ISTE Standards & NGSS Science & Engineering Practies

Friday, March 31, 2017

Electronic Notebooks and the Internet of Things: Capstone

I recently shared my electronic, internet-connected, physical story book at Marlboro College.  The video below tells the story of my process.  

Special thanks go to Lucie deLaBruere, David Cole, Natalie Freed, Jie Qi, Silvia Libow Martinez, and Gary Stager for their inspiration and/ or encouragement.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

America First: Illuminated Pop-Up

Forgive me in advance if you are taken aback by my subject matter in this post, but sometimes art is the best way to wrangle with angst and uncertainty.  In this case, making a presidential pop-up did the trick.

I created this beauty using the principles of Robert Sabuda's Frankenstein.  I almost went so far as to make his comb-over pop-up as well, but diplomacy and my better angels won out.

And let's face it.  The outcome could have been so much more disconcerting if I'd positioned the lights where his eyes are.

When a QR code in my book is scanned, this illuminated pop-up glows steadily while a LilyPad buzzer plays the tune "This Land is Your Land" (see video).  While my subject matter may not be to everyone's liking, I take solace in the juxtaposition between a welcoming Woody Guthrie anthem (played on a tinny buzzer) and the image of a divisive wall.

My biggest take-away in constructing this pop-up was that paper circuitry may be used as more than just a tool of personal expression, but an instrument of political commentary.  I found the experience cathartic.

From a technical perspective, conductive fabric works very well for pop-ups with folds that need to bend a lot.

I used conductive fabric tape in places where the copper needed to bend.

In the future, if I'm going to continue making illuminated pop-ups, I'll need to better design my books to accommodate the added bulk.

This is the back view of the pop-up, prior to being glued down

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We the People: Illuminated Pop-Up

In my most recent experiment with paper circuit pop-ups, I scanned artwork from another page in my book and used it as a backdrop for a related image, a raised fist holding a pencil.  The new piece packs far more punch than the original.


Chibitronics Circuit Stickers

I did a better job of concealing the copper leads this time.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Statue of Liberty: Illuminated Pop-Up

Statue of Liberty 

I've been experimenting with creating light-up pop-ups, in a book controlled via a Photon microcontroller. I initially tried to light up both sides of the statue (and both sides of the book in her arms), but I ended up abandoning the idea after several failed attempts (and lots of short circuits).  It had seemed easy in theory, but it was far more fiddly than I expected.  

The copper tape, connected to the Photon, runs from the center of the book up the pop-up's arm.
Only one side of the statue lights up.
I used conductive fabric tape in the gutter.
In the end, I decided to illuminate one side the torch and a border around the pop-up.  The torch flickers like a candle, while the border glows steadily.
I overlaid a fresh piece of paper with a cut-out for the pop-up.

I haven't decided whether I want to write on this or just leave it the way it is.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wifi-Connected Book Model 2: Featuring Particle Photon

Internet Connected Book Model 2

I recently completed my second internet connected book, embedded with a Photon microcontroller.

The conductive fabric on this iteration has a more uniform look, because I made an effort to cut all of the strips the same width.  

Like the first model, I embedded a Particle Photon, LilyPad Simple Power, and an 850 mAh lithium polymer battery.  Prior to binding the book, I tested each of the copper leads with a multimeter.

I used a paper circuit, clipped to the conductive fabric with an alligator clip, to test each connection.
One significant change that I made was using stranded wire instead of copper craft wire.  I found that it was less prone to breakage, as well as being easier to twist and solder.

While I started out using the same code that I composed for my first book, I've tweaked it in a variety of ways, to achieve different effects and play different music.

Nine pages of this book are illustrated/ animated with the help of paper circuits, compared with only six in my previous model.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Light-Up Watercolor Book Instructable

If you'd like to learn how I made this blingy watercolor paper book with the light-up spine, please visit my Instructable.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Experimenting with MDF and Wooden Book Covers

Prototyping with MDF and Wood

This week, I'm working on two more book models- one using MDF and the other cherry.

Since the MDF is only 1/4" thick (and cut completely through with the laser), I glued a piece of binder's board to the back cover.

To make the MDF easier to glue, I sanded it. To minimize the odor and prevent discoloration of the cover paper, I applied gesso to the singed edges.  Luckily, the odor dissipated.

In general, I found the MDF pretty easy to work with.  I did, however, end up revising my Inkscape design by lowering the cut-out for the Photon and widening the channel for the battery wires.

Reggie Pouliot:  Carpenter Extraordinaire

When I first imagined making an internet-connected book, I imagined it with wooden covers. Unfortunately, I lack carpentry skills.

I first got in touch with Reggie Pouliot, a master carpenter, after buying one of his beautiful hand-made cutting boards at a craft store.

When I told him about my project (and explained how much I disliked the smell of MDF), he told me that he could use one of the MDF pieces I'd cut with the laser cutter as a template for a hand router!  The best thing about this was that by using a router, he could use a thicker piece of wood (3/8") and still make the 1/4" indentations for my electrical components!
The covers turned out beautifully!

Surprisingly, I learned that neither copper tape nor conductive fabric tape adhere to wood very well.  In hindsight, I should have tested this out long before I did!

This prompted me to try using Nori paste to glue paper to the wood before constructing the circuit.

The paste dried very slowly, but it worked like a charm!