Introduction: Light Circuit

This is a circuit made with the vinylcutter. The project involved designing the circuit, cutting it out of copper sticker, glueing it on paper, stuffing the electronic components and programming the micro controller to make the LEDs light up in a pattern. Step by step instructions how to do this will follow soon, here are some pictures of the process.

Step 1: Designing the Circuit

The design was based on the Charlieplexing array output board from the Fab Academy. These files provided a good basis to start from. I designed the circuit that contains an ATtiny 44 micro controller in Eagle. 

Step 2: Cutting the Circuit

The circuit was cut with a vinyl cutter. Cutting copper is not very easy so here some tips and tricks.
For the design: 
- Make as many rounded curves as possible since the knife is not so good at cutting 90 degree angles
- Take as much space as possible between the components 
- Make the copper lines as thick as possible
- if you have a lot of space between thin lines, draw some extra rectangle on the copper that will be weeded off afterwards. It is easier to tear off little pieces of copper at the time. 

Machine settings:
- I used force 40 and speed 1 cm/s.
- The copper comes on a sticker roll. To cut sharp straight lines you have to glue a piece of the copper sticker to a rigid cardboard first before placing it into the vinyl cutter.
- When the knife is running, some traces already start to curl up from the circuit and might be hit by the knife as it moves over. If this happens pause the machine and press the pieces back to the surface with tweezers. 

 

Step 3: Weeding the Copper

Place a piece of transfer paper on the copper as soon as the machine is done, and while the copper is still glued to the cardboard. If you wait too long all the traces will start to curl up. Then take the copper sheet off the cardboard, and pull off the backside of the sticker. Now you can start weeding the copper that is not needed in the circuit, leaving only the traces behind on the transfer paper.

Step 4: Transfer the Copper

Now you can place the transfer paper onto a surface, like paper, acrylic, or whatever you like. Then stuff the components - be careful with the heat of the soldering iron on the surface material

Comments

author
astral_mage (author)2014-01-07

u can try yr local fabric store. mcmastercarr 4 every thing u might need

author
mikey77 (author)2012-05-28

Nice.

Can you tell us what vinyl cutter you used and where you obtained the copper sticker?

author
astridlubsen (author)mikey772012-05-31

Hi Mikey,

Thanks for your message. I used the Roland GX24 in Fablab Amsterdam:
http://fablab.waag.org/machine/vinyl-cutter
There are some nice tips and tricks documented at their website as well.

The copper foil can be ordered at Digikey:
http://parts.digikey.com/1/parts-kws/3m-copper-foil-1181

Hope this helps!
Cheers
Astrid

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