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How to Make a Light-Up Father’s Day Card

Father’s Day is just around the corner and we created this project with pop’s day in mind, but we think it’s perfect for any occasion where a dash of DIY is just the right ingredient. So check it out — the Light-Up, Pop-Up Greeting Card! All you’ll need is a few craft supplies like paper, glue and a pair of scissors as well as the following electronics supplies to make your pops feel all warm and fuzzy :)

Creative Technologist Nick made this project by building a classic pop-up card and adding just a touch of geekery — some copper tape and a handful of LilyPad components.

Materials + Tools:
LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder – Switched – 20mm
LilyPad LED White (5pcs)
Copper Tape – 5mm (50ft)
Solder Lead Free – 15-gram Tube
Soldering Iron – 30W (US, 110V)

Any solder and soldering iron will work and if you want a different color of LilyPad LED then feel free to substitute it in! Okay, now that we’ve gathered some materials, let’s get started.

If you’re not totally comfortable with soldering or simple circuits, that’s cool. Check out these beginner guides:
What is a Circuit?
Series and Parallel Circuits
How to Solder

Pop-Up Basics

Pop-up cards are great for making paper circuits because they give you places to hide batteries and switches and things like that. They also create depth, which plays nicely with the LED lighting.

There are a ton of ways to create this depth. If you’re interested in designing your own card using advanced pop-up kung-fu, check out Robert Sabuda’s site. The card that we’re making today relies on this very simple method:

To get a pop-up layer all you have to do is fold the card, make two cuts on the folded edge, and open it back up reversing the fold on the pop-up part. If that didn’t make sense then check this out. Everything after that is just cutting little layers of scenery and gluing it into place.

We’re lazy and spoiled, so we used a laser cutter. This wouldn’t be hard to cut out using a hobby knife, though, so don’t worry if you don’t have access to lasers. Just print out this template and get to cutting! The red lines in the template are where we printed on the card and the black lines are where we cut.

You’ll notice that the card has two layers so that there won’t be a big hole in the front of the card where we cut out the pop-up layer. Also, the car, dad and child cutouts are attached to the front of the garage with strips of paper folded accordion style. Once the paper portion of the card is put together, it’s time to light it up! Let’s get started on the paper circuit…

Paper Circuits

To make the card light up, we’re going to put together the simple circuit below. Instead of using conductive thread to connect the LilyPad components, we’ll be using copper tape.

As long as all of your “+” signs are connected and all of your “-” are connected, you can lay out the tape in any pattern you want. Think about the layout of the card. We hid most of our components under the pop-up layer with the LEDs at the top so they shine out through the front. At the places where the copper tape meets, you’ll need to form an electrical connection by adding a little dab of solder to the overlap.

In order to secure each of the LilyPad components, simply place them and then add solder to the center of the connector. Don’t be afraid to hold the soldering iron in place for a few seconds while the hot solder flows through the connector and attaches to the copper tape below.

Once all of your components are soldered in place, insert a coin cell battery and push the switch into the “on” position. Your LEDs should light up!

If your card works and looks the way you want it to then it’s time to slap that thing into an envelope and give it to dad. Also, don’t limit yourself to Father’s Day, you can make light-up cards for any occasion.

What other electronics or circuitry projects would you like to see on Brit + Co? Tell us in the comments below.  

About the author

SparkFun

SparkFun Electronics is the go-to online source for electronics parts for makers, crafters and DIY enthusiasts. Whether it's a custom musical jewelry box or an e-textiles invention, SparkFun has the products, resources and inspiration to make your electronics projects come to life.

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