You can make your own squishy circuits dough from simple ingredients. Visit the website for details of what you’ll need and the method for how to make your own. There are also some instructions here for creating your own simple circuits.
The littleBits website is packed with ideas for projects, and also gives you plenty of details of what the modules do, and how to use them:
You can now buy the bits in the UK. One retailer that we know of is:
The Arduino line of microcontrollers is an industry standard for building your own interactive projects, and probably has a bigger maker network than any other product like this. The main site can be found at:
To download the (free) software (which you will need to program the Arduino device) go to:
I would suggest downloading Arduino IDE version 1.0.6 as this is tried and tested. If you want to use a Yun or Due board, you will need Arduino 1.5.8 instead.
For more information on sensors and hardware that you might like to use in a project, try the Adafruit website:
They have a lot of information on how to use their products (which are generally very good) including how to get started, sample software to use, and ideas for projects.
Laser Cutting and 3D Printing
If you want to 3D print or laser cut objects, then you will need a bare minimum of software for the design. The laser cutter that we have in the ArtLab is a LaserScript 3060 with a 60W laser tube. You can cut and engrave acrylic and wood (also cardboard, fabrics and paper) very accurately with this machine, but you cannot cut or engrave metal – it’s not powerful enough.
You will need a 2D modelling application to design your objects for cutting, and it should save (ideally) to dxf format. You can also import halftone and 1-bit bitmapped images for engraving. The software used with the laser cutter will import ordinary jpeg images, but they will need to be converted, and the software is very slow and clumsy to use. Good applications for design are AutoCAD, 3D max, Illustrator, Photoshop, GIMP. You can get the Autodesk products (3D Max and AutoCAD) for free by signing up to Autodesk Education:
Illustrator and Photoshop are installed in the Art Dept. on many of the shared machines, and GIMP is free to download from:
For 3D printing, you will need a product that will save to .stl format, so use either Blender, AutoCAD or 3D Max. Blender can be downloaded for free at: