The first one!

A project log for Anwaar Amulet - The story so far

A Platform for Personal Portable PCB tokens

bulbulBulbul 02/21/2024 at 17:380 Comments

Project Log #1

Little sparks for a gift - sometime in 2019 I think.

When I moved to colorado about 5 years ago I got a job in PCBA assembly. It sparked a lot of on and off the job learning about circuit boards and their manufacture. In another lifetime I studied the world of print production university and worked a little while in prepress. It didn't take that long for me notice how similar pcb manufacture and print production really were. 

With my brain as it is, the wires started to cross. I knew people would do really cool things with pcb art and silkscreens and leds but my brain was focusing more on the copper. I thought that since etching copper is a very high resolution reproduction process with tight tolerances, what kind of art could I do just in the copper layer? Then another thought came barrelling in, on top of being pretty, the copper on pcbs are meant to carry current... then maybe I can carry current through art on the board, form and function combining in cool symbolic ways. Symbols? my brain starts reeling I love those! Literal power and energy flowing through a symbol? heck that sounds magical. Thus the idea was born, let me take a design and circuit and combine them together. 

This took form in making a little amulet for my partner. I asked what her favorite silly lil demon guy was that had a sigil and used that to pick the base design. Of her responses i picked Bifrons, a silly demon mans that likes to teach art and science and also light candle flames by graves

The next step was to figure out how to make this into a circuit and I decided to fit some small amber leds on the board, connecting them to the design in a way that would use the art to carry power to the leds.

The first amulet!

I'm going to be honest with you, I have no idea what I was trying to do with the circuit powering the leds. I used a jst 2 pin on there so you could... charge it with a lipo.. I guess? I don't think I thought very hard about it but this was very early in my experiments with surface mount circuit board design I was reaching out and grabbing parts that were available, familiar or seemed like I could make them work. I can't remember my train of thought and am too terrified to look at how terrible the circuit is so i'm pretending the digital files are lost to time (as opposed to buried in some archival folders somewhere). I also used a small radial smd 474mF edlc, this hardly provided power for long as I was designing around size vs even beginning to think about the math and the power requirements. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and a lot of the evolution of the amulet shows that. So my circuit was objectively terrible but the leds did light up even just for a little bit. Most importantly I had ordered the design on oshparks Afterdark boards (clear solder mask on black fr4) and they /looked/ great. It was far from practically usable but I knew I was on to something I wanted to see through, I wanted a nice /functional/ gift for my partner. So the biggest success of this version is that I knew I could make something that looked cool that doubled as a led circuit.