Together with my 10 year old niece Katinka, I went to FabLab Breda for a "build night" (in the afternoon this one) to play around with Chibitronics. We learned about this through Meetup and sounded like a fun thing to do during the holidays. Katinka thought it would be nice to make a special birthday present for her grandma (my mom).
Having had a small introduction by Labmanager Charlotte, everybody in the group introduced themselves and mentioned what they wanted to make, or just experiment with standard examples found online. It was very nice that there were more kids around from the age group of Katinka. It was a very nice atmosphere and the people in the group were really sharing their learnings with each other.
Now, what did we actually do?
Step 1: Getting to Know the Parts
We browsed through the goodies from Chibitronics that were in the package provided.
Charlotte suggested to make a basic setup first, so that we all knew who it works. She had provided everybody with some copper tape, LED stickers and a coin cell battery. We all made a light glow in a couple of minutes :-)
Could we take it to the next level and not just let it glow, but put some 'special effects' to it. Ok, this was some puzzling for a 10 year old with no background in playing around with circuits, but together we made it work. We made the LED blink, by putting an 'effect sticker' between it.
Preparation done, now we were ready to make something special for grandma!
Step 2: A Special Card to Light Up Grandma's Birthday!
Katinka decided to make a sort of birthday card, with blinking lights so everybody at the party would notice what she made for grandma! We decided we would make the card not out of paper but to cut an acrylic plate with the laser cutter.
First we found out which color of acrylic plate would be best suited for the occasion, browsing through the collection of plates in the FabLab and holding a glowing LED under it. Katinka decided a simple white one would be fine; the lights were going to be visible, as well as the engraved text.
Next, we made the setup on paper first, so we would be first time right after having cut the acrylic.
She thought about the text that would be on the plate, where the lights were going to be placed, and where and how grandma would use the battery. The text and some images were placed on a file in CorelDraw and sent to the lasercutter. The message to grandma? : "The most loving grandma has turned 71 years today" (original in Dutch).
We then placed the copper tape, the LEDs and the effects on the back side of the acrylic plate. The cell coin battery was taped with sticky tape on there as well and we made a small incision/break in the copper tape so the circuit was broken. To make the circuit 'whole' again, we provided a paperclip so the two ends would be joined again.
The final and most exiting moment after that was giving it to grandma of course, celebrating her 71st birthday! Grandma was very pleased and happy with the handmade gift from Katinka!