555 Business Card

After checking out a few beautiful business cards while working at his engineering co-op, [Cody] realized he would soon need his own. Instead of a card with subtle off-white coloring, a tasteful thickness to it, and even a watermark, [Cody] decided to make a 555 timer business card.

[Cody] started his business card project by going through a few design iterations while figuring out what he wanted his business card to do. There were a few designs not chosen – one with a microcontroller, a few with just LEDs, and some with no circuitry at all. After checking out a few project from the EEV blog 555 contest, [Cody] decided to go with a simple 555 timer circuit.

Being a business card, [Cody] kept the circuit very simple; it’s just a 555, phototransistor, and a few SMD LEDs. When a 9 Volt battery is placed on the contact points of the card, the 555 lights up the LEDs. When a laser is shone on the phototransistor, the LEDs start blinking. A very neat and sufficiently interactive circuit that is perfect for keeping component costs down.

After the break you can check out [Cody]’s business card in action.


34 thoughts on “555 Business Card

  1. Saw a business card that was basically a 6 layer(!) PCB metal detector/stud finder. It beeped through a microscopic piezo element and used a tiny flat battery. I begged the guy to give or sell me one, with no luck. It was potted, and I only had a minute or two to play with it.

    I think he sold magnetometers.

  2. Sorry to say, but kind of boring.

    Good thing is the design has D1 in place to protect the circuit, but I think the demo only bridged it.

    I op for a 8pin PIC over 555!

  3. I think it’s awesome! I know that if I gave a client one of those cards and a 9v battery, they’d be constantly playing with it on their desk while they should be working.

    How do we make them (get them made) and how much do they cost?

  4. I love the general idea behind these business cards, but I have yet to see one that really is functional and interesting. I doubt most people would go and grab a 9v to play with blinking lights that may be interesting for about 2 seconds.

    A business card has a purpose, if the attempt is to design a card that stands out, shows what you are capable of, but also be relevant to what it is: “A business card.” Some of the best ones I have seen are the USB devices, but the one that comes to mind requires the person to open notepad and press the capslock key twice. I doubt someone is going to bother. However, one that imported a vCard into outlook would be cool, or loaded up a portfolio presentation. How about a business card that has an automatic dialer in it?

    It should be relevant to it’s purpose or useful generally on the desk (like a metal business card with a letter opener built in?)

    The 555 timer isn’t even creative, really. Any novice hack can build 555 timer circuits and I imagine the card is intended for an audience familiar enough with electronics to know that.

    1. What about a picture puzzle card? Something that has something hidden on it and an inticing clue, live ultraviolet invisble ink that reveals some additional info. Something that gets the person to either WANT to play with it (something fun), keep it lying on their desk in front of them (something useful), or really show off your skills that are above and beyond (think clever here.)

      How about a business card that folds out into something?

      I can guarantee that a nicely done laser cut business card would get more long-term attention then this 555 timer card which cost much more.

  5. What about a business card that folds in half and becomes a USB flash drive which could contain a resume, photos of other designs, or something else that is useful so as to encourage the recipient to keep it handy.

    I have NO idea how I’d go about that, but I’m sure it’s possible. The components on my handy-dandy flash drive are almost microscopic already, seems like something could be engineered cheaply.

  6. Hey guys, I am the creator of this project!

    I love the feedback I’m getting here! It’s really appreciated.

    I would like to clear something up about the implementation of my card, a lot of you are saying that I should have used a microcontroller. I agree, it would have been much simpler, but that’s not the point of the business card! The spirit of the project was to show my interest in mixed-signal design, therefore I opted towards a analog based solution. Price was of little factor, it didn’t cost too much, and the spirit of the project was to just make something novel to show off my info.

    Again, thanks a lot for taking interest, the feedback is highly appreciated!

  7. While I like it,but stating the obvious, this is not a business card in the conventional sense. This is a comparatively expensive advertising novelty in the form of a business card that most likely is given to established or select potential clients/customers. Everyone else gets the standard business card, that is probably bundled with the novelty card as well. The business owner gets the fancier novelty, everyone else you work with get less expensive novelty or imprinted practical items like note pads pencils/pens. I hope it has reverse polarity protection.

    1. Statler and Waldorf.

      God, how I miss those guys.
      I was thinking just the other day about whether or not I could build those guys into a kitchen alcove.
      Ah, what I would not give for grandchildren.

  8. In the science job market (as with many others), if a biz card can’t be OCR’d automatically, it gets binned.

    Cute and clever isn’t the function of a biz card.

  9. I just finished the code and prototype for a business card USB Mass Storage Device based around the LPC1343 and an AT45DB081 for storage. It holds 1MB of data, just enough for a resume, and has 2 LEDs that blink when a read or write command is issued from the host. The cost per finished board is under $10 – perfect for special situations but you obviously wouldn’t be giving these out to everybody. I’d be happy to do a writeup if there is any interest!

  10. I just finished the code for a USB Mass Storage Device based around the LPC1343 and an AT45DB081 for storage. It holds 1MB of data, just enough for a resume, and has 2 LEDs that blink when a read or write command is issued from the host. I’d be happy to do a writeup on this if there is any interest!

  11. I REALLY like the idea of having a business card like this, I’ve wished for a long time that LCD screens can get cheap enough where I could make a video business card. But these seem way too bland for my taste, the lettering should be done in LED’s or just something to make it more interesting.

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