Instructables
Introduction
I've enjoyed the fruits of Instructables as a member since 2007 and thought it was time to contribute to this wonderful community.  With that, I present you an Instructable on how to design and build your own functional art!

I really feel the need to start with a quote:
Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. -Steve Jobs



Since the beginning of quality art, artists have layered in technique and meaning, alike, in their pieces.  It's wonderful, and each viewer derives their own meaning in each viewing.

However, in our modern era, I've chosen (as have others) to be a little more literal with the layering.  In fact, I like to refer to anyone within proximity of these pieces not as "viewers", but "users".  That is, the piece responds to you, just as you respond to it.

Alright, that's enough intro, head over to step 1!  :)

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Design
How about we get started designing?  Lets begin with materials.  As a computer technician, I was able to collect various (broken) motherboards so this will be one of my primary mediums.  I love repurposing material, especially when it was never intended to be used in its newfound manner.  I encourage everyone to recycle old plastic, wood, paper, carpet, and any part you salvage from the trash can.  Just be sure to give it a nice cleaning, beforehand.  :)

When I designed this piece, I wanted something that was beautiful during the day and came alive at night (or when the lights dimmed).    I decided on a LED marquee.  Doing some research, I found various methods that could achieve this: arduino, pre-made matrixes, custom-from-scratch builds, etc.  Ultimately, I decided on using the hardware/code found in NerdKits Marquee LED Array.  In turn, this gave me a scalable 21x5 matrix that I could work with.  There are tons of ways to achieve this and I encourage you to find what fits you and your budget best.  I had never created an LED marquee before so don't let it scare you.


Material recap:
Approximately 10 motherboards
1 - 4x2 (or wider) backing mdf/plywood
Approx 55' of 1/8" Basswood strips (2" deep or larger if you want to cut down, as I did).
Hardware: (threaded rod, nuts)

Estimated Costs:
Bolts/Nuts - $10
MDF - $10
Basswood - $60
Recycled Material (I chose motherboards) - $0
Electronics - $135
Total - $215
Stunning! Your project demonstrates great care to detail and bringing a vision to fruition. More 'ibles from you, please!
jsrook (author)  herquiltness1 year ago
Thank you for the kind words! I have several projects around the house begging to be posted! Definitely will make an effort to get a few more up in the near future.
Conas1 year ago
That's awesome! Way to go. This is also a very nice and detailed Instructable for your first go, keep em coming
jsrook (author)  Conas1 year ago
Thanks!! I really appreciate it! Definitely will be posting more in the near future.
jhatchett21 year ago
Happen to have any video of the finished product? Looks awesome!
jsrook (author)  jhatchett21 year ago
Thanks!!  I admit, the original submission didn't contain a video, but after realizing my omission I've since updated the posting  (see below or see step 8).  

Note: my camera isn't the best so I had to turn down the lights a bit.  In reality, the conditions required for viewing are similar to how you'd set the lights to comfortably watch TV.


Thanks again!
Iotfs1 year ago
Very nice piece of art. I didn't realize motherboards were so colorful!
jsrook (author)  Iotfs1 year ago
Thank you! I only used my favorites in this project.  Trust me, I have some seriously ugly, dead motherboards that I don't know what to do with.  But you're right, they can definitely be colorful!
mr_bandit1 year ago
Nice project. Seems like the best effect is with somewhat dim ambient light.

Seems like you can get #8 screws, nuts, washers in boxes of 100's for not that much. I would assume for under $20 for all of the hardware, 2 screws per board on the diagonals.

Nice selection of mother boards. Second the eye/lung/skin protection. The boards are fiberglass with copper traces, so you have shards of both flying around, not to mention the components with metal, lead, plastic, and hunks of high-tech glass.
jsrook (author)  mr_bandit1 year ago
Thanks! And you are correct. A quality alternate to motherboards would use a translucent material. For this project, the final product works best in dim ambient light. I'll see if I can record & upload a video of it in action in the near future.

All bolts and nuts costs were well under $20. I scoured the internet and found the best prices for each and have plenty left over. And I made the update to the instructable regarding eye/lung/skin protection.
cypher5431 year ago
You should probably put a warning here: If you cut PCBs without wearing lung and eye protection, you're gonna have a bad time.
jsrook (author)  cypher5431 year ago
Excellent point. I have made this mistake before (not with this project, fortunately) and I spent the next 24 hours with a nasty dry cough. I'll add it to the "cut" section. Thanks!
Awesome! I've always wanted to display circuit boards as art.

GM
jsrook (author)  GorillazMiko1 year ago
Thank you!