Electronic Crafts: Open-Sourcing the Green Electronics Revolution

Working under the label of Electronic Crafts, designer Mouna Andraos has been hard at work researching alternative, novel and sustainable ways to design electronic artifacts. This is no small task, as we've seen just a few of the implications and examples of lead-laden, toxic-heavy electronics and the nasty waste they create (along with a few green electronics ideas to help combat this). One result of her work is "Bright Nights", night lights that are a funky mix of electronics nerdery and DIY ingenuity, with a little solar and LED fun thrown in for good measure.

Andraos recognizes that the electronic manufacturing process is currently a highly polluting process and, although there are some large scale efforts to address this issue (with things like new RoHS legislations), she thinks lots of work still needs to be done to improve this. As such, Night Brights are translucent light boxes where the electronic components are fully visible and part of the aesthetic of the pieces: instead of hiding the electronics behind a black box, they become an inherent part of the object in a hope to familiarize the end consumer with how these objects are made and what goes into them. After the jump: another pic of the project lighting up the night, along with where solar and LEDs fit in.

All the components chosen are lead-free (when applicable) and RoHS compliant. And most importantly, the circuit, albeit simple, is made by hand through an original technique using silver beads and metallic threads instead of standard (and highly polluting) printed circuit boards. The Night Brights also use alternative energy as they are powered by small solar cells embedded inside of them. The solar cells recharge a super-capacitor instead of a traditional Ni-Cad or Ni-MH battery, providing components that are a slightly less polluting and that can sustain thousands of charging cycles against only a few hundreds for batteries. The super-capacitor powers super-efficient LED bulbs, helping the light get the most bang for its solar-powered buck.

This might be our favorite part: says, designer Andraos, "Where as no electronic components can be said to be sustainable per se, the Night Brights offer first and concrete steps towards more sustainable electronic designs. Behind the design of the Night Brights is also a belief in sharing insight on manufacturing processes and what the possibilities for designers might be when it comes to making things better and more sustainably. As such, the entire making process of the lights is open source and shared publicly online with step-by-step instructions. The intent is to help users and creators understand the technologies driving everyday electronics better, modify them to fit their real needs and possibly create new ones all together. It also allows for new distribution scenarios while it explores and refines a methodology of electronic crafts based on the practices spreading trough already emerging open source information networks." So, you don't have to make a square night light, if you prefer to sleep in the dark, but you can create something useful, efficient and more sustainable than many other similar options out there. Though the end result is a cube, the work at Electronics Crafts is clearly the result of thinking outside the box, with an extra green twist. We like. ::Electronic Crafts

Tags: Alternative Energy | Electronics | E-Waste | Lighting