“We’ve found the silver bullet that could make things like electronic clothing and inexpensive games a reality today. This breakthrough means the industry now has the capability to print electronics on a wider range of materials and at a lower cost,”
High-Low Tech have put together some tools and techniques to integrate electronics into craft works:
We’ve developed a set of tools and techniques that make it easy to use microcontrollers as an art or craft material, embedding them directly into drawings or other artifacts. We use the ATtiny45 from Atmel, a small and cheap (~$1) microcontroller that can be glued directly to paper or other objects. We then construct circuits using conductive silver ink, dispensed from squeeze bottles with needle tips. This makes it possible to draw a circuit, adding lights, speakers, and other electronic components. Alternatively, you can make circuits with copper tape (as well as simple circuits without microcontrollers).
To program the microcontroller, we’ve developed a set of hardware and software tools. The TinyProgrammer plugs into the USB port of a computer and loads a program onto the microcontroller. We’ve also developed a plugin for the Arduino software that makes it easy to write the code that runs on the microcontroller. We call this set of tools an “untoolkit” because it provides the ease-of-use of other electronic toolkits but using off-the-shelf electronic components.
Roger Limbrick. Space Station and Space Rocket cardboard toys. 1968
In 1968 the British company Polypops developed three flat-packed cardboard spacecraft toys designed by Limbrick: Lunartrack, Space Station, and Space Rocket. When constructed, the Space Rocket is just large enough to accommodate one child passenger; its exterior is coated in foil and its interior is intricately printed with dials and circuits.
In December 2011, the Instructables Team took to the streets of San Francisco, proudly wielding before them a 12-foot cardboard Trojan horse. Man, I love my job. Why did this happen? We had been invited to the Autodesk Christmas party just a few blocks away from our lab and we thought we should take along a present. Something unique. Something memorable. Something big enough to conceal a crack team of cardboard-sword-wielding troops. I had been playing around with a preview version of Autodesk’s new 123D Make software, a program for turning 3D models into a series of slices that can be laser cut and assembled in real life. This technology is tremendous fun to play around with, as it has the potential to rapidly prototype anything from elaborate papercraft projects to paneled items of clothing to flat-pack emergency shelters. This seemed like a great opportunity to test it out with a real life quick fabrication challenge: a Trojan horse. The Trojan horse, of course (of course!), could be seen as a metaphor for the way in which Autodesk acquired Instructables last year, little suspecting the creative havoc we would wreak once we’d infiltrated the corporation’s perimeter. I’m certainly not suggesting that this was our intention, only that a cynic might see it as such. Read on to find out more about how I made the horse! (via Giant Papercraft Trojan Horse)