Cutting & Assembly

Once you're happy with your design, cut it out on your vinyl cutter or laser cutter. You could also do this by hand with a sharp knife and a lot of patience.  Personally, I find the vinyl cutter to be the easiest option. They're fairly inexpensive and user friendly and I'm often surprised at the many uses I find for mine.

The Cricut has a scoring pen accessory that will score lines into your material so you know where to fold. I have one. It doesn't really seem to do anything, so don't waste your money. Once your diffusion layer is cut, you'll want to figure out the fold lines and make some creases.

The fancy design layer comes next. This is the wickedly tricky bit. You'll need to peel your poster board from the mat without tearing off any of the little fiddly snowflake bits. Be patient. Take a lot of deep breaths, and have some knife blades or putty knives or other loosening tools available. 

If something gets torn or left behind, don't worry -- small mistakes will be fixable in the next step.

Next we'll affix the poster board to the diffusion layer. I'm using a mild spray glue. Spray the back of the poster board and stick it to the plastic diffusion layer, NOT the other way around. That way the glue won't get all over the cutouts and look bumpy and weird.

If you tore off any little bits, carefully spray a little glue on them and nestle them gently into place.

Stick the two pieces together, making sure your creases line up, and press down firmly.

Next we'll get the capacitive touch switches in place.

Copper Tape Cutting

I'm using 1" wide copper tape, so each of my switch icons need to be narrower than that. I've designed icons for "off," "reading light," "candle flame" and "color" modes. Here are my image files. Use them if you like, or use them as a template to design your own icons.

Stick four pieces of tape side by side on your cutting mat. You'll want to align each icon within the inch-measurement on the mat so they each get cut out of a complete piece of tape.

I chose Vinyl for the setting and they came out just perfectly. Weed the extra tape from around the edges and inside the cutouts with a utility knife.

Use an awl or knife to poke a few small holes in the side of your luminary. Feed the tails of the tape buttons through the holes, and stick the copper icons to the front of your lantern.

The tails will reach through the lantern and connect to your Circuit Playground Bluefruit's pads A2, A3, A4 and A5. Make sure not to "cross the streams" as the tape isn't shielded and if the tails touch each other, things will get screwy.

It's helpful to add a blob of solder on the pad where the tape goes through the Circuit Playground Bluefruit to improve your connection.

Assemble the rest of your luminary. I found it easiest to start by hot-gluing the Circuit Playground to the base layer (make sure there's room for your USB cable or battery cable to get in), then attach the base to the lantern's tabs. Once the bottom is all settled, then glue the sides.

I also cut the corner from the luminary's bottom piece to make room for the wires to feed through.

Power it up with a USB cable or battery and test it out! Do your capacitive touch buttons work? If they're twitchy, clean them with 99% alcohol and make sure the copper tape inside the lanterns is not crossed or touching.

For the remaining lanterns, assemble the same way and use a bit of hot glue to secure the NeoPixel rings in place.

This guide was first published on Nov 27, 2019. It was last updated on Nov 27, 2019. This page (Cutting & Assembly) was last updated on Dec 05, 2019.