Design Project Assignment


The hottest band in the town of Sparkyville is “Maroon (and Gold) 4”.  They are known for their musical experimentation and unique instruments.  They plan to go on tour and would like to minimize the space required for their musical instruments.  Your company has been hired by Maroon (and Gold) 4 to design the instruments for their new tour. Your team must design 3 instruments (one for each part in the song) capable of playing at least one of their hit songs, “Ode to Joy”. Please note that a complete “design” is one that consists of the entire set of all 3 instruments. Each of the three types of instruments (wind, percussion, and string) must be represented in your design and they must be designed in such a way that they will all (i.e., your design) fit into ONE 2 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft stage box. Your design should cost as little as possible and be aesthetically pleasing and creativity is encouraged.  You will be required to demonstrate your design by playing one of their hit songs and combining (and possibly editing) audio files to create a cover track of the song so that they will know how it will sound before going on tour.  You will also be required to document and demonstrate each individual instrument as a part of the project.

Project Specifications:

 There should be one instrument per part in the musical scores.  One instrument in the design needs to be a wind instrument, at least one needs to be a percussion instrument (bar based percussion instrument), and at least one needs to be a string instrument. Physical principles and mathematical calculations (will be introduced in the Acoustics unit) should be used to guide your design decisions. Please note that drums are membrane based percussion instruments, which are beyond the scope of this course, thus, the physics behind drums will NOT be introduced. You must build your own instrument.  Using websites that contain instructions on how to build a specific instrument may be used to get ideas for your design; however, such sources MUST be cited and may lower the “creativity” of your design.  You must make sure that your designs do indeed meet the requirements of this particular project.

 You are required to create a track (song with all instruments playing their different parts) of the song mentioned in the Description.  Sheet music, a listing of the notes, and the individual parts will be provided for your reference. You may use the free program, Audacity (, to record, edit, process, export, play, and combine audio files.   

Resource Limitations:

your design should have 3 instruments, and you must be able to prove that your design (with all 4 instruments) will fit within the 2 ft x 2ft x 2ft stage box.  This will most likely be done with a sketch and packing instructions.  You cannot use any more than 10 ft of pipe (of any diameter or material) and 6 ft of strings (of any gauge or material) in the set of instruments. Even if the material is not being used for sound creation, it still must be considered in these constraints (for instance, if you are using PVC pipe for the structure of your string instrument, you must include that length in the pipe constraint). 

Your design should have 3 instruments and one of the 3 instruments will have to play two parts and this instrument will have to be duplicated such that all above mentioned limitations are applied to a total of 3 instruments (you are not required to build the duplicated instrument, just count it twice). Thus, you must prove that all these 3 instruments will fit within the 2ft x 2ft x 2ft box. This will most likely be done with a sketch and packing instructions. You cannot use any more than 10 ft of pipe (of any diameter or material) and 6 ft of strings (of any gauge or material) in the set of these 4 instruments.

Budget & Supplies:

You are required to track all expenses related to the construction of your instrument for inclusion in a budget.  Each instrument cannot have spending more than $15 and every material used (even if pulled from the trash) must have a value associated with it and be included in the budget.  Discuss value of recycled items with instructor before using them in your design.  Only materials used in the design need to be included in budget (for instance, if you buy 20 nails and only use 5 in your design take the total cost divided by 5 for the amount that will be in your budget).  Adhesives and tapes do not need to be included in budget unless the cost of the tapes/adhesives is the pre dominate expense of the design (if your entire instrument is made of duct tape, than you should take that into account).   There is a flat $1 painting fee, regardless of the amount of paint used.


Project Deliverable: Problem Definition 

It is very important that you understand the design problem you are solving, the requirements/constraints and your objectives. Defining the problem is often the most important step in a design process. For this project deliverable, you will identify all the requirements/constraints of this design project; identify your objectives; write up a problem definition statement; and create a prioritized list of criteria for success.  

Project Requirements and Problem Definition   

Carefully read the project document. Pay attention to the requirements of this project. List all the design requirements and constraints in bullet points. Identify the goals/objectives of this design project; and compare and combine your lists of requirements. When you consider and discuss the constraints, also think about the construction tools (e.g., hand saw, drills, etc.) and construction materials that are available to you. Then discuss and write down a problem definition statement of this design project. The problem definition statement should clearly identify the underlying problem that needs to be solved and summarize the important constraints. Be as specific as possible but try to avoid statements that lead to a particular solution. Create a list of all the project requirements.  Be specific and quantitative. Discuss and list criteria for a good design and prioritize the criteria.  You should also generate three different instrument ideas for “high”, “medium”, and “low” range (so 9 instrument ideas total).  Each of these designs should be viable, unique solutions to the problem (solve the problem, meet all of the design requirements, etc.).  For each conceptual design you should describe the form, function (a description of how it works), and finish (what materials…as best as possible at this point).  


Follow the format described below.   

• Your deliverable should be typed (single spaced) in paragraph form, with appropriately formatted section headings (use bold and/or underline, and/or larger font size). You should use consistent spacing, formatting, font, and style, as well as correct grammar and spelling. 

• A title ‘Problem Definition’ should be included at the top. 

Make sure to include the following in your document: 

• All requirements and constraints in bullet points

• Problem definition statement 

• Prioritized criteria with assigned weights

 • Description of your 9 instrument ideas

o  3 for “high” range

 o  3 for “medium” range

o  3 for “low” range


Project Deliverable: Project Schedule  

Completing a design project takes planning. As a part of the project you will be completing, you will need to create a plan to meet all of the project deliverables. During the project, many considerations will be taken into account, including budget concerns, size constraints, and building materials (among others). For this project deliverable, your must create a project schedule (Gantt Chart).   

Identifying Tasks:  

Identify all the tasks you will have for the project. Please be as specific as possible. You will need to consider the dependence of a task on another and consider tasks that may run simultaneously. Estimate time it may take your to complete each task. Make sure that all deadlines are met.

Creating a Gantt Chart:

You may create a Gantt chart in Excel, MS Project (this creates nice looking Gantt Charts). In a Gantt chart, tasks are listed in the left column (one task per row), and dates run along the top in increments of days, weeks, or months depending on the total length of the project. The expected duration of each task is represented by a horizontal colored bar, with the left end at the expected start date for that task, and the right end at the expected completion date. Some tasks may run simultaneously (in parallel), some may overlap in time, and some may occur sequentially (one task ends, then another starts).  If a task is dependent on another task, the two tasks are connected with an arrow to indicate that one cannot start until the other ends. For example, if Task A is to purchase materials, and Task C is to construct a component, Task C is dependent on Task A because you cannot construct a component until after you have purchased the necessary materials. 

It is often a good idea to include milestones or other events on your Gantt chart that indicate your progress but are not tasks. For example, you may want to include when the final prototype will be complete, when certain project deliverables are due, etc. These ‘milestone’ events are entered as a symbol (often a triangle or diamond) on a single date on the Gantt chart. 

Using your Gantt Chart:


You should check your Gantt chart regularly to identify what tasks need to be completed, and to ensure that you stays on track to successfully complete the project on time.  As you proceed through the design process, you may identify more specific tasks that should be added to your project schedule. The project schedule can be continually updated—when you identify additional tasks that need to be completed, you should add them.  The more detailed you can be early on in making your schedule, the easier it will be to complete the project on time (for instance, “Build prototype” is not as useful of a task as  “Build base,” “Cut holes,” etc.).  A revised project schedule will be due before you begin construction of your prototype (as a part of your proposal document), so the more detail you are able to add now, the less you will have to change later.     

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