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traffic light paper circuit animated

In this tutorial, we’re going to show you how to make a paper circuit paper clip switch. This switch is super easy to make and is great for controlling projects with multiple LEDS.

In order to help you get started, we’ve included (4) FREE paper circuit templates that use this type of paper clip switch.

Once you learn the basics, you can create your own custom circuit very easily. Get creative and have fun !

Project Time: 15 Minutes

police car paper circuit
school bus paper circuit
fire truck paper circuit

Use the links below to download the project templates for this tutorial.

Materials Needed

In order to complete this project, you’re going to need the following maker materials:

  • Copper Tape w/ Conductive Adhesive
  • CR2032 Coin Cell Battery
  • LED – Any Size or Color
  • Paper Clip – Jumbo Size
  • Brass Fastener – 1 Inch
paper circuit project materials

Need the materials for this project?  We have a paper circuit starter kit & ebook available.  The kit includes copper tape, LEDs and CR2032 batteries. Also included is a project ebook with 45 project templates.

paper circuits kit and book makerspace projects

Step 1 – Print The Templates

Download the project template below that you want to use. Once you’ve done this, you can print it in color or black and white.

paper circuits template

Step 2 – Apply The Copper Tape

Apply your copper tape to all the brown lines on the project template. We highly recommend that you use copper tape with conductive adhesive. This will ensure your LED lights properly. We do sell this copper tape in our paper circuit starter kits w/ ebook.

apply copper tape paper circuits

Begin by applying the copper tape straight to the corner.

apply copper tape paper circuits

Fold the copper tape up in the opposite direction in which you are going.

apply copper tape paper circuits

Next, fold the copper straight down and smooth it out with your finger. Do this with the rest of the circuit lines.

Step 3 – Mount The LEDs

Now it’s time to mount the LED to your circuit. Before we can go any further we need to identify which leg is positive. Every LED has a long leg and a short leg. The long leg will be the positive (+) and the short is the negative.

paper circuits LED

Bend both legs of the LED at a 90 degree angle. Make sure to remember which leg is positive (long leg). Mount the LED to the copper tape circuit using small strips of copper tape. Ensure the positive leg is on the (+) side of the circuit (right side of template).

paper circuits LED attached

Mount all (3) LEDs in the same way. Once you’re done, rub all the copper tape with your finger to make sure everything is making firm contact.

attach LED to paper circuit

Step 4 – Attach The Battery

Cut a small strip of copper tape and roll it in a ball with the sticky side facing out. Stick this ball to the copper tape inside the grey battery circle.

attach battery paper circuits

Mount your CR2032 battery to the sticky copper ball. Make sure the negative (-) side of the battery is facing DOWN.

attach battery paper circuits

Fold the corner of the template using the black line as a guide. Secure the corner to the battery using a paper clip.

battery paper circuits

Step 5 – Paper Clip Switch

Using a razor or scissors, cut a small slit in the middle of the copper tape as indicated in the picture below. Make sure to cut in the same direction of the copper tape from left to right.

paper clip switch paper circuits

Insert the legs of a brass fastener through one end of the paper clip. Next, push the legs through the slit you cut in the copper and paper.

paper clip switch paper circuits

Flip over your template and separate the legs of the brass fastener to secure it.

paper clip switch paper circuits

Step 6 – Test Your Paper Circuit

Now it’s time to test your paper circuit traffic light. Rotate the paper clip so it touches each portion of the circuit.

test paper circuit

Step 7 – Show Us Your Project

Follow us on Twitter at @Makerspaces_com and tweet us if you made this or another project.  We love seeing your makerspaces and the creations you’re making.

Need More Projects?

If you’re looking for more paper circuit projects, please check out our ebook which has 45 project templates along with our paper circuit starter kit.

paper circuits kit and book makerspace projects

Purchase Orders gladly accepts purchase orders from US schools, libraries and government agencies. Let us know if you need a quote or W9 form.

makerspace purchase orders was built to help schools and libraries start and run their own makerspaces. We truly believe that adding a makerspace to a school or library can help students acquire the skills needed for the 21st century.