Saturday, March 17, 2012

Write Your Own Circuit

"Circuit 13" Acrylic on canvas, 18"x24" - Glen Hendrix

MacGyvers of the world, listen up! Engineers at the University of Illinois have developed a pen that writes in silver. Silver Pen Has the Write Stuff for Flexible Electronics. Not just silver-colored, but real silver. “So what?” you’re asking yourself, “I can draw my own doubloons?” No, that would be a pen that draws in gold. You can draw your own real-life circuits, that’s what. Well, that’s what the article says. I don’t quite get it. I thought you had to have components as well as the connection between those components (the silver).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea! It’s just not complete. Someone now has to come up with resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, diodes, battery, etc. that have a low profile and at least one flat side that features connector surfaces - a kit.

Actually, surface mounted components do exist. They are rectangular components with a flat side for the connectors. What you would have to do is leave a space in your circuit doodle for the component. When you're ready to mount it, put a drop of silver ink where each connector goes to assure a good connection. The only feature we need to add to the component is a Post-It type glue to the middle to hold it down while the ink dries.

Surface mounted electronic components

Now we’re talking! You can do things with your little circuit doodle kit that circuit manufacturers can’t do. They are limited to flat slices of phenolic insulation upon which the circuit is printed and the components mounted.

If you're clever in sketching out the circuit, you can fold your creation up so that it takes up much less space. So cool! Spread the word that someone needs to make these little paper-mounted component kits (and acquire a marketing license for the pen). Think of the boon to science fairs and mad scientists. Circuit doesn’t work? Yank off the components, wad up the circuit “board” and throw it in the tr...recycling bin - the special one for precious metals.

Or you can buy state-of-the-art electronic circuit design, simulation, and analysis software. Build and test your circuit on your laptop for about a grand. Probably more practical and productive but not as much fun as handing your girl/boyfriend an origami ipod.

1 comment:

  1. When I first read about this ink I was thinking that it would be interesting to see if you could create an electric motor or generator with the coils created by folding or rolling paper with c-ink patterns printed on it. It would be trivially easy to create fractally complex patterns of coils, and I wonder what possibilities that would uncover with precisely shaped magnetic fields.