CircuitWriter Conductive Pen

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by tannim31, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. tannim31

    tannim31 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure where I could have put this. but has anyone tried this for their TF/Non-TF lighting projects? I picked one up and if it works as well as I think it might, this may change a few things as far as wiring problems on space inhibitory projects where wiring is not an option! it takes a bit of practice to use the pen but it is a silver in color. I will be playing around with it and will post my findings on here.

    I tried to post the link with no luck, so here is an image with the link to find it :) 

    If this works like I think it will, I see allot more lighting projects on the boards in the near future! :) 
     

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  2. tannim31

    tannim31 Well-Known Member

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    if this is posted in the wrong area or doesn't fit the board guidelines I apologize.
     
  3. Budokhan

    Budokhan Wheeljack's apprentice

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    Dude, this is soooooo cool! Imagine the ability to "draw" flat, non-impeditive circuit patterns inside plastic panels, no more bulky wiring except where its absolutely necessary & preferable!! Chunky, oversized circuit-boards will be a thing of the past. So many applications for this its nuts, even small scale model kit lighting will be VERY easy now! Thanks for sharing this man, what a find! :thumbs2: 

    Also, for those interested in purchasing it, here's the link to the site where you can get it:
    CAIG CircuitWriter Pen : Soldering tools & supplies | RadioShack.com
     
  4. gericault

    gericault Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmm.....interesting. Will have to think of possible projects to try this on.......
    Thanks for the heads up!
     
  5. big hank

    big hank Resident Slacker-Basher

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    I say give it a go. Those pens are more for "repairing" traces in circuit boards. I don't think they can be soldered on. I have one floating around here somewhere. Never really got around to trying any long runs with it though.
     
  6. ZombieBalls

    ZombieBalls Drives fast

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    I used that exact brand years ago to fix a portable DVD player and surprisingly it did work as advertised. One spot was on a normal circuit trace and the other was actually on a slightly torn ribbon cable (that impressed me that it was also flexible). Those pens were out of stock for years at Radio Shack so it's nice to see it again, I'll definitely have to pick one up. It was a very nice thing to have around at times. Mine did dry up very quickly though or maybe you have to store them in a certain position so the tip doesn't get clogged.

    There is also this ThinkGeek: "Wire Glue" Conductive Glue which is similar that maybe some of you can find a use for. I do own it, but haven't used this one yet.
     
  7. frenzyrumble

    frenzyrumble Banned

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    amazing. in theory, these pens will "draw" a conductive line from any point to another.
    I am skeptic on 2 things; how does it hold to plastic (assuming well) and like Hank said; how would you get your wires to the "line" you create? I am thinking, if you drilled 2 tiny holes into the plastic (LED's wires for example) drop some solder (marrying wire to the plastic) then "paint" with this pen to those solder piles.
     
  8. frenzyrumble

    frenzyrumble Banned

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    would also be nice if RS's shopping check out worked...
     
  9. Budokhan

    Budokhan Wheeljack's apprentice

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    Your right Mike, Those sound like very good ideas indeed to connect LEDs & wires both to the conductive lines. I was thinking also of perhaps using some very thin, flexible sheet styrene ( maybe the clear flavor that many TF blisters are made out of ) in order to create a sort of "bridge" between pieces that the conductive pen could be drawn upon. Of course, it is possible that said lines may heat up a bit due to current & cause a slight meltdown of the bridge plastic. Hmmmm...just some food for thought. I guess some heavy duty experimentation is in order for many of us! :D 


    Man, that sucks that RS's shopping setup don't work...now I feel like a tease! :eek: 

    Well, there is always this brand too, its a bit more expensive but Ive heard it may be better anyways:

    Silver Microtip Conductive Pen
     
  10. frenzyrumble

    frenzyrumble Banned

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    it worked with a CC, not paypal.

    I don't think there's enough power running through those lines to effect the plasic. If this technique/pen works, the possibilities are endless. You'd be able to make specific lights go active if something's positioned or transformed (eg : gun that only lights up while in hand...lines drawn on hand connect to lines drawn on gun...
     
  11. Shwiggie

    Shwiggie Likeable dryskinned biped

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    Such a product should work fine for the low amperages LEDs and piezos would draw from a conductive standpoint (and also not pose problems for a styrene substrate with regards to heat). I've never used it, but I've read that it's more like correction fluid than ink. Based on that, an attempt to "bond" it with circuit element leads might just work...it depends on how well it bridges that gap between the lead and the trace.

    You'd definitely want some sort of strain relief for such a connection, even if it was just using tape or glue. I'd be afraid that issues akin to cold solder joints could pose a problem by doing this, however...but it's worth a shot.
     
  12. ZombieBalls

    ZombieBalls Drives fast

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    I just picked one up today at my local RS, can't wait to try a few things. I used it years ago with success for more conventional uses and it worked well. It'll be great to see what you can come up with using something like this for customizing. Specific circuits getting closed based on the position of a figure or where it is in a transformation sequence sounds fascinating.

    I also don't think heat would be too much of an issue if the amperage is kept down. RadioShack's product page for it claims it can be used to repair rear window heater traces and I'm pretty sure those are a fairly decent current. Plastic, epoxy, glass and metal are all listed as surfaces it works on. The metal surface seems like it may be of limited use, but the rest are good.

    As for strain relief, when I used it on a torn ribbon cable I repaired the one broken trace with the pen and carefully taped it so it could still be flexible yet protected. It was the cable that goes from the main board to the laser module on a DVD player so it's also holding up to a lot of movement. That portable DVD player is also exposed to both a lot of heat and cold and still seems to work. The conductive wire glue on Thinkgeek.com may be even more suited for areas that need more strain relief.
     
  13. Budokhan

    Budokhan Wheeljack's apprentice

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    Hey Gang!

    Okay, so I've been pondering over the weekend how to make it so that you can run a path with the Circuit-writer pen across the plastic of any TF to solder points that attach to either an LED or battery setup without harming the plastic & here's what I came up with. I think it'll work but since I don't have a circuit-writer pen, for now its all just theoretical. :D 


    1- Get some really thin conductive metal sheet ( ie copper, silver, aluminum etc...) & cut two small rectangular pieces. I guess a millimeter thickness would probably work best.

    2- Carefully cut out two small, parallel, correspondingly sized "pockets" in the plastic in the approximate area of the TF where you wish to mount your leads or LED. Make sure there's a snug fit & that both the surface of the tiny metal plates & the surface plastic of your TF are nice and flush.

    3- Cut off the anode & cathode bars on the LED so there's about 1/4 inch poking out from behind the LED. Very carefully, bend the tips downward at a slight angle. Now, pre-solder the very tips only, of the bars.

    4- Very carefully, pre-solder the top surfaces of the small metal plates, making sure to leave a small space at one end.

    5- Mount the small metal plates into their corresponding "pockets" of the TF making sure that their top surfaces are flush with the top surface of the plastic & that there is little to no gap all around the sides of them ( this will be necessary later )

    6- Very carefully solder the bent tips of the pre-soldered LED bars to the pre-soldered points on the tiny metal plates.

    7- Once all this is finished, trace your circuit path over the plastic of the TF right up to and slightly over the edge of the small metal plates so that the path lines just touch the solder points for the LED. ( this is where the "flush fit" part of step 5 comes in :wink:  )


    Now, if all this works the way I think it will, the LED should lite up just fine! There may of course be the occasional resistor issue to work into the equation but that'd be dependent on the project at hand I guess. Not being much of an electronics whiz myself, I hope this helps you guys some or can at least point someone in maybe the right direction?

    Anyway, lemme know what you guys think & please, if you can redesign it better than me, go for it! :thumbs2: 



    Cheers!

    ~BK


    [​IMG]
     

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  14. frenzyrumble

    frenzyrumble Banned

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    nice writeup and diagram.
    if this stuff is more like paint, than pen, then couldn't I technically "dip" my wire/LED/metal into the paint, and allow to dry? how tough is it? how long does it take to dry? I should be getting mine very soon.

    I toyed around with the same idea with the conductive glue, but the glue takes 1-2 hours to dry...
     
  15. Budokhan

    Budokhan Wheeljack's apprentice

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    Thanks for the compliments on the little pseudo-tutorial, much appreciated, hope it helps a bit! :D 

    I wish I could tell ya the particulars on the stuff but the only thing I know for sure about it is that it takes like 20-30 minutes to fully cure. When you get yours, if you wouldn't mind, let me know? It'd be good to have a "heads-up" on the stuff so I know what to expect when the time comes to get me some.

    I had thought about just slathering on the circuit paint too but a potential problem with that could be that not having something solid to anchor the led too where the leads meet the circuit pattern, it could after a while, break free from the drawn on circuit pattern unless it was securely attached some other way. Without knowing how well it adheres to surfaces like plastic, its a tough call.
    Just a thought...
     

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