The Ultimate Nerdbait: How to Make Scannable QR Code Bar Code Street Art




I'm a mechanical engineer. I'm a bit odd and I like makin' stuff!

I wanted to promote my website,, but wanted a more original way to get the word out then simple QR codes or advertisements.  I wanted to make street art out of it.

This a tutorial on how to make street art stencils out of them. No smartphone toting nerd can resist the allure when they see one painted on the sidewalk they're walking on. They have to scan it.

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Step 1: Where to Get the Code

Just use Google to find a QR Code Generator

Step 2: Making a CAD Model of the Stencil

I traced the QR Code into a CAD program.  It took me about one lunch break.  I also connected some of the corner pieces so they wouldn't be "knife edges".  The codes are pretty robust and forgiving to little doodads like that.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Stencil

I cut my stencil out of a sheet of scrap aluminum.

Step 4: Painting With the Stencil!

Spray paint works too, but I wanted something that would wash off, so I used finger paint.

Step 5: The Finished Product

This is what the finished product looks like.  You can even scan the image!  It goes to my website,

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    46 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I posted one on my facebook page that read:

    "Nosey little sucker aren't we?"
    Made you look...
    Don't you have work to do instead of being on Facebook? LOL

    Got many haha's from that one and a couple of replies of:

    but hey I get that all the time. :D

    Wow. Thanks for the response everyone! I had a couple ideas in mind for the future...

    A writeup on what happens to typewritten entries from my blog ( and how I bind the loose leaf sheets into a book,


    an idea to replace my light switch with an e-stop button.

    Thanks for reading!

    -The Awkward Engineer


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is soooo cool, have a look at my ible entered in the LED contest as well


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i think ill try and free hand it on a piece of plexy, on summer break so no cnc for me


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Awesome, I just need to find someone with a laser cutter now. We have one at college, but I doubt they would just let me use it for my own project. Its about 30 years old and randomly cuts off things you don't want.

    8 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You said "...randomly cuts off things you don't want."

    Sounds painful... (evil grin.)

    Where are you at... I'm in Kyle TX, about 1/2 hour south of Austin... and I have a 35W laser cutter.



    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yea, and I'm from the UK, college is between high school and university (What you would call college). Ours is 30w, and it works ok, but you generally have to cut things 2 or 3 times because halfway through cutting, it seems to offset itself by about 5 centimetres or so, completely randomly.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    1) You likely have a unit with an optical position sensor (quadrature encored) rather than a stepper type... could be you need to clean the optical strip.
    2) There could be a loose connection to the sensor or between the processor and the driver.
    3) The driver may need to be reinstalled.

    I know a few things about laser repair...

    Wish I could help you more,


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yea, I know it has an optical sensor as it has to be aligned often, and it does cause problems when cutting translucent acrylic as it has to be focused with a solid piece first, then you have to quickly swap the acrylic before cutting starts. It is an ancient 1980s laser cutter with a parallel printer port. The laser seems to be a lot weaker than 30w too, but unfortunately it isn't mine to repair. Hopefully we will get a new one soon, I usually end up having to stay an hour or so at the end of the day just to finish cutting some acrylic.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    wow im glad the one at my school uses a plasma torch all you got to do is set hight an speed as if you where just free handing it. it does make weird angles if the tip is starting to go bad and you cutting thick metal