Hi everyone, welcome to the Hack Chat. We're excited to have @Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे today to talk about his wonderful circuit sculptures. If you haven't seen them, you should check them out at https://www.bhoite.com/sculptures/
Welcome Mohit! Can you maybe kick us off with a little about yourself and how you got into circuit sculpture?
@Paul Stoffregen progressing slowly :-( Have been busy adding support tons of new modules lately... including improved Teensy support ;-)
I work as senior hardware engineer at Particle, where I help design and build our flagship IoT modules and dev kits. I'm also a maker at heart, and in my free time, I dabble in a lot of projects - free-formed circuit sculptures, robotics, electronics, woodworking, etc.
Yes, love the posters that @Aleksandar Bradic does!
have we started? Cause I really wanna know how you manage to bend those thick wires so perfectly?!
My first introduction to freeform electronics came though BEAM robotics as a teenager
@Paul Stoffregen just regular flat nose pliers, and patience! It very straight forward if you give it a try
but, really any regular good pliers would do the trick
I have pliers... but where do I buy that superhuman patience?!
have you tried jewelers pliers? there are some with round ends that work really well
lol, thats kind of you to say
do you use any fixtures to align components? i saw in your gallery that you had 3D printed fixtures holding LEDs
I'd imagine the serrations on the jaws of most pliers would mar the wires. True?
I use mechanics square to align the right angles, essentially tapping the rods to it while soldering
^ I really like these for precision wire bending
@Dan Maloney yes, they would. The flat needle pliers are what we would want to use.
@Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे how you make teh design? First paper design/CAD or something, or just go sculpting... ?
Is there audio in this chat?
how often do you incorporate your sculpting work into you actual engineering test circuitry - outside of the obvious commonalities like soldering and working with leaded parts.
I usually draw template using either Fusion 360 or Adobe Illustrator, and take a print out.
@Chris Sullivan - No, text only. I'll have a transcript available at the end
@mumi all the time! But I don't focus on making it look pretty - then its purely functional
Its more like dead-bug style soldering then
so it's not like you somehow end up with a 14 inch tall r2d2 sculpture on your bench by the time you're done mocking up a power supply?
or a penny farthing
What does your basic materials list include? I assume that's brass rod as opposed to coiled wire...
For brass I use 0.5mm, 0.8mm rods from ACE hardware (they are made by K&S metals)
WES51 soldering iron
No clean solder flux: https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/chemtronics/CW8400/CW8400-ND/768491
Plier: Xuron 9100 https://xuron.com/index.php/main/consumer_products/3/77
Diagonal cutter: Xuron 485 https://xuron.com/index.php/main/consumer_products/5/38
Do you use some sort of fixtures or jigs to make your sculptures?
Recently I have started to use 20awg wire which I straighten using a hand drill
Made a quick video on how to straighten a brass wire into a rod. The end result is slightly under-twisted, but you'll get the idea. This is still a new technique to me, so I'll post my experiences as I learn more/get better at it. Update: For those of you wondering about the ruler, I got it from this gentleman https://www.sv1afn.com/pcbruler.html
2,147 Likes, 37 Comments - Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे (@mohitbhoite) on Instagram: "Made a quick video on how to straighten a brass wire into a rod. The end result is slightly under-..."
I get a lot done in terms of fixtures with just machinists sqaure
sometime 3d printed jig go a long when - especially when creating LED matrices
do you have the LED jigs on thingiverse?
Neat - looks like the drill work-hardens the wire a bit too.
Have you tried incorporating brass tubing with the solid wire?
wow, I'd never heard of that drill straightening trick
Tubing would be really cool. Especially with mitered bends
Brass tubing is great too, but difficult to bend. I gave successfully use it to created slightly stronger robot chassis- or when I need to pass wires
wow, cool, also didn't know that straightening trick
@Dan Maloney mitered/brazed tubing has been on my list but haven't had time to do any sculptures
Great drill trick. But I'm curious what your soldering process is, just ample care? I can do OK 3/5 times, but 2/5 is just a big ugly glob of solder. Any tips there?
applying a generous amount of flux at the joint works like magic! I also clean the joint with fine steel wool to get a better finish
here is an example of the square being used
sometimes just using proto-pcbs also helps
you can also use the PCB layout as a template
Question on cuts: do the irregular ends left by side-cut or flush-cut snips cause any problems when soldering? Seems like a clean cut with a scissor-type cutter might make a better match-up that would be easier to solder.
great question Dan, yeah, depending on the type of join you are looking at, you'd want a flat cut or a pinch cut. But even then, there is enough solder going around to fill the voids and gaps
Is there any kind of project that you're especially excited to give this artful treatment?
BTW the Xuron 485 has a clip retainer that stops from having your brass rods flying across the room - or into an eye
I suppose cutting a bit long and then cleaning up the cut with a file or sandpaper would work too
here is a great tutorial on soldering brass that is helpful
how do you clean the flux off the completed sculpture?
@Nicholas Upton I'm hoping to start building kinematic robotic sculptures soon
@hazelton with fine steel wool and alcohol wipes
For hard to reach places, I use liquid flux remover
Mohit, your work is very inspiring - thanks for sharing your tips and tricks. For brass tube bending, have made use of the trick where you pack it full of sand (or similar) before bending to keep it from collapsing?
@Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे what brand is the pcb ruler you show in that instagram post? Love Particle btw, currently prototyping a client project with a Boron LTE.
you can also try filling brass tubing with soapy water and freeze before bending.
@Andy Geppert ! I have not tried that. I wonder if it would also work for 1mm tubesThank you
this seems to require infinite amounts of patience.. is it like meditation for you?
@Matt Phillips I ruler from the video is made by Makis Katsouris
@diego-quiroga it totally is like meditation, thats why i love it!
How do you resolve situation when you need to solder 3 wires in one place? How do you ensure that previously soldered 2 wires do not desolder while soldering the 3rd?
It how I like to unwind from a days work of designing PCBs, lol
do you ever keep designs that didn't work out, just because they look cool?
or do they all work out, in one way or another
@hazelton - I gotta try that trick!
@mic.cisek its tricky but with practice you learn to apply the right amount of heat for the right amount of time. It also helps when all three rods are filxed/taped - but that isn't always the case
@mumi I try my best to make it work. I do have a lot of failed attempts that never see any camera time.
The brass from the failed projects also get reused for newer ones
What do you think are the most aesthetically pleasing component packages? Which ones do you like using the best?
What do you use to ventilate your workspace? If anything
@Jiří Praus who has been doing some fabulous work, and more importantly sharing his process!I also want to give a shout-out to
@Nicholas Upton I use a solder fume extractor
@Dan Maloney any packages with 0.1" pitch are fantastic. My favorites have been the seven segment displays
I love your work, and I'm considering trying my hand at a classic experimental sound circuit this way. Have you integrated speakers or piezos in your designs? and are they all powered by but