LED Wands


Explore light and circuitry with this intermediate LED Wand project. Using a popsicle stick and a few basic electronics materials, you will create a light up wand with its own switch. For an added bonus, use these with a slow shutter camera app to create your own light paintings!

 


supplies: 10mm LED, jumbo craft stick, coin cell battery, copper tape, small binder clip, scotch tape, hot glue gun

Supplies Needed

  • Scissors
  • LED (We like 10mm LEDs but smaller will work and be cheaper)
  • Coin Cell Battery
  • Copper Tape w/ Conductive Adhesive
  • Small Binder Clip
  • Jumbo Craft Stick
  • Scotch Tape
  • Hot Glue Gun

How to Make an LED Wand

jumbo craft stick with copper tape adhered to one side

opposite side of jumbo craft stick with copper tape adhered longer than length of stick

Step 1: Adding Copper Tape

On one side of the jumbo craft stick, add a length of copper tape that reaches almost to the top of the stick and almost to the bottom. (This will be the BACK of your wand). Then, on the opposite side of the stick, add a length of copper tape that is slightly longer than the length of the stick. Leave some of the paper backing on the extra length for now. (This will be the FRONT of your wand).

hand holding LED and coin cell battery together so the LED lights up

Step 2: Test Battery + LED

Align the legs of your LED – positive (long leg) to positive on the battery (smooth side) – and test to be sure your LED lights up and is bright. If not, flip either the battery or LED and be sure you have the connections correct. Otherwise, you may need a replacement LED or battery.

hand placing LED in place at the end of craft stick opposite copper tape with paper backing

hand holding craft stick with LED in place and wrapping Scotch tape around LED legs to secure in place

Step 3: Add the LED

Add the LED to the top of your craft stick (the end opposite where you have the copper tape with the paper backing). Be sure you have the long leg of the LED touching the copper tape on the FRONT of your wand (the SAME side as the copper tape with paper backing still on).

Use Scotch tape to tape the LED in place. Wrap a length of tape around the craft stick a couple times to secure the LED.

coin cell battery placed textured side down on craft stick underneath copper tape with paper backing

copper tape covering smooth side of coin cell battery

Step 4: Add Battery

On the FRONT of your wand, place your coin cell battery with the textured (negative) side touching the craft stick underneath the copper tape with the paper backing. Then, carefully remove the paper backing and adhere the extra length of copper tape to the smooth side of the battery.

You want the back of the battery to be covered end to end with the extra tape; if it is not long enough to cover the whole battery, rip it up and place a longer piece of copper tape in its place.

Once your battery is attached to the copper tape, flip the battery back on the copper tape strip so the tape on the battery is laying on the tape on the craft stick.

binder clip with one silver clip part removed

Step 5: Prep a Binder Clip

Using a small size binder clip, remove one of the clips by squeezing the sides of the silver clip together and sliding the ends out of the black triangle part.

binder clip with silver part extended placed on craft stick with silver part touching battery

using a hot glue gun to add a drop of hot glue under the black base of the binder clip to attach to craft stick

pressing binder clip into hot glue to secure to craft stick

Step 6: Attach the Binder Clip

Take the silver part of your binder clip and straighten it out so the round part is pointing away from the black base. Lay this down on your craft stick on the FRONT, so that they silver round piece reaches the end of your battery closest to the LED.

Then, use a drop of hot glue under the black base of the binder clip to attach it to the craft stick.

copper tape wrapped around base of binder clip and overlapping copper tape on back of craft stick - back view

copper tape wrapped around base of binder clip and overlapping copper tape on back of craft stick - side view

copper tape wrapped around base of binder clip and overlapping copper tape on back of craft stick - front view

Step 7: Complete the Circuit with Copper Tape

Turn your wand over so you are looking at the BACK of the wand with the copper tape strip. Using another length of copper tape, begin wrapping this piece around the base of the binder clip.

BE SURE that the copper tape you are wrapping around overlaps the copper tape on the BACK of your craft stick.

completed and functional LED wand with LED lit

Step 8: Check the Connection / Turning your LED Wand On and Off

As soon as you add the copper tape around the binder clip and the back of the craft stick, you should see your LED light up! If this does not happen, be sure the silver part of your binder clip is firmly touching the battery and that you have no weak spots in your copper tape.

Once the wand is functional, you can now use the binder clip as an on/off switch!


Going Further

Use the iPhone/iPad app Slow Shutter Cam and these to create “Light Writers”