If you want to add some interactivity with your Valentine, nothing provides a connection more than circuitry. Follow the directions and you'll see how a little electricity between you and your sweetheart can brighten your Valentine's Day.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Conductive paint pen (from Bare Paint)
Coin cell and holder
Red construction paper or cardstock
Step 2: Designing and Breadboarding
Walk through your circuit so you can imagine the course of true electricity. I worked this design out on a breadboard since I thought I was going to solder it together, but since I didn't have easy access to a soldering iron I decided to use conductive paint. Cardstock is more appropriate for Valentine's Day anyway. Another advantage is that you can draw your circuit with pencil on the back of your Valentine.The solid lines are where I will be putting the conductive paint.
Step 3: Layout the Components
Place the components -- battery for the mouth and LED for the nose -- in the appropriate spaces. Cut the cardstock where the legs of the battery and LED are. For the eyes, you will cut two 3/4" lines where you will be putting the cardstock switches. Use your craft knife and pencil to make two holes for each of the eyes. These holes will be filled with conductive paint and will have a gap that will be switched on by the closing eyelids.
Step 4: Make the (Love) Connection
For you left-brained folks, yes, we are making a logic gate. For the circuit to work, both switches must be engaged -- an AND gate. For you romantics out there, just think of the universe as a mighty energy field ever connecting, ever merging.
Now, cut two pieces of 3/4" by 3/4" cardstock and fold them in half. On one half apply a coating of conductive paint. Allow the paint to seep through the front and maybe add a dab or two to your front nodes. When the paint has dried, test your circuit by applying the eyelid to the dots on the front.
BE PATIENT: it takes up to an hour for the paint to dry. If you make the connection beforehand, your eyelids will stick to the nodes. The Technology Will Save Us folks suggest that impatient people can use a hairdryer (For you Supremes fans, remember what mama says). One of the drawbacks of conductive paint is that you don't get the immediate gratification of a soldered circuit. On the other hand, conductive paint is water-soluble and, therefore, much more forgiving.
Step 5: Put on the Finishing Touches
You're almost finished. Slide your switches through the slits, add a little lipstick and eyeliner, and you're ready to go.
Step 6: Meditations and Variations
It's a good thing that Bare Paint is non-toxic, because I got the stuff everywhere. But that's because I'm a messy guy. Since it's water-soluble, you can clean your card and traces with a wet paper towel or cotton swab. Another thing I liked about the kit are the pronged coin cell batteries. I'm going to have to get a whole bunch of them for other projects.
Here are some ideas for personalizing your own card:
- Add a potentiometer so you can dim the lights;
- Attach a romantic music loop;
- Add a touch circuit that doesn't require eight transistors or a 555 timer. Integrated circuits are very useful but they can be a bit of a turn off;
- Attach some chocolate;
- Add a sonnet;
- Add some lace;
- Some more DIY card ideas can be found here.
Have a Happy Valentine's Day!