assistance in welding our boat together! Mr. Grimsley has agreed to help us weld our boat together since we are both inept to welding. We already have a solid outer frame, but the front and back panels are still separated from the main body of the boat. On Wednesday we sawed the excess metal off the back of our boat so Mr. Grimsley can weld. In the mean time, we have decided on an alternate project to begin working on. This project is the water bottle rocket! After viewing multiple youtube videos about this project we decided it would be a simple and fun thing to do while the weather is still nice. We still have not explored the materials we will need in depth, but we have a basic idea that we will look into at the beginning of next week. Cody has been of huge assistance in our progress thus far. We would like to take a moment to thank him for all the hard he has done and hope that he will continue to help us.ย 

We are excited to begin exploring concepts of Physics through a very different project. The water bottle rocket will teach us certain aspects of pressure and how they can be used to project an object hundreds of feet into the air. We are also considering attempting to build the hot air balloon next semester because we are not sure if these two projects will take the remainder of the semester to complete or not. ๐Ÿ˜›

Also, the abundance of duck tape we bought is incredible. I have never even considered spending over one hundred dollars on duck tape, but it was necessary for this project. ย That is mind blowing. Once we finally begin taping, we plan on measuring the amount of the tape we actually use through weight. We will do this by weighing the boat before and after we tape. It will be very interesting to see how much duck tape a project like this actually requires.ย 

Located below are the pictures of our boat thus far, and a link to the video of the water bottle rocket that sparked our interest in this project.ย 

Water Bottle Rocket


So much sawing!

This week we started with a metal frame that just covered the bottom and sides of the boat. On Monday, we decided on the perimeters for the back to the boat in order for the pieces to fit together so that they would be easy to weld. We used a metal saw in order to cut the bars one by one. This is actually a very time consuming task and we only managed to get the front and back of the boat done this week. We have a solid frame and are waiting on Cody’s assistance so that we can begin welding in a safe manner. On Thursday we headed to Wal Mart and ended up buying all the duck tape they had. We then transportEd all the tape back to the school and as soon as we weld our frame together, we can begin taping. We hope to have the frame welded by the beginning of next week. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then we will tape rather following week. We hope to be sailing the waters of the high school pool by the end of the quarter. ๐Ÿ˜€

Who knows whats next…

Abby and I have once again changed the idea of our boat, but we will stick with this one… We think. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now we plan on building our boat out of wires and duct tape! The reason we decided on this is because we could not find cardboard big enough for what we needed in our small town. We think it will be a lot easier to find the wire we will need rather than continuing to search for cardboard. Steven was the one who gave us this idea (he insisted that we gave him credit for that). We went to Big R just to look around and see if they had the wire we needed….They did! So now all we have to do is get the money from our teacher (Mr. Ludwig) to go get the supplies we need to start our physics project. Yes, we will still need a lot of duck tape but we can get that material once we get the layout of our boat built! Since Abby and I don’t have to much knowledge on welding and bending wire, we have asked Mr. Grimsley to help us out. We can’t wait to start our project we think it will be fun even if we don’t succeed at first! We are continuing to look into specific boat designs and the exact way that the Mythbusters built their boat that way we can be sure that the boat is solid and sturdy. We believe that we will be able to put a section of wood on the bottom of the boat so we can sit down without touching the tape. The way in which we will do this is not exactly clear yet, but we are looking into it. We’ve taken into consideration the amount of work we still need to do, but now that we have a solid idea and we do not plan on changing it again, so we can start making a lot more progress. The fact that we actually know what we will be doing now, is progress in itself! ๐Ÿ˜› We have posted the link for the video in which we are basing our project off of, below. We had a slow start this week, but in the last couple of days, we actually moved forward with our ideas, expanded on them, and I believe we are creating a really unique, and fun project. We are extremely excited to see the final product and are crossing our fingers that we can take a wonderful, victorious trip across the pool without sinking to the bottom. ๐Ÿ˜€

This is the video we found that inspired us to do our wire boat! ๐Ÿ™‚ Mythbusters!

End of the Week Report

Whitni and I decided on a v-shaped boat for our design. Based on what I read on multiple sites, the v-shaped design is much easier to navigate through the water and keep on a straight path. This is because of fluid dynamics. Fluid dynamics are defined as a sub-discipline of fluid mechanics that deals with fluid flow, or the natural science of fluids in motion. The concept of pressure is also included in our project. The pressure of the water counteracts on the amount of weight we apply to our boat. The boat must be less than the average density of the water in the pool in order to float. Pressure can be identified for every point in a body of fluid, regardless of whether the fluid is in motion or not. Having a v-shaped design will glide smoothly through the water in order to generate a wake. A wake is the region of recirculating flow immediately behind a moving or stationary solid body, caused by the flow of surrounding fluid around the body.

We found out that the pool has 30,000 gallons in it.

We began making our boat on Thursday after we went to buy supplies on Wednesday. On Thursday in class we made the base of our boat by duck taping the cardboard, layering it for strength.

The base of our boat is 1ft. 9in. wide.
We made sure the bottom of our boat was one single piece of cardboard so that it would be more secure.


We plan on layering the bottom with one more piece of cardboard in order to make it is very sturdy and will not let any water in. We want to avoid sinking to the bottom, if possible. ๐Ÿ™‚

Row Your Boat (Concepts)

Archimedes Principle states that the buoyant force on an object is equal to the weiht of the displaced fluid. This principle applies to floating objects. An object floats on a liquid if its density is less than that of the fluid.

Materials: Corrugated cardboard and duct tape!

-How much will it sink?—–Displacement

Displaced volume of water (v) ย  ย V=(L)(W)(H)

Water displaced= weight of boat+ ppl. lbs ย DIVIDED BY (weight of H2O62.4 lbs/ft cubed

Depth (ft.) boat sinks= Water displaced (ft. cubed) ย DIVIDED BY length TIMES width of boat (ft. squared)


Center of Buoyancy-

Wider is better!!


Movement through water: Design

Long boats go faster and maintain a strait path but are much more difficult to turn.

Short boats are difficult to keep on a strait path

Best lenght for a boat is 8-12 Ft. Best height would be 18inches depending on the water displacement.

Our Goal—Is to get the best designed boat that moves quickly and makes it all the way around our high school pool.


Over lap and fold the cardboard around the edges to reinfore the seams.