Rijke Tube Resonator


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The Rijke tube is an interesting example of an open cylinder resonator. Folds of copper screen are positioned about one-fifth of the way up the tube. When the screen is heated in a burner flame and then moved to one side of the flame, it will produce a strong tone at its resonant frequency for several seconds. The standard explanation has to to with the ease of excitation of a system at its resonant frequency. The air which passes up through the red hot screen is heated and expands, producing a pulse of air toward the center of the pipe. Like a push which raises a mass on a spring above its equilibrium position, that pulse of air will start the system into oscillation at its natural frequency. Note from the video clip that the excitation of the pipe depends upon the chimney effect of air moving up the path and the sound stops when the tube is turned horizontal.

Construction details
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Periodic motion concepts

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Rijke Tube Construction

The Rijke tube resonator used in the example was made from stainless steel tubing of about 3 cm diameter. A prepared strip of copper screen wire was folded to form three layers in a square slightly larger than the pipe diameter. It was inserted about a fifth of the way up the tube and held in place by a metal ring made of spring steel.

The retaining ring has been necessary in my experience. While the copper screen is elastic enough to hold itself in place when it is new, it quickly loses its "springiness" after a few heatings and just drops out. The copper screens do not last long in any case, developing a hole in the center after a couple of dozen heatings.

A useful demonstration set is three pipes constructed with length ratios 4:5:6 so that you can demonstrate the musical progression of a major triad.

Index

Periodic motion concepts

Resonance concepts
  HyperPhysics***** Sound Go Back