PCB Art – Scarab by Boldport

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Introduction to PCB Art and the PCB Scarab

PCB art is a fascinating intersection of electronics and artistic expression. By creatively designing the copper traces, silkscreen, and overall layout of a printed circuit board (PCB), engineers and artists can create visually striking and functional pieces of art. One notable example of PCB art is the Scarab, designed by Boldport, a company known for its innovative and aesthetically pleasing electronic projects.

The PCB Scarab is a unique project that combines the beauty of ancient Egyptian symbolism with modern electronics. In this article, we will explore the concept of PCB art, the design and features of the Scarab, and the process of assembling this captivating piece of electronic artwork.

What is PCB Art?

PCB art is the creative design of printed circuit boards that goes beyond the purely functional aspects of electronic circuits. By carefully planning the layout of copper traces, components, and silkscreen designs, PCB artists can create visually appealing and often intricate patterns on the surface of the board.

Some key aspects of PCB art include:

  1. Artistic copper trace routing: PCB artists often create elaborate and decorative patterns using the copper traces that connect components on the board.

  2. Creative silkscreen designs: The silkscreen layer of a PCB, which typically includes text and symbols for component placement, can be used to add artistic elements and enhance the overall visual appeal of the board.

  3. Unconventional board shapes: PCB art projects may feature unique board shapes that deviate from the standard rectangular form factor, adding to their artistic value.

  4. Functional electronics: Despite their artistic nature, PCB art projects often include functional electronic circuits, blending form and function.

The Inspiration Behind the PCB Scarab

The PCB Scarab by Boldport draws inspiration from the sacred scarab beetle of ancient Egyptian mythology. In ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle was a symbol of renewal, regeneration, and the cycle of life. It was associated with the god Khepri, who was believed to roll the sun across the sky each day, just as the scarab beetle rolls balls of dung.

Boldport’s PCB Scarab pays homage to this ancient symbolism by incorporating the shape and intricate details of a scarab beetle into the design of a functional electronic circuit board.

Design and Features of the PCB Scarab

The PCB Scarab is a stunning example of PCB art that combines intricate design with functional electronics. Some of its key features include:

  1. Scarab beetle shape: The board is shaped like a scarab beetle, with an oval body and distinctive head, thorax, and wing case regions.

  2. Intricate copper trace patterns: The copper traces on the PCB Scarab form elaborate patterns reminiscent of the texture and details found on real scarab beetles.

  3. LED lighting: The Scarab includes several surface-mounted LEDs that illuminate the wing case region, adding to its visual appeal and symbolizing the sun-related aspects of the scarab beetle in Egyptian mythology.

  4. Capacitive touch sensors: The Scarab features capacitive touch sensors on its underside, allowing users to interact with the beetle and control the LED lighting.

  5. Decorative silkscreen: The silkscreen layer of the PCB Scarab includes intricate patterns and hieroglyphic-inspired designs that enhance its ancient Egyptian aesthetic.

Here is a table summarizing the main features of the PCB Scarab:

Feature Description
Shape Oval-shaped PCB resembling a scarab beetle
Copper Traces Intricate patterns mimicking scarab beetle texture
LED Lighting Surface-mounted LEDs illuminating the wing case region
Capacitive Touch Sensors Touch-sensitive areas on the underside for user interaction
Decorative Silkscreen Hieroglyphic-inspired designs and patterns

Assembling the PCB Scarab

Assembling the PCB Scarab is an enjoyable and rewarding process that allows users to bring this piece of electronic art to life. The kit provided by Boldport includes all the necessary components and a detailed assembly guide.

The main steps involved in assembling the PCB Scarab are:

  1. Soldering surface-mounted components: Begin by soldering the surface-mounted LEDs, capacitors, and other small components onto the designated pads on the PCB.

  2. Attaching through-hole components: Next, insert and solder the through-hole components, such as the microcontroller and battery holder, onto the board.

  3. Programming the microcontroller: Using the provided documentation and software, program the microcontroller to control the LED lighting and respond to the capacitive touch sensors.

  4. Testing and troubleshooting: Once the assembly is complete, test the PCB Scarab to ensure that all components are functioning correctly. If any issues arise, refer to the Troubleshooting Guide or seek assistance from the Boldport community.

  5. Displaying the PCB Scarab: Finally, find a suitable way to display your completed PCB Scarab, such as mounting it in a frame or incorporating it into a larger art installation.

The Significance of the PCB Scarab in Electronic Art

The PCB Scarab by Boldport is a significant contribution to the world of electronic art for several reasons:

  1. Bridging ancient symbolism and modern technology: By drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian mythology and incorporating it into a modern electronic design, the PCB Scarab demonstrates the potential for electronics to serve as a medium for cultural expression and storytelling.

  2. Showcasing the artistic potential of PCBs: The intricate copper trace patterns, decorative silkscreen, and unique shape of the PCB Scarab highlight the creative possibilities of printed circuit board design beyond purely functional considerations.

  3. Engaging users in the creative process: By providing a kit for users to assemble the PCB Scarab themselves, Boldport encourages a hands-on approach to electronic art, allowing individuals to develop a deeper appreciation for the intersection of art and technology.

  4. Inspiring further exploration of PCB art: The PCB Scarab serves as an inspiration for other engineers, artists, and hobbyists to explore the creative potential of printed circuit boards and push the boundaries of electronic art.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the purpose of the PCB Scarab?
    The PCB Scarab is primarily an artistic piece that showcases the creative potential of printed circuit board design. While it does include functional electronic components, such as LEDs and capacitive touch sensors, its main purpose is to serve as an example of PCB art inspired by ancient Egyptian symbolism.

  2. Is the PCB Scarab difficult to assemble?
    The difficulty level of assembling the PCB Scarab depends on the user’s experience with soldering and electronic assembly. However, Boldport provides a detailed assembly guide and resources to help users of various skill levels complete the project successfully.

  3. Can I customize the LED lighting patterns on the PCB Scarab?
    Yes, by modifying the code programmed onto the microcontroller, users can customize the LED lighting patterns and behaviors to suit their preferences.

  4. Is the PCB Scarab suitable for beginners in electronics?
    While the PCB Scarab is not specifically designed for beginners, it can be a suitable project for those with some experience in soldering and a willingness to learn. The provided assembly guide and resources can help beginners navigate the process and develop their skills.

  5. Where can I purchase the PCB Scarab kit?
    The PCB Scarab kit is available for purchase directly from Boldport’s website. Additionally, some electronics retailers and online marketplaces may offer the kit for sale.


The PCB Scarab by Boldport is a captivating example of PCB art that combines ancient Egyptian symbolism with modern electronics. By exploring the design, features, and assembly process of the PCB Scarab, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the creative potential of printed circuit boards and the intersection of art and technology.

As electronic art continues to evolve, projects like the PCB Scarab serve as inspiration for engineers, artists, and hobbyists to push the boundaries of what is possible with PCBs. By embracing the artistic aspects of electronic design, we can create visually striking and meaningful projects that resonate with people on both a technical and emotional level.