Introduction: To-Go Cup Lantern - DIY Interrupted Circuit Light

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You will make an interrupted circuit loop. It turns on and off using the tab on the lid. This project is highly customizable, just make sure your circuit is complete so the battery connects to the LED then make it your own!


  • Clean hot drink to-go cup
  • Large 3V LED bulb
  • 3/8" Metal brad fastener
  • CR2032 Battery
  • Soda can tab
  • 5mm Conductive nylon tape (The attached PDF refers to these color coded lengths making it easier for groups.)


  • Hole punch (2" inch reach suggested)
  • Hobby knife
  • Pliers and/or brute force

Step 1: Test Your LED and Battery

Place your battery between both LED pins on your bulb. On the bulb the longer pin is positive (+), and the shorter prong is negative (-). On the battery the face is (+), and (-) is the back. If it does not turn on try flipping the battery. If that still doesn’t work your LED or battery might be defective.

Step 2: Attach the LED Through the Cup

Push the LED pins through from the inside of the cup near the middle.

Next, hold the LED securely while pushing both pins up so they are flush against the outside of the cup. Note which pin is positive and negative, and make sure they don’t touch!

*For cardboard/paper cups you may need a safety pin or sharp pointed object to make the holes for the LED pins to go through. The light also won't pass through like it does for styrofoam.

Step 3: Tape the LED Pins to the Cup

Use two duplicate lengths of tape to cover the pins, and then push the extra over to the inside of the cup. They should run parallel straight up the side of the cup making sure they do not touch.

Step 4: Cut Holes in the Lid for the Battery and Tape

Using the hole punch make a hole where you see an X on the map. If you do not have a long enough hole punch use something that is pointed and sharp to great a hole large enough for when we place the metal brad fastener.

Next, place it on the table top side facing up. From above, cut out the slit where the tab connects to the top of the cup. Do not cut the tab off of the cup, this part can be tricky.

Step 5: Place Long Tape on the Underside of the Lid

Turn over the lid so you are looking at the underside. Cut a length of tape going from the back where it will connect to the cup, then place it along the right side in a semi-circle. Any extra tape push out through the drinking hole.

Step 6: Place Tape Along the Underside of the Tab

Cut a smaller length of tape that goes along the underside of the tab. Excess tape needs to be pushed through the slit at the base and pushed flat against the underside of the lid.

Next, push down the excess yellow tape from step five. When we push down the tab it will close the circuit and be the on/off switch at the end.

Step 7: Prepare the Soda Tab

Take the soda tab and bend it with your hands or a pair of pliers. Make the bend near the middle of the soda tab. It only needs a slight bend to secure the battery to the underside of the lid.

Step 8: Attach Soda Tab to Underside of Lid.

Place your soda tab so that bend is point down, and covers the extra part of the nylon tape you pushed through the slit in step six. Push the brad through one side of the soda tab, then down the punched hole. Open the brad as you normally would on the top of the lid.

Step 9: Place the Battery and Final Piece of Tape

Slide the battery under the soda tab, there should be enough tension to hold it in place.

Next, cut the last length of tape that connects it to the other tape line on the cup and sits over the brad you just placed. Your circuit is now complete on the lid.

Step 10: Push Down Tab, and Line Up Your Lid Tape to Those on Your Cup

Match your (+) and (-) tape lines on the cup to the ones on your lid and push it into place.

Press down the lid tab which is used like a switch once you've completed the circuit loop.

If it doesn’t turn on then try flipping your battery, and check your tape lines everywhere. The nylon tape can be repositioned if you didn't get it right on the first try. If it didn't connect go back and check all your steps and see where things might not be connecting.

Step 11: Other Cups and Decoration Ideas

Other Cups:

Feel free to try other cups and sizes. If your lid does not have a recloseable tab you could always just remove the lid to turn if off. You won't need as much nylon tape to make the closed circuit under the lid.

Paper cups do not allow as much light to pass through so you will need to cut holes.


Using pens, markers, cellophane, and more you can make cut outs where the light will shine through. The sky is the limit for this project. Now that you know the basics of how to make a simple circuit your next one will be even better.

Illustrated PDF available. It is color coded for ease of use in groups. Feel free to use it. There is a QR code on it that will take you to the video as well if you are having problems.