Introduction: X-Men Series - Gambit - Make a Glowing Playing Card

Picture of X-Men Series - Gambit - Make a Glowing Playing Card

This instructable will show you how to make a glowing "playing card" so you can look just like the Ragin' Cajun himself! This is the first in a series of projects I will (eventually) be uploading in my continuing efforts to at least look like a superhero.

Card Stock
Pencil and Sketch Pens
3V Lithium Battery
100 ohm Resistor
A length of wire
A small momentary switch
Hot glue
Electrical Tape (optional)

Step 1: Start Sketching

Picture of Start Sketching

If you want, you can just cut up some old playing cards, but I like to customize things. Take your cardstock and sketch out your design. Feel free to use references (I did!), but try to put a little of yourself into it. You need two cards of equal size, one for the design of the spade (or whatever card/suit you choose), and one to be overlaid and cutout later. When you've finalized the design, go over it with your sketch pens and, if you want it to really have staying power, go over it with an acrylic fixative or spray finish.

My design on the back incorporates the X-Men logo and Xavier School's name and motto; it'll be visible later in this Instructable.

Step 2: It's Sodering Time!

Picture of It's Sodering Time!

Soder together all of the little electrical whosits.

It's pretty simple, but beginners should keep in mind the following:
Red is positive, black is negative.
On the LED, the longer prong is positive.
On the battery, the flat side is positive.
On the resistor, the order of those little coloured rings is important! On a 100 ohm resistor, the gold band is going to be on the negative side.

Step 3: Plexiglas Preliminaries

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Cut your plexiglas. It's a pain in the butt to do, but you can use either a jewelry saw (slow!) or a dremel tool (inaccurate!). I used a dremel, because I'm impatient. Plus, you'll need one for etching in those grooves for your wires and drilling any holes. When cutting, if you can't be completely accurate, better to have the piece be a bit too big than it be smaller than your cardstock cards.

Step 4: Stick It to 'em!

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Stick the wires in the grooves and keep them there with hot glue. Then go over the whole bloody thing with a thing layer of hot glue to diffuse the LED, but don't go over the area of the spade design (you'll ruin it!).

Step 5: Putting It All Together.....

Picture of Putting It All Together.....

Place your cards and Plexiglas bit together as the images show. Make sure it all works/fits, and that you like how it looks. If all's good, proceed to hot glue the lot of it together.

Step 6: Take a Look at What You've Got.

Picture of Take a Look at What You've Got.

Okay, look around at it, looking for any imperfections. Whoo-boy, that's a bit chunky. Well, that can't be helped. But imperfections in the relative sizes of the Plexiglas versus the cards can totally be fixed. Now try lighting it up; a little anticlimactic, isn't it? Hm... What do we do about all of that?

Step 7: Finishing Touches

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Grind that Plexiglas down and fill any gaps in with hot glue. It'll make it look smoother and diffuse the light at the same time! Neat, huh?

Step 8: De Name Is Gambit, Mon Ami!

Picture of De Name Is Gambit, Mon Ami!

In bright conditions, it's nothing special, but in even a semi-dark room, it's enough to make you grin and laugh like a five-year old (if you're as immature as I am). Now, you're ready to done tights and a trench coat, a terrible Cajun accent, and take on the bad guys! Just remember, you've only got the one card, and it won't really blow up-- ! o.O Ooh.... Now I've gotta get started on my next Instructable!


watermelon060304 (author)2016-01-14

well done ???

jarodpenn (author)2015-04-18

Took a few liberties but I love the idea, man!

UaM1 (author)jarodpenn2015-10-22

What did you use for the surrounding material

jarodpenn (author)UaM12015-10-26

Acrylic. You can buy it in small sheets at Lowes or Home Depot. I sandwiched it between four cards on front and back, then sanded the edges to make the LEDs diffuse.

AldeaS1 (author)2015-06-15

i m interested in this project if it can help myself and 1-2 pieces. please contact me :D

jessyratfink (author)2014-06-25

This is just fantastic! Gambit's one of my favorites :D

seanco55 (author)2013-12-05

if interested please email me at thanks.

seanco55 (author)2013-12-05

I was wondering if anyone can make me some cards that light up for comic con. I am going as Gambit and it would be great if i can complete my costume with some awesome playing cards that light up. I was thinking five cards would be all that i would need.

orangedude210 (author)2013-09-14

This is awesome! Thanks!!!

iron_spider (author)2012-07-18

is there a way to make it less thick?

iron_spider (author)2012-07-12

cyclops visor could be your next. or Magneto's helmet. that would be cool

shadow wave rider (author)2011-08-14

can you post some pics of the designs of the card on this ible. i am a terrible drawer and ill admit it lazy. i dont want to mess up my plexiglass. get ible though. 5 stars!

acelegna (author)2011-06-30

Im a little confused. I thought a resistor was needed in order to supress the voltage. Your 3V battery should light up the 3v Led perfectly, so why the resistor? Am I missing something? Please let me know. Awesome BTW

jstrickland4 (author)2011-06-09

This is a great tutorial, and I used it as an inspiration for my design. I found though, that if you house the batteries separately (I put mine in my glove), you can make it much thinner. (I would embed, but I don't think I can upload GIFs)

I attached the wire from my battery pack to 2 brass rings that I made (hammered out some brass tubing and bent them), and then by touching those rings to the exposed wires of the LED, we have light!

EDIT: I should mention, that my card is about 1/8th inch thick. I unfortunately don't have a side profile shot of it

yota (author)jstrickland42011-06-19

Very very cool! Glad that I could be inspiring, but you have definitely taken this project to the next level!

rgonzalezjr311 (author)2010-10-27

Hello Yota,
I just wanted to say thanks for your instructable. I was able to modify and create what I call version 2.0.

I took 2 white leds and connected them in a serial circuit. I did not use a resitor because I figured that the led was rated for 6 volts. I used 3 3v batteries to equal 9 volts. and created a plexiglass encasement like you did with yours. I have to say it came out pretty good. You can use a Dremel engraving tool like a carbide cutter to make all the necessary grooves. It took some time but it cut really nice if you have the patience.

After everything was said and done the card lights up like a charm. Used 2 large print playing cards and cut out the spade with an x-acto knife. Then used minimal hot glue to put the card together. Its even visible during the day. I did not think of making a how too but this may give others a good idea on how to accomplish the same results. Awesome idea. Going to be great or my Halloween Gambit Costume.


remylebeau (author)2010-05-11

How did you soder the momentary switch? I would just like to see now it was included.

I have seen some switches with 4 prongs and 2...

sunhea (author)2009-08-28

What's a resistor? Is that the switch? I've never used LEDs before, and they really confuse me...

madara009 (author)2009-05-03

thank you!!! I'm planing on making a few and then ill make a wrist launcher for them and run around at night shooting people. lol.

dguffey (author)2009-04-22

This is pretty awesome! couldn't you use more LEDs and create a parallel circuit and make a larger glow? I'm definitely gonna try that. :)

Arbitror (author)2009-03-23

That's one, thick card!

Arbitror (author)Arbitror2009-03-23

Neat though!

Grimmiger (author)2009-02-28

a good way to intensify the glow would be to cover the corners in reflective tape.

lycoris3 (author)2008-11-21

tell me wen you can make it thinner and blow up ok, not being mean or anything, its really cool. dad will like this one

ColorfulNumbers (author)2008-08-01

Thank you for a clever and helpful Instructable.

I think the description of the resistor in Step 2 is a little confusing.

The order of the color bands on a resistor is important because it tells you what resistance (in ohms) it provides, and you do look at the gold band (the tolerance) last when you read the color bands from left to right.

But, a resistor does not have a positive or negative side. It can be installed in either direction.

yota (author)ColorfulNumbers2008-08-23

Ah-hah! Thanks for the correction.

klee27x (author)2008-06-29

Plexiglass, hotmelt glue, and LED's! What's not to like? Have you tried sanding down the surfaces, front and back, with course sandpaper? I wonder if that would diffuse the light enough without the layer of hotmelt glue. Have you seen the 3/8" high speed material removal bit (looks like a drum with like ten router blades on it)? It cuts fast, leaves a sharp, clean edge, doesn't need frequent replacing, and doesn't melt the plexi into goo!

yota (author)klee27x2008-06-29

No, I haven't, but I will look into it 'cause, let me tell you, it gets really annoying when the melted Plexiglas winds around your drillbit and forms a cocoon, to the the point you have to stop and chip it off... But, yeah, I have been trying to find ways to diffuse the light better and, if your idea works, that would make the whole thing a bit thinner as well... I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the input!

teh darkcloud (author)2008-06-26

This is pretty cool. I wish I had access to plexiglass and a Dremel. My friend loves X-Men and her birthday party's in two days and I still don't have anything for her. >.< I made her Wolverine claws out of duct tape last year! :D

yota (author)teh darkcloud2008-06-26

Hm. Well, a couple of years ago, a group of my friends and I went to a Halloween party dressed as several members of the X-Men, and one was Gambit. His costume wasn't all that great, so my older brother made a cheaper version of a glowing card by basically substituting all of the Plexiglas with hot glue and lighting it with a small LED flashlight that he'd gutted. The power source was concealed in the palm of your hand, and you couldn't ever turn off the glow, but the effect was good enough for people to realize he was everyone's favourite super-sexy Cajun thief. Remember, with a low budget but a bit of ingenuity, any corners can be cut and you can still achieve a similar product!

jessyratfink (author)2008-06-23

Oooooh, neat! Gambit is my favorite. :D

EaKLondon (author)2008-06-22

thats really cool I might start trying to use plexiglas

masterchrisx3 (author)EaKLondon2008-06-22

before u do make sure u have enoughf money it gets expensive so watch out with mistakes

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