Magnetic Electric Paint, Magnetic Sugru and Conductive Sugru

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For an upcoming project (more details on that soon) I am required to make an electrical connection between Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint and a wire that leads to an Arduino. I had a bit of a mad idea; if the paint was magnetic and I attached a magnet to the end of the wire then surely I could make a magnetic, click-together electrical connection.

So I tried it. I bought some Magnetite to mix with the paint (inspired by Navid Gornall’s example). I also soldered a neodymium magnet to the end of a piece of wire. When the paint had dried I tested out this solution. It was OK. Not great. It was magnetic but not very. I tried a few different ratios and here are my findings:

1 part Magnetite : 1 part paint = good magnetism, dries very fast, doesn’t bond/stick well to the surface it is painted on to.

1 part Magnetite : 2 parts paint = OK magnetism, bonds/sticks well to surface

1 part Magnetite : 3 parts paint = Poor magnetism.

Whilst I was in mad-scientist mode I wondered whether Sugru would mix well with electric paint. This way I could paint the design onto a surface, wait for it to dry and then adhere the wire to the paint using my conductive Sugru. I can tell from the smell of Sugru that it is not water based and Electric Paint is so it seems like a bad idea. Well it was. It sort of worked but it was so messy. It also did something strange to the Sugru causing it to set in about an hour (usually 12 hours).

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Neither of these solutions will be appropriate for the upcoming project but I’ll bare (pun?) them in mind for future uses of Electric Paint.

I also mixed magnetite with Sugru to make it magnetic. It worked well. I now have a magnetic little Sugru ball stuck to my desk lamp. Time well spent.

BMW PGA Tour Wentworth – Rain and Electronics

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I recently completed an Installation for BMW PGA Tour at Wentworth. Knit created a Sound Activated LED Installation for the M stand and it was my job (along with a few others) to install it.

It was a challenging build mainly due to the weather. In short; outdoor electronics in some of the heaviest and most relentless rain this year is not a great combination.

It was a great learning experience and despite numerous challenges the installation worked flawlessly throughout the duration of the show.

First test:

Full project case study here.

Hacking an Apple Airport Express

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I generally keep my blog clear of car stuff (yes I like cars) but here is a hack I think is worthy of a write up; The Mighty Car Mods Airplay Mod.

I like to keep my car looking as OEM (for non-car people, that means sticking to parts made by the original manufacturer) and one of my biggest hates is aftermarket car audio. Its usually covered in tacky LEDs, optimistic power statements such as “1000W” and has very little consideration on how the average person uses them. But I did like the idea of being able to play music from my iphone in the car, and I’d ideally like to do that wirelessly.

Then I saw this MCM video and it seemed the perfect solution. In basically involves swapping out the power module inside the airport express for one that runs on 5V (USB), splicing in a usb socket into the cars ignition loom and plugging the audio-jack output into an au converter for the car stereo. However, I would differentiate mine from theirs as I’d like a permanent install and the Airport Express to be out-of-sight.

The first problem I encountered was securely mounting the voltage regulator in the casing. I discovered – the hard way – that the entire black metal back plate serves as a ground for the device. The second problem was find a place to hide it. Until I discovered the perfect spot underneath the glove box.

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I can highly recommend this mod. Now, about 15 seconds after I turn the car on my iPhone automatically connects to the Airplay network and I can push tracks straight from Spotify/iTunes/Soundcloud wirelessly to the thirteen-year-old factory stereo.

#Knitstaprint

The idea for an Instagram Printer spawned out of a demand for a tangible take-away from events that encouraged social sharing.

It was an idea we found hard to convey the novelty factor of, so we built a prototype. The prototype is a Polaroid Pogo printer embedded in a laser cut housing. PHP is used to scrape the Instagram API for specific hashtags. The printer is connected over bluetooth to a computer which formats and prints the photos using processing.

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The demonstrator is portable and produces business-card-sized prints. These are perfect to illustrate the value of this idea to prospective clients.

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