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 and drop the LED light image into ARC, use cut and paste or select File -> Import Image.

Position the circuit in the middle of the build plate by clicking and dragging:

Position circuit.png

The ARC software automatically connects to any Argentum when it's launched. To manually connect click connect on the console tab.

Arc connect.png

Once connected the connect button will change to disconnect and the console will print the firmware version on the printer.

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 pressing the Calibrate button on the Console tab. Make sure the power switch on the back of your printer is on. The carrage will move around to the 4 corners figuring out where it's limits are and which direction it should move its steppers in.

Once you're connected we'll try a dry print to make sure everything is working before we put in conductive cartridges. Make sure you have no cartridges loaded into the printer. Switch back to the Layout tab and click the Print button. The software will process the file, upload it to the printer and start printing. 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. Get a sheet of stone paper (this is the white one) from your substrates pack and place it in the printer roughly where your print is positioned in the GUI.

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 and 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.

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 either roll the substrate automatically or return home so that you can gently dab your print with the included paper towel to remove the excess water, or both, depending on which options you select at the start of the print. You can also press the Pause button at any time and Resume the print when you're ready. 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 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, drying and measuring conductivity 3 more times. After printing 6 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 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

Success, your Argentum is ready for its outer shell! Please complete chapter 13 of the Assembly Guide.

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