Printeractive Workshop Tutorial

An introduction to Printeractive!

Dear participants. We would like to thank you again for taking part in our workshop, and if you have not done so, please finish filling up the survey we emailed. We really need it to reflect on our work.

What you need

To develop any Printeractive work you will need some sort of interface which will be your printed object and something for it to engage or react with, such as a circuit’s LED. To build your circuits, you can use Fritzing to design them, or to get some examples such as the one below.

You will also need the Arduino IDE which is the original application to upload the low level data to the Arduino, such as the Firmware for the computer to talk to it, and even programs to interact with the electronics. Nevertheless, it is easier to use S4A to interact with it, by using programming blocks as shown in the image below. 


In the following tutorials, we will be attaching an image of the circuit and the way in which you can use S4A to connect different things.

Don’t forget to click on the flag (or trigger) to run your program!


Turning a led on and off by pressing the space bar (or any other key).

02. Using light sensor to change the intensity of a LED

In this example we are using a light reader, and use that value to do something. Therefore, when the particular value of that sensor (Analog X), we will trigger the on or off value for that LED digital object.

03. Using a physical button to turn on or off the LED

Instead of using the keyboard, we can also use physical buttons integrated in the circuit to trigger such actions. The button will send an digital signal, and once we detect it, we will trigger that action, for example LED on pin 10 – ON.

04. Moving a motor servo

Servos are motors that can rotate to a particular angle. We can trigger the action very easily with any controller. For example when a particular key (left arrow) is pressed, we can get that servo to rotate to a specific angle. 

05. Changing the colour of an RGB LED 

Some LEDs will will have a series of other LEDs embedded in a single one. For example the RGB led will have a Red, Green and Blue LED in a single one. Each one will go into a particular pin as if they were independent, as well as a negative pin. This way we can produce over 18 billion colours by combining the value that we are going to assign to each one of those independent LEDs. 

This scratch program will broadcast the name of the program to run a particular colour with specific values for that color and then go through the diverse ones.

06. A theremin that changes colour based on the pitch

This is probably the craziest example that you can make and its incredibly easy. We are using an ultrasonic sensor that again, sends a value. We are using that value to specify the pitch of a sound. Scratch/S4a contains a library of sounds that we can use to get started. Otherwise you can also combine it with any other media devices. This example can also be done with a light sensor, instead of the ultrasonic sensor.

Combining it all together

Once you have your content, it becomes your skeleton to build your printeractive content. For example you can use a light sensor combined with a servo to create a shadow when there is too much light.

Or what if you can use it to show or hide some other content in your print. For example, we used this collection about pilgrimage from Europeana to show an hide a walker behind a window.

What you can do from this is up to you! We are going to be opening a call for artist, whilst providing some access to our print studio, as well as providing some help with the built of your circuits.

If you make something, or find this useful, drop us a line on our instagram @Printeractives, we will really appreciate any feedback.