66% or better

New conductive ink allows circuit prototyping with a pen and paper

roller_ball_circuit_drawing

Why spend time etching circuit boards and applying solder masks when all you really need is a rollerball pen and some paper? That’s what University of Illinois professors [Jennifer Lewis and Jennifer Bernhard] were asking when they set off to research the possibility of putting conductive ink into a standard rollerball pen.

The product of their research is a silver nanoparticle-based ink that remains liquid while inside a pen, but dries on contact once it is applied to a porous surface such as paper. Once dry, the ink can be used to conduct electricity just like a copper trace on a circuit board, making on the fly circuit building a breeze.

Previous ink-based circuit construction was typically done using inkjet printers or airbrushing, so removing the extra hardware from the process is a huge step forward. The team even has some news for those people that think the writable ink won’t hold up in the long run. The ink is surprisingly quite resilient to physical manipulation, and they found that it took folding the paper substrate several thousand times before their ink pathways started to fail.

While we know this is no substitute for a nicely etched board, it would be pretty cool to prototype a simple circuit just by drawing out the connections on a piece of paper – we can’t wait to see this come to market.

Cutting paper scrolls with frickin’ lasers

This circuit illustration adds a scrolling paper feeder to the bed of a laser cutter. In the video after the break you can see that the actual assembly is put on the bed of the laser cutter. After the laser has cut out the specified pattern, the scroll is wound to move an un-cut portion into place. It uses a servo motor to drive one of the spools.

An Arduino Uno with a servo shield is being used for this application. It has one button which winds one spool for a pre-programmed period of time. There’s a few issues with this setup, namely that it’s not tied into the CNC program that runs the laser. There’s also a lack of precision when using a continuously rotating servo like this. If it were upgraded to use a stepper motor and patched into the CNC hardware this would make cutting new scrolls for your player piano a breeze.

Here’s a project that does the opposite, it takes old player piano rolls and digitizes them.

[Read more...]

Papercraft strandbeest is a great rainy day project

papercraft_strandbeest

Here in the Midwest it sometimes seems like Spring will never, well…spring. We get that “April showers bring May flowers”, but nearly all of the last month has been cold and rainy around these parts. While things are improving, we think it’s always good practice to have a few fun projects at the ready, just in case your plans with the kids get rained out.

We think that Hackaday reader [Dombeef’s] papercraft strandbeest is a perfect idea for a rainy afternoon. The supply list is pretty short, requiring little more than some scissors, pliers, paperclips, and glue in addition to the thick paper that makes up the body of the strandbeest. The paper is cut into pieces according to the PDF template he includes in his Instructable, secured to one another via small pieces of paperclip.

Once the legs are all constructed, a main axis is built from one of the remaining paperclips, and everything is joined together under the main portion of the strandbeest’s body.

As you can see in the video, the legs work quite well, though the strandbeest can probably benefit from a hand crank in the short term. [Dombeef] plans on adding a small motor to his creation, which should get the strandbeest moving about quite rapidly once completed.

If you are looking for more fun projects to do with the kids, look no further than this papercraft gyroscope or these squishy circuits.

[Read more...]

Papercraft gyroscope

Although spring keeps trying to break through the winter doldrums you might be looking for just one more weekend activity before the outdoor season begins. Grab the kids and give this paper gyroscope a try.

It’s not an electronic sensor made of paper, but the modern equivalent of a spinning top. The frame remains stationary while the center assembly spins at high speed, keeping the whole thing balanced on one narrow point. [Dombeef] put together a printable template which you can use to make your own parts. He got a hold of the heavy paper that’s used to hold X-ray film, but you can just trace out multiple copies of the parts and make a beefy section by laminating them together with glue. Combine the inner and outer parts using a paper clip as the axis and you’re ready to go. Pull hard on a bit of floss wound around the axis to get the center frame spinning, then sit back and see how long it will remain standing.

Hackaday links: February 21, 2011

PCB Stand

Part PCB, part old IC, and held together with hot glue. It doesn’t take much to make this electronics stand, but it’ll certainly add to the geek level of your desk.

Decorate with light

This busy living room is actually decorated all in white. The patterns that give it life are on lend from a projector and what we’d imagine is some fantastic software. [Thanks MDV]

Flashing butt on your bike

[Eli] sewed lights and flex sensor into her jeans. Now her butt flashes in heart-shaped patterns as she rides. She actually robbed one of the flex sensors from this project to complete that explosive high-five project.

Mini-rake’s progress

A lathe and some sand that needs tending is all that [Spatula Tzar] needed to get this zen garden rake under way. We like how she used a vacuum bag to infuse the wood with mineral oil.

Paper and electrons

This collection of musical projects forsakes common substrates and builds the mess of circuit boards on pieces of paper. Not much information but the strangeness is worth a look.

Paper accelerometers for pennies in the works

Cheap paper accelerometers? Put us down for a dozen to start. They’re not quite ready for mass production yet but it looks like they’re on the way.

[George Whitesides] led a team to develop the new technology that uses simple manufacturing methods to produce the sensor seen above. Graphite and silver inks were screen printed onto heavy paper. The single limb sticking out from the body of the sensor is a separate piece of paper that bends the carbon area when force is applied. This changes the carbon’s resistance which is measured using a Wheatstone bridge constructed by gluing resistors to the device.

It sounds unsophisticated compared to most of the accelerometer modules we’re used to, but if you need a sensor that detects sudden motion this sounds like the perfect part. Now who wants to be the first person to replicate this in their basement?

[Thanks Fabien]

Custom enclosures made of paper

[Sivan Toledo] needed a enclosure for a unique sized electronic project, not finding what he needed in off the shelf solutions, he went to the next best thing, … Papier Mâché!

Using a mold made out of standard corrugated cardboard, he slowly built up layers made of magazine paper, and ordinary “white glue” diluted with water. After getting near the thickness wanted he switched over to typing / copy type paper for a nice clean outer surface. Ports were made in the usual fashion when dealing with soft or thin material, drill a smaller hole, going back with successively larger holes, and then follow up with an appropriate file, all while taking things slow along the way to prevent unwanted results. Finishing up with layers of paper carefully cut into strips to meet the circumferences / edges, along with the final outer surface to make it all even.

The end result is awesome as it stands, but we cant help but wonder what some sanding and paint would look like on a enclosure made like this, though any way you finish it, the idea comes down to custom enclosures that do not need special tools or materials to complete (on the cheap).

Thanks [Drone]