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

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!

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

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!

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.....

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.

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

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!

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!

Finalist in the
Let It Glow!



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    33 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    What did you use for the surrounding material


    Reply 3 years ago

    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.


    3 years ago on Introduction

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


    5 years ago on Introduction

    if interested please email me at sean.cohan@yahoo.com. thanks.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    6 years ago on Step 8

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

    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!


    7 years ago on Step 2

    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


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    http://i.picasion.com/pic39/ca509478dfc5beb42c9b4a7d833dd30a.gif (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

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

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

    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.



    9 years ago on Step 2

    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...


    9 years ago on Introduction

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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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. :)