In the design and research of this project, I learned a lot about the bonuses of incorporating soft-circuit methodologies in an end product which is technically rigid. I also learned techniques for two-sided laser printing, and the manipulation of small electronic components like SMD LED's.The performance is happening in early September, and we just came up with plans to do this at the beginning of August, so this was also an exercise in rapid prototyping and deployment.
The whole batch ended up costing me about 30-40 cents a piece including all the R&D. Make sure to get more materials than you absolutely need to account for screwups.
- Birch plywood 1/8th inch
- Waxed Linen String
- SMD LED's
- CR2032/2016 3V coin cell batteries
- Conductive Thread
- Conductive Stretch Fabrice Neoprene
- Hot Glue Gun
- Access to Laser Cutter
- Soldering Iron + Solder
- Sand Paper
Step 1: Create Design
Like most laser cutting, when you make your design in illustrator or corel or an open source alternative, Inkscape, you need to separate your design into parts you want to raster etch (such as the wolf's face) and parts that will be entirely cut out as a vector cut (like the border, and the holes for the lanyard).
Step 2: Iterate on Medallion Design With Laser
Step 3: Rear Credits Design
Even if I had not already cut out the medallions, it would be difficult to register correctly laser etching on two sides of the wood. Thus I went for a design that would work regardless of how it was printed on the backs of the medallions. It just repeats the information over and over on a shifted grid. So no matter how it was sliced up, the information would all be included there. It was tricky to not make the text too small however, since there is a limit on the resolution and readability of the laser etching. A font of 7pt seemed to be the lower limit on my Full Spectrum Laser Cutter.
Step 4: Tie Lanyard Through
Next take your string, put it through both holes, and there you go! You have your own nice non-electric medallion. Check out the later steps for making the light-up version!
Step 5: Part 2: Getting It to Light-up
I first experimented with using different types of LED's and on different types of lighting for the pendant. Some were just lit from behind. Some were lit inside a small indentation that was cut in the back (to give it a more jack-o-latern type, diffused glow), and some were shining through a hole bored all the way through.
Step 6: Add Eye Hole to Design
Step 7: Put Together SMD LED
I wanted my LED crimp tubes to be oriented the other way, and her technique wasn't working out for me that well (the beads kept sticking to my soldering iron). Another problem for me (too messy i guess), was that my solder kept jumping the gap and over to the other side of the LED, which would short the whole thing. So instead here was my technique.
First set one of the medallions on top of half of the LED. This would keep it weighted down, in place, and prevent solder from getting on the unwanted side. Then I brought the crimp tube on the soldering iron up to it, dabbed a bit of solder on and presto! Half your bead is complete. For the other half, I strung a bunch of the half beads onto a peice of solder, and went down the line adding beads to the sides. Worked well!
*Though I just now saw this idea which seems GREAT from carleyy: https://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Bead-Jig/?ALLSTEPS
Step 8: Test Your Bead
Check through them all to make sure your soldering is good!
Step 9: Attach Thread Leads
Just take some wire-wrapping wire, strip it, and then twist into a nice loop. Using this I strung a line of thread through one side of all the conductive beads. I tied these off with a triple knot, chopped them with plenty of extra hanging string, and then did the same for the other side.
Step 10: Dremel-off Divot in Back
Step 11: Glue in the LED
It's usually a good idea just to check it again, before we go too much further. You can check it with a battery!
Next we will put a layer of hot glue over the positive side of the LED and its bead so that when the battery slides in, we won't be touching this part. I was pretty messy at first, but i got better. Anyway this part will be under the pouch. The main thing is to try to not have your hot glue too bulgy.
Step 12: Create Conductive Pouches
My design had to be modified to be attached to a hard surface with hot glue (instead of stitching it onto fabric). I also added a notch at the top to make slipping the battery in easier, as well as holes around the three main edges to easily tie conductive thread through (in case you aren't sewing through it, and just want to tie your conductive thread to it.)
Use the laser cutter to cut out dozens of these from a little sheet of your conductive stretch fabric.
Step 13: Attach Pouch
Next, put a light trim of hot glue around the edges and stretch it over the back of the medallion. You want it to be taught, because it is what will be holding the battery in place.
Step 14: Pop in Battery and Celebrate!
I just shipped off the box of 600+ to Deke for the performance in september! If anyone is around Urbana Illinois, you should check out his amazing performance! It's free!