Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

A event log for Circuit Sculpture Hack Chat

Bend it like Bhoite

dan-maloneyDan Maloney 11/06/2019 at 21:040 Comments

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

Welcome Mohit! Can you maybe kick us off with a little about yourself and how you got into circuit sculpture?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:00 PM
Hello everyone, thank you @Dan Maloney for hosting me today! and thank you @Aleksandar Bradic for that amazing poster design, and title.

Boian Mitov12:00 PM
@Paul Stoffregen progressing slowly :-( Have been busy adding support tons of new modules lately... including improved Teensy support ;-)

morgan12:00 PM
hi @Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे

Boian Mitov12:00 PM
Thank you @Dan Maloney and @Aleksandar Bradic :-)

Boian Mitov12:01 PM
Hello @Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे :-)

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:01 PM
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.

cp joined  the room.12:01 PM

Yes, love the posters that @Aleksandar Bradic does!

Matt Phillips joined  the room.12:01 PM

Paul Stoffregen12:02 PM
have we started? Cause I really wanna know how you manage to bend those thick wires so perfectly?!

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:02 PM
My first introduction to freeform electronics came though BEAM robotics as a teenager

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:03 PM
@Paul Stoffregen just regular flat nose pliers, and patience! It very straight forward if you give it a try

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:03 PM
I use these pliers, if anyone is interested: Xuron 485

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:03 PM
but, really any regular good pliers would do the trick

Paul Stoffregen12:04 PM
I have pliers... but where do I buy that superhuman patience?!

morgan12:04 PM
have you tried jewelers pliers? there are some with round ends that work really well

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:04 PM
lol, thats kind of you to say

psenour12:04 PM
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?

morgan12:05 PM


Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:05 PM
I use mechanics square to align the right angles, essentially tapping the rods to it while soldering

morgan12:06 PM
^ I really like these for precision wire bending

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:06 PM
@Dan Maloney yes, they would. The flat needle pliers are what we would want to use.

Boian Mitov12:07 PM
@Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे how you make teh design? First paper design/CAD or something, or just go sculpting... ?

Chris Sullivan12:07 PM
Is there audio in this chat?

mumi12:08 PM
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.

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:08 PM
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

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:09 PM
@mumi all the time! But I don't focus on making it look pretty - then its purely functional

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:09 PM
Its more like dead-bug style soldering then

mumi12:11 PM
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?

Pranav Kedia joined  the room.12:12 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:12 PM
I wish!

mumi12:12 PM
or a penny farthing

What does your basic materials list include? I assume that's brass rod as opposed to coiled wire...

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:15 PM
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:

Plier: Xuron 9100

Diagonal cutter: Xuron 485

Pranav Kedia12:15 PM
Do you use some sort of fixtures or jigs to make your sculptures?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:15 PM
Recently I have started to use 20awg wire which I straighten using a hand drill

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:16 PM


‪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

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-..."

Read this on Instagram

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:17 PM
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

psenour12:17 PM
do you have the LED jigs on thingiverse?

Neat - looks like the drill work-hardens the wire a bit too.

Kasser joined  the room.12:18 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:18 PM
I do!

hazelton12:18 PM
Have you tried incorporating brass tubing with the solid wire?

Paul Stoffregen12:19 PM
wow, I'd never heard of that drill straightening trick

Nicholas Upton joined  the room.12:19 PM

Tubing would be really cool. Especially with mitered bends

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:20 PM
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

morgan12:21 PM
wow, cool, also didn't know that straightening trick

morgan12:22 PM
@Dan Maloney mitered/brazed tubing has been on my list but haven't had time to do any sculptures

Nicholas Upton12:22 PM
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?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:23 PM
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

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:23 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:24 PM
here is an example of the square being used

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:24 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:24 PM
sometimes just using proto-pcbs also helps

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:25 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:25 PM
you can also use the PCB layout as a template

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:25 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:26 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:26 PM
to this:

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:26 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:27 PM
or this:

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:27 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:28 PM

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.

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:29 PM
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

Nicholas Upton12:31 PM
Is there any kind of project that you're especially excited to give this artful treatment?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:31 PM
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

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:31 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:31 PM
here is a great tutorial on soldering brass that is helpful

hazelton12:33 PM
how do you clean the flux off the completed sculpture?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:33 PM
@Nicholas Upton I'm hoping to start building kinematic robotic sculptures soon

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:34 PM
@hazelton with fine steel wool and alcohol wipes

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:35 PM
For hard to reach places, I use liquid flux remover

Andy Geppert12:35 PM
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?

Matt Phillips12:36 PM
@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.

hazelton12:37 PM
you can also try filling brass tubing with soapy water and freeze before bending.

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:37 PM
Thank you @Andy Geppert ! I have not tried that. I wonder if it would also work for 1mm tubes

diego-quiroga12:37 PM
this seems to require infinite amounts of patience.. is it like meditation for you?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:38 PM
@Matt Phillips I ruler from the video is made by Makis Katsouris

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:38 PM
@diego-quiroga it totally is like meditation, thats why i love it!

mic.cisek12:39 PM
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?

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:39 PM
It how I like to unwind from a days work of designing PCBs, lol

mumi12:40 PM
do you ever keep designs that didn't work out, just because they look cool?

mumi12:40 PM
or do they all work out, in one way or another

Andy Geppert12:41 PM
@hazelton - I gotta try that trick!

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:41 PM
@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

wayn3w joined  the room.12:41 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:42 PM
@mumi I try my best to make it work. I do have a lot of failed attempts that never see any camera time.

Timo Emmerich joined  the room.12:42 PM

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:43 PM
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?

Nicholas Upton12:45 PM
What do you use to ventilate your workspace? If anything

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:45 PM
I also want to give a shout-out to @Jiří Praus who has been doing some fabulous work, and more importantly sharing his process!

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:46 PM
@Nicholas Upton I use a solder fume extractor

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:46 PM
like this one:

Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे12:47 PM
@Dan Maloney any packages with 0.1" pitch are fantastic. My favorites have been the seven segment displays

wayn3w12:47 PM
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