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Paper Circuits

Introduction

Whether you're a hardcore hacker or just getting started, have some fun by making this simple paper circuit.

Objectives

  • Learn about circuits.
  • Make a Star Wars or Harry Potter themed circuit.
  • Have fun!
  • What You'll Need

    Materials 

    You'll need these materials to complete the project.

    Parts

    All Parts x Qty
    Paper x 1
    Copper Tape x 1
    Normal Tape x 1
    LED x 1
    Straw x 1
    Paper Clip x 1
    Coin Battery x 1

    Where do I find these 

    The paper, straw, tape, and paper clip can be sourced at most office supply stores. The copper tape, LED, and coin battery can be found at the following places online:

    Amazon

    LEDs

    Copper Tape

    Coin Batteries

    A local craft store might stock copper tape. Just make sure that it uses conductive adhesive.

    A local hobby electronics store should stock batteries and LEDs. This activity uses CR2032 coin cell batteries and 3mm LEDs.

    Paper Circuits

    Print the templates 

    Star Wars Lightsaber

    Harry Potter Wand

    Grab the Star Wars or Harry Potter template and print it out using a double sided printer. If you don't have a double side capable printer you can print each side separately and either tape or staple them together.

    Front side
    You should see this when you flip this corner
    Back side

    Place the copper tape 

    Starting on the back or inside, tear off some copper tape and tape over all the brown lines on the template. Try to make each run of copper tape just one piece. While the adhesive is conductive, it isn't as good as the copper itself. Take extra caution when making turns. I like to lay down the tape then deal with the turn by folding it.

    Starting on the back or inside
    Tear off copper tape
    Peel some of the backing off
    Tape over all the brown lines
    Carefully with turns
    Try to keep each run one piece
    Two more to go
    Carefully with turns
    Carefully with turns
    Carefully with turns
    Done
    These two points make up the switch
    They will touch once we fold the paper
    Folded over tape turns
    These are okay
    A little off the lines is fine

    LED 

    Flipping over to the front, grab the LED. It has a short leg and a long LED. Stick it through the paper at the top of the Lightsaber or wand, with the longer leg on the left. Flip over to the back, and bend each leg over the copper tape. Peel a little copper tape back and over the leg, making an LED leg sandwich. Place a piece of normal tape over the legs to ensure a good connection.

    The front side
    Longer postive leg
    Place here in the Lightsaber
    Or here in the wand
    Through the paper like so
    Through the paper like so
    Flip over bend the legs
    Peel copper tape back over leg
    Both legs
    Use some normal tape
    To ensure a good connection

    Battery 

    The battery has a smooth positive side and a bumpy negative side. Place it with the positive side facing down and the bumpy negative side facing up. Fold over the corner of the paper and secure with a paper clip.

    Battery time
    Smooth '+' side
    Bumpy '-' Side
    Bumpy side up
    Fold
    Over
    Secure with a paper clip
    Done

    Almost Done 

    Fold the paper in half and press down where the switch is. The LED should light up. If you made the Lightsaber, you can cut a section off of a drinking straw to guide the light. It should fit snug over the 3mm LED.

    Almost finished
    Fold in half
    Front side
    Test the button
    Lightsaber sounds
    Take your straw
    Place on LED

    Enjoy 

    Your training is complete, PadawanYour training is complete, Padawan

    Troubleshoot 

    If your LED isn't lighting up, double check that your battery is in right way, the LED is in the right way, and that there are no breaks in the copper tape.