Business cards. A very low tech means of sharing contact details and maybe even promoting what you do. When Tim Jacobs of Mitxela, the same fella who previously impressed us by squeezing a simple MIDI synth into a USB plug, needed a card that reflected what he got up to, simple and low tech were not on the checklist. And so the idea for the StyloCard was born.
Jacobs actually came up with the idea of cramming a working Stylophone tone generator onto a business card a few years ago. His home-etched prototype had 20 tin-plated keys, an ATtiny85 chip, some resistors and a USB port. Using a crocodile clip as a stylus, it functioned as a MIDI Stylophone.
While thinking about how to incorporate a better stylus into the design, he moved into other things and the project went on hold until last month when Jacobs ordered business card-sized boards to be produced cheaply – working out at around US$3 each, including postage.
The StyloCard is exactly 1 mm thick, which would make for a pretty flimsy USB connection when plugged in. So an extra USB section was added to the top of the card design. This is snapped off and soldered on top of the plug at the corner at the same time as the other components are added by Jacobs.
The business card with Stylophone keyboard doesn't have its own sound generation circuits, it merely acts as a MIDI controller for music production software running on the computer to which it's connected. It's 85 mm long and 55 mm wide, with a keyboard measuring 78 mm from one side to the other.
And a crocodile clip is still used as the stylus. But it certainly does its job of representing what its creator is all about. "When it comes to business cards, the entire point is to show off," quipped Jacobs. You can hear more about the project in the video below.
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