Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paper Circuitry

Project: Hack #2 for the Tinker, Make, & Learn MOOC.  
The Challenge: Hack A Notebook
Until I read up on this, I had no idea that "Hack Your Notebook" was actually a nationwide event focused on paper circuitry.  This STEM learning event was held last summer and brought makers from around the country together.  The purpose? Get participants working with electronic components in an accessible, craft-based way.  

Comfortable with crafts and hoping for do-a-bility, I got really excited about this make.  I had never tried anything like it and I admit, I found myself a bit afraid to try (though I am not sure why!?!)  After watching several videos, including this gem on Tapetricity, I grabbed a high school junior who happened to be walking down the hallway and asked him to try it with me before I introduced it to my middle school friends.  We ended up quite successful. Not only were we able to make my project light up, we showed a middle school student what we did and he made his project light up too.

3V Watch Battery (available in packs of 2 at Dollar Tree and located with the AA and AAA batteries)
Conductive Tape (I could not find copper tape, so I used foil tape from the plumbing section of Home Depot.)
LED light (Look for products at the dollar store that utilize these bulbs. I snagged a garden light that had 3 bulbs that I could use.)
Craft Supplies

Here is how we did it:
1] The foil tape is almost 2 inches wide (way too big for what we needed). We cut a 6" strip into thirds, so that we had three 6" long strips to use.

2] After drawing, cutting, and gluing our artwork, we gently pushed the legs of our LED lights into the portion of the paper we wished to illuminate.

3] We laid one of the 6" strips across the back of the paper being careful to ensure just one of the legs of each of our LED lights could open to lay across the tape.

4] Next, we laid a second strip of tape (close enough to the first one, but not touching), so that the LED lights' other leg could lay across this piece of tape. The second strip of tape needs to gently curve to meet the first strip. (The first time I tried it, I made a sharp right angle to join the two pieces of lights did not work.)
5]  We then tested our lights with the battery.We needed to determine which LED leg should touch the positive side of the battery and which leg should touch the negative. Since, it matters, we made sure that both lights were pointed in the right direction before we taped everything into place.

6]  We used clear tape to secure the legs of the LEDs and the battery to the foil tape. My middle school friend was actually making his project for someone else and he did not want the battery to run out of juice before he delivered his project, so he left a little wiggle room between the battery and the tape and then wrote "push here" on the front of his creation.  By pushing as indicated, the recipient of his card will make the contact between the battery and the tape thus making the contact to illuminate the lights.

It turns out that it is pretty easy to hack a notebook... or in this case, a birthday card!

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