Starter Circuit

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How to make a starter circuit!

If you purchased a printer kit it will come with all the components needed to make two simple circuits that light up when you press a button.

It is very strongly advised that you read through the entirety of Cartridge Care before continuing with this tutorial.

Start by downloading our software from here.

Incase you're having trouble finding the kit this is what it looks like:

Demo circuit.jpg

The first thing we're going to do is check that there are no parts missing from the kit. You should have all the components shown in this photo:

Demo components.jpg

From top to bottom left to right these components are: Shipping decoys, buttons, LEDs resistors. You might be confused by the card like devices that are lab led dculex. Due to shipping regulations we are not able to ship lithium batteries unless they are contained inside an electronic device. This was the cheapest electronic device we could find and contains the CR1220 batteries we'll use in the circuit.

This is the circuit we'll be printing and assembling. Go ahead and save the image to your computer.

LED light.png

The ARC software generates print files from PNG images. The Argentum prints at 600DPI. If you're creating your own designs to print make sure they're exported as a PNG at 600DPI.

Drag the LED light image into ARC

File:Http:// in circuit.png/800px-Drag in circuit.png

Now browse to the directory of your SD card and click Save. If you haven't got a SD reader build into your computer you can use the one provided. It's located in box No. 3 (Misc).

ARC save file.png

Eject the SD card and put it in the SD slot of your Argentum.

Before we print with conductive ink we'll try a dry print to make sure everything is ok with your printer. After the USB cable is connected to your computer; and power supply to mains power you can connect to it in the ARC software. The ARC software does not automatically refresh ports so if it was open when you connected your Argentum just close and re-open it. If you have multiple ports and are having difficulty telling which one it is try disconnecting and looking which port is missing from the list. Once you click connect the button test will change to disconnect indicating that its connected. The firmware version on your printer will also be displayed.

ARC connecting.png

ARC connected.png

The first thing we'll do is run a calibration. There's a calibration function built into the Argentums firmware that is used to set the direction of the stepper motors. You can run it by sending the character "c" using the ARC software. Just enter c into the command box while your Argentum is connected and hit Send; the carrage will move around to all 4 corners figuring out where it's limits are and which direction it should move its steppers in.

The Argentum currently only supports reading from a SD card that was present when it is powered on. If you take your SD card out at any point you will have to disconnect and reconnect. Once you're connected we'll try a dry print to make sure everything is working before we put in conductive cartridges. We'll need to move the carriage to a starting position in order to do this. Using the 4 arrows in the ARC software jog your carriage to a position on the right front of the bed. Leave enough room on the right so that the cartridge clamp can still fully open. This is important so that we can still insert and remove cartridges.

Carrage Pos.JPG

Now you can press the print button! The carriage will move from front to back printing strips. At the end of each strip it will move to the left to print the next strip. This will continue until the print is finished.

Now that we've checked that everything is working correctly we're going to put in a substrate to print on. In order to know where to place the substrate in the printer look top down into the carrier through part CA-24 on the ascorbic (far) side. This is the clear plastic plate that the printhead rests on when it's inserted into its slot. We're looking to see which spot on the bed the bottom right side of the rectangular cut out in CA-24 lines up with. Look for the cross closest to this.

Carrage alignment.jpg

Once you've identified the cross jog your printer to the back left of your Argentum. Get a sheet of stone paper (this is the white one) from your substrates pack and place it in the printer so the front right side of your stone paper lines up with the cross as shown in this photo:

Insert substrate.jpg

Tape the substrate down using any sort of sticky tape on each of the substrates sides so it is secure and can't move. You'll want to make sure the substrate is flat can can't move once taped.

If you have not yet, read through the outline of Loading Cartridges to ensure you place your cartridges correctly and do not damage your system.

After the substrate is taped down jog your printer back to it's original position. Now it's time to put the cartridges in! Since stone paper is a porous substrate we'll be using an ascorbic (not ascorbic+) cartridge. Un-clip a silver and ascorbic cartridge and prime them. With the pin protector in insert the cartridges into their respective slots. After both cartridge are in remove the protector and close the cartridge clamp. Now you can press print!

Print first layer.jpg

Your Argentum should print one layer then return back to it's starting position. After it's finished move your carriage to the back left of the printer and gently dab your print with the included paper towel to remove the excess water. At the end of the first layer the conductivity of the print (per trace) will be around 1k ohm. Check the conductivity with a multimeter. The conductivity will decrease exponentially for each layer printed. After drying press the home button to move back to the starting position. After the first layer the print will look black. This is a result of the ink staining the stone in the stone paper. There also may be some of this staining around the trace. This staining does not affect the conductivity significantly. The print will start to look more silvery after a number of layers.


Finished print.jpg

Now repeat this process of printing, moving, drying and measuring conductivity 3 more times. After printing 4 layers our conductivity for one trace was 3.5 ohms.

Measuring conductivity.JPG

Feel free to print more layers to get a feel for how how the conductivity decreases with more layers but 5 ohms is more than enough conductance for this circuit. Once you're happy with the conductivity carefully peel off the sticky tape from the edges of your stone paper and remove it from your printer. Now wash your circuit under cold tap water for 10 seconds. We recommend washing your circuit in bathroom sink or other area not used to prepare food.

Washing circuit.jpg

After your circuit is dry we can start assembling it. Pat it down with your paper towel and wait 10 minutes or until it's dry. If you want to speed this up you can use a hair dryer or blow on it. A hot air gun will work too but use a heat less than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) so the paper doesn't melt. One of the 4 strips of z-tape should be enough to assemble the circuit but feel free to use more if you like. Cut the strip into 6 pieces. If you keep them on the strip they are easier to peel one side of the backing off.

Cut z tape.jpg

One by one peel 6 pieces of z-tape off the white side of it's backing and place it on the sections of the circuit where components will go as shown:

Placed ztape.png

Use your thumb to press hard on each piece to ensure that it is properly stuck down. Use your tweezers to peel the brown backing off each piece of z-tape. This can be slightly tricky, try to get the pointy bit of your tweezers in one corner. Now you can stick on the components as shown. Note that the leg of the LED with the green dot is connected to the negative terminal of the battery.

Asembled circuit.png

Press each component leg down hard with a sharp instrument to ensure a good connection:

Push down.jpg

Now put in your battery and push the button!

Circuit on.jpg

After you've mastered the basics of printing you can align your printheads but we'd recommend reading the print overlap page first.