Ever looked in a sky full of stars and wondered what you were looking at? Where's the north star? Where's the Great Bear? Well, here's presenting - 'Starry Night' a great educational tool for everyone to learn about astronomy and electronic circuits [open and closed circuits] at the same time!


Construction and Challenges:
When we started working with paper, it seemed like an easy task of sticking copper tape, LEDs and then connecting the batteries to make it work. But that was far from easy. 'Starry Night' has one big huge circuit which has all the stars [blue LEDs] connected in parallel in this circuit. Once the moon's out [acts like a switch], all the stars shine thus activating the big circuit. Since this was a big circuit we had to perform several hacks like jumping positives and negatives over each other by not removing the sticky side of the copper tape, folding the copper tape in several different ways to maintain its conductivity, soldering at corners in case we had to stick two pieces of copper tape.

Each of the four constellations has a separate circuit with green LEDs to show the edges of the constellations. Only the negative side of the constellation circuit is separate which has the green LEDs that act as edges to connect the stars thus highlighting the constellation. This separate circuit shares the positive side with the main big circuit. Once pressed on the name of the constellation [activating the switch], the green LEDs highlight showing the path of that constellation.

We faced several challenges while trying to make all the circuits. Connecting the batteries at the right spot was a challenge because the positive terminal was shared with 4 different circuits too. So to make sure that all the blue stars were shining even when any or all of the constellation circuits were activated, we had to connect the batteries at the right spot. Soldering the LEDs, green as well as blue on the right sides and making sure it doesn't touch any other copper tape in between was important to make sure we don't activate other circuits by shorting any of them.

Limited supply of copper tape made us cut all the tape we had from the middle [making it less wide] thus doubling our entire supply. In fact, we ended up saving some!! [also proving our hypothesis wrong that we needed uniform width of copper tape through the entire circuit]

We also tried using SMD 5050 warm LEDs but working with very tiny LEDs was tough to even test and hence we decided to go with normal LEDs


1. Lots of Copper Tape
2. 3V coin cells [6]
3. LEDs
4. Copper Foil [since its conductive both sides, it was used to activate switches]
5. Long fingernails [optional but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - to help smooth the bumps while making a circuit or even to fold the copper tape while making sure its still conducting electricity]

Failures and Previous Ideas:
Before starting out with paper circuits, our original idea was to use SMA to create a music equalizer. The papers would move up and down based on the song that was playing. We tried testing SMA at different currents to see how and when it shrinks [and also burnt 2 SMA wires in the process, sorry about that!]. We attached some paper and then passed current to see how the paper behaves with the SMA but found that there were many factors because of which it didn't seem like that would work. The entire setup with the paper made the paper not move at all.

We then decided to move paper by focussing a laser beam on the SMA that was attached to the paper in order to shrink and expand the SMA which would cause the movement. We wanted to make paper animals with SMA on their spinal cords and create a race game by letting users focus the laser beam on their animals. We found that the laser took too much time to heat a small portion of the wire and even after using a heat absorber like copper foil on the SMA, the thin sheet of paper would not move.

Hence we decided to scrap these ideas and experiment with paper circuits instead. Working with paper, though seems easy, isn't too simple to work with.

1. Puerto Rican Sky and the Arecibo Observatory which made us think about the celestial bodies