For this week’s copper tape cards, I decided to honor the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy by making a card depicting Elon Musk’s Tesla floating through outer space. I chose to have the car as the popup in the foreground, with Earth and some stars in the background. For my LEDs, I would make the stars shine when the card was opened. I originally also wanted to use a LED for the headlight, but the area turned out to be too small to have both the positive and negative tape go through.
The first challenge I ran into was making the LEDs shine through the black background paper, which absorbed all the light. To solve this, I added another layer of paper, and cut a star-shaped hole in the front layer, in the same spot as the star paper. This let the light shine through, and also had the cool effect of making a bright area in the middle of the star, making it look kind of like the light was fading out the further away you were from the star.
Wiring the circuit was a little difficult, since my LEDs were on the background layer instead of the cutout. To make the circuit for the stars, I had to pass the copper tape through the “cut-in” area. One problem I ran into was getting the circuit to work. As it turns out, the battery doesn’t contain enough voltage to power both LEDs in serial. I had to rewire the circuit to make the LEDs connect in parallel. A quick tip: before laying down the circuit, test that it works by putting the battery on one side and using the unpeeled copper tape to connect the other side, so that you don’t have to ruin the paper by removing incorrect tape. Surprisingly, the switch worked really well – I didn’t need to hold it down at all. However, the connections to the LEDs were a bit loose, so I had to use some extra force to get it to stick properly.
In hindsight, I think I probably should have used the vinyl cutters from last week to make the shapes. Most of my shapes were cut out using scissors, but there were a lot of narrow areas on the car and Earth. I ended up using a razor knife to cut out those areas, which turned out a bit messy.
Getting the sliding mechanism to work…
Wiring up the circuit – LEDs are working!
This week, I created a Tux logo (as in the Linux mascot) vinyl sticker for my laptop. It was inspired by all the custom MacBook logos I see on campus – (un)fortunately I don’t have a MacBook so I thought, why not make a Linux logo instead – in honor of my favorite OS? I downloaded the vector image from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tux_Mono.svg) and split it into groups by color, to make it easier to print.
As it turned out, aligning stickers correctly was incredibly difficult. A trick I discovered was to tape the paper to a flat surface, which helped prevent it from sliding around, and also prevented air bubbles from forming between the sticker layers. Also, some good advice is to always double check which colors you’re cutting – I accidentally ended up with a few yellow penguins on my first attempt.
Removing some of the smaller holes (on the beak) was a bit of a challenge, I ended up having to use a pair of tweezers to get them out without ruining the rest of the sticker.
Overall, I was very pleased with how the sticker came out. The decision to use a shiny rainbow vinyl for the belly area was perfect, as it makes the sticker really shine out on my boring laptop.
Here are the other stickers I made in class: a bear-dog hybrid (my two favorite animals) and a “I’m watching you” eye logo.
My inspiration for this design came from my Raspberry Pi. I wanted to create a name tag in the form factor of a credit card, with some electronic component shapes engraved onto it. My original plan was to use a real Raspberry Pi data sheet as the background, but the components turned out to be too tiny to see clearly. Instead, I decided to go with a simple circuit design (https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/technology-background-with-circuit_1019406.htm). Once I got out of the traditional paint software mindset, Inkscape was surprisingly easy to use. The font choice was inspired by my actual credit card, with big and blocky letters that looked good at a small size.
After finishing the design I had some empty space left over, so I thought it would be cool to use that space for a useful feature (kind of like a Swiss Army Knife). I used a website (http://robbbb.github.io/VectorRuler/) to generate a ruler vector, then manually edited it to fit my design. A lesson I learned: always check your image dimensions! For some reason, the marks generated by the tool were scaled down by almost 25%, which I didn’t notice until I began writing this post. Thankfully, the error has since been corrected.
Printing was a bit of a challenge. Since I was printing on a used piece of acrylic, I had to align my shape so the printer would not cut over the previous holes. I measured the distance with a ruler and changed my document properties in Inkscape to account for this. Apparently this was unnecessary though, since the laser cutter has a built-in feature to let you adjust the top-left coordinates that it prints at. With the help of a lab assistant to adjust the printer, I waited anxiously as the laser etched out my design, hoping that I had correctly measured the dimensions… and I did! Success!
Old design, scrapped because the text turned out to be too small
Measuring a ruler with another ruler