This is my first ever attempt at etching a pcb.  My project is to connect a sparkfun adxl322 +/-2g accelerometer to the Analog inputs on an Xbee pro unit. The circuit is quite simple with a switch, a 3v watch battery, xbee unit and the adxl322.

Although the PCB in the pictures is pretty lame I hope to refine the process to produce better results in the coming days.

I bought a pcb etching kit from Jaycar electronics which seems to me to be pretty decent value.

First of all I designed my circuit with a free(ish) and very easy to use program called Pad2Pad which although is free to download, they do expect that you order your boards from them (very expensive). Their program is good so I wont complain.


I went down to my local printing place and got my design printed on a sheet of overhead projector transparency.  Although it’s a black image apparently you can get darker toner coverage if you get a colour print rather than a straight up black and white print.

And then…

Clean your blank boards. Make sure you wash and dry all boards then scrub the copper with iron wool and then clean them again.

and then…

I used an iron on the “wool” setting to transfer the toner onto the blank board.  Place the transparency (toner down) onto your black board then place a piece of baking paper on top. Iron the baking paper to transfer the toner. Experiement with times and heat settings to get a good transfer.


Mix the etchant. I used the prescribed etchant to water ratio printed on the sachet but it took ages. You may want to make a little stronger.

Once the extra copper is completely gone from the board carefully take it out of the etching bath with your tweesers and proceed to wash your board. You can safely scrub all the toner from your design.

Again from Jaycar I bought a rotary toolkit and appropriate drill bits (0.8mm and 1.omm)  to drill the holes.


I’m planning tomorrow to iron on multiple toner transparancies  to get better toner coverage.

FTIR – multi-touch

October 23, 2008

Here’s video of the FTIR screen that i made a few months back. It’s surprised me as to how easy it was to build and get working. The hard bit (and it is complicated) is to interpret the blobs on screen and make them do something interesting [i’m yet to achieve this 🙂 ] Currently i’m using a mixture of reactivision / Max/msp / Touch designer FTE to interpret and manipulate the data. I’ll upload code and patches in the coming weeks.


It’s been quite a few months since I first ordered my xbee modules and today I finally had a little time to plug them in and do some testing. To my surprise it was a fairly simple task to get them to send and receive messages between two notebooks using maxstream’s X-CTU program. X-CTU is a tool made for programming and updating xbee modules it also comes with a terminal which comes in handy at times. Getting the xbee’s talking in Max/MSP seemed to be a sinch as well. You simply need to set up a serial send and receive patch and there you have it, small and fast wireless solutions. Here’s a short video of what I did today and you can download the max patches that I used for this demo. I can’t really see a practical purpose in using xbee modules in this way but it seemed to me to be a good starting point to get my xbee projects started.

Check out the video

download demo patches
send patch receive patch

My aim for the future is to create a wearable system for choreography using these small xbee modules. Rob Faludi has an Xbee direct blog entry that I hope to get going in the next few weeks.

the other day i bought a breadboard with the aim of doing some serious learning about electronics. After a few failed attempts tonight i managed to complete a working 555 timer circuit that switches between 2 different coloured LED’s. I knows it’s a fairly minor feet but it’s a fairly exciting start none the less. The circuit involves a capacitor that is alternately charged and discharged to control the 555IC between +9v and -9v on the rail. YAY… in other exciting news I made (on my new breadboard of course) an accurate to +-100mv a 5vDC voltage regulator circuit which involves capacitors, transistors and lots of other fun stuff. Here’s the photo’s of my breadboard exploits.

555 breadboard cimg0027small.jpg

Electro Graf

March 6, 2008

On tuesday i started to make an electro-graf peice. Although James had already said that electro graf was probably not worth it, i decided to go ahead. So I bought a circuit writer pen from jaycar and started writing. It worked pretty well until i realised that the strips didn’t really take that much current. So I had made each letter a different circuit and voila!!! IAD electro graf.

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