Introduction: Cardboard Reading Light

Picture of Cardboard Reading Light

For a project for my creativity class I was asked to design a gadget from a corrugated cardboard box, which had stay recognisable, with a function relating to the original intent of the box. I came up with a night light for reading, made from the box the book shipped in. The LEDs runs on a sinlge button cell, to keep it all as light-weight as possible.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

First off is the box we're going to upcycle. The dimensions don't really matter, this can be done with any regular old cardboard box. The tools and materials used for the transformation are as in the image:

  1. Aluminium tape (or copper tape, but that's more expensive and alu tape works just as well)
  2. Scotch tape
  3. Electrical insulation tape
  4. 2 LED's (preferably yellow/orange for late-night reading)
  5. A paperclip for a switch
  6. A button cell of 1.5V
  7. A ruler
  8. An exacto knife.

Got it?

Step 2: Cutting the Edge

Picture of Cutting the Edge

To divide the volume of the box, we're going to make a long cut through three sides of the box. The side you want facing your way needs just a little edge of 2 cm, but for the top side we're gonna take the dimension of the short side and put a mark on the bottom side of the box. Connect both marks and mirror this line on the other short side. Connect the lower marks on the front of the box and make the cut with your exacto knife.

If the bend in your box is not in the same direction as the corrugation, I advise you use the edge of a table to bend the cardboard.

Step 3: The Battery

Picture of The Battery

The LED's are light enough to be connected with some plastic and aluminium tape. We're going to use the alu tape for our electric circuit, so we're going to need one piece that's about 80% of the width of your box, two pieces that are half that length, and two pieces of about 5cm for the contacts.

First off we're going to put the battery up there. For the negative contact, roll up some of the end of one of the 5cm tapes for a bulge. Cover most of this piece of tape with electric tape to avoid short-circuiting the battery. Stick the other 5cm end on the positive side of the button cell (look for the + mark), and make sure both sides of the tape make contact with the battery, like in the picture.

The longest piece of tape connects to the battery on the bottom side when your box is opened, and spans most of the box, in the center. Both ends of the long piece meet the remaining pieces of tape, which connect on the edge of the box, and almost connects to the positive contact of the battery. Connect your LED's with some scoth tape, use a paperclip to close the circuit and light up!

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