ISTE Standards & NGSS Science & Engineering Practies

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Peach and Purple Book with Embedded Paper Circuitry in Cover

The video above features my latest blinged-out book, a Coptic-bound journal with embedded paper circuitry components and hand-painted watercolor covers.

This is my second attempt to hide and embed the components inside of a book cover.  This iteration worked better than my first (the sparkling Sea Turtle), because I figured out that I could put the finished covers into a book press to keep them from warping if I placed a folded dishtowel between the covers and pressing boards.

Here are the guts of the front cover.  I cut holes for the microprocessor, switch, and battery.

Like the Sea Turtle book, I embedded a switch into the front cover.  While it doesn't look too intrusive, I'd like to figure out a more elegant way to do this.  I'd also like to design a book and a cover that actually tell some sort of story.

The last time I attempted a binding like this (with an embedded circuit), I discovered that there wasn't enough tension on the inside cover flap to keep the copper leads in contact with the battery.  I got around that this time by using an adhesive-backed magnet.  I think that a super thin piece of strong velcro would work equally well. You may notice that I also soldered copper disks to the positive and negative leads to ensure a better electrical connection.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Attiny85 Light Sensor Works!

Forgive my exuberance, but I finally got a photo-resistor to work with my Attiny85, creating the light sensor that I've been trying to figure out for days!

I now have my first programmed paper circuit that is activated by light.

Once I had the resistors in place (something that I'd failed to do the first time I attempted this), my biggest obstacle was figuring out how to code it properly.  Surprisingly, the code was almost identical to that of the sound sensor: only the value read by the sensor was different.

Now that I have a better understanding of how this works, I am really excited to integrate this into a project!

Here's what the circuit looks like.
Here is the code.

The LED blinks when I cover the photo resistor.

Sound Sensor Triggered Paper Circuit

Sugar skulls and sensors have captivated my interest lately.  The video above features my latest paper circuit (another prototype for a potential book cover), powered by triggering a Chibitronics sound sticker sensor. Originally, I'd set out to see if I could use a surface mounted light sensor to trigger the lights on my circuit, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do it without the use of a serial monitor.  Perhaps, I'm making it more difficult than it needs to be; but, I keep hitting roadblock after roadblock.  I can get a photo-resister to work on a regular Arduino board, but I haven't been able to replicate it on an Attiny85.

Update:  I got a light sensor to work!

In any case, getting the sound sensor to work was a breakthrough in and of itself!

Although I am happy with the outcome, I must admit that it took me a couple of days of exploration and failure to get the code to actually work!  My first attempt was a disaster, resulting in my having to cut the Attiny85 off the paper after I'd soldered it down.

Lessons Learned:
1.  I really need to start using my multimeter.
2.  Don't solder your microprocessor until you've verified that the code works.
3.  Not all surface mounted LEDs are created equally.  The super bright ones available from SparkFun are my personal favorite.
4.  Naming the analog pins works differently when using a sensor.  For example, what I'd normally refer to as "Pin 4" is called "A2" in the code (something that I'd like to better understand).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day of the Dead: Paper Circuits

The image below, my first prototype, only blinks.
Day of the Dead Paper Circuit

Taking inspiration from my Arizona roots, I've been drawing and illuminating sugar skulls, with the idea of using the design for a book cover.

The vine/video features a paper circuit that has some LEDs blinking
while others fade.  I've sped it up here, because it's much slower in real life (and quite creepy in the dark).  I ended up using "for loops" to achieve this effect.

This is my less than elegant circuit.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Puttering with Paper Circuits: The Sea Turtle Book is Finished

My Completed Book!


This is the first book that I've made, integrating an Attiny85 into the design!  To see an explanation of how I constructed the circuit, you may visit an earlier blog post.

I cut out parts of the cover board to inlay the microprocessor, a battery, and a switch. As predicted, the front cover is a bit lumpy.  I'm not sure how durable it will be, considering I did not inlay the copper tape or LEDs.

I sewed the covers using a Coptic stitch.

While I am happy that the experiment worked, especially the switch, I am still trying to come up with a work-around that allows access to the battery. While there is currently a flap of paper on the inside of the cover that leads to the battery, there isn't enough tension on the copper tape connections to eliminate the need for a paper clip.

Although the thin white watercolor paper allows the lights to shine through, I am not a huge fan of the way that the colored pencil looks.  I added a glitter glaze to try to jazz it up, but I am still craving deeper colors. This is a sentiment shared by my daughter, for whom I made this book.

I'm wondering whether I might next try cutting a hole in a more vibrant cover material and attempting to hide the circuit with a tissue paper collage.

I had a great deal of difficulty in the early stages of creating the circuit.  Because I used a copper tape that doesn't have a conductive adhesive backing, I had to do a lot of soldering.  Because I inadvertently missed some wonky connections early on, I had to spend a great deal of time problem-solving in order to fix the resulting breaks in the voltage flow.  I really need to learn how to use my multimeter!

I need a better way to conceal the battery, while allowing access to it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Puttering Around with Paper Circuits (Again)

I am having way too much fun playing with copper tape, LEDs and Attiny85 microprocessors!

Right now, I'm in the process of designing a book cover featuring a sparkling sea turtle, as a gift for my daughter.  I've begun prototyping it, but I'm still trying to work out where the battery and microprocessor will go.

I'm also trying to determine whether I can adhere artwork over the circuit using PVA glue.  I'm not worried about the LEDs, but I am worried that the cover will look lumpy in areas where the paper comes in contact with bumps of solder.  For the time being, this remains a work in progress.  To see my progress, please visit this related blog post.

My messy circuit.

Here's my rough sketch.  I used adhesive address labels between the traces to keep them from touching in areas where they overlap.