Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Copper Tape Card Project – Andrew Sun

For this week’s copper tape cards, I decided to honor the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy by making a card depicting Elon Musk’s Tesla floating through outer space. I chose to have the car as the popup in the foreground, with Earth and some stars in the background. For my LEDs, I would make the stars shine when the card was opened. I originally also wanted to use a LED for the headlight, but the area turned out to be too small to have both the positive and negative tape go through.

The first challenge I ran into was making the LEDs shine through the black background paper, which absorbed all the light. To solve this, I added another layer of paper, and cut a star-shaped hole in the front layer, in the same spot as the star paper. This let the light shine through, and also had the cool effect of making a bright area in the middle of the star, making it look kind of like the light was fading out the further away you were from the star.

Wiring the circuit was a little difficult, since my LEDs were on the background layer instead of the cutout. To make the circuit for the stars, I had to pass the copper tape through the “cut-in” area. One problem I ran into was getting the circuit to work. As it turns out, the battery doesn’t contain enough voltage to power both LEDs in serial. I had to rewire the circuit to make the LEDs connect in parallel. A quick tip: before laying down the circuit, test that it works by putting the battery on one side and using the unpeeled copper tape to connect the other side, so that you don’t have to ruin the paper by removing incorrect tape. Surprisingly, the switch worked really well – I didn’t need to hold it down at all. However, the connections to the LEDs were a bit loose, so I had to use some extra force to get it to stick properly.

In hindsight, I think I probably should have used the vinyl cutters from last week to make the shapes. Most of my shapes were cut out using scissors, but there were a lot of narrow areas on the car and Earth. I ended up using a razor knife to cut out those areas, which turned out a bit messy.

Getting the sliding mechanism to work…


Wiring up the circuit – LEDs are working!


Finished product!