Last Thursday I hosted a DIY Creative Electronics workshop at AKQA with the help of Sarah Wever, our organizer of the Mill workshop series. The idea of the workshop series is to let people engage with the tools and technology we have in our Maker's Lab aka The Mill, and also facilitate the collaborations between our creative department and tech department.
This was the second workshop we had (the first one was about 3D printing) and I volunteered to be in charge of preparing the learning materials and hands-on session. I started by guiding people through some basic knowledge about electronics, mainly about what circuit is, and how voltage and current work in a circuit. I also mentioned some situations people might encounter when working on a circuit, including short circuit and open circuit.
With the basic idea about circuits, people might wonder what if they want to create something more than just turning on and off a LED light, so I jumped into the idea of microcontroller. It’s basically a small computer that can calculate the input data from the sensors, and then assign behaviors to different modes of output such as light, movement, sound, etc.. We have both Arduino and Raspberry Pi in our Maker’s lab so people can actually play with them. Sarah and I prepared some simple demo to showcase what we can do, including a potentiometer controlling a motor with a pinwheel, a heartbeat sensor making LED blink, and a light sensor controlling the fading of a LED on a paper circuit.
I also showed some interesting projects using microcontrollers. But for this workshop we didn’t want people to jump into coding microcontrollers, instead we wanted to teach people to create their own paper circuits.
Paper circuit is a good way to show people how circuit works, it’s basically replacing breadboard with paper, and wires with copper tapes. Sarah and I created some templates for people to follow, and also prepared some blank papers for people to draw their own.
People really enjoyed this kind of hands-on experiments with circuits, and after following the templates people started to create their own paper circuits. It’s always fun to see the satisfaction on people’s face when they light up a LED. We got lots of positive feedback from the participants and they really want to see more of this kind of workshop coming up!