Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Illinois Informatics and School of Information Sciences
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Iteration Assignment

Original Work

I created a very poor implementation of a circuit design that I was very proud of. In the below video, I discuss issues with the quality of my implementation –

  • poorly secured battery, and a
  • poor work-around to prevent the battery from draining, and
  • poor connections between components.

Iteration Project

I wanted to create a name tag, that was a wooden cube with a button on the top, and this button would turn on an LED. It would incorporate wood working, and circuit design. My plan was to redeem my poor copper circuit by addressing its issues in the following ways.

  • Secure my battery in place with superglue (I verified that this was safe).
  • Secure connections between components with Soldering rather than tightly wrapped copper tape
  • Circuit design where open circuit when button is unpressed, so that battery does not drain

Additionally, for the button design, I drew inspiration from Brandon’s Midi Controller project. I used the same design process and parameters as he did, and arrived at a well functioning ‘button’ with my name tag on it.

I also soldered the wires of my LED circuit to my LED. This was my first experience with soldering – my friends in Mechanical Engineering taught me to solder, and I took it from there. It was a rewarding process, I was surprised at how easily the solder material would melt and reform, and impressed by how secure the connections it created were.

I investigated and determined it was safe for me to solder one of the wires to the coin cell battery I was using (my initial plan was to secure it with copper tape). I soldered the black wire to the bottom of my battery.

My plan was that when the button was pushed, the battery would be directly beneath the button, and the button would make the blue wire touch the top of the battery and complete the circuit.

An issue I had was that if I just taped the blue wire to the base of mu button and pressed the button, it wouldn’t always reliably complete the circuit. I needed to always push the button at the location where the blue wire was taped below, so that that point was the lowest point and touched the battery.

I needed to create a larger surface area for the button to complete the circuit. So instead of the button pushing the end of the blue wire onto the button, it would push a copper tape onto the button. The copper tape would secure well to the button, and would ensure that it would have a larger area of contact with the button.

I had to find a way to connect the blue wire to the copper tape however, and here my MechE friends pointed out to me that I can solder the blue wire onto my copper tape! I was so excited about this possibility, I tried it and it worked perfectly. I am now a huge fan of soldering.

After I stick the tape to the bottom of my button, the full circuit looks like this.

To create the sides of my cube, I used popsicle sticks, and cut them down to the right size using a wood saw. Here’s how the finished product functions!

Reflection

I’m very happy with how this project turned out. To test that I met my goals, I threw my cube against a wall and shook it in my hand very hard (in an attempt to loosen the connections. The soldered connections stayed intact, the heaviest component (the battery) was tightly secured with superglue, and the connection was always completed (irrespective of where my finger was positioned on the button) due to the larger surface area provided by the copper tape.

I’m glad that I was able to address all the shortcomings of my earlier copper tape project and create a much more reliable design.

My woodworking could use more finesse, however.

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