Chibitronics! Instructables was kind enough to sponsor a Chibitronics build night for us and so we had the opportunity to incorporate it into some of our projects. There isn't as much documentation about how to use it as we would have liked, but we at least figured out how to get some LEDs blinking!
So from the Dremel Instructable, I had written the following instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Fairy-Light-Ma... and it used up my one string of fairy lights. I decided to take it out but then I was left with a jar of wooden leaves. I still wanted it to glow somewhat like fireflies.
Chibitronics is this fascinating idea of putting circuits on stickers, and using copper clad tape to act as the wires. This allows you to make some gorgeous designs while making a functional circuit - schematic art if you will.
I'll include a rule of working with Chibitronics in each step and hopefully it'll help you as you use it!
Step 1: Design Your Jar!
So I love it when function follows form, because then I get the chance to design first, engineer later. And that's what I did, I just made a design on the jar that looked neat to me. The Chibitronics copper tape is fairly sturdy to manipulation.
Rule/Suggestion: Remember to cut the copper tape halfway lengthwise before taking off the tape backing.
Step 2: Decide Your + and -
So the Chibitronic LEDs look like little triangles. The wide bottom is the + side of the LED and the point of the triangle is the - side. So I looked at the different lines that I had in my design and chose which lines I wanted to connect to the + sides of the LEDs and which ones I wanted to connect to the - sides of the LEDs. Be careful not to make a line do BOTH + and -!
Rule/Suggestion: The LED is conductive on both the top and the bottom. So if you stick it on top of copper tape, it will work as well as if you soldered wires or use conductive thread through the LED pads.
Step 3: Connect Your + to + and - to - Lines
Just like in a breadboard or in a schematic, your + lines should be connected to each other, and likewise your - lines should be connected to each other. With my design, the easiest way to do this was under the jar where no one would see the connections. So I connected the + lines together and - lines together and used small slips of the tape backing to put between the + and - lines where they overlapped.
Rule/Suggestion 1: The bottom of the copper tape is not conductive. Each time there is a break in the tape, and want to connect the pieces of tape, the best way would be to solder between the two pieces. Because it's copper, it solders super easily!
Rule/Suggestion 2: Even though the bottom of the copper tape is not conductive, it is good practice to put a little piece of paper between the + and - lines if they overlap under the jar.
Step 4: Add Your Effect of Choice!
In the effects packs, there are 4 different effects (I hate using the word in its definition but for once, the name of the effect actually reflects what it does:
- Fade - the LED fades in and out
- Blink - the LED blinks off and on
- Twinkle - the LED twinkles, it's really quite a nice twinkle
- Heartbeat - my favorite since I used to be a cardiac surgery nurse!
Rule/Suggestion: These effects are also in the shape of a triangle but have three pads, one in each corner. One corner on the base of the triangle is for the + power rail (or + side of the battery), and the other corner on the base of the triangle is for the - power rail (or - side of the battery). These, like the LED stickers, are conductive on their undersides as well as top. The pointy end of the triangle is where the signal/direction comes from. So you'll want to put this on the + side of the LED (or the flat end of the LED triangle).
http://chibitronics.com/effects-sticker-tutorial/ <-- for an example of how to set it up.
I happened to add the twinkle one, because it brings the sentimental side out in me :p. And very conveniently, the dip on the underside of the mason jar allowed me to do just that without causing the jar to tilt or be off balance.
Step 5: Power It Up!
Now that I have the stickers and LEDs set up where I want them, it's time to actually power it up. Now, the kits come with 3V lithium batteries, which is fine and all, but I know that I want this jar to outlive the batteries. So I used a junked wallwart power supply at 5v 500mA.
I cut the end plug off, stripped the wires, and put the + side to the + input of the effects sticker, and the - side to the - input of the effects speaker.
I added some solder to reinforce the wires to the sticker, and plugged it in.
Bam! It lit up!
Rule/Suggestion: The lights are quite bright at 5v, which is fine. Facing towards you they shine bright white. However, when you look at them THROUGH the mason jar, they look yellow-ish, much like a firefly light. So if you want to do the copper design on the inside of the jar and have the LEDs show up as yellowish, you'll want to put the LEDs on the inside of the jar.
Step 6: Enjoy!
And voila! You have a jar with a neat design and can light up your room!