Make a Simple LED Greeting Card

UPDATE: Radioshack sent this out to 6 million DIY’ers and put us on the front page too!
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This is a creative way to flex your nerd muscles in a greeting card.   I made this  for a Valentines Day card contest at the local Fort Worth Makerspace that was endorsed by Radioshack.   I just so happened to win the contest, too!  This card will be featured by Radioshack soon, but you can get the template here first,  and see all the steps so you can make your own!

If you want to put a cool twist on the traditional card for Valentines Day, this is a great place to start.  I made the card as if it was a schematic of a circuit, but all the parts relate to life and love.  The card is stamped red “Incomplete” because the circuit is missing a critical component.  When the card is opened you see that the missing component (You) has been found, and the heart lights up.

Materials and Tools:

  • Radioshack LED – I used a small 3volt red one, but you can use any 3volt LED with color, blinking or not
  • Radioshack CR2032 button battery
  • Printed Template
  • Thin copper sheet .016″ or so – ( you can use foil for a no solder version, but it won’t be as reliable)
  • Soldering iron
  • Scissors and other cutting tools
  • Tape
  • Glue

First you need to gather up things you need, as well as print out the template for the card found here. Make sure you check “actual size” when printing this. Otherwise the template could be scaled to fit the paper and wont match up correctly. Now, cut it all out, including the copper. You need to either use a drill or drive a nail through the points where the LED will attach. Use the template to show you where to cut and where things go.

You need to bend the copper piece #3 to the shape shown on the template. This will allow the battery to fit in, and makes the contact for the switch too. If you use foil, you will need to use a paperclip to create the shape of the switch side of peice #3. Without it your switch wont work.


Now we are ready to put it all together. The circuit itself is super simple. It uses a paper switch that slides between the copper sheets to turn it on and off. Lay your pieces out and put the circuit together. Once you have tested that it works, Glue your pieces down and solder the LED to the copper. I bent the ears up on the corners of the copper to give the leads some relief when I soldered them. The longer leg of the LED goes to the “plus sign”. If you use foil, just wrap the foil around the legs and tape it down.


With your circuit glued and tested we are ready to put the cover and switch on the card. Test your paper switch. I used a 1/4″ fold on the left side of the card. You can make the switch a little longer than needed and then cut it back to adjust where in the opening of the card that the light turns on. Line your cover up and mark where you are going to cut the hole for the switch. Mark the hole about 1/2′ from the edge of the cover. If you mark it to close to the center of the card the switch will bind up and could malfunction. I cut out the heart on mine and put a piece of red plastic over the hole for a little more of a Valentine touch. Just don’t tell my wife I got the plastic from the lid off one of the the containers lunch meat comes in.


The last step is gluing the cover on. You might want to go through a couple runs without glue to make sure you don’t mess up when your ready to go. You can hold the outside of the cover up to make sure you get the switch situated correctly.

Now you have a really cool gift for someone special in your life. Make one with your little ones to get them a head start on simple circuitry and electronics. Also, feel free to take the template and run with your own art and designs. We would love to hear about your ideas in the comments!

Comments

  1. I have designed a greeting card, and I want to mass produce thousands of them. What is the best way to mass produce thousands of lights that come on when the card is opened, and go off when the light is closed?

    • grayson says:

      If you are looking to make thousands of cards you will have to contact someone besides me. I bet some of the cards at stores may have a manufacturer stamp or something on the cards. I bet the cheapest way would be to have them print the cards for you. Tooling and set up to create something custom would cost a fortune though.

  2. Can the light be mass produced?

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