Signal Flow Poster (with Chibitronics and Arduino)

Introduction: Signal Flow Poster (with Chibitronics and Arduino)

About: Women's Audio Mission is a San Francisco based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. In a field where women are chronically under-represen...

This project combines Chibitronics circuit stickers with simple Arduino programming to create a poster with blinking lights that illustrates basic recording studio signal flow!

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

To make this poster, you will need the following materials:

  • Poster-sized construction paper
  • Drawing materials (markers, colored pencils, etc.)
  • Chibitronics LED stickers
  • Conductive copper tape
  • Chibitronics microcontroller sticker and programming adapter
  • 6 jumper cables
  • Arduino Uno
  • USB cable
  • Laptop with Arduino software
  • Capacitor (at least 10uF)

Step 2: Plan Your Poster

As with all Chibitronics projects, it helps to sketch out your circuit lightly in pencil before adding conductive tape and stickers. Since you will be using the microcontroller sticker, which has 5 conductive pads connected to the pins of the Attiny85 microcontroller as well as a positive and a negative pad, I suggest using the stencil included with the Chibitronics sensor pack to get an idea of how your sticker will be oriented and which LEDs will be connected to which pins.

You can also add non-conductive decorations to your poster with marker or colored pencil in this step. We opted to draw our decorations on separate pieces of paper, cut them out, and then attach them to our poster, so they would cover up some of the more convoluted-looking circuitry.

Step 3: Add Copper Tape and LEDs

Now that you have your template, add your copper tape, LED stickers, and microcontroller sticker. If you'd like to add a battery later, make sure you add two copper tape leads that extend off the edge of your poster paper, so you can attach a battery pack to the back. If you are planning to leave your microcontroller attached to your programmer, you will be fine just adding the tape necessary for your circuit design.

Step 4: Program Your Microcontroller

The Chibitronics website has a great step-by-step guide on how to program the microcontroller sticker. We will be replacing the default code on the sticker with some simple new code that will make the attached LEDs flash in a sequence. You can find the code we used below; if you'd like more complicated patterns, you can build off of this basic form or write something entirely new!

If you use the Arduino Uno as a programmer, as we did, you will need to add a capacitor of 10 uF or more between the Reset and GND pins on the Arduino.

When you've finished your code, upload it according to the instructions in the link above, and your circuit should start to display the pattern you wrote.

Step 5: Finish!

You're almost done with your poster! If you'd like to remove the Arduino from your poster and power it using a battery, you can remove the adapter from your microcontroller sticker at this point, and cut off the tab that attaches to the adapter. Then, you can make a battery holder, glue or tape it to the back of your poster, and connect it to the two tape ends you left when you first laid down the tape. When you power up the poster with a battery, the code you uploaded to your microcontroller earlier will still be in effect.

(Note that your LEDs may not be as bright when powered by a battery as when plugged into the Arduino.)

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