Rollerball pen draws conductive circuits


Stole the idea from L. Ron in Battlefield Earth.


I thought that too! :smiley:

But on a more serious note, $30 for the basic / $50 for the “makers” kit is a nice deal and an awesome gift. I wish they were shipping by Christmas but I’ll go ahead and send a couple of their gift certificates out to help push them (hopefully way) over target.


I don’t personally see it as completely replacing breadboarding for circuit prototyping, but I’d be interested in seeing what people come up with once the product gets into enough hands.

Also, I wonder if the graphite in a thick soft pencil lead would be conductive enough to do something like this. There’s also old-school silverpoint drawing where you just pop a length of .999 or sterling silver wire (preferably annealed dead soft) into a lead holder to make drawings. They don’t really lay down a heavy line though.

Cool idea for the pen though.

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I’ve played with conductive ink pens before–gloopier than this rollerball, admittedly–and while they’re a blast for all sorts of projects, they aren’t going to replace breadboards for prototyping.

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I’m hanging out for the version where you draw the symbols for components that then work. That ways I’ll be able to draw batteries and never have to buy them again!


What differentiates this from the other conductive pens on the market? I wonder if this is really Kickstarter material if one can buy a comparable product at Radio Snack.

Check the video

Well, it’s conductive enough for the “lit a lamp” experience, but the resistance is pretty high, so nothing that demands proper voltage will work. Old electronics magazines often suggested making makeshift resistors by scratching some pencil graphite on paper and using paper clips as connectors.

No, I don’t either and nor should it, but I hope this can be a gateway toy with mass appeal - I think this has the real potential for some EE genius to look back years from now and think about how they got started.

Now that’s just silly. They’d just make you pay for the battery symbol.

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This, plus the LED Stickers. Best. Notebook doodles. Ever. Just imagine what Vi Hart could do with this…


One could draw passive RF components with this pen. That’s what I immediately thought of when I saw it - I did quite a bit of work in antenna R&D in which we wanted to try several different tweaks on a design. It was a pain waiting for the PCB to be fabricated every time we wanted a new tweak. With such a pen and a good pen plotter, it would be possible to bash out precise designs in no time. The only difficulty would be adhesion to a known dielectric board (anyone know the dielectric constant of paper?).


In theory, a capacitor symbol should be a capacitor, but you’d probably have to make the lines too close together for it to be practical.

Looks cool. If you’re interested, there’s a similar product made by Bare Conductive in the UK. They have a related kickstarter going on for a “touchboard” that integrates their paint/rollerpen product with external sensors and actuators. Rather cool…

I’ve no relationship, etc, just thought it was a neat idea.

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IIRC, Forrest Mims III built a circuit using on the back of a business card using SMT chips and drawing the traces with a pencil. It was just a simple demonstration circuit, nothing complex, but it worked.

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nice one! also, the resistor “zig-zag” would be a resistor if you made it long enough (this ink has about 1ohm per cm if i remember correctly).

You can also print one:

There’s better and worse at Radio Shack. This “silver acrylic” goop for $23 ($16.50 from others) is fairly heavy-duty, but twitchy to handle – shake it all the time, dry it under a light bulb for 20 min., sometimes use a mask(ing tape) to constrain flow. But, excellent characteristics, such as resistance < 0.017 ohms/mil^2. I’ve put 10 amps through it in a car.

The 'Shack also has this $10 “silver paint”, which is great for fabric/paper, but not much else. Not heavy duty, twitchy to use, short shelf life, but it washes out; fun for kids.

Neither of these is really a “pen” though, nor are they fast-drying, which makes this KS project look interesting.

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