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Crank Activated LEGO Circuits

The latest project for Brown Dog Gadgets is a LEGO-based, crank-activated circuit. This is a simple build that uses LEGO along with Maker Tape to allow a rotating cylinder to close a circuit.

The trick here is that Maker Tape is not just conductive, but it’s strong, and can be stretched just a bit against the cylinder to provide good electrical contact. Besides a few LEGO bricks on a baseplate we’ve got some round LEGO pieces for the cylinder, two bricks with holes, a long and short axle, and a beam with axle holes to make the handle. Overall, pretty simple.

This is one of those projects which really highlights what Maker Tape can do. There really isn’t an easy or reliable way to do this with wire, or with copper foil tape.

The video below shows the circuit in action, and if you want more, we also showed it off during one of our live video streams that we do each week.

As always, get the full details of this build on the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Site. And yes, we’ve got a lot more fun coming with crank activated circuits!

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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.)

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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.)

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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!

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Rocket Badge

This Rocket Badge is a follow-up to the Rocket Card I posted recently. It’s another Brown Dog Gadgets project that you can find on their project site.

I started with this illustration and made a number of changes, then designed a badge with it.

The badge has a front and back part, with the circuit between the two. The LEDs shine through the paper as well as out the sides. A paper switch with conductive tape and a paper clip is used to turn it on and off.

This badge uses a red LED, blue LED, a CR2032 battery, and some Maker Tape. There’s a full-color version as well as a black & white version you can color and decorate as you see fit.

I’ve got a few more badge ideas in the works, but if you’ve got an idea for one, let me know!