A Simple POV Business Card

The business card is an odd survivor from the past, when you think about it. When a salesman in a Mad Men style suit stepped out of his Studebaker and walked past a room full of typists to the boss’s wood-paneled office, he would have handed over a card as a matter of course. It would get filed away in the Rolodex.

These days, making your card stand out from the crowd of print-shop specials has become an art form. In our community this extends to cards with integrated electronics, such as this one with a persistence-of-vision display driven by an ATtiny from [James Cochrane], shown in the video below.  It’s by no means the first such card, but he takes us through its design and construction in great detail which makes the video below the break worth a look. If you have never made a toner transfer PCB for example, you can see how his was made.

He makes the point that while a POV spinner needs only to display in one direction, a card has to be waved back and forth. Thus it needs to change the direction of its display, and needs a tilt sensor to activate this. His construction method uses through-hole components, but is surface mount in that they are soldered to the top surface of the board. The result is a rather attractive POV card that maybe isn’t something you’d hand out to all and sundry, but perhaps that’s not the point.

Its worth pointing you at this earlier POV card we featured back in 2011, as he cites it as an influence.

28 thoughts on “A Simple POV Business Card

    1. Um.. Yah. That’s because it’s a home-etched board. I suppose today’s maker would show of his or her “own” skill by sending off to a fab house to do it?

      1. I would send it to a fab house to have them do a 4 layer board. That would allow the business sides to look a lot more like a business card. I would do everything smd. I like the idea of cutting a hole for the battery to sit in. Icing on the cake might be using a 4 line ot 16 line demux to run the led’s. You could have an entire long edge of the card covered with led’s.. Than again with 5 io lines you could also decode 3 ios for the led matrix and decode 2 io lines for color selection for rgb led. Lots of neat spins one could take on this. If you were clever with your timing you could also adorn parts of your card wth led’s, like your initials so they would sparkle if just sitting still but do the pov thing if you swipe it.

        Where do you draw the line if you don’t like getting boards from a fab house? Are you going to set up a semiconductor fab shop in your kitchen and make the mcu and leds too?

        1. An i just hand them a 50$ bill with my adress written on it….
          Seriously tho, there might be times that call for a VERY fancy business card, but most of the time you probably want to keep the BOM as cheap as possible.

        2. Your card would be pretty cool too. I like his for the greater “DIY percentage”. I would like yours for it’s better look and functionality. It’s a great thing that the world is big enough for both!

          There is one thing I wonder about boardhouse fabbed PCB business cards… it’s less clearly self-designed. I mean seriously, how do I know you didn’t just pick a shared design off Oshpark and just change the text details or something like that. I suppose the home-etched board could be done that way too but I would be less expecting it.

          All that being said… if I were hiring an engineer to design electronic widgets for my company I would question why he chose the hard way. I wouldn’t want him bringing costs up and/or quality down by over ‘diy-ing’ in my shop. I might actually give him the interview though and ask him why he did that because it would stand out. I mean.. of all the business card PCBs we see here how many were home etched? That’s kind of unique! And if he gave a good answer, most likely being something like ‘because nobody else does that’ it would be good.

          All that said, his card says he is a network engineer. How many of those design PCBs? I bet that card REALLY stands out. It doesn’t really prove anything about his abilities as a network engineer but it does get one’s attention.

          “Where do you draw the line if you don’t like getting boards from a fab house? Are you going to set up a semiconductor fab shop in your kitchen and make the mcu and leds too?”

          Where do you draw YOUR line? If you don’t like etching your own board why do you bother with the soldering? Why not send it to a professional board stuffer? Why program your own microcontroller or even come up with your own design at all? Why not just buy some ready made product?

          See! I can make a strawman too!

          As a hobbyist I draw the line where I feel like drawing the line today. Tomorrow I may draw it elsewhere. As a professional I draw it wherever is most practical.

          Being that creating PCBs is not something a Network Engineer is usually expected to do I’ll look at this guy’s work as falling on the hobbyist side and thus I’d rather see him congratulated for going a step farther than most in DIYing his board rather then commenting on how doing so makes it look like something from the 70s.

          Then again, maybe his potential new boss will turn out to be a hipster and see it as retro!

  1. I like this idea, would love to try and build an smd version. If you’re looking for employment at specific places this would be a great tactic – whoever you gave it to would probably keep it kicking about, even as an office toy – and the longer it’s there, the more likely you are to get a call when a job opens up.
    Persistent business cards!

    1. It’s not every day I see an actually-good idea on a forum, even this one. Kudos!
      Now to make it turn on only when being spun without a separate switch. The recipient will play with it till it makes an unforgettable impression.

  2. Sometimes less says more. It looks homebrewed, not mass produced store bought. Business cards that fit in the wallet, usually get stuck in there and forgotten, discretely tossed when the person who forced it on you turns toward the next victim, or used to write some chick’s phone number on, whom you probably won’t call. This sort of card goes in a pocket, something to fidget with during the staff meeting… Handmade things usually hold a special value, since not everyone is going to have one eventually. If you hand out something that looks store-bought, gives the impression that anyone can get them, if they want, no reason to take any special interest or care, could always pick up another.

    It’s a good project, got a lot of people thinking about doing it better, maybe some will. Great inspiration, don’t understand all the negativity. Don’t think it’s meant to be a commercial product, or passed out by the thousands. There are a lot of projects out there, done, just because ‘I can’, and just for fun.

  3. Neat idea, cool write up and seems like I’ve seen similar with conductive inks though haven’t tracked down reference links yet.

    Was nosey and had to see what else bd594 had produced. Well, bd594 has two other links that caught my attention since had instruments talking or as speakers and a TI-99/4A in so I posted to the old tektronix scopes FB. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_HkIUk-N1I

    Then I’m just like… you’re kidding me! I couldn’t stop acting stupid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KckYd9qdorw :-|) Creative.

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