LED Paperclip





Introduction: LED Paperclip

About: Product Design Student @ LUCA - School of Arts Genk.

I saw this picture of these awesome LED paperclips by the Korean designer Sungho Lee (full article : http://makezine.com/2011/04/01/led-paper-clip-hyb... ).

Why should you make one? Don't we always have a light on our (smart)phone? Well yes, but when your phone dies, you'll always have a back-up-light that you can store in your wallet or pocket!

Step 1: Before We Begin...

Before we begin, I would like to say that this is my first project in which I have used my soldering iron. I have probably made some mistakes during the making-proces. If you see or read that I have made some mistakes, please prevent others from doing the same thing as I did by commenting down below.

Thank you!

Step 2: Things You Need for This Instructable:

- some LED's (I used white LED's but you can also use some colored one's)

- some paperclips

- a soldering iron

- some solder

- a helping hand

- a sponge (this is used to clean your soldering iron)

- a wire cutter (to cut of pieces of the LED's and the paperclips)

- a coin cell battery

Step 3: Which Lead Is the Positive?

Every electric circuit has a positive and negative side/lead. So the first step was to find the positive lead on the LED. So I started by pushing the two leads to the two side's of the battery (so one lead is on the + -side of the battery, the other lead on the - -side). I was right by the first try, the longest lead is the positive, the shortest is the negative.

Step 4: Cutting the Paperclip

We now have to cut the paperclip and the LED. A paperclip has also a long and short side. I thought it would be easier to make the longest side the positie lead and the shortest the negative lead (like with the LED). Make sure you bend the two pieces of the paperclip together to match the width of the LED.

* Someone of the Instructables Community has found a flaw in the design. If you replace the legs of the paperclip by a current-limiting resistor than you would be able to let the LED shine longer. It might be that when you don't use a current-limiting resistor, that the LED would get to hot and that high temperature would brake the LED. Any current-limiting resistor from 47 to 100 ohms would work to limit the current to about 30mA at 3V, which is what most type's of LED consume. Special thanks to 'mjbird' for helping me out with all his knowledge! *

Step 5: Soldering

Now the main part of this Instructable begins. You just needs to solder each piece of the paperclip to the right lead.

If this is your first time you'll solder, search the internet and the Instructables website for some extra information!

This is also the part where the helping hand comes in. Use this, this will make your work much easier!

Step 6: The End?

Now we are ready. Just place your battery in the correct way ( + -side to the positive lead and - -side to the negative lead).

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable.

As always, questions or remarks? Drop a comment below.




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    16 Discussions

    You can buy the same for about $ 1

    You might be interested in checking out LED Throwies then...


    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Do you notice the battery getting warm if it's on for awhile? Usually, I see a current-limiting resistor in series with the LED so it can't draw too large a current. That could actually replace one leg of the paper clip.

    6 replies

    That might happen. I'm not that much of an expert on electric circuits and during the 'designproces' the time the protoype was on was very little.

    If you could give some more information about which type of resistor, I could put that extra information in the Instructable. :)

    Anything from 47 to 100 ohms would work to limit the current to about 30mA at 3V, which is what many bright white LEDs seem to be. According to Texas Instruments, the coin battery can handle 30mA for at least short periods. So just replace the paperclip with a resister with shortened leads, and I think you’ll be good to go without making a fire hazard.

    Thanks again for all the extra information. I've edited the Instructable to provide everyone with all the extra possibility's.

    how much of a fire hazard? Just wondering =)

    To be honest? I haven't a clue. It probably depends upon the particular batch of LEDs you're using, and the batch of button batteries. But I do remember reading stories about people who had a loose button battery in their pants pocket along with some loose change, and it wound up melting a hole in their (polyester) pants.

    that happened to me with a 9volt actually, felt it heat up in my pocket. Luckily I got it out of my pocket before my pants caught fire. XD

    Seriously.... these just need to be a thing already!

    These are great... time consuming.... but great! I want to make hundreds!

    1 reply

    Indeed! And I just want to use these like standard paperclips but than again I don't want them to break... I've showed them to my friends and they all went crazy ... :)

    Agreed, I understood everything well :)

    On a sidenote: As a non-native speaker I call these type of batteries "coin cell batteries" or simply refer to them as "CR2016".

    Thanks, I changed the name "small battery" to "coin cell battery". That looks more professional. :)