Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Project 3- Copper Tape Circuit- Amanda Wolfe

For this lab I was interested in trying to do an origami figure with a copper tape circuit incorporated into it. Originally, I found a relatively simple tulip origami instruction page that I folded to see if there was a way to create a circuit inside, but the tulip had 2 separate pieces and there was no way to connect the circuit to both pieces, and the flower part would be too heavy with the battery and would probably not stand up if the circuit was inside, but the stem would not allow the light through. So, I decided to pick something more simple. I folded a fortune teller, the only origami I still remember how to make without instructions from when I was a kid. I thought this would be more interactive than the tulip as the game requires the use of different colors usually drawn on the surface of the paper, and by using lights it would have a similar effect! I folded a draft one and examined it to see where all the parts might fit best. I drew a draft circuit of this with the help of my peer in the class Sarah Bucchorn, as she had already completed an origami circuit and I had a hard time remembering how to draw the parallel circuits.


As I was short on time, I did not actually put the draft one together, instead I chose the origami paper I wanted to use, and just created the circuit drawing from the draft onto my final version with the copper tape, batteries, and 4 LED sticker lights. I got lucky and everything connected and worked the first try! I made two different circuits, with one battery each, and 2 LEDs in parallel. I knew I wanted to use 4 different colors, for the colors you choose in the beginning of the game, but I knew the colors needed to be near each other on the visible spectrum to be on the same circuit, so I used red and orange on one, and blue and green on the other.


I didn’t realize that the origami paper I chose was a bit thicker, and the pattern covered the lights a bit, so I think I would chose a white paper if I made the project again. I also realized that the way the paper was folded I couldn’t get the lights all the way in the corner to best show through the top, so I might would consider using the regular lights instead of the sticker ones as they might be a bit more flexible in where I can place them. I also accidentally made the switches in slightly different locations so when you squeeze the fortune teller you have to place one hand slightly lower on one side than the other to get all 4 lights on at the same time. Overall, I think I was most proud of creating a product more efficiently than I have been able to complete the others so far. I think the demos in class helped me to think through any issues before creating this final project.

Draft Circuit

First Circuit 

Full Circuit

Both Switches

Final Product

(There is also a video of the final product that for some reason is making the whole blog post disappear)

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Project 3: Copper Tape Circuits

The simplest of circuits.

For the third assignment, I started out with the super basic switch circuit – just the one outlined on the given sheet of paper. I tried two switches, and found that one with just a single piece of copper tape made the best contact, since it resulted in the flattest area to connect on. I recycled the battery from that for my next card, which was based off a quote from Leonard Cohen’s poetic works: 

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

I wanted to show a desolate scene, but with some hope at the end. I chose a dark cave with severe stalagmites and stalactites and a river of lava running through the middle, but with a way out off in the distance, represented by a hole in the paper (a literal crack). Behind this, I put two LEDs — one white and one orange to give the impression of a low sun outside, though the orange LED stopped working before I could take the picture. These were just two LEDs wired in parallel with one coin battery for power. These would light up, showing the way out, when you took the first step.

For the final part, I decided to go the origami route and make a bird whose eyes lit up when you pulled its tail. I found a tutorial online, and set out to make my creation. I couldn’t figure out how I would wire it before I actually folded it, and when I did I realized that the eyes would not be possible — the surface I would stick them to was on the other side of the paper from the battery point. I had to put them somewhere, so I wired it as shown below. I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out; since the bird itself is a little more abstract, the blue underglow gives it that alien/sci-fi feel. The switch mechanism was unbelievably finicky however, and I had to press it in two different places to get it to light up. I considered the placement of batteries while planning the circuit, and figured they needed to be places where they didn’t collide with each other when the bird was pressed, and also needed to be as close to the feet as possible so that the bird would be well-balanced. I eyeballed the exact positions, and all was well until the bird started spreading apart when placed down. To remedy this, I used a piece of tape to stick the left and right sides of the bird closer together.

Unfortunately, the excitement of being put in a backpack and carried to my apartment was too much for the little guy, and it doesn’t really light up anymore :(.

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Copper Tape Circuit Assignment

This week’s project required more tinkering and outside research than previous weeks.  Unlike the projects where we submitted our designs to a machine (making stickers or using the laser cutter), I knew pretty quickly whether or not my idea worked as intended, and I could make small adjustments until it did.  We learned the basics of designing circuits in class, and I watched youtube videos and looked at examples of copper tape circuits online until I felt more confident and comfortable designing them.  

Meeting all the requirements for the third item we designed required a lot of careful and thinking and planning.  It had to be 3D, contain 2 or more LEDs, and incorporate a switch.  I liked the look of origami objects better than paper cards, so I looked up some basic origami designs.  This bunny caught my eye, since its boxy shape seemed pretty simple and big enough to hold all of the circuit components.  Originally, I thought it would be cute to have the bunny light up when you pressed its nose, but this didn’t bring any pieces of paper in contact with each other.  When I considered the structure of the bunny, it was clear that the ear was a good candidate for a switch.  I planned out my design and made adjustments along the way – adding a piece of paper over the tape in a section so the positive and negative tape strands wouldn’t cross, bending the arms of the LEDs to allow me to bend the paper in the right places, adjusting the tape path so contact wouldn’t happen except for when the switch was pressed, etc.  

After these adjustments, I assembled the circuit on the bunny in the flat position, and everything was looking good, but when I blew into the bunny to puff him up, the lights wouldn’t light!  I peered inside to see what might be amiss, and I noticed the LED arms weren’t flush with the tape.  I constructed some double-sided copper tape as another student had mentioned, and taped this down with scotch tape.  Then, it worked quite well.  I also used the battery holder design from Jie Qi so it would be in good contact with the lines.  

I think what was most fun about this project was working through the small problems that arose to achieve the final product.  It was more work than past projects in this sense, but it wasn’t stressful since I wasn’t wasting many materials or tying up a machine that other people might need to use.  It also helped that each problem was ‘resolve-able’ and didn’t take more than 10 minutes – seeing these small kinks being worked out gave me motivation to keep going. 


Simple Series Circuit Quote Card

Parallel Circuit Card

Parallel Circuit Card – Inside

Ready to go after planning with a prototype

The circuit works! But made a few adjustments after folding and testing.

In the dark…

Ready to light up~

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Stickers! – Arnav Agarwal

This weeks task was to make multilayered stickers using the silhouette printer. For our first task, a griffin, I used a pug and a donkey and merged them together. This idea came to my mind since I have a pug named Gucci and since he isn’t very bright, we often call him a donkey. The lab section taught us how to merge two silhouettes in Inkscape as well as provided us the printer to actually print the griffin.


The second sticker was supposed to be a multi-layered logo and I decided to create my favorite soccer player’s brand logo. Its just something that looks really cool in my opinion and therefore I wanted a sticker of that. It took me a while to figure out how to layer the logo in Inkscape and then how to ungroup it in Silhouette Studio. That took me a while. The hardest task was still actually getting the layers together, even with transfer tape. The placement and application without air bubbles is something that one needs to concentrate a lot on. But all in all,  I was fairly pleased with the result of my endeavors. It is now on my fridge.

For the last sticker, I decided to do two, just because I could. A huge Dark Knight fan, I decided to get a sticker of the famous, ‘Why so serious?” and I applied it on my phone case. Due to the smallish nature of the components, transferring it was a little bit of a hassle but I was very happy with the end result.

I also did a Hakuna Matata sticker, because that is my life motto and it is something that I keep saying to myself whenever I feel down. 

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Project 2: Sticker Star

For my first sticker, when asked to pick an animal, I chose a shark. Then when it came time to choose another animal, I chose my roommate’s spirit animal, a formula one racecar. Merging the two was an uncertain operation, and I wasn’t sure how it would look in the end. I only managed to take one picture of it, when I stuck it to my roommate’s door, but I’m glad about how it turned out! (I’ll update it when I can take a picture of its new home on my roommate’s laptop.)

At that point, my roommates knew that I had the magical ability to make stickers, so the requests started flowing in. I made one set of fraternity letters, one racing helmet, one attempt at a Porsche 911, three (almost four) Chicago skylines, and a cup of boba. Below is a picture of all of them:

The hardest one to get right was the Porsche, which had a lot of small, finicky parts. I tried tidying it up as best I could, but I accidentally printed it smaller than what I had planned it to be, in order to fit as many prints on as little vinyl as possible. that made it hard to align everything, and I felt every tremble in my hands as I tried to align everything with a pair of tweezers.

The most arduous one was probably the boba, since I had to bring out the tweezers again to remove all the cutouts for the tapioca. Thankfully I had thought ahead (read: gotten lucky) and made the back black, so the parts that show through the deep red tea are the bubbles!

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Stickers – Melissa Chyan

Personally I don’t really use stickers, so I didn’t know what I wanted to make or how to really plan it out. For the griffon I picked a rabbit and the wings of a bat.

For the logo I revisted the griffon idea. I wanted to make something for my brother who loves squirrels and is born in the year of the snake. I decided why not combine the two animals. His online alias is Hezru and I used a shield shaped background for a “coat of arms” look.



For the multi layered sticker I picked a character that was originally designed by one of my favorite music artists. The character is part of a set of online messaging stickers. It’s names is “Mang”.

The multi layered sticker gave me some trouble. I couldn’t find an image that I liked through google. So I decided to screenshot the exact sticker I wanted from my phone and transfer it onto my computer. This meant there were several other extra colors that I had to sort out while using the trace bitmap tool. I was worried about how I was going to transfer all the layers. I found it extremely difficult to line up all the layers properly. I was also sad to find there was no lavender vinyl to match the original color scheme.   

If I were to do this project again, I would look at what colors are available first and then come up with ideas. I would also try to make the logo more fancy, maybe more like an actual coat of arms.

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Week 2: Vinyl Stickers

For my first sticker (the griffin): I decided to make an elephant with wings. I love elephants and thought the wings looked super adorable on the silhouette! I also proceeded to lose the griffin within 24 hours of making it, so I was unable to take a picture. 


For my logo sticker, I decided to make an Iron man logo sticker. I love Iron Man and I’m super excited for the upcoming Marvel movies! I made the base for my logo gold and then used transfer tape to transfer the cut silhouette onto the base. 

For my final multi layer sticker, I first decided to create a Yoshi as I used to love Yoshi’s Island as a child and wanted to have sticker of him on my laptop. I made 6 layers and cut them on separate colors. 


However, I ran into problems while removing the sticker as the outline of the sticker wasn’t complete and I was unable to complete it as it was so complicated. I decided to change my final sticker and created the Wonder Woman logo. I love Wonder Woman and she was one of my favorite superheroes growing up, so I decided to make a slightly modified and minimalistic version of the logo for my sticker as it was very difficult to figure out how the black border would be accommodated into my design . I removed the black border and the white stars in the logo and kept three layers in my design: a blue base, red shield as well as the gold W.

I loved working on the stickers and I learnt that I should make sure my outlines are completed no matter how intricate the sticker as I will be unable to layer the sticker otherwise. 

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Vinyl Stickers!! (Harrison Davis)

I made three stickers — a griffin, a logo, and a multi-layered sticker.

For the griffin I was inspired by two of my favorite creatures, the giraffe and the octopus. I knew putting a tentacled creature on the long neck and legs of a giraffe would look pretty amusing, so I decided to accentuate the tentacles by using a squid silhouette instead of an octopus. Designing it in InkScape involved working with the node editing tools, which were interesting. It seems there’s several types of nodes, some even have secondary control nodes which affect the curves. I plan on going back later to mess around with those and understand how the nodes generate the curves more. 

Here’s the final griffin, a giraffe/squid hybrid!

For my second sticker, I wanted a logo that looked nice and that I could put somewhere, like on my waterbottle. I chose the National Park Service logo, since it’s got great color and contrast and I love the National Parks system. I grabbed an image of the logo online and broke it apart into layers based on color in InkScape. I ended up discarding all but 3 of the layers, since I wanted the sticker to be more minimal, and also got rid of the white background to make parts of the sticker see-through.

I also altered the sticker slightly to give the green tree in the foreground a bit of a shadow, since I thought that looked nice. There was a lot of node fixing work to be done on the curves that made up the boarder, buffalo, and mountain on the sticker. Each were complicated objects, and I had to go one-by-one to get the nodes to align in the way I wanted.

Once I cut the stickers out and began assembling the layers, I realized a major problem with the design. The dark brown layer has a very thin boarder that needs to surround the lighter brown layer. This was fine on paper, but was a nightmare to transfer! The thin strip of sticker wanted to warp and stick in all the wrong places. Another problem with the design was the plethora of small features that proved difficult to transfer and eventually stick on my bottle, such as the details of the buffalo and mountain. If I were to do this again, I’d simplify the design further, and discard many of the small details. I’m quite happy with how the colors pair and contrast though! I also like how the see-through parts of the sticker came out, it’s a nice effect and one I will try and use in the future. 

For my final sticker, I made a 6-layered Windows ’95 logo. Right off the bat, I was worried about how I would transfer and align all of the small squares that trail behind the window in the logo. I managed to simplify it a little bit by removing the squares from layers that would eventually be covered.

Even more so than the National Park Service sticker, there was lots of editing to be done. It seemed like each layer of color was slightly offset from the other layers, which was really annoying to fix. I wonder if there’s a way to get InkScape to separate the color layers better?

When I put the sticker together, I had two issues. One, air bubbles. I didn’t have a problem with the second sticker, since the layers were smaller, but this one had lots of bubbles that needed to be smoothed out. Also, I realized how easy it is to make a mistake with the transfer tape. I put on two of the red boxes upside down by accident, and once they were on the vinyl beneath, they were stuck fast. Next time I’ll be more careful with aligning things!

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Project 2: Vinyl Stickers

For the first sticker, I gave a rabbit the tail and one leg from a leopard gecko. By using Inkscape, I was able to create a smooth transition between the two different images. The most difficult part was using the nodes to create one unified image, but once I figured that out, it was off to the Silhouette cutter.

Next came the 2-layered sticker. I went with the Steam logo because of the black and white contrast, making it easier to learn how to use transfer tape. The logo’s layers were actually a little difficult to separate because the black wasn’t actually a circle, so I ended up grabbing the white layer and putting on top of a black circle I drew in Inkscape.

After thinking about what I could make for my third sticker, I decided to recreate the old logo from Walt Disney Pictures. Seemed difficult because of the small pieces yet manageable. What I didn’t realize was how tough it would be to separate the Walt Disney from the castle.

When I vectored the image, the ‘D’ and dot from the ‘i’ were in the same object as the castle lines. I had to add additional nodes by hand and draw out both the lines and the letters. As if that wasn’t enough, I had some issues printing because I severely underestimated the details of that castle. Tiny flags were everywhere, and tops of towers weren’t in place where they should have been. There’s only so much tweezers can fix, so the final product isn’t ‘perfect,’ but I’m still really proud of how well I transferred all the layers together.

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Project 1: Nametag

As a big Star Wars fan, I started out making a homage to my favorite franchise. I picked out a less well-known logo (which also happens to be the coolest looking one in my opinion), the logo of the Jedi Order (pictured below). I cut this logo out from plywood and laser-etched my name next to it. 

Cutting out our first nametags

Initially, I was afraid that the thinner pieces of this logo would get burned away or become very fragile, but the final result of this was not bad! I’m actually a bigger fan of the cutout than the nametag itself, and the Jedi Order symbol now resides on my monitor at home.

For my final nametag, I wanted to make something cool, and I figured I could make a nametag that lit up when it got close to an inductor. Hence, I set out to make an induction circuit, capable of powering an LED on the nametag itself. Using an Arduino I had lying around at home, a transistor and a couple of coils of wire from the Makerlab, and more time than I had, I set up the circuit according to a tutorial online. The plan was to build the circuit outside the nametag first, then coil as much wire as I could on a rastered spiral (seen in the top right of the picture below). I realized there wasn’t enough room to do that, and coiling the wire there would be far too much effort, so I cut out concentric rings with a cutout on the side (center of the picture), which would be easier to coil and could be sandwiched between the two sides of the badge I’d already made.

I did make a cool circuit design on my nametag, which I had to poach from here. I played around with the file in Illustrator, removing layers and cleaning it up, before exporting it to Inkscape and putting it behind my nametag. For the text, I found a stencil font, which was important so that no piece would fall out when I cut it — as seen in the middle of the letter ‘a’. I rotated it and added a bit of skew to make it look a little different, and from there it was off to cut!

However, I didn’t notice that the circuit shown in that tutorial did not have any transistors, so I ended up shorting something and the LED did not get power. I fiddled around some more, re-learned a bit about basic circuits, but to no avail. The LED just wouldn’t turn on. 

In the end, I learned a lot about circuitry, and a bit more about how long things take. I definitely need to plan realistically, but I’m happy with what I did end up making.

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Project #2 – Multi-layer Vinyl Sticker

I feel like I went along a different route on the multi-layered sticker. While others printed out layers of different colors that build up to be one full “multi-colored” picture, I approached the task differently: making multiple silhouette stickers and stacking them up as one. I first Googled up a basic steampunk bird. As soon as I saw the negative space created by all the gears, I got the inspiration to fill it up with other things. I added a cat and a sideways face. Then, I situated the two, cropping out the excess along with the bird’s silhouette. 

The hard part was deducing how the cutout will turn out based on the silhouette. I did not want the gear part to fly away by itself, so I added random lines to connect them as one piece. some lines did not turn out as expected, but it was vintage in its own way, so I went on with that.


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Stickers – Ibrahim Odeh

For this assignment, I went ahead and made a Hobbes (see “Calvin and Hobbes”) silhouette for my single layer sticker and the album cover for Childish Gambino’s “Kauai”. I have a black laptop, so I used white vinyl for the hobbes sticker so that it would stick out. The hobbes sticker is shown below. 



My multi layer sticker involved 3 layers, one for each color of the album cover. Each of the layers can be seen below.

The designs for the multiple layer sticker were pretty simple. The hardest part about the design was lining up each layer by hand. I personally enjoy the simplistic style and the smooth color scheme of this sticker.
I enjoyed this assignment and the creative aspect of coming up with a multilayer sticker. The most difficult parts were aligning each layer and peeling off thin layers of stickers. 

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