Introduction: Interactive Instructables Identicard
Hey everyone, I'm headed to Maker Faire this weekend! Or, if you're reading this after May 22, 2011, either I'm planning my visit for next year, or I'm fighting off the Hordes of the Beast in a post-rapturous hellscape.
I'm relying on the largess of the company I work for to get me down to SF for the weekend, so I couldn't really fill my bags with the projects I've built or am building. Still, I didn't want to show up at Maker Faire as just another guy in a Robot t-shirt. I wanted some way for my adoring fans to recognize me.
The idea I've hit on is a name tag, based around my profile playercard and the projects I'm known for (assuming I'm known). Read on to learn how it was made, and make one for yourself! I'd love to see Instructablers (Instructapeople? Instructapersons? Iblites?) wearing one of these or just a printout of their own playercard pinned on their shirts!
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Materials
This is another project like my last one that's largely built from dollar store items. Here's a list of what you'll need from there:
2 Light Up Yoyo Balls (the self retracting kind)
1 Set of headphones in a clear plastic case (or similar, it's the case you're really after)
1 Saftey pin (although I bought 200 for a buck)
3-4 Zip ties
1 Kabob skewer
Stuff that didn't come from the dollar store
Good quality clear tape
Neodymium magnets and flat steel (optional, see step 8)
Step 2: Build Your Spring Loaded Rollers
Okay, fun time! Take apart your yoyo balls. What you are after is the inner shell, the spindle, and the spring.
This is pretty simple, but actually fairly time consuming to do. I used my dremel for this step, I don't know of a better way to cut plastic. You will need to remove the spring from where it is attached to the inner shell. Next, cut out a small circle around each of the holes for the spindle, each circle of plastic should be close to the same size.
Take one of the plastic circles, again using the dremel but with a small boring bit, drill two tiny holes near one edge. Thread the end of the spring through this hole and cinch it off.
With a piece of some sort of scrap plastic, cut several strips that are the width you want for your rollers, mine were about 1-1/2" wide.
Using hot glue, attach the plastic strips to the plastic circles. Don't use too much glue or you'll gum up the spring and the roller. After the glue sets, use a bit of epoxy to permanently secure things and let the rollers dry overnight.
Step 3: Build the Case
Using the case from your cheap-o dollar store earbuds (don't put these in your ears, they suck), you will need to seat the rollers.
Cut a groove just large enough to fit the roller ends in each side of the case, once at the top of the case and once at the bottom. Make the grooves at the bottom a little shallower, so the roller won't go quite as deep into the case. Place each roller in its grooves, hot glue them, then add epoxy to make it permanent.
To allow room for the rollers to work, you will need to make sure the cover doesn't go all the way down. Use spacers on each side of the case to offset the cover. I used cut lengths of zip ties, as they are thin, strong, and uniform in width, which allowed me to get the right width on each side of the case.
Cut a slit in the bottom of the case, wide enough to let your lists of instructables to pass through. I ended up widening mine several times to make things smoother, so start out with it pretty wide.
While you let everything dry, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Prepare Your Playercard
Prepare You Playercard
Apologies to Mac users, but I am not a fan of Apple and I don't know software specifics about them. I work on an old compaq laptop running Windows XP most of the time (once you see that emoticon, I swear you can never un-see it), therefore all of my instructions are going to be for that machine, though I'm sure with a little work you can figure out how to do all this on a Mac. Linux people, you're on your own but I'm sure you'll do fine.
First off, download and install a piece of free software called MWSnap. Make sure to kick a couple of bucks to the author of that program, it's very handy and easy to use. Once it's ready and running, head of ther instructables.com.
From your "You" page, click the "View Profile" link at the bottom left. This is where we'll get all the images for use with this Indenticard. I wanted the image as large as possible to work with, so I hit CTRL-Scroll Wheel and zoomed in until everything was really big (you can use CTRL-+ if you don't have a scroll wheel). If you've got MWSnap going in the background, just hit SHIFT-CTRL-D and it will take a full screen shot of your computer.
Save that file somewhere, and open it up with Paint. I use paint 'cause it's quick and easy and intuitive, not crazy expensive like photoshop and not incomprehensible like Gimp. Crop the playercard and open that as its own file. Go into image attributes and see how big the card is. If you've got the same headphone case I have, you want the file to be 184 pixels wide by 256 tall. If it's not, do a little math and use the stretch/skew option to resize the image where you need it to be. For example, if the image you end up with is 500 pixels wide, you divide 184 by 500, that will give you the percent to stretch/skew it to get it down to the right size.
I wasn't happy with the image quality of my moon avatar (I took that myself, by the way--has anyone ever noticed it's upside down?) I grabbed the original image and shrunk it down to fit on the card.
I did this next bit after the fact (it was my second iteration). Once you've got the card to the size you want, increase the image size, recenter the card, use the eyedropper tool to grab the orange color, and then bucket fill all the white. That way, once you print the card you can just trim it down to size and not worry about keeping the borders true.
If you do your printing through Paint, it will keep the size exactly where you want it to be. So, print that off in Best Photo quality, set it aside for now, and move to the next step.
Step 5: Prepare Your Instructables Lists
Again using MWSnap, I took shots of my profile page, this time with the detail centered on the list of my instructables. I took one shot of them sorted by recent, and another sorted by views.
Using Paint again, I took the top five from each list (omitting one from the views list that was already in the recent list) and created a long image about 1 1/4" wide (132 pixels according to Paint). Each of these fit nicely on a single 8.5x11 sheet of paper, so I printed them off in best photo quality.
You'll also need labels for each list, so print off the words "Popular" and "Recent" (in orange, of course!), with plenty of blank space around each word.
Cut out each list, but leave some space at the bottom. Wrap a piece of kabob rod in that space, hot glue it in place and tape it off around back. Cut out the appropriate word (popular or recent) and attach that to the bottom of the list. Tape everything up securely, you don't want it to break off when someone pulls it!
At this point the lists are ready to be attached.
Step 6: Attach the Lists to the Rollers
This step is tricky and a big pain. Turn one of the rollers as if you were winding the yoyo ball string out. This will place lots of tension on the spring. Keep winding, you want a lot of tension or it won't wind your lists back in well. I had to redo the whole thing once, I recommend you don't repeat my mistake, but don't do it until the spring breaks.
Before you start winding, have several pieces of tape already cut off and ready to use, a strip of paper about as wide as your lists but only about half as long, and a couple of pieces of kabob rod, wider than the hole in the bottom of the case.
Once you've got the spring wound tight, slip a piece of paper through the hole, up and behind the roller. Attach it securely with the tape, and also tape the kabob rod to the bottom. When you let it go, if all went well it should wind back up tight and the kabob rod should prevent it from going all the way in. Repeat for the other roller.
When that's done, pull one of these dummy lists all the way out as far as it will go and cut most of it off. Tape the actual list to the end. Use plenty of tape, this is a weak point in the design! Repeat for the other side. If all has gone well, the lists should retract smoothly into the case!
Step 7: Finish Off the Cover
All that remains is to finish the cover and insert the playercard. Cut out a piece of paper so that it roughly matches the shape of the cover. Trim it down until it exactly fits inside.
Put some glue on the tops of the zip ties attached to the case. Drop that inside the cover with the paper in place, so that the paper is glued to the zip ties.
Once that has dried, use it as a template to cut out your playercard. Now you will be able to place your playercard inside the cover and have it held in place by the paper attached to the zip ties.
Step 8: Finish the Back
With hot glue, attach a safety pin to the back, then epoxy it in place.
If you want, you can also glue/epoxy some strong magnets to the back. This adds a little more strength, as you place a small piece of steel on the inside of your shirt with the magnets on the other side.
Once the epoxy has dried, you're done!
Step 9: Final Thoughts
This was a surprisingly large amount of work! I've had this idea bumping around in my brain ever since I realized I was going to make it to the Faire. When I actually sat down to build the thing, reality set in and it was not quite as I originally envisioned it! It still works the same as I thought, but it was a lot more difficult to figure out than I thought it would be.
Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts! Comment, rate, like me on facebook and of course follow me, because I've always got more in the works. This is my "Over the Hill" instructable, I guess I'm an old man around here now. Also, I wrote most of this on the plane down here, so could this be the first instructable written at 35,000 feet?
I hope I see you all at Maker Faire!