Circuit Sculpture Vibration Sensor

Here’s your useful and beautiful circuit for the day — [New Pew]’s vibration sensor takes manual control of the flip-flop inside a 555 timer and lights an LED in response. Use it to detect those vibrations you expect, like laundry machines, or those you only suspect, like the kind that might be coming from your engine. This gadget isn’t super-precise, but it will probably get the job done.

The vibration-detecting bit is a tiny ball bearing soldered to the spring from an old pen, which is tied between the trigger and ground pins of the 555. When the chip is powered with a 9 V battery, nearby vibrations will induce wiggle in the spring, causing the ball bearing to contact the brass rod and completing the circuit. When this happens, the internal flip flop’s output goes high, which turns on the LED. Then the flip flop must be reset with a momentary button. Check out the build video after the break.

Want to pick up Earthly vibrations? You can detect earthquakes with a homemade variable capacitor, a 555, and a Raspberry Pi.

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Remoticon Video: Circuit Sculpture Workshop

Circuit Sculpture was one of our most anticipated workshops of Hackaday Remoticon 2020, and now it’s ready for those who missed it to enjoy. A beginning circuit sculptor could hardly ask for more than this workshop, which highlights three different approaches to building firefly circuit sculptures and is led by some of the most prominent people to ever bend brass and components to their will — Jiří Praus, Mohit Bhoite, & Kelly Heaton.

For starters, you’ll learn the different tools and techniques that each of them uses to create their sculptures. For instance, Kelly likes to use water-based clay to hold components in specific orientations while forming the sculpture and soldering it all together. Jiří and Mohit on the other hand tend to use tape. The point is that there is no right or wrong way, but to instead have all of these tips and tricks under your belt as you sculpt. And that’s what this workshop is really about.

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No Wonder These Projects Won The Circuit Sculpture Contest

There are five winners of the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture contest, and every one of them comes as no surprise, even in a tightly packed race to the top.

Beginning with the gorgeous photo above, we have [Eirik Brandal’s] waldian being named the most beautiful. Imagine this hanging on your living room wall, then head over and listen to the video demo as it’s light-actuated synthesizer chimes like distant (or maybe not so distant) church bells. This isn’t a one-off dip into circuit sculpture for [Eirik], we featured his broader body of work back in 2018, all of it worth checking out in more depth.

The glowing mask is actually made of PCB. The seams are secured with super glue bolstered with baking soda. The labor behind this one is intense. As we mention back in September, the project took place over about two years, mostly due to the sheer volume of cutting and sanding [Stephen Hawes] needed to do to bring together so many pieces. This one grabbed him the most artistic award.

[Jiří Praus] takes the top spot for best video with his luminescent RGB LED sphere. We swooned over this one when it first dropped back in December. [Jiří] shows off a combination of patience and ingenuity by using a 3D-printed mold to hold each LED while he soldered brass rod in place to serve as both electrical and mechanical support.

Speaking of molds, one of the challenges was to show off the best jig for creating a circuit sculpture. [Inne’s] Soft Soldering Jig provides the channels needed to keep crisp right angles on the brass rod as you work, with voids to position components at intersections for soldering. Drawing on the advice of numerous circuit sculpture success from people like [Mohit Bohite] and [Jiří Praus], he was looking for a way to easily position everything on a surface that would not be burnt by the soldering iron. The answer comes in the form of Silicone jigs made with 3D-printed molds.

Finally we have the Binary Calculator project which won the most functional award. While it does operate as a binary calculator, the beauty of it is not to be overlooked. Among its many attributes are a set of cherry-wood keycaps that were milled for the project and a bell-jar display stand where the calculator rests and serves as a binary clock when not in use. You may remember seeing our feature of this project last week.

As prizes, the binary calculator, orb, and wall sculpture creators will each be receiving $200 in goodies from Digi-Key who sponsored the contest and will be featuring entries in a 2021 wall calendar. Creators of the soldering jig and the PCB mask will receive a $100 Tindie gift card.

Circuit Sculpture Breathes Life Into Discrete Components

We’ve probably all given a lot of thought to breathing this year in various contexts. Though breathing is something we all must do, this simple act has become quite the troublemaker in 2020. They say the best art imitates life, and [bornach]’s Astable Exhalation certainly does that, right down to the part about astability. It’s especially interesting that the end result — breathing, visualized — is so calming, it could almost be a meditative device.

There is nary a microcontroller to be found on this circuit sculpture, which uses a pair of astable multivibrator(s) to light two sets of LEDs that represent air being inhaled and exhaled. We like that [bornach] used two sized of exhale LEDs to represent droplets and aerosols in this beautiful circuit sculpture, and we love that most of the components were scavenged from old electronics and older projects.

Our Circuit Sculpture Challenge runs until November 10th, so even if you’re waiting to take the Remoticon workshop before entering, there’s still a little bit of time to whip something up afterward in the post-con adrenaline rush phase. If you need inspiration, check out some of the other contest entries or just surf through all things circuit sculpture.

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New Contest: Circuit Sculpture Challenge

We’re bringing back one of our most popular contests, the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture Challenge! Make your functional circuits go beyond utility by turning them into art!

Solar-powered circuit sculpture by [Mohit Bhoite] which was featured last year.
Wire and circuit boards are a fantastic media for creating beautiful projects, and for this one we want both the copper and the boards (or lack of) to be part of the beauty. Your sculpture could be crisp and angular bends in brass rod, a rat’s nest of enamel wire, PCBs with organic shapes, or something completely wild. Your only constraint is that there needs to be some type of working circuit involved.

Three entries will be chosen as top winners in the Most Functional, Most Beautiful, and Best Video categories and be awarded $200 in components from Digi-Key who are sponsoring this contest and also putting together a calendar with images of the top twelve sculptures.

The Wonderlandscape by [Michael Aichlmayr] takes the “sculpture” part of Circuit Sculpture to new levels.
Tell us the story of your creation, including a deep dive into how you built the sculpture and what trial and error you went through to pull it off. Many circuit sculptures in the past have included jig-building to get the wire bends just right, so we have a fourth prize of $100 in Tindie credit for the Best Jig build.

Get your project started now on Hackaday.io and use that “Submit Project To:” button in the left sidebar of your project page to enter it in the Circuit Sculpture Challenge. You have until November 10th to submit your entry.

Tiny Circuit Sculpture Keeps The Night Watch

If you’re planning to get into circuit sculpture one of these days, it would probably be best to start with something small and simple, instead of trying to make a crazy light-up spaceship or something with a lot of curves on the first go. A small form factor doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t also be useful. Why not start by making a small automatic night light?

The circuit itself is quite simple, especially because it uses an Arduino. You could accomplish the same thing with a 555, but that’s going to complicate the circuit sculpture part of things a bit. As long as the ambient light level coming in from the light-dependent resistor is low enough, then the two LEDs will be lit.

We love the frosted acrylic panels that [akshar1101] connected together with what looks like right angle header pins. If you wanted to expose the electronics, localize the light diffusion with a little acrylic cover that slips over the LEDs. Check it out in the demo after the break.

There’s more than one way to build a glowing cuboid night light. The Rubik’s way, for instance.

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3D-Printed Tools Make Circuit Sculpture A Little Easier

Having the tools needed to do a job is a powerful thing. Having the tools needed to make more tools for doing cool things is even better, though, and that’s where [Jiří Praus] took things with this 3D-printed jig for making his blooming tulip circuit sculpture.

If you haven’t seen [Jiří]’s tulip, check out our coverage from back when he first built it. The brass wire and tube mechanism and some clever linkages let a single servo open the Neopixel-adorned petals at a touch. But what started as a one-off romantic gesture for his wife on Valentine’s Day became something more, and what was a labor of love turned into just labor very quickly. [Jiří]’s solution, explained in the brief video below, is a 3D-printed jig that holds all the wires that form the tulip petals locked into position. The wire that defines the spine of the petal goes into a groove and gets held down with removable clips. The edge wires are held by rotating clips, and the veins of the petals just lay in place in grooves. The area around each joint is hollowed out so [Jiří] can solder easily without melting the plastic jig.

The best part comes at the end, when it’s time to release the completed petal. For that, a tool with pins that looks a little like a hedgehog is inserted from below, and pins that fit into each joint’s hole pop the finished petal off. We can see how this tool would greatly increase the production of his tulips, so if that’s his goal, he’s on track.

If you’re into circuit sculpture, you’re in the right place. Check out [Mohit Bhoite]’s Supercon talk on the subject, or some more of the tools [Jiří] has come up with to improve his art.

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