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Sculpt-a-Light - keywon/log

{ wonder - build - believe } x 2009

Sculpt-a-Light

A class project for Harvard GSD 6418 Smart Materials and MIT MAS 962 Fabrication Techniques.

I am interested in fusing computation into everyday and common objects like Duct Tape or binder clips.

A very simple way to augment duct tape is to make it light up when it’s rolled up by hand. (bedroom picture from

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The motivation:

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Subsequent idea:

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Ideally, I would have built it like this, using electroluminescent sheets:

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And would have built the tape dispenser to charge it:

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In an ideal world where I have a lot more time to implement and refine this… it would be used like this:

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It can look tubed, ugly, long or short… as long as the ends meet:

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The finished prototype: Not too different from above eh?

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How it works:

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I did not pursue the initial plan to use EL (electoluminescent) material because

  • EL takes AC power.
  • You need an inverter circuit to provide the right AC source to the EL material.
  • Inverter circuits are too bulky to put on each module.
  • Smallest circuit on EL watches take 1.5V and transforms it by x100. However it can only liht up a very small surface and is quite dim.

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The technical challenge of going with DC powered LEDs is the lack of slim power source (battery or capacitor).

There are ultrathin capacitors (right) just coming up in the market:

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This actually frustrated me enough to want to build small self-powered component, like inductively charged LED, for future prototyping purposes.

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Bonus picture :)

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