Introduction: Drawdio Conductive Ink Keyboard

This project was a result smashing together Bare Conductive Ink with the Drawdio Pencil. I wanted to make keyboard interface to the drawdio, so that a person could interact with it similar to a synthesizer or piano. The basic steps to building the project can be broken into a few simple steps:

1. Laser Engrave circuit traces
The first step was to design a circuit so that pushbuttons could be used to trigger the drawdio circuit. I made a very simple circuit that keeps the circuit open until the user presses down on a button and completes the circuit. I drew up the circuit on Illustrator and then used our Laser Cutter to etch the design into a piece of matte board. 

2. Inking the Circuit
Using the engraved guide, the next step is to take the conductive ink and follow the trace. Its pretty easy with the guides to ink up the circuit. Once the ink is down, you have to let it dry for about 30 minutes. The longer you can wait, the better, especially if you put a lot of the ink down. 

3. Laser Cut Keyboard
The next part to build is the keyboard that will be used to complete the circuit. It consist of 6 circles engraved into a piece of chipboard, these will be used as guides to lay the ink down. It is also cut to the exact dimension and registration as the circuit board so that the keys line up with the circuit buttons. 

4. Inking the Buttons
After laser cutting the keyboard, you can ink up the 6 button circles and wait for them to dry. 

5. Keyboard Buffer (optional)
In my first design, I design a intermediate layer to space off the keyboard from the circuit so that it was not always on and making noise. However, I found this not be necessary and the circuit does not complete until pressure is applied to the buttons. 

6. Attaching the Drawdio
This project requires that you already have built a Drawdio circuit, which is normally attached to a pencil. You don't necessarily have to use a Drawdio Circuit, but it already have a 555 Timer and Speaker built into it, so it's a convenient little kit to make some noise with. I remove the circuit board from the pencil and attach the Drawdio board to the circuit board with copper tape (which comes with the Drawdio Kit. 

7. Playing it!
Once everything is connected and assembled, you are now ready to play your new noise-making instrument. Press down on each key, or press them together to get different noises. Have fun!

Future modifications will include different amounts of conductive ink attached to each button to create a more realistic keyboard affect, making a better keyboard assembly, and making a dedicated circuit board using paper, conductive ink and a few components to get rid of the Drawdio circuit.