[Sjaak] is back at it again with the cool PCB business cards, this time alleviating the burden to physically type his contact information into your phone. But NFC isn’t the only cool thing on this PCB – as always, his aesthetics don’t disappoint.
When we see [Sjaak’s] card, the future seems to be the now – not only do we have business cards that can take our pulse, we have business cards that actively help facilitate the exchange of contact information. I know what you’re thinking. “Business cards made of paper do that already.” That’s true if you read them. You have to physically remember you have the card (aka not put it through the wash), and, if you’re like most folks, you’ll ultimately enter the information into your cell phone’s contact list. Why not skip the whole reading thing? You know, just zap your contact information into the contact list of people automatically?
Maybe this is exactly what [Sjaak] thought when he built his NFC enabled business card. Maybe not. Regardless, [Sjaak’s] card is beautiful – both in implementation and aesthetics. Powered by “a nice little NFC EEPROM from NXP”, (the NT3H1101) the business card even has an energy harvesting mode. Moreover, one can interact with the card via four buttons and an LED. The LED informs the user what mode the card is currently in, and the buttons choose which URL is sent to users via NFC. To add icing to the cake, the back of the PCB is decked out via [Sjaak’s] custom full-color decal process we covered back in August.
As great as it looks, the card still needs some improvement. “I still need to tackle the sharp and protruding components on the front, which will ruin your wallet.” But, in our eyes, the card is surely on its way to greatness, and we look forward to seeing its final form. However, if you’re anything like us, you might want to see some other rad PCB business cards while you wait. If that’s the case, we recommend this logic based finite machine and this card made by a hackaday author.
[Sjaak], in electronic hobbyist tradition, started to design a PCB business card. However, he quickly became disillusioned with the coloring options made available by the standard PCB manufacturing process. While most learn to work with a limited color palette, [Sjaak] had another idea. PCB decals for full-color control.
As [Sjaak] realized early in his PCB journey, the downside of all PCB business cards (and PCBs in general) is the limited number of colors you can use which are dictated by the layers you have to work with: FR4, soldermask, silkscreen and bare copper. Some people get crafty, creating new color combinations by stacking layers for hues, but even that technique doesn’t come close to a full palette.
The commercial off-the-shelf out of the box solution [Sjaak] found was decal slide paper. For those of you not prone to candle making or car decorating, decals are printable plastic film that can be used to decorate ceramics, glass or other smooth surfaces. Both clear and white versions can be found in most hobby stores. Once obtained, an inkjet or laser printer can print directly onto the photo paper-like material, lending the decals an infinite range of colors.
[Sjaak] bought clear film and designed his PCB with black soldermask and white silkscreen. Once the PCBs had come in, [Sjaak] got to work applying the decals with a transfer method by placing one into water, waiting a bit until the decal lets loose and then are carefully applied to a PCB. [Sjaak] reports that the process is a bit trickery because the film is very thin and is easily crinkled. But, difficulties overcome, the PCB then needs to dry for twenty-four hours. From there, it’s into the oven for 10 minutes at 248 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius) followed by an optional clear coating. Although the process is a bit involved, judging from his pictures we think the results are worth it, producing something that would stand out; which, in the end, is the goal of a PCB business card.
With all this in mind, we think that the logical progression is to incorporate digital logic or go full DIY and CNC or laser engrave your own business card.
Hobby CNC mills have made rapid prototyping easier and faster for hackers. One really useful application is quickly fabricating your own milled PCB’s. [proto logical] built a Reference PCB Business Card using his CNC mill after repeatedly coming across other hackers who were not too convinced about the capabilities of CNC mills in routing PCB’s (also referred to as isolation milling). He thought of making a business card sized reference PCB to show around when he bumps into such folks.
To keep it useful, he included inch and centimetre scales, 0.1″ grid of holes, reference track widths from 16 mil to 66 mil, a few common drill holes and vias and some SMD foot prints. The single sided board is 50 mil thick, so it doesn’t bulk up his wallet. He’s posted the Eagle board file (direct download) and G-code (text file) for those interested in milling their own reference boards. The idea isn’t new – it’s been tried several times in different form factors in the past, generally using more traditional techniques. [proto logical] got inspiration from [Rohit Gupta’s] TinkerRule – The Maker’s Swiss Army Knife. Then there’s the very popular uRuler made by [Dave Jones] of EEVBlog fame. If you have any suggestions on improving the design, chime in with comments here.
Thanks to [ACG] for sending in this tip that he dug up while looking for CNC routed PCB’s.
Regular paper business cards are boring. They are flimsy and easily forgettable for the most part, and when stacked together or thrown in a pile, it’s hard to locate a specific one; like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Plastic cards aren’t much better either because they still fall into that ‘who cares’ category. But plexiglas business cards with laser cut etchings beautifully lit up by an LED?! Yes please.
The design was developed by Romanian engraving company called Gravez Dotro who fixed the problem of simply glancing at a business card, putting it in a wallet, and causally forgetting about it later, never to contact the person that gave it out. If someone hands away one of these though, the receiver is definitely going to remember it. The solution isn’t that high-tech and just about anyone with access to a laser cutter can make their own. It will be interesting to see what people come up with. If you feel like creating one, be sure to send us pictures. We would love to see them. Video of the design comes up after the break.
Continue reading “Laser Engraved Business Cards with LEDs”
The swivelCard Kickstarter campaign recently received a lot of press coverage and makes some impressive claims as their goal is the development of USB and NFC business cards at a $3 unit price. While most USB-enabled business cards we featured on Hackaday were made of standard FR4, this particular card is made of paper as the project description states the team patented
a system for turning regular paper into a USB drive.
As you can guess this piqued our interest, as all paper based technologies we had seen until now mostly consisted of either printed PCBs or paper batteries. ‘Printing a USB drive on regular paper’ (as the video says) would therefore involve printing functional USB and NFC controllers.
Luckily enough a quick Google search for the patents shown in one of the pictures (patent1, patent2) taught us that a storage circuitry is embedded under the printed USB pads, which may imply that the team had an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designed or that they simply found one they could use for their own purposes. From the video we learn that ‘each card has a unique ID and can individually be programmed’ (the card, not the UID) and that it can be setup to open any webpage URL. The latter can even be modified after the card has been handed out, hinting that the final recipient would go to a ‘www.swivelcard.com/XXXX” type of address. We therefore got confused by
Imagine giving your business card with pictures, videos, presentations, and websites for the recipient to interact with!
paragraph that the project description contains.
This leads us to one key question we have: what kind of USB drive can make a given user visit a particular website, given that he may have Linux, Windows, Mac or any other OS? They all have similar USB enumeration processes and different key strokes to launch a browser… our wild guess is that it may be detected as storage with a single html file in it. Unfortunately for us the USB detection process is not included in the video.
Our final question: Is it possible to embed both USB and NFC controllers in a thin piece of paper without worrying about broken ICs (see picture above)? NFC enabled passports have obviously been around for a long time but we couldn’t find the same for USB drives.
Possible or not, we would definitely love having one in our hands!
Edit: One of our kind readers pointed out that this campaign actually is a re-launch of a failed indiegogo one which provides more details about the technology and confirms our assumptions.
At the end of the month my contract with my current employer (no, not Hackaday) will end. With the interviews starting to line up I therefore thought it’d be a nice opportunity to design the PCB business card you can see in the picture above.
It is made of two PCBs soldered together, the bottom one containing the SMD components while the top one only has holes to let most of them pass through. The design was mainly inspired by the first version we already featured on Hackaday although the microcontroller was changed for the (costly) ATMega32u4 and the top PCB was slightly milled so the LEDs may shine through the FR4. The LEDs are connected in groups of 2 (total of 8 groups) to PWM channels and a hidden flash memory allows the card to be recognized as an external 2MB storage using the LUFA library. All source files may be downloaded on my website.
When your name is Simon and you want to build your own circuit board business card, it makes perfect sense to incorporate a game of Simon Says, and that’s exactly what [Simon] did with his Business Card.
You may see a resemblance to the Engineer’s Emergency Business Card; that’s because [Simon] took inspiration from that card to build his own. The game of Simon Says is played via 4 low-profile pushbuttons and 4 0805 LEDs. The microcontroller of choice to run the game is an ATtiny45 set up to work with the Arduino IDE. But with only 5 pins available for I/O, [Simon] had to give up 4 pins to the LEDs and configure the remaining pin as an analog input. The buttons are tied into a voltage divider that feeds the analog input, so depending which button is pressed, a different voltage is read in, thus a value from 0 to 1023 determines which button was pressed.
One of the great things about this write-up is that it goes through the process of etching PCBs at home using the toner-transfer method. We’re not sure how many home-etched business cards he’s willing to pass out, but surely whoever does get the card, will never forget his name.
Continue reading “A Business Card that plays Simon Says”