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I’m slightly conflicted about this concept from Korean designer Sungho Lee: Intuitively, I love it! Super cool! How clever! I want to make a bunch of my own—as I imagine Mr. Lee did—by cutting up some paper clips, clipping the leads on a bunch of LEDs, and soldering the one to the other.

And yet, their only use, as far as I can tell, is clipping across a coin cell to make a little improvised LED light. Maybe add a magnet for a classic “throwie.” And, rationally speaking, surely that single use does not justify the extra manufacturing effort of paper-clip-shaped leads. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want some. More pics at designboom. [via nerdstink]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. gaijintendo says:

    nice concept, but surely they will really easily short.

  2. Don’t they need a resistor in series to prevent high current from killing the LED?

    1. In general yes but sometimes you can get away without a current limiting resistor if you’re careful because LEDs have some increase in voltage drop as the current increases (see figure 1 on page 6 of this datasheet for a likely candidate part If you closely match the battery voltage to the forward drop of the LED at a good current you’ll be all right but you might shorten the LED life time as it won’t be very well controlled. It also means it won’t work when the battery starts to die because it’s voltage will quickly drop below that required for the LED.

      1. Andrew Witte says:

        The relatively high internal resistance of coin cells also limits the LED current if an appropriate coin cell and LED are chosen.

        The little squeezable keychain flashlights that have a coin cell and a LED almost never contain a resistor.

  3. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to do any soldering to make these. They look to me like LEDs with very long leads (which you can find at Digi-key etc.) carefully bent to work as paper-clips. That’s how I would make them anyway.

  4. I would guess that they are really thought of as paperclips looking like LEDs that also work as LEDs. If anyone would have made a paperclip looking like a LED not working I guess it would not have been noticed or if it was it would mostly be because people was disappointed that it didn’t work. I have now decided it’s a paperclip looking like a LED that also works.

  5. My concern is that solder doesn’t have the strength to maintain the spring constant of a paper clip?

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