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Rollerball pen can draw circuits

The Circuit Scribe is a biro-style pen filled with conductive silver ink so that you can scribble circuits anywhere.

(Credit: Electroninks Incorporated)

The Circuit Scribe is a biro-style pen filled with conductive silver ink so that you can scribble circuits anywhere.

If you've ever wanted to learn how to create circuits, it just became a boat-load more accessible. A University of Illinois-based startup has created the Circuit Scribe: a pen so that you can doodle away — and create an electronic circuit into the bargain.

The Circuit Scribe is a little different to the conductive pens and paints already on the market. It uses a biro-style rollerball tip instead of a squeezable tube and nozzle to create fine, accurate, fast-drying lines — without wastage.

"Circuit Scribe was made for project based learning," Electroninks Incorporated wrote. "Kids can build circuits and switches in their notebooks and use those concepts to get creative! You can build a circuit with nothing but a coin battery, paper clip, and LED, or build out complex circuits with multiple components."

Although the educational potential is pretty huge, though, it can be used for a number of things: experimenting, designing, prototyping, art, even home DIY. The basic reward tier (US$20 plus shipping) includes a pen and an LED component, but higher reward tiers include a some seriously nifty bits and pieces.

(Credit: Electroninks Incorporated)

At the US$30 reward tier, you get a component kit including LEDs, batteries, a battery connector, a BJT NPN transistor, a slide switch, jumper stickers, a 9V battery connector, five resistors, two capacitors and a magnetic switch. From there, you can add: a choice of an educational (including projects) or creator notebook, made from paper that works excellently with the ink; more complex components; packs of pens; and a developer kit; and, for US$500, the team will design a component to your specifications.

And, of course, once you've played around with it a bit, you can go out and buy your own components.

Each pen, unopened, has a shelf life of about a year; opened, it will write smoothly for about six months before starting to dry out a little. There's enough ink inside for about 60 to 80 metres worth of line drawing. The team also recommends you use glossy-type paper, such as photo paper and printer paper; more porous paper absorbs the ink, so it doesn't work as well.

On standard copy paper, the ink can support a maximum current of about 175mA, so you won't be rewiring your home with it. But we think that's a little bit too ambitious for most anyway.

Head on over to the Circuit Scribe Kickstarter project page for more information to pledge your support.