Newsletter #3

Hello Steelpan Volunteers,

We thank you for your patience from the previous 3 weeks without any newletters, but we are back in action to keep you up to speed!


As you may have noticed, Zooniverse recently sent out a call to action on our behalf to the entire Zooniverse community. To sum it up: Our goals have temporarily narrowed and we are seeking many volunteers to help us reach that goal! Whether you are new to our project or have been with us from the start, we are thankful for all of you who are helping us out.


We have been working on our data processing code for future analysis and for feeding information into a machine-learning AI. The progress on that has been going well. We are publicly sharing our code on GitHub if you are curious on how it runs. The GitHub link is here and will be on our main page in Zooniverse:


We have also been updating our blog regularly. A recent blog post explains why we need a large number of classifications and gives a few examples of classifications with missed antinode regions:

Another post talks about how we are analyzing our data including classification examples and some critique:

This post delves into the origins of this Steelpan Vibrations project and how it came to be, check it out here:

We also visualized our goals by creating a hypothetical histogram based on how we want our progress to look. Read about it here:


That is all we have for you now. As always, we appreciate you helping us out with the Steelpan Vibrations project and we hope you continue to volunteer, especially with our new goal in mind!

– Andrew & the Steelpan Vibrations Team


Welcome New Volunteers and LiveStream Next Week!

Hello Steelpan Vibration Volunteers,

As always, we appreciate your time and dedication to this project. We also want to welcome the new volunteers to this project and thank you for your time and dedication on our project, there is lots of information to read on this blog with continuous updates until the end of the summer!

Just to inform the new volunteers, we are STILL a long way from our goal despite narrowing our goals since the beginning of summer. At this rate, we need about 2082 per day to reach our goal of classifying, so please keep it up and tell your friends and family about this project!

On another set of announcements, we want to ask all our Steelpan Vibrations volunteers AND followers if they would be interested in viewing a live stream (not longer than about 30 minutes) where the research team does classifications of their own and answers any questions that the volunteers want to pose. We believe this is critical since there may be questions you might or might not have had when making classifications and we want to make sure the entire classification process is clear to the steelpan vibrations volunteers!

We would like to know when the best time would be to stream for you. This might not serve everyone’s schedule, but we will be sure to try to accommodate as many people as possible! Let us know in this survey here:

As always, we thank you for following this project and keeping it lively. Without you, this project would not see any success!

-Steelpan Vibrations Team

Visualized Goals

We have discussed our goals before and that we want to achieve a certain number by the end of the summer. However, you may be wondering how does that look like?

Histogram Classifications

As seen from the histogram above, this captures the amount of classifications we had as of two weeks ago. As you can see, many of the images have had at least one classification while very few has had 9 or more.

We have recently made another histogram two weeks later and this is the result:

histogram update 2

From the progress so far, we can see that our zero-counted classifications has decreased by almost 500 and 2-count classifications are increasing while our one-count classification is decreasing

At the end of this summer, we hope to have a graph that will look similar to this:

Theoretical Histogram Classifications

From this hypothetical histogram, you can see that we want at least a majority of our images to have five classifications or more by the end of the summer. As seen from our first two histograms, progress is being made but at a slow pace. The only way we can reach our predicted goal with the last histogram is with you, the volunteers of our Steelpan Vibrations team. Please keep up the classifications, make it a goal to classify at least 5 classifications per day, and we can be sure to finish off with some great results!

Update on our Subject Sets and Goals

Hello Steelpan Vibrations Volunteers,

While evaluating our goals, we have decided that we want to narrow down to try to finish at least two subject sets by the end of the summer.  In order to do this, we will be exclusively using our two subject sets on Zooniverse which already have the most classifications in them.  This, in turn, will give us good data so we can start our analysis on our research, as well as feeding it in the machine-learning AI!

Once we have reached this new goal, we will make the other subject sets active again so volunteers can classify them.  This is a temporary change until we finish classifications on those two sets.

-Steelpan Vibrations Team


The Steelpan Vibrations Team thanks all the volunteers who contributed to this project since we have gotten many great classifications so far. We believe that you should get to know what this project is and how it came to be, so you can understand more of what we are doing.


The steelpan originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is essentially a 55-gallon barrel that was carefully hammered on the bottom for tuning. The unique nature of the Steelpan comes from the vibrations of different notes that are all coupled together since the notes are all embedded in the same piece of steel.

While we have a limited understanding of this vibrational coupling, we do know how the individual notes behave.

To understand how to interpret images made by electronic speckle pattern interferometry you can look for the concentric rings which indicate where the steelpan is vibrating. These sets of concentric rings are also known as antinode regions. The numbers or rings, or fringes, measures the amplitude of the note’s displacement.  The first image below shows a single note vibrating at the frequency of its first resonance (the lowest frequency resonance.) on a tenor steelpan.Vibration 1Vibration 2.jpg

From <;

In the image above, we see the same note in its second resonance. This resonance has two antinode regions, separated by a nodal line running between them as seen in the image above.


It has been long suspected in the musical acoustics community that the sound of the steelpan has a time-dependent nature related to the transfer of energy between different components of the sound spectrum. It is not well understood how it works and historically has not been easy to observe the motion of the steelpan in the short time after a strike has occurred. In 2009, the Physics Department at Rollins College acquired a high-speed camera to use with their electronic speckle pattern interferometry system. Professor Morrison was intrigued by this and wanted to see if they would help him make those observations. When he went there, they were fortunate enough to help with his measurements.

The Caribbean Steelpans were chosen because Professor Morrison liked how it was a recently invented tuned instrument which is prominently used in the world. He also enjoys its deceptively complex mechanical system–meaning it looks simple enough as it is just a bunch of notes hammered into the bottom of an oil barrel, but the complexity of its rich sound grows deeper it is studied.

Through getting this research off the ground, there have been various failures. Such an early failure was that Professor Morrison looked exclusively at the first 100 or 200 frames after the mallet strike happens. He thought that was enough to analyze it, but he realized that he was looking for what happens in the first 2000 frames and would need a different approach. On the flip side, some successes were in the Summer of 2017 where the previous research team helped Professor Morrison develop this project into an official Zooniverse project. They chose Zooniverse since it was the best platform for a crowd-sourced volunteer to classify and analyze data that cannot be easily processed by software. A python code was written and developed last year, and they learned enough of the project to present their work to the acoustical society of America in December of 2017.


What we want to know is how do the vibrations propagate in different areas of the steelpan’s surface? It leads to a better understanding of how coupling vibrations may occur in other surfaces and how the mechanical energy is transferred.

That’s why we are asking you as a volunteer for help, so we can track the motion of vibrations as it travels through the steelpan when they develop and decay. So please, continue making classifications as it will continue to help our understanding of the vibrations!

Newsletter #2, June 2018

Hello Steelpan Vibrations Volunteers,

We are pleased to keep you updated on our Steelpan Vibrations project for the second week in a row.


We have updated our tutorial to make it more concise and easier to understand. We plan to update our Field Guide, so keep marking your favorite images and tag them so we can include them in the new Field Guide.

Last week we discovered problems with not being able to resize the ellipses when making a classification. It had been brought to our attention Wednesday afternoon and we immediately contacted the Zooniverse team. They fixed the issue on Friday. As of right now, the resizing of ellipses is working correctly. We apologize for any inconvenience.

On the flip side, our Facebook page is now active! You can follow it, give it a like, and share the page here:


We are still trying to reach our goal of 100,000 classifications by the end of the summer. We know that our technical error may have slowed down the process of you completing classifications last week, but we are back on track now. Please continue to reach out to family members and friends about our project and share it on social media.

As always, we thank you for being a volunteer. We can’t do this without you!

Keep helping at

Andrew & the Steelpan Vibrations Team

Reaching our Summer Goals: What will it take?

In our previous newsletter, we have discussed our goal of reaching 100,000 classifications by the end of this summer session, which has 7 more weeks to go!


Considering we have 26,167 classifications (as of writing this blog post), we have about 1/4 of our goal to reach so far. This means that we need 73,833 more classifications to go.


With 7 more weeks to go, we need about 10,548 classifications per week to reach our goal.
Within the first week, we received 199 classifications, on the second week we received 417 classifications. You can view this in Figure 1.

fig 1

Fig 1
“This publication uses data generated via the platform, development of which is funded by generous support, including a Global Impact Award from Google, and by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”


If we look at the week of August 21, 2018, the week we officially launched this project to Zooniverse, we received 4249 classifications. Since then, that had a general trend downwards until a sudden burst on November 27, 2018, where we received 3,098 classifications. The previous week was only a mere 457 classifications, so that’s a huge spike within the matter of one week.

fig 2.png

Fig 2
“This publication uses data generated via the platform, development of which is funded by generous support, including a Global Impact Award from Google, and by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”

The amount of volunteers who have participated in this project is 1,674. If each of those volunteers will make a classification every day, then that is 11,718 classifications per week. That is more than the amount we have for our goal. We are hoping that all of our volunteers participate every day and we are continuing to update each and every one of you per week with a newsletter of our progress.


At first glance, our maximum per week is only 4,000 classifications, which is way below our weekly goal. However, looking at another project (Planetary Response Network and Rescue Global Caribbean Storms) that has successfully finished, we can see that it received more than 30,000 classifications in a week!

fig 3

Fig 3 (

The difference in that project is that it contains a humanitarian aspect that ours seems to miss. Their title page boldly states “Join the Relief effort to help victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.” We can only speculate that title makes the volunteer seem empowered and willing to spend their free time to help out a humanitarian cause. Looking at this project in another direction, the classification project is just about as complex, if not more, than ours which requires the volunteer to identify images and the possible objects within.

Another project by the name of “Gravity Spy“, which does not sound as humanitarian as the previous project. The volunteer is told to identify an image(s) (varying in the scale of the graph’s axis). Classifying this project has a much simpler project as the volunteer to told to look at an image(s) and to simply identify it with the images on the right-hand side as seen in Figure 4.

fig 4

Figure 4 (
“This publication uses data generated via the platform, development of which is funded by generous support, including a Global Impact Award from Google, and by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”

It has 2 fewer steps than our Steelpan Vibrations project has, making it quicker to get a classification. Its statistics contain classifications ranging from 9,603 to 26,894. within the past year as seen in Figure 5.

fig 5
Figure 5 (
“This publication uses data generated via the platform, development of which is funded by generous support, including a Global Impact Award from Google, and by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”



From these two projects we have looked at, we can say that the interest from volunteers giving us classifications comes from a mix of ease to classify and a humanitarian effort that may tug at a volunteer’s heartstrings. While the numbers say is it possible to gain 10,548 classifications per week from Zooniverse’s dedicated community, we might have a few obstacles going against our project with how it is structured and the nature of it’s some-what difficult classifications project.

For now, we can say that it is definitely possible to receive at least 3,000 classifications per week, which might extend our goal in achieving 100,000 classifications to 24 weeks. Again, the Steelpan Vibrations team is hoping to achieve that goal in 7 weeks if possible. We will continue this by spreading the word on our project and possibly by simplifying the process if possible.

As always, we value you as a volunteer for Steelpan Vibrations and we encourage you to get classifications and recruit others to give us classifications!

-Steelpan Vibrations Team



Summer research team introductions – Part 2

Hello.  My name is Keanu Vasquez and I am currently interning under Professor Morrison for the Steel Pan Vibrations project.  I am currently in pursuit of an electrical engineering degree which may sound a bit off for this research project, but I personally enjoy learning and engaging in just about any topic in the field of physics. For this steelpan vibrations project, I am very interested in having a Machine Learning AI to analyze our data and having the volunteers look at this.  That way, our data can be collected even faster, and, in the process, we can test how effecting using an AI is to analyze our data.  As of right now, I oversee the promotion of the project to get more of the Zooniverse community and even more communities to help us out with classifying our images.  I look forward to working on this project this summer and I hope that I can engage the team and the community to successfully further progress in this project!