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Paper Electronics: Make Interactive, Musical Artwork with Conductive Ink

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Picture of Paper Electronics: Make Interactive, Musical Artwork with Conductive Ink
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If you've ever wanted to bring a piece of paper to life, now is your chance. This instructable will take you through all the necessary steps to create an amazing interactive flyer or artwork. This event flyer is no ordinary piece of print. It is printed using Bare Conductive ink. This means that when it is brought along to the event it can be plugged in and transformed into a musical instrument!

The large printed circle acts as a distance sensor allowing you to control the pitch of the audio while the three printed circles along the bottom act as buttons allowing you to control the frequency.

This instructable will show you not only how to create the flyer with conductive ink, but also how to create the hardware and cable. 

Below is a video of it in  action (this is also going through some fun audio effects on stage)...


 
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Step 1: Create the Flyer

Picture of Create the Flyer
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Before you go crazy with your conductive ink, there are a few constraints to your artwork.

1. There must be four separate sections of conductive ink. One acts as a distance sensor and will eventually control the pitch of the audio. This part of the artwork should ideally be as large as possible as the larger it is, the more sensitivity the sensor will have. The other three sections  will act as buttons that will allow us to control the frequency of the audio and don't need to be as large. It is important that none of these sections touch each other.

2. The four sections should have traces (a painted/printed line no thinner than 1mm) taking them to the edge of the paper terminating in a 5mm x 5mm square of ink. These squares of ink should be side by side with a 5mm gap in-between. This is clearly shown in the image of my print on the bottom right hand corner. This print was A5 in size.

When it comes to creating your artwork it doesn't really matter how you do it, but the two easiest ways are to either paint by hand or to screen print. Screen printing means that not only do you get a high quality print, but you can print as many as you like easily.

Painting is easy, just remember to follow the constraints above.

Screen printing with Bare Conductive is a little trickier as it tends to dry quickly in the screen. To get around this I found it best to dilute Bare Conductive with roughly 1 part water 10 parts Bare Conductive. This makes the whole process a hell of a lot less stressful. When it comes to selecting a good screen for the ink, I recommend using a textiles screen with a mesh of around 90t.


bettyzoom10 months ago
Hello, I canna get this to work! keep getting: invalid use of 'class CapacitiveSensor" come up at this line of code: long total1 = cs_2_4.CapacitiveSensor(30);

please help..........as I really don't know what i'm doing just saw this and loved it and wanted to make one I have never tried anything like this before!!
mashorter (author)  bettyzoom17 days ago

Are you using the latest version of Arduino and CapacitiveSensor Library?

If not try that...

samuelpushpak2 months ago

Hi!
My circuit works when arduino is powered by usb, but the moment I connect a 9V battery, it ceases to work. I guess its some grounding issue. When I touch the arduino board, it looks like its working. Any suggestions ?

mashorter (author)  samuelpushpak17 days ago

It will be a grounding issue. Either power it with a 9v adaptor that is grounded in the mains supply or for a more fun alternative run a cable from the gnd pin on the arduino to a metal pipe or radiator and it should work much better. I hope this is useful...

ppete10 months ago
Very cool, just one error in your text when you say connect 1 and 4 when you meant 2 and 4, great idea thanks a lot !
mashorter (author)  ppete10 months ago
Good spot! I have now fixed the mistake in the text.
how´s 4-way male jack. ????
mashorter (author)  equezada campos10 months ago
It is a headphone jack that has 4 connections, I bought mine from Maplin.
skore10 months ago
does't work :(. will have a problem?
the library does not work Cap Sense, but that of Capacitive Sensor if.

sorry for my bad English.
Thanks

mashorter (author)  skore10 months ago
Hi Skore,

There seems to be an update to the Arduino library. Try replacing every mention of capSense with CapacitiveSensor and everything should work fine!
devangs310 months ago
awesome musical greeting card for a special someone ;)
BareConductive10 months ago
As always. Awesome, awesome work!
matthewvenn10 months ago
beautiful!
nerd747310 months ago
cool
MRecord10 months ago
Isn't graphite from a pencil conductive? Shouldn't it be possible to draw the shapes with a pencil and connect it to your device? I might give it a try with my own arduino.
funkytaco MRecord10 months ago
Yeah I put together a drawdio pencil and made circuits with pencil lead. Get a soft lead pencil, like a 2B.
shotgunshane10 months ago
Awesome!
icsnerdics10 months ago
niiiice
icsnerdics10 months ago
niiiice
That is just dope.
Kiteman10 months ago
Oh, you tease!

You give us a project on a music-maker, then don't give us the music? Where's the video of it in action?

mashorter (author)  Kiteman10 months ago
I have just uploaded a video of it in action, I will try and find a better video and upload it at some point.
Kiteman mashorter10 months ago
Ah, that's cool!
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