So the plan for the SoundBook fabrication was devised, and now it’s time to execute.
I started with some test cuts on the laser cutter, which I hadn’t used before. The plan was to use raster etching to score the parts I wanted to fold, and vector cutting for the parts I wanted to cut through. Here’s the results of the test cut:
Obviously I learned that “etching” really doesn’t cut into the surface much, definitely not enough to be able to fold the material along the lines. But I also learned that vector cutting this particular matte board on the recommended “matte board” settings doesn’t cut all the way through either. In fact, it cuts through the amount I was hoping the etching would, making for a perfect depth for folding along the lines.
So when I went to my real cuts, I decided to do all vector cutting, with the intention of turning up the settings to cut all the way through, and using the recommended settings to score my fold lines.
The fold lines worked out, however they needed a lot of reinforcement. For now, I am using duck tape, but that is obviously a fairly hacky solution and doesn’t provide the most solid structure. It does, however, work well for hinging.
I tried turning up the settings a bit on the laser cutter for my all-the-way-through cuts, but they still didn’t go all the way through and I could see a flame igniting a bit as it cut, so I was scared to turn it up any higher. I ended up using the recommended settings for the whole thing and using an exacto knife to cut through what I needed to. Another hacky solution I’d like to find something better for.
In any case, here’s how it ended up:
I used velcro on the back spine so I could remove it and reattach it as needed. This whole structure still feels very much like a prototype and not a final fabrication, although its a big step up from the copy-paper one I made last week.
Anyway, I used metal binding posts (the plastic ones I’d ordered were extremely difficult to screw in/unscrew, and knowing I’d have to be doing that a lot as I add content, I went with the easier-to-use metal ones).
Then I went about creating the sensors, which are made of copper tape. I used the vinyl cutter to create thin strips to attach to the bottom of each page:
The original plan was to hang the tape off the edge of the page to pass through to the electronics, and to solder a wire on the end of it. Due to the delicate thinness of the tape, though, it was tearing as I tried turning the pages. So I instead soldered the wire directly to the edge of the copper-covered page, like so:
I made several of these pages and attached them into the book via the binding posts. For now I’m using a regular arduino because it’s much easier to prototype with than the eventual Micro I plan to integrate into the spine. It looks like a mess, but it works:
I created a Max Patcher to control the audio:
Then I tested the thing out. Here’s how it looks in action:
There are a few problems. First of all, the sensors running along the bottom don’t consistently touch each other when the pages are closed. The paper lifts up slightly, breaking the connection. For the first set of pages, I made this a bit better by adding more copper tape to the sides of the pages. I had to solder over the tape connections because the back adhesive is not conductive. This made the first set of pages work a bit more reliably because the sides touch more consistently than the bottom, but it’s still not close to perfect.
I just ordered some 1-inch wide copper tape with conductive adhesive on the back. For my next iteration I will border the outside three edges of the page with wide strips of tape. I also want to use heavier, less flexible paper stock so the pages don’t warp over time/handling, which will create a more reliable connection.
Seeing the results of the etching from my test cuts makes me want to etch all the pages’ content onto black stock, which I think will look really cool, much cooler than standard inkjet printing on white paper.
I need to find a better, more aesthetically-pleasing way to hinge my book and my pages.
I’d also like to use a sturdier material for the outside of the book, as it feels rather flimsy to hold right now.
In any case, I’ve learned a whole lot from this prototype, and it will certainly help me develop this thing better going forward.