A Clothespin Piano

Hey there, it’s another project! This one (like many others) can be found in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database. This is a piano (another one) but instead of buttons we’ve assembled our own “keys” using clothespins. It’s a Clothespin Piano! They’ve already got springs to snap back to a “closed/off” position, so adding a little bit of Maker Tape was easy. (And yes, we had lots of clothespins around from the Simple Coin Cell Battery Testers that we make.)

Here’s a nice illustration to show the connections and how to assemble it. You could print this page and use it as a guide, and we’ve also got a PDF that can be used with just the outline of the clothespins and and tape. (I actually laser etched some cardboard for my version, which made lining things up very easy.)

We used 1/4″ Maker Tape and 1/8″ Maker Tape. The former for the clothespins, just to get better surface contact, and the latter for the Crazy Circuits connections.

Worth noting is that these are “Normally Closed” switches (or “NC”) instead of “Normally Open” (or “NO”) switches, so we’ve reversed the logic in the code to handle that. (Also fun, if you disconnect all the keys it’ll just play notes all the time.)


UFO Badge

Hey, it’s time for another badge! This time we’ve got a UFO Badge. It’s another Brown Dog Gadgets project that’s a great example of using Maker Tape.

The PDF file contains two pages you can print onto cardstock and then cut up and make into the badge. (Full instructions are in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database.)

These badges are fun, cheap, and easy-to-make wearables. They feature simple circuitry that requires no soldering, just a few components and some conductive tape.

(Note: This one doesn’t actually blink, but you can use whatever LEDs you like. The 10mm Jumbo LEDs at Brown Dog Gadgets have built-in resistors, which make them great for simple projects like this.)


Classic Mac Paper Bot

You might remember my Rockin’ Amp Vibrobot. Well, I thought it would be fun to make a old Mac, since they were iconic and sort of cube-shaped.

This is another project for Brown Dog Gadgets and you can grab the Classic Mac template if you want to make your own. As always, we recommend Maker Tape for this project because copper tape suuuuuuuuucks!

Inspiration (and files) came from SVGRepo, where I found the front view of a Mac and a floppy disk. Light editing was involved, as well as creating the other five sides of the Mac, the tabs, slots, etc. (This follows the same basic template of the Rockin’ Amp.)

We usually make a small non-descript “key switch” that slides into a slot to turn on our vibrobot friend, but I couldn’t resist make a tiny floppy to do the honors.

Oh, and Josh recommended we add the 3mm LED to the front. Tiny LED to go with Tiny computer and floppy disk!

Welcome to Macintosh!


Cardboard Knife Switch

For many electronics enthusiasts there is a special place in their heart for knife switches. At least that’s the case for educators I’ve worked with the past decade or so. My guess is it has to do with the simplicity of the knife switch in explaining how a circuit works. Is the circuit opened or is it closed? A knife switch provides a visual demonstration of this like few other switches do nowadays.

Knife switches are not used for most modern day circuits as they have been replaced by switches that are safer at high voltages, but since we work with low voltage circuits in educational settings this DIY Cardboard Knife Switch is perfect.

I’ve talked to a few educators and heard complaints about how expensive the old style knife switches are. (You can buy new “cheap” plastic versions for about $2 per switch, but the ceramic ones are often $10 or more.) I thought I’d lower the curve by creating a cheap DIY version that can be made with Maker Tape.

There’s a template that can be used to make one from cardboard or other material that’s got some rigidity and thickness to it. Cardboard is great, foamcore could work, cereal boxes are too thin. The template expects some cardboard and a way to cut it, which could be an X-ACTO knife, some scissors, a razor blade, or even a laser cutter.

Once you have your four pieces you attach some conductive Maker Tape, poke some holes for the brass fasteners to go through, and you’re nearly done!

Assemble the four pieces using the brass fasteners to hold them together and to act as a pivot point for the lever and you’ve got a knife switch. It may help to pinch the top of the two outside pieces a bit narrower so the knife is guided into place a bit better. (You’ll see this tip and more in the PDF guide.)

Besides the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database, you can also find this project on Instructables.


Campfire Badge

If you loved the Rocket Badge they you’ll probably like the Campfire Badge. And of course if you do like the Campfire Badge you can grab it from the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database.

I started with this campfire from SVGRepo and with a few modifications, I think it works well for the badge. Above is the top part of the badge, and below is the bottom part with the circuit. You print both parts and do a bit of folding and taping to create the two layers.

The circuit consists of a red LED, a CR2032 battery, and Maker Tape to connect it all together. There’s also a paperclip that can hold the paper switch closed to keep it turned on.

This one has an extra illustration to show the layer assembly. I’ll admit, I’m not the greatest illustrator, but I’m getting better. Most of my work doing vector illustration in the past 10 years has been for technical drawings used for digital fabrication, not for… art. Creating these illustrations is a lot of fun though, and I’m glad I get to do it.

Like many other projects for Brown Dog Gadgets, we provide a full-color template and a black & white version if you want to do all the coloring and decoration yourself.

These are fun projects that can be done at home or in a workshop setting using cheap materials. More badges are coming…

Stay Tuned!