Rainbow Pop Up Card (With a Sliding Switch)

Tutorial & Photos by: Jill Dawson

Rainbows & Sunshine

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a rainbow card that pops up and lights up when it’s opened, with help from a sliding switch mechanism that may be applied in a variety of clever ways.

Introduction

There is something magical about rainbows (and pop up cards), a combination made even more delightful with the addition of a sparkly, light-up sun peeking out from behind a cloud!

rainbow pop up card

How Does the Pop Up Work?

A concealed pull-tab, running  underneath the rainbow, is adhered to the bottom of a moveable cloud.  As the card is opened, the pull tab causes the cloud on the left to shift to the right, pushing the attached rainbow stripes toward a second cloud, anchored near the card’s hinge.  A third cloud near the hinge, adhered to a square support piece placed parallel to the pull tab, helps hide the mechanical parts.

rainbow pop up GIF
The card features a tray for a removable battery.

How Does the Circuit Work?

The pull tab in this design is doing double duty.  Not only is it propelling the cloud and rainbow, it is also moving a small paper switch along a slotted channel concealed in the card’s base.  When the rainbow pops up, the conductive switch makes contact with the rest of the circuit, closing it, resulting in the LED turning on.  When the rainbow lies flat and the switch slides to a different part of the slotted channel, the circuit opens and the LED turns off.  

pull tab with switch
Reinforced pull tab with switch
rainbow pop up card switch
Switch in the “off” position
rainbow pop up card switch
Switch in the “on” position
rainbow pop up card switch
Switch in the “off” position
rainbow pop up card switch
Switch in the “on” position
This short video shows a very detailed demonstration of how the switch in this card works.

What’s So Special About the Switch?

This particular switch design is one that members of the Chibitronics Design Team routinely integrate into their stunning creations; it has evolved over the years and been used in a variety of original projects. To see more examples of how this type of switch may be used in your paper circuit projects, be sure to check out the innovative work of Yukiko Unami, WeiWei Wang, Eiko Uchida, and Jooyeon Lee, who’ve been sharing their engineering breakthroughs on the Chibitronics blog.

switches
Paper switches

How Do I Get the Pieces?

One way to make the pieces needed for this project is to use the downloadable PDFs as printable patterns that you may then cut out with scissors.

Another way to make the parts is to download and import the SVG cut file into a home fabrication tool, such as a Cricut or Silhouette. 

If you’re using a Cricut, you’ll need to change some of the lines of the imported file into score lines (the dotted lines on the PDF).  Text will need to be hidden or changed into “Guide” markings.  You may also need to resize everything on your canvas after importing the file; use the one-inch black square in the top left corner as a guide before ungrouping the components on your mat.

Rainbow Pop Up Card Base PDF

rainbow pop up card parts
Image of Rainbow Pop Up Card Base Parts

Rainbow Card Parts PDF

rainbow card parts
Image of Rainbow Card Parts PDF

Tools & Supplies

circuit sticker mega pack
Circuit Sticker LEDs
conductive fabric tape
Conductive Fabric Tape
CR2016 battery
CR2016 Battery
assorted papers & acetate
Cardstock, decorative paper, acetate, vellum scraps
double sided tape
Double Sided Tape
Uhu glue stick
Glue Stick
scissors
Scissors
Japanese screw punch
Screw punch & mat
rulers
Ruler
pencil
Pencil & eraser
paper weights
Paper weights
bone folder
Bone folder
  • Home fabrication machine (such as a Cricut or Silhouette)
  • Printer

Directions

Tips, Tricks & Call-outs
If you’d prefer to watch a step-by-step demonstration of the steps listed in this tutorial, please check out the video up top.  While most of  the process is documented here through still images, the video goes into more detail.

Step 1

Gather your tools and supplies and prepare the pieces you’ll need for this project. Next, build the card base by gluing 3-4 Circuit Layers together to ensure that the total thickness of the stack matches that of a CR2016 battery.  Repeat this process for the battery tray pieces.  To help the card dry flat, place the glued parts under weights for a few minutes.  Once the glue is dry, ensure that the battery tray slides smoothly in its channel; if necessary, you may need to trim tight areas to reduce friction. 

Adhere the Circuit Layer to the Backing Card and use the battery tray to trace a circle where the battery will be. Then, using the battery tray as a guide, trace the circular cut-out for the battery onto the inside of the battery flap and glue one of the round cut-outs over the circle you just drew.  Adding this piece to the inside of the battery tray will help increase the surface tension inside of the battery tray of your completed card.  Then, use a piece of washi or tape as a hinge to secure the battery flap to the Slider Layer.  (See video demonstration for more details). 

rainbow pop up card base
Glue 3-4 Circuit Layers & battery trays together to match the thickness of a CR2016 battery.

Tips, Tricks & Call-outs
Adding the circular cut-out for the battery onto the inside of the battery flap will help increase the surface tension inside of the battery tray of your completed card.

Step 2

Reinforce the pull tab, with clear acetate and double sided tape, to strengthen it.

rainbow pop up pull tab GIF
Adding a strip of clear acetate to the pull tab strengthens it.

Step 3

Insert the pull tab into the Cloud Base and set it aside.

rainbow pop up pull tab GIF
This is the easiest way to get the pull tab into the Cloud Base.

Step 4

Begin building the rainbow layer, starting with the two Slotted Clouds and rainbow stripe pieces.  If desired, you may add text to one or more of the rainbow stripes. 

rainbow pop up parts with text
You can add text to your rainbow stripes.
text on rainbow part
Rainbow stripes are inserted into slotted clouds.

Notice that the slotted cloud pieces may be oriented in a couple of ways.  While the smaller tabbed cloud should be oriented to look exactly like the image on the PDF, the larger slotted cloud may be flipped in one of two ways, as long as the slots are running in the same direction as those on the tabbed piece.

slotted cloud piece
Use a glue stick to adhere the tabs; make sure the stripes are straight first.
two ways to make clouds
The large slotted cloud may be oriented in two ways.

Step 5

To add the rainbow to the card, pick up the Cloud Base and open it up so that the hinge is positioned on your right.

slotted cloud back
Add double sided tape to the back of small tabbed cloud.
adding rainbow to cloud base
Orient the rainbow piece like this when preparing to insert the tabbed cloud into the slot.

Prepare the tab of the small slotted cloud by removing the backing from the double sided tape. Insert the tab into the second slot near the hinge. The cloud will be tacked down to the Cloud Base, but it should not impede the pull tab underneath it. Remove the backing from the second piece of tape and flip the rainbow piece over, pressing down on the tabbed cloud to keep it stationary.

adding rainbow to cloud base2
Remove the backing from the tape and flip the rainbow piece over.
Press down the tape to secure the tabbed cloud in place.

Step 6

Next, bend the Cloud Pop Up piece along its score line.  Match up the small side of the Cloud Pop Up with the right side of the Cloud Base and glue the folded side down to the right of the pull tab slot.  Take care to keep the fold parallel to the hinge and avoid any overlap of the slot.

pop up cloud1
The Cloud Pop Up piece aligns with the hinged piece on the Cloud Base.
pop up cloud2
The folded cloud is parallel to the hinge & offset from the slot.
pop up cloud3
The Cloud Pop Up will conceal the pull tab mechanism.
rainbow pop up card
In a later step, you’ll be able to cover the taped part of the pull tab.

Step 7

In order to support Cloud Pop Up (and hide the pull tab mechanism), you’ll be adding a Cloud Support Strip parallel to the Pull Tab, straddling both sides of the cover hinge. 

cloud support1
Add a piece of double sided tape to the Cloud Support Strip and fold it into a square.
cloud support2
The support strip needs to be parallel with the pull tab.

Before putting the piece in place, add tape to three sides of the Cloud Support Strip.  One side will adhere to the Cloud Pop Up and two will adhere to the Cloud Base.

cloud support3
The support piece is adhered on both sides of the hinge.
cloud support4
The Cloud Pop Up is adhered to the support piece.

Step 8

With the rainbow in a flat position, attach the underside of the loose Slotted Cloud to the free end of the pull tab with a piece of double sided tape.  Now, when you open and close the card, the cloud should push the rainbow stripes into a dome shape.  

slotted cloud tape to pull tab
With the card in a closed position, add double sided tape to the end of the pull tab and attach the large slotted rainbow.
rainbow pop up
Carefully open the card to ensure that the rainbow pops up and returns to its flat position.

Step 9

Determine where you want your sun piece to go. Test its location when the card is both opened and closed, in order to ensure that the LED will be viewable as the card opens. Mark the placement of the LED onto the Circuit Layer and use a Japanese Screw Punch to make a hole for the light to shine through.

rainbow pop up card
Determine where you want your sun to be when the card is opened and use the screw punch to make a hole.
rainbow pop up card
Mark the location for the LED on the Slotted Card Base (not the Circuit Layer depicted here).

Step 10

Use a glue stick to add the decorative cloud piece to the front of the card to cover the taped end of the Pull Tab.

cloud cover pull tab
Use a glue stick to cover the pull tab with a decorative piece.
rainbow pop up
Experiment with different color combinations.

Step 11

Use the Circuit Diagram as a guide to lay Conductive Fabric Tape traces onto the Circuit Layer and Slider Layer.

rainbow pop up circuit
Use the Circuit Diagram as a guide.
rainbow pop up circuit
Reinforce your LED with more Conductive Fabric Tape.

Step 12

Make your switch piece.

switch GIF
Make your switch piece.

Step 13

Add your switch piece to the backside of your card, so that when your card is open, the switch will move from one end of the slot to almost the center of the card.  (You don’t need to mark your card; the marks are for demonstration purposes). When positioned near the center of the pull tab, the switch piece will close the circuit, and the LED will turn on as it comes into contact with the layer below.  The circuit will open again, and the LED will turn off, when the switch slides back to the edge of the slot. 

switch placement GIF
Place your switch in the proper location.

Step 14

Test your circuit to ensure that the LED is in the correct spot before pulling the bottom of the switch through the Slider Layer and taping the card pieces together.  If desired, add a vellum scrap to diffuse the light from the LED.

Test your circuit.
rainbow pop up circuit
Add a piece of vellum to diffuse the LED.
rainbow pop up circuit
When adding double sided tape to the Slider Layer, avoid the slot & battery tray.
rainbow pop up circuit
Pull the switch through the slot in the Slider Layer & line everything up.
rainbow pop up circuit
When adding double sided tape to the Circuit Layer, avoid the switch channel & battery tray.
rainbow pop up final project2
Test your card.

Tips, Tricks & Call-outs
If you discover that the pull tab under the big slotted cloud gets snagged on your sun piece, you can either remove and rotate your sun piece or add a piece of paper under the cloud.

This project uses a mechanism similar to one found in the paper engineering reference guide, The Elements of Pop UpsTo learn more about the specific mechanism that has been adapted in this design, see Figure 16, the 180° Arch with a Tube Strap. 

Gallery

Similar Posts You Might Enjoy

Pop Up

See how Yukiko Inami combines a pop up lever with a pull tab switch to light up an interactive backpack!

Shadow Boxes

See how Eiko Uchida uses a version of the extended pull tab design to bring shadow boxes to life.

Volcano

See how WeiWei Wang uses a clever switch design to create an interactive toggle that lights up a volcano!

Scroll to top