By Andrew Liszewski
Over on Instructables, Tom Ward has a great tutorial on how to create a rather professional looking electronic business card that scrolls your contact info via a 5×15 matrix of red LEDs. Not surprisingly, the design is considerably more expensive than a traditional business card, but it’s definitely the type of thing a client won’t ever throw away.
This is the sort of card that would suit a high-tech business, or those who were involved in high-value contracts, where an innovative image is all important. I would never suggest that it would replace a conventional business card, but to impress that all-important prospective client, there would be more than a few companies who would be happy to spend just an extra few dollars. Like the flashlight card, the aim is to design a business card that people just can’t throw away!
The design is really quite simple for what it does – a matrix of 5×15 LEDs, connected to a single-chip “PIC”microcontroller. A handful of resistors and switches complete the design (Schematic available below). By keeping the microcontroller in sleep mode unless the buttons are pressed, the battery can last several years, and still allow a couple of thousand displays of your messages.
While the materials seem pretty easy to find online, the construction does require some know-how, including soldering skills and a way to program the card’s PIC microcontroller. And while Tom admits that making these by yourself by the hundreds is not easy or cheap, he is optimistic that they can be commercially produced which should drastically reduce the per-unit costs.