DIY Mix and Match Droid Pins

This spring I designed this activity for Society of Lady Makers to be made as an interactive art projects for first Fridays at the High Museum of Art with ICE Atlanta. You can adapt this project to create any kind of light up jewelry you would like to make, as it shows you an example of the steps to follow and materials you will need. If you’re a maker, odds are you will have most of these materials you need on hand to make one or two of these droids for little cost. This project is easy to scale up for larger events like maker faire. We made close to 300 of these for our event with the High museum, and the totally cost for all of the materials was about $150 for that quantity. I’ve included links and sources for where you can find these materials below (some links may be affiliate links).

This activity can also be used to teach and introduce people to new skills and materials. Skills used here will include laser cutting, creating a basic circuit, and some basic assembly with adhesives.

This is a great activity for your makerspace or art events. Since the pieces are small, it can be a great way to use up odd amounts of scrap material and make mix and match droids. I made this activity for an event at the High Museum’s First Friday, and about 220 people successfully made droid pins that evening.

Get Your Materials and Tools Together

Before you get started, get all of your tools and supplies together. You’ll need:

Supplies:

Tools:
Laser cutter
Scissors
Wire cutters (depending on the size of your LED legs)

This project could also be adapted to make on a 3D printer.

Lasercut Wood and Acrylic Pieces

For this project, you’re going to need access to a laser cutter. For this I used a glowforge laser cutter. Remember to follow the instructions and safety precautions relevant to your machine.

Prepare your file for laser cutting. The file for these robots is located on my thingiverse page, and can be downloaded as an svg file that can work with most laser cutter software. The file has already broken the lines by color for which function you will need. Depending on the software you are using, you may need to edit the file to remove the pieces you are not cutting at that time. With the glowforge you can just delete the lines you don’t wish to cut at that time in their interface.

First, cut the base pieces for the droids. I recommend cutting these pieces out of 1/8” thick basswood plywood because it is inexpensive to buy, quick to cut, and easy to glue. You’ll first engrave the channel for the LED, then cut the battery hole and the outline of the droid. Once you have finished cutting your pieces, remove your parts and clean your laser bed.

To cut the front pieces of the droid, I recommend using 1/16” or 1/8” acrylic. Engrave or score the lines for the eyes, cut the hole for the LED nose, and cut the outline of the part. If you are using any mirrored materials, remember to reverse the image so the LEDs and battery connections still align.

You’ll now have your droid parts ready to assemble!

Assemble Your Droid Army

  1. Place LED on wood back piece. Make note of which is long positive end of LED. Bend this leg at a 90 degree angle, so this leg rests on the engraved channel.
  2. Glue bottom front piece of your droid to the wood back piece sandwiching the bent LED leg in the engraved channel.
  3. Glue on the droid head you selected. Make sure the piece line up for the LED.
  4. Turn your droid over and place in your battery. Make sure to place the positive end of the battery touching the longer pin of the LED. Fold down the shorter (negative) end so it touches the battery. Your droid should now light up when you hold it together!
  5. Add a piece of tape to your battery and the back of the wooden piece. This secures the LED legs with enough tension to keep it alight, and will be strong and sticky enough to stay in place for longer than the life of the battery.
  6. Attach your pin back to the back of your droid. You now have a piece of science fiction inspired jewelry to wear and show off!

This Instructable is licensed as Creative Commons Noncommercial and attribution, and may be used by individuals and not for profit organizations like Makerspaces, maker organizations, and schools. If you use these instructions and files for an event, please credit me, Colleen Jordan, and include a link back to Society of Lady Makers.

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