Recently I talked with Jie Qi for her PhD research about the use of her Chibitronics electronics stickers. My workshop that created collaged images incorporating paper circuits and LED stickers caught her eye last fall and when I met with her at World Maker Faire NYC last September she asked if I would be willing to talk to her for her research. We had an inspiring conversation that led to this project that incorporates the Chibitronics ATTiny85 microcontroller sticker and yellow LED stickers.
I started by constructing the ATTiny85 Microcontroller template. It helped me understand the wiring of the microcontroller. I also discovered that one of the pads was configured as a replay. You could tap a sequence on the "touch sensor" and the LED would repeat the pattern! So awesome! I decided to build my project around this function and ignore the others.
After brainstorming ideas about how the project would be housed, I decided to riff on the sticker and paper theme and house the project in a "book safe." I wanted the artwork housed within the book to mimic fireflies in a tree and use the replay feature of the ATTiny85 to make the fireflies flash a sequence of lights.
I used the LogoTurtle to produce the artwork for the project. I returned to the tree design I adapted for an earlier project.
The leaves were made from a design made of 360 degree arcs with radii that increase by 10 with each repetition of the procedure. I used the Windfire Designs Circle Tool and an X-Acto knife to remove the negative space from the design.
The Chibitronics ATTiny85 microcontroller sticker is housed in the container in the back of the book. First, I constructed a paper battery holder.
The microcontroller was added next to the battery. Conductive copper tape connected the microcontroller to the circuitry built through the book.
I needed to correct some of the "wiring" but eventually got it straight. The ATTiny85 template was helpful to work with next to the book.
All the junctures in the copper tape were soldered to maintain as much continuity through the circuit as possible. Additionally, generous blobs of conductive silver ink were added at the points on the copper tape where it gets folded. Should these junctures fail, conductive fabric and z tape patches seem the way to repair these junctures.
Two of the LED stickers were soldered to copper wire. The wire was soldered to the copper tape circuitry.
A third LED sticker was stuck to the back of one of the arcs and connected to the circuit with copper tape. The copper tape was soldered to the sticker as well as the book circuitry.
The two copper pads on the first page, pictured above, are the touch sensor for the ATTiny85 microcontroller sticker. Tapping a sequence on the touch sensor sets a pattern for the LEDs. The pattern can be simple or complex.
I love the ease with which one can build light up paper circuits using the Chibitronic LED stickers. The addition of the ATTiny85 microcontroller sticker opens some interesting creative doors for future projects. I really appreciate how easy it is to add different complex interactive features to the circuit and the LEDs. I enjoyed exploring a paper craft in this project but being able to incorporate some advance (for me) electronics so easily. Not needing to program the ATTiny85 at this point was a boon and greatly simplified the project for me.
I am very happy with the way this project turned out. It is a fine example of my work that explores the intersection of crafting and technology.