The Toilet Ocarina
This was a project I tried several months ago. The inspiration was the Ostrich Egg Ocarina outlined in Bart Hopkins' wonderful book, Making Simple Musical Instruments--A Melodious Collection of Strings, Winds, Drums & More.

Being too cheap to spend money on a real ostrich egg, I opted for the man-made equal--the toilet tank float. And plastic, no less.

Construction was straightforeward. Roughly rectangular fipple hole. Windway constructed of sheet plastic and mounted on a Sculpty clay pedestal. Goop was used to hold the fipple assembly to the body. Seven finger holes. Unfortunately, the range was less than an octave. I had enlarged the fipple hole to tune the lowest note up to C( it was originally about Bb). The cumulative opening of all the holes, however, made the instrument crap out before it could even reach an octave. In retrospect, I probably should have tuned up the insrtument by reducing the air cavity size rather than enlarging the fipple hole. My weak fipple making skills didn't help, either.

If you wish to make one of these, by all means, give it a go! Plastic floats are cheaply available, at least in the hardware stores in Southern Calif.  Unfortunately, the floats I've come across are made of the kind of plastic that won't stick well with most glues or epoxies. Hot melt glue sticks seem to be adequate for this project. Goop works well, too. Copper floats are also available, but they cost more and require much more patience because they are easily dented and hole edges can be very sharp. If you make any improvements, share them with everyone else. Make a web page about it.

I'm currently experimenting with an easier-to-construct version that uses a embrouchure hole similar to that found on a transverse flute, the result of  my fipple-making skills not improving much in the last few months.

Also visit: The $5.00 Clarinet

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