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String Telephone
Matthias Mller German Team

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How do the intensity of sound, transmitted along a string telephone, and the quality of communication between the transmitter and receiver depend upon the distance, tension in the line and other parameters? Design an optimal system.

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Eperimental Set-up Theory Quality and Intensity Losses in Different Parts of the Telephone Transmission into String and Out of it Damping and Dispersion in String Parametric Optimiziation Materials, Dimensions Experimental Conrmation

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Properties of Optimal System

High quality of communication low dispersion low frequency-dependence of transmitted intensity (no resonance in speaking range) Only of secondary importance: transmitted power as high as possible

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Shape of Horns

Horns with no resonance within range Exponential horns (no reection no resonance) Short cans Eigenfrequency above 1000 Hz for length smaller 5 cm

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Experimental Set-up
membrane Itrans can string x can Irec


3 important parts:

Transmission from can into string Damping and dispersion in the string Transmission from string to can
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Experimental Set-up

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Intensity of Sound Wave

2 P =1 cA v 2

Abbreviation: Z c, Z ZA
2 Power: P = 1 Z v 2

Intensity: I =


2 =1 Z v 2

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Transmission through Membrane

Transmission of wave from one media through membrane into other media. Ptrans = mb (Pinc Pre ) vtrans = vmb = vinc vre
2 Remember P = 1 Z v 2 Therefore 2 4mb Ztrans Zinc Ptrans = )2 Pinc (Ztrans + mb Zinc

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Oscillation of Membrane
transmitter-Membrane Equation of motion for small piece of membrane: z 2z kr 2b (F0 + Dz ) = p(t) 2 + Za + T z + e t t r z (r,,t) T F0 + Dz p(t) Radial Coordinate of membrane Elongation Tension of membrane Force excerted by string Incoming wave

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Identities of Good Membrane

Good quality for high resonance frequencies High frequencies for low mass, high tension, stiffness Membrane should be stiff Tension in membrane increases with tension in thread

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Optimization of Membrane
Input: White Noise; tension: 30 N, 40 N, length: 8.5 m
relative intensity

high tension low tension

f [Hz]





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Noise without Rush

relative intensity

f [Hz]






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Good Membran
Input: White Noise; tension: 40 N, length: 4.5 m
relative intensity

f [Hz]






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Minimizing of String-Damping

High tension, thin string to eliminate bends in string Intensity of damped wave: I = I0 e2 L

= 0 calculated by thermal losses rubber aluminium iron titanium 0 [106 s/m] 110 11 8.2 5.4

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Dispersion in String

Dispersion if phase velocity c depends on frequency Occurs due to damping:

pressure wave: p = p e(tx)


= | ( )| = | + 0 |

Low damping low dispersion

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Measurement of Dispersion
travelling time [ms]

2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5

f [Hz]






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Overall Transmission
Irec 1 Ptrans Acyl 4mb Amb Zcyl Astr Zstr

e20 L

Acyl should be small Amb should be large problem as Amb at end of can with Acyl

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Pressure Chamber


Effect of pressure chamber:

Larger Amb better transmission from can to string Lower Acyl

intensity I =


highest at opening
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New Overall Transmission

Including reection can pressure chamber Amb n Acyl 2 n3 16mb Zcyl 20 L Irec Ptrans Amb e Astr Zstr (n + 1)4 High receiver-intensity for:

Large crossectional area of membrane Maximum for n = 3, so Acyl = 1 3 Amb Small wave impedance Astr Zstr of the string Low damping in the string
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Optimal System

System with pressure chamber diameter of membrane e.g. 15 cm diameter of can about 8.7 cm Membrane of stiff material, high tension in it String of suitable metal (aluminium, titanium,. . . ) Thin string with high tension (for no bends) Damping and dispersion increases with length

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