A Cardboard and Tape Pushbutton

There’s a new switch in town! It’s a Cardboard Push Button! You may have enjoyed the Cardboard Knife Switch, or tolerated the Cardboard Slide Switch, but this pushbutton is my new favorite.

For this project I ended up doing all of the illustrations first before I took any photos, and actually used the illustrations as a guide for some of the photography. Typically with these projects I build the thing first, then figure out how to best create a set of instructions, and sometimes that means photos, and sometimes it means illustrations, and usually it’s a combination of both of those.

I’ve also strengthened my ability to create isometric drawings quite a bit. If you compare this project to the knife switch, you’ll see the improvement. I took a few drafting classes back in the 1980s & 1990s (pre-computer!) and I still enjoy creating technical illustrations quite bit.

This switch can be used with any simple circuit, and is perfect for paper circuit projects, but can also be used with microcontroller projects and for any Crazy Circuits projects since you’re probably already working with Maker Tape.

I ended up creating a few fun illustrated examples of button tops for the guide, but then I thought it would be nice to actually create and photograph them, so I did that too. And like many of my cardboard projects, I’ve tried to keep things simple. It’s all straight cuts, and you can make this with an X-ACTO knife, or a box cutter if you do that sort of thing. It’s also great for a laser cutter, and you can easily scale this up to larger sizes since it’s just stacked pieces so it’s parametric.


Cardboard Knife Switch

For many electronics enthusiasts there is a special place in their heart for knife switches. At least that’s the case for educators I’ve worked with the past decade or so. My guess is it has to do with the simplicity of the knife switch in explaining how a circuit works. Is the circuit opened or is it closed? A knife switch provides a visual demonstration of this like few other switches do nowadays.

Knife switches are not used for most modern day circuits as they have been replaced by switches that are safer at high voltages, but since we work with low voltage circuits in educational settings this DIY Cardboard Knife Switch is perfect.

I’ve talked to a few educators and heard complaints about how expensive the old style knife switches are. (You can buy new “cheap” plastic versions for about $2 per switch, but the ceramic ones are often $10 or more.) I thought I’d lower the curve by creating a cheap DIY version that can be made with Maker Tape.

There’s a template that can be used to make one from cardboard or other material that’s got some rigidity and thickness to it. Cardboard is great, foamcore could work, cereal boxes are too thin. The template expects some cardboard and a way to cut it, which could be an X-ACTO knife, some scissors, a razor blade, or even a laser cutter.

Once you have your four pieces you attach some conductive Maker Tape, poke some holes for the brass fasteners to go through, and you’re nearly done!

Assemble the four pieces using the brass fasteners to hold them together and to act as a pivot point for the lever and you’ve got a knife switch. It may help to pinch the top of the two outside pieces a bit narrower so the knife is guided into place a bit better. (You’ll see this tip and more in the PDF guide.)

Besides the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database, you can also find this project on Instructables.



Fact: Kids love nunchucks! Sure, some kids are into swords or maybe even throwing stars, but all kids love nunchucks…

Now you’re saying “Hold on there Mr. Maniac! Nunchucks ain’t safe!” To which I say, you just need to make them safe. Oh sure, you could just go out an buy Rubber Foam Nunchucks from, but what fun is that? Wouldn’t you rather spend time with your children making your own (safe) nunchucks? Of course you would! What parent wouldn’t?

Nunchucks Nunchucks

We can easily assemble kid-safe nunchucks out of some old cardboard tubes and some cord. The trickiest part is just tying the knot. Once you’ve got two pair put together, you’re ready for battle – I mean FUN! Let the kids solve their differences the way they do in kung-fu movies. Or get in on the game, and show the kids who the real martial arts master in the family is. These kid-safe nunchucks are just the answer to the often asked question: “How can I beat my sibling without hurting them too badly?”

(Disclaimer: Don’t be an idiot and hurt yourself or someone else…)