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.

Bonsai LED Matrix Has Chaotic Roots

Most people don’t hand solder their surface mount LED matrices these days, and they certainly don’t do it with RGB LEDs. [fruchti] isn’t most people, has managed to grow his electronic hobby into the art form know as Bonsai.

The organic shapes of miniature trees grown over the course of decades is the ultimate indicator of patience and persistence. For those who prefer bending copper to their will rather than saplings, producing an LED tree that looks and functions this well is an accomplishment that signals clever planning and patient fabrication. The animated result is a masterpiece that took about eighteen months to complete.

There are 128 enamel-coated wires that twist into branches holding 32 RGB light-emitting diodes. Tapping into each at the base of the tree is a chaotic mess made a bit easier by a cleverly designed circuit board.

A circular petal pattern was laid out in Inkscape that includes a hole at the center for the “trunk” to pass through. The LED matrix is designed with 8 rows and 12 columns, but 24 pads were laid out so that only four wires would need to be soldered to each copper petal. Even so, look at the alligator clip holding up this PCB to get an idea of the scale of this job!

The angular base is itself made of copper clad board soldered on the inside of the seams and painted black on the outside. This hides the “petal” PCB, as well as a breakout board for an STM32 microcontroller and a power management circuit that lets you use your choice of USB or a lithium battery.

We wonder if [fruchti] has thought about adding some interactivity to his sapling. While we haven’t seen such a beautiful, tiny, creation as this, we have seen an LED tree whose lights can be blown out like birthday candles. Wouldn’t this be an excellent entry in our Circuit Sculpture challenge? There’s still a few weeks left!

Circuit Sculpture Clock Goes Pew Pew

Freeform circuit sculptures are a perfect example of the realm where electronic meets art. While many of these objects only serve aesthetic purposes, [Zachary Goode]’s X-Wing clock satisfies both form and function.

He makes no secret of the fact that his project was inspired by the works of Mohit Bhoite, one of our favorite freeform circuit artists. In particular, he wanted to make an X-Wing version of Mohit’s Tie Fighter Clock.

After sketching out the design in Fusion360, he printed out a paper stencil for each part to help him bend the pieces into the right shape. Next, he assembled the wireframe by soldering before mounting the electronics, an Arduino Nano, DS3231 RTC module, and OLED display. For special effects, he added a speaker that randomly plays engine and laser sounds and some Blinkenlights.

He also decided to include some woodworking in his project by making a walnut base which includes the USB cable for power supply and two slide switches. The latter enable him to disable the sound effects and switch to daylight saving time.

Considering that this is his first foray into freeform circuits the result is astonishingly beautiful. If you share our love for these intricate objects be sure to check out our compilation of equally appealing circuit sculptures.