The Great Big Guide to Paper Circuits

Contributors: Gella
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Powering Your Project

Paper circuit projects can be easily powered with a 3V coin cell battery. We recommend a 20mm or 12mm diameter battery for small projects such as greeting cards.

Coin Cell Battery - 20mm (CR2032)

Coin Cell Battery - 20mm (CR2032)

Coin Cell Battery - 12mm (CR1225)

Coin Cell Battery - 12mm (CR1225)


Most common coin cell batteries look like the ones above - the top and sides of the battery are positive and a textured bottom is negative. This can prove tricky for attaching to our traces, so we'll go over a few techniques to try.

Safety Note: Never solder directly to a coin cell battery! To attach a battery, choose a battery holder or battery with tabs specifically for soldering.

You can also find some good examples of battery use and power in this tutorial:

LilyPad Basics: Powering Your Project

September 24, 2018

Learn the options for powering your LilyPad projects, LiPo battery safety and care, and how to calculate and consider power constraints on your projects.

Create Your Own Battery Holder

Making a battery holder with the materials you have on hand is quick and easy! Here are a few different methods for crafting your own battery holder.

Copper Tape Holder:

Copper Tape Battery Holder Open

Copper Tape Battery Holder Closed

Copper Tape Battery Holder Example

We at SparkFun use this copper tape technique in all of our pop up card tutorials.

Paper and Copper Tape Holder:

Copper Tape Battery Holder Example

Image via Chibitronics.

Chibitronics has a tutorial on using copper tape and a piece of paper to make a battery pouch.

Paper and Conductive Paint Holder:

Conductive Paint Battery Holder Example

Image via Bare Conductive

Bare Conductive has a few different paper battery holder tutorials:

Battery Holder Modules

Battery holder modules can be soldered onto copper tape or glued with conductive glue or paint. Always remember to remove the battery from the holder before soldering.

LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder - Switched - 20mm

LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder - Switched - 20mm

Coin Cell Battery Holder - 20mm (Sewable)

Coin Cell Battery Holder - 20mm (Sewable)


Tabbed Batteries

You can also purchase batteries with solder tabs - these can then be soldered, glued with conductive glue, or sometimes even pressed in place with clear tape to attach to a circuit. When shopping for a tabbed battery, try to find one with insulation around the sides to avoid accidental shorts.

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Some examples of tabbed batteries.

Many paper circuit-specific components such as LED stickers, boards, or modules have built-in resistors. If creating your own paper circuit components with off the shelf LEDs, you may need to add resistors to your circuit to account for different voltage requirements.