The development of acoustic experiments for off-campus teaching and learning

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Engineering (SOE)




This article was originally published as: Wild, G. , & Swan, G. I. (2011). The development of acoustic experiments for off-campus teaching and learning. Physics Education, 46(3), 281-289. Original article available here


In this article, we show the implementation of a computer-based digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) and function generator (FG) using the computer’s soundcard for off-campus acoustic experiments. The microphone input is used for the DSO, and a speaker jack is used as the FG. In an effort to reduce the cost of implementing the experiment, we examine software available for free, online. A small number of applications were compared in terms of their interface and functionality, for both the DSO and the FG. The software was then used to investigate standing waves in pipes using the computer-based DSO. Standing wave theory taught in high school and in first year physics is based on a one-dimensional model. With the use of the DSO’s fast Fourier transform function, the experimental uncertainly alone was not sufficient to account for the difference observed between the measure and the calculated frequencies. Hence the original experiment was expanded upon to include the end correction effect. The DSO was also used for other simple acoustics experiments, in areas such as the physics of music.




Link to publisher version (DOI)