Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Illinois Informatics and School of Information Sciences
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Copper Tape Paper Circuits Assignment

Basic copper tape circuit.

In lab, we created a pretty straight-forward, simple circuit with one battery, one LED light, copper tape, and a switch. This was useful in learning how to use all the materials. The copper tape was a bit difficult to manipulate but after a bit of struggling, I got the hang of it.

I turned off some lights so you could better see the LED lights shine through! (The LED light in the middle wasn’t very bright.)
A rough, blueprint drawing of the circuit elements underneath.

After, we had to create a circuit that incorporated at least two LED lights. We were given a bunch of quotes and given the freedom to create an image drawn from the inspiration of one. The quote I chose is attributed by Spencer Johnson: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I decided to create a night scuba diving scenario. A lot of my friends have scuba dived at night but it is something that I am way too scared to ever try. I’ll stick to scuba diving when the sun is out.

When you “press” the quote, the lights turn on underneath the drawing as that is where the switch is located. Because I used to UV lights, I had to pile a second battery on top of the first to power all the lights. I attached a blueprint of the circuit operating under the image. I should’ve tested out the lightbulbs before because the LED light in the middle was not as bright as the other two. I placed the UV lights under the images of the glowing jellyfish and a yellow light at the place of the underwater flashlight.

The circuit.

For the 3D paper object with 3 or more LED lights, I chose to recreate a scene in the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. The first two lights are purple/blue tinted LED bulbs that flash behind the purple coral behind Nemo. The third light is supposed to be a white light at the antenna of the anglerfish. At first, I used construction paper but I found that to be a bit flimsy and annoying to work with so I transferred the base of the design onto a thicker, more supportive material. I crafted and cut out shapes of Nemo and Dory as well as the glowing anglerfish. The switch is underneath the yellow “button” reading ‘just keep swimming” in reference to a line in the animated film.

The biggest issue I ran into at first was that in the antenna of the anglerfish, there wasn’t enough room for two strips of copper tape to run from the negative and positive sides of the LED light. So I cut out a piece of black paper and sticked it next to the antenna so that I could fit in the circuit. Unfortunately, I dropped my pop-up card right before I took the picture and two of the LED lights popped out and now my circuit doesn’t work to light up my LED lights. So I’m pretty upset about that. If I had more time to work on the assignment in lab, I would troubleshoot to find where in the circuit path something had gone wrong so that the LED lights worked and I would create more detailed elements using Inkscape, Silhouette, and the printers. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the card looks but a bit frustrated with my clumsiness.

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