Introduction: Make Your Vampire Robot Glow!

About: I love the design and ambition of vintage technology, and the usability and potential of new - my passion is bringing the two together.

Add some spoooky personality to your papercraft vampire robot using just an LED and a coin cell battery!

I couldn't wait to put the little guy together when the Instructables Halloween postcard arrived at the weekend, and then started thinking how I could bring him to life. He looks so cool with multi-coloured light glowing from his adorable eye-sockets!

I went a bit overboard and included a switch to turn his LED on and off, but you could achieve the same result with just an LED (I used a bright colour-changing one) and a 3v coin cell battery (I used a CR1620).

In case you can't see the embedded video you can watch him glow at

Step 1: Poke His Eyes Out

I wanted to give him glowing spooky eyes and side antenna so started by making holes in his head to let the light shine through.

I used a punch tool, the kind for making holes in belts, this was ideal as there are a choice of sizes and it's easy to cut an accurate circle. A normal single hole punch would work too, or you could just cut holes with a craft knife.

Step 2: Bat-tery Belly

I needed to get the LED to show inside his little head but that left limited room for power, and I didn't want to use a separate battery pack. Using the old "LED Throwie" technique I held the legs of the LED to either side of a small 3v coin cell battery and voila, a glowing noggin!

I'm not sure how long an LED will glow when taped directly to a coin cell but a couple of hours I imagine - long enough to see your vampire through the Halloween festivities. At this point you could just follow the instructions as normal and fix the battery inside the robot's belly just before final assembly, the only problem is needing to dismantle him again to replace the battery.

Step 3: Throw the Switch

I used the robot kit from the postcard (though the larger printable .pdf versions were easier for the kids) and didn't want to take him apart after all the fiddling, so decided to add in a simple switch to turn the LED on and off.

I started with a bit of proto-board and soldered a tiny slide switch to the end, then added in a chopped-off piece of female 40-pin header to hold the LED. One leg of the switch was wired to the positive side of the battery, while the other leg connected to one side of the header. The other side of the header connected directly to the negative side of the battery.

The battery was connected to the board with two curly pieces of component wire, which I just taped to it securely.

I fixed the circuit into the body with a piece of stiff felt to hold it in place, then cut a hole in the robot's back to make the switch accessible. The tiny switch has to be turned on and off with a pen or tweezers but it works well!

Step 4: Getting a Head

With the circuit fixed inside the body the next step was to cut a hole in the neck to allow the LED to poke through into the head. I used the punch tool again here but a neat hole isn't vital as the head covers it - just stay between the slits that hold the head on!

Next I chopped down the legs of the LED so that it would sit snugly inside the head - this is why I used a bit of header on the circuit board, so that the LED could be easily removed, shortened & replaced. Also with the legs cut to the same length I wanted to be able to turn it around if I got the polarity wrong! You could easily cut it to size beforehand though and either solder it directly to a switch or just tape on the battery.

After testing the switch I just needed to do the last few folds and tucks around the collar to get the vampire robot ready to party!

Step 5: He's Aliiiiive!

I really enjoyed making the papercraft kit and adding a twist with the LED and switch - if you have the patience you could also add an LED to the belly, or even a tiny motor with an unbalanced mass on the end to make him shiver and shake around.

He looks great in a darkened room and definitely brings some extra spooky fun to the workshop, Happy Halloween 2017 makers!

Halloween Contest 2017

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2017