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How to Go Postal

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How to make your own PCB on free postal labels using conductive ink, epoxy and a few parts. By PCB I mean, Post-Circuit Board: as in enter the age of circuits painted on walls. And also because its on postage. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor law nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their self-appointed rounds. Lets all Go Postal.

Another old project out of the dust bin of 2006 from the Graffiti Research Lab and The Eyebeam OpenLab.

Confront your fear of the hi-res video by clicking here.



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Step 1: The Ways and Means

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The essential ways and means to build a PCB:

1. a USPS Priority Mail postal label
2. a multimeter
3. 5-minute epoxy
4. conductive epoxy
5. conductive paint or ink
6. fine tip paint brush
7. copper tape
8. Whatever specific electronic components you need for your circuit.

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Step 2: Circuit and Sticker Design

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This instructable will detail one way to put a blinking LED circuit on postage, fabric, wood and other surfaces. But there's a lot of potential for what could be made using these materials and techniques and a world of simple circuits in textbooks and on the internet to try out. The conductive paint and ink will add resistance so you may need to experiment and tweak component values to get the effect you want. We've included some images and video of other examples including a traffic lite sticker and an homeage to Above created by Fred Zyda in the guerilla studios @ SIGGRAPH that uses timer and decadal counter ICs.



These are the parts we use to create a 555 timer-based flashing LED circuit:

1. 47k resistor (R1)
2. 100k resistor (R2)
3. 400 Ohm resistor (R3)
4. 10uf capacitor (C1)
6. 2 3 Volt DC CR2032 or better lithium batteries
7. 10mm 3 volt, 30mA LED (of any color)
8. 555NE timer IC Chip

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What is it supposed to do though
me_sumit23 days ago

It is good idea to have circuit like this. Instead of using real circuit board.

westfw7 years ago
Someone should experiement with the various powdered conductive substances to come up with a formula for "conductive enough" paint that costs less than $150/quart...
it has a little more resistance, but regular pencil graphite works well. from what i've found, the harder the graphite the least resistance.
Q-Branch (author)  westfw7 years ago
true dat to a DIY recipe. While trying to ship or buy this stuff in Norway I found a company in the U.K. that would try to match the formula and sell it as a multi-part powder to mix. I'll try to dig up that link.
trying to find any shop that sells electrical components here in Norway is next to impossible :( (this part of Norway anyway). My components box is made entirely of harvested parts mainly.
jianqiang5 years ago
Oi, was wondering what the song was in the first video. cool stuff, keep it up.
Fyat jianqiang3 years ago
Agreed , I have no clue what so ever either been waiting just as long for an answer
is the resistor sticker yours
agis685 years ago
Ok but so.me comments -for how long gonna be working this with so little V/A -Too expensive for sparing money on the streets - Too exposed in malicious manipulations and weather - What's the necessity of this? I realy couldn't get it....
raikut5 years ago
but how long the circuit will operate with 2 * CR2032 batteries, I doubt????
agdollison5 years ago
so damn expensive
Gjdj36 years ago
So... how did this work out? Anyone get arrested? Nice job. 5 Stars.
RevZ7 years ago
Q, I have a question for you. I'm going to buy some parts to make a PCB like this, but I stumbled upon two (maybe important) matters: (For your information, I will get the parts online from Conrad, so maybe you can look for the right parts for me) 1. The only elco's I can find are either 10µF 63V or 10UF 16V for a SMD elco. 2. how many watts do the resistors need to be? i can choose either carbon-layer resistors or metal-layer resistors, and i can choose from 1/10 Watt to 1Watt. Thanks in advance for your help, this is great stuff!!
imarzouka RevZ6 years ago
The resistor wattage is calculated based on the current and voltage going through them. Check out this calculator it will do that calculations for you
http://ledcalculator.net
servant74 RevZ7 years ago
Given these circuits, the smallest resistor wattages you can find will be OK. (1/10W is fine, I like to keep 1/8W around for misc stuff, and get larger when I need them).
kadris3 RevZ7 years ago
about any electrolitic will work as long as the voltage is 3x the supply voltage. observe polarity. long lead is plus+ just like the led. get the cheapest. i use 1/2 watt resistors almost exclusively, but a 1/4 watt is more than adequate. draw on the led is 20 mils at 3v. almost no pwr
kadris3 RevZ7 years ago
while building is cool, leds already exist w the flashing chip built in. all u need is the led itself. these come in white, blue, red, and the multi-color r/g/b/ flashing leds. i can't knock building though. i have been doing it fr years. love it. i use little squares of circuit board, routed out w a brand x dremmel tool. stuff left are the traces. drill the holes and stuff and solder. funfun.
P=VI
Watts = Voltage x Amps
mia.3056 years ago
I am not that savy with circuits and what not I did find these www.flashingblinkylights.com/jadejadeblinkingpins-p-1041.html in my usual daily searches. The batts only last 8 hours according to the site, can these have battery life extended.
cruz16 years ago
so are these labels also pipebombs? man, stupid people are stupid
This looks like a super awesome way to get put in jail. Regular graffiti lands you in jail for the night, this shit makes you look like a terrorist. Once you start involving blinking lights and makeshift wiring cops aren't going to give a fuck how artsy fartsy you think you are.
Amen. Blinking lights have no place in a post-9/11 world.
"Blinking lights have no place in a post-9/11 world"
Wow! That has to be one of the saddest things I've ever heard :-(
Agreed. There is plenty of space for blinky lights in this world. I doubt a real bomb has ever had blinky lights on it, unless it was made by a kid to show off to his friends. Post-9/11 world? Try post-9/11 USA... the rest of the world is doing just fine, thank you. Police overreaction to stuff like this is just that, dumb cops thinking they are hot shit. Nothing to do with "the state of the world".
I agree but, where do you live?
Thanks to this instructable, you can install blinky lights in the bunker under your back yard. We can't do much to pretty up a bunker mentality though, sorry. :(
lmao, I bet your saying "see told ya so" after yesterdays events.
Brennn106 years ago
I do not know about you, but in today's society, most people will think that is a bomb if you put it in to the public.
locofocos6 years ago
I know there are certain Christmas (gasp : ) ) tree light bulbs that you replace a normal one with at the beginning of the string and it makes all the lights, including itself, blink. I'd like to see someone make a throwie from one of those.
dataphool7 years ago
I have been out of the industry for 28 years, so I did not know conductive epoxy was available. Can you get it at RadioShack? That is a standard US Post Office postcard? The USPO doesn't provide anything esoteric, does it? Looks like a really neat idea.
tenex7 years ago
OPM says: the old Polaroid film had its own flat paper battery to 'develope' the picture. This was the part of the photo that you threw away. If Kodak still makes this stuff, a cheap(?) power source might be availble. I've gone digital, so I've lost track.
lemonie tenex7 years ago
Kodak had a surplus of these some years ago, they built a cheap torch around them to shift 'em. The design of the thing was awful, having to fit around a cell which was (very roughly) 50x70 mm. These batteries (they drove the motor & flash) extracted from Polaroid film-cartridges used to have a fair amount of charge left in them, plenty for LEDs anyway.
kix7 years ago
luvverly job. would paint more elaborate shapes of circuit.... mmmhh.
samurai12007 years ago
I freaking love your guys' work. Just getting into DIY electronics myself (and being a street artist), this is perfect. Keep up the good shit, GRL!
crapflinger7 years ago
i know it's not as "fun" or "l337"..but couldn't you just use the copper tape to make your traces as well? same effect (i would think slightly "prettier") with less cost? also wouldn't it have less resistance than the conductive paint?
Q-Branch (author)  crapflinger7 years ago
Yes you can def use the copper tape to make the traces. I guess the appearance is a matter of taste, but I like the look of the copper tape myself. We made this:

http://graffitiresearchlab.com/?page_id=51#video

using copper tape under paint as the traces. The tape isnt too cheap. It ranges from tens to hundreds of dollars per ~ 60 yards depending on the conductivity and quality. The problem with the copper tape is that the cheaper stuff isnt conductive on both sides so you have to double it over to make connections between pieces of tape. On certain brands of copper tape the adhesive is actually conductive as well. This is problematic in that if you pull it up you lose conductivity. Also the adhesive is subject to changes based on temp and humidity, etc.

technick297 years ago
Sweet instructable! Very detailed and creative. Good job.
Crash21087 years ago
Kind of like my printed PCBs idea.
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