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I have been playing with hobby electronics for quite some time. I like to hack and mod our daily used devices to serve my purpose and also create new devices using microcontrollers and such. This valentine I wanted to surprise my girlfriend with a little attempt of my own. The idea hit me a little late, just the day before Valentine’s Day. So I was very short on time and also as I had bought other gifts for the occasion, I was on a budget too. Considering all these, I decided to go for something simple and yet impressing enough. Here I present my light up paper cut out box which is highly customizable and easy to make.

Step 1: Things Required

· A box, the size depends on how large you want your paper cut out to be. Larger design will take more effort but gives more scope to detailing. On the other hand smaller box takes less effort and looks cute. I collected a wooden jewelry box from a local arts and crafts shop.

· Colored papers. I had some unused wrapping paper and art paper lying around. Make sure the papers are thick enough so that they stay plain after they have been cut out.

· Glue.

· Sharp paper cutter. It has to be sharp enough or the curves and corners will not be perfect. Careful while handling the cutter.

· LEDs. You can match them with your paper color or can be random.

· Battery. Any kind of battery small enough to fit in the box you are using. If it is a rechargeable battery than you should have some means of recharging it. I collected small charging sockets used in cellphones from an electronics store.

· Switch. Small enough to fit in the box and does not hamper the beauty of the box.

Step 2: Cut Out the Design

Find your design.

It helps if you have a printer or have an artist friend. I had neither, so I had to do the drawing myself. First choose a design. I found my design on the internet and modified a little bit. You can print out your design and cut it or draw it and cut it out following the lines. Be sure to draw(or print) the mirror image of the design you are going to put in the box because the face of the paper you will be cutting will have drawn lines on it which will look bad.

Take accurate dimensions of your box and make a paper basket with top open as a holder for the cut outs. The paper basket and the wooden box will have same width and length but a slight less depth than the wooden box because it will house the battery and wires beneath it in the empty space. To make the paper basket, cut a piece of paper according to measured dimensions and fold in the demonstrated way. Then cut along the specified crease and glue the extended parts to form the shape of a basket. Be very specific about the dimensions.

Plan where and how you will place your cutouts. Mine were in the corners so I cut out the designs with some extra paper to make a stand like structure which I glued to the paper basket.

Step 3: Place the LEDs

Now place the LEDs behind the cut-outs. Place them as discretely as possible. It will give a magical illumination effect. Take special care so that they are not visible from any angle. I used a red LED behind the red owl and a white led behind the white owl. It is better if the LEDs are diffused so light disperses evenly all around. You can glue a piece of paper on the tip of the led to stop the light focusing on a point behind the cut-out. Fix the LEDs with glue gun. Glue gun will not burn or wet the paper. Then solder wire to the led legs and connect to the battery through a switch. Seal the solder with more hot glue

Step 4: Place Battery, Charger Port and Switch

I had a spare nokia mobile battery lying around. You can use any kind of battery although a rechargeable battery would be better. If you use a rechargeable battery, then keep some means of recharging it. I drilled a hole on the side of the wooden box and set a nokia charger plugs collected from a radio shack. This way it can be charged with ordinary nokia mobile chargers. I soldered the pins from charger socket to the battery and fixed it inside the hole with glue gun. I drilled another hole on the other side of the box and placed a push button with glue gun. The positive legs of the LEDs are connected to the positive of the battery via the switch. Again lots of hot glue from glue gun and we are good to go. Check the connections before placing it inside the wooden box. See if the LEDs turn on and make any adjustments needed.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Glue the sides of the paper basket with the cutouts and the LEDs inside the wooden box. It should fit nicely if the dimensions are accurate. Press the sides and wait for it to dry. Some tips

  • The box will look more lucrative with a better design, focus on the detailing.
  • The paper cutter should be very sharp for a finer cut-out. Be careful while cutting though.
  • Dimensions are of immense importance.
  • Thicker paper will give better cut-outs and a shadow effect on the walls in dark.
  • Place the LEDs wisely, the more discrete, the better.
  • Be creative

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