LED Yup'ik male dance fans - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.


CITC Fab Lab
CITC Fab Lab
Informal educator
We are Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fabrication Lab. We are based out of Anchorage Alaska serving Alaska Native and American Indian students based in the Anchorage school district. We teach design, building, and fabrication with a cultural emphasis. Our different… Read More


Combine tradition and technology in learning how to make a glowing Yup’ik dance fan! They were used in winter ceremonies, accompanied by masks they helped illustrate the story told by the song, accentuating fluid movements of the dancer’s arms.


Use this project to talk about cultural heritage, learn about Yup’ik traditions and ceremonies. You can bring them to life by spicing it up with some technology, and perhaps learning how to dance in the dark.

What You'll Need

to make a PAIR of fans you’ll need:

  •  1/8th inch (3 mm) plywood 24×12″ (60×30 cm) sheet
  • wood/tacky glue
  • 6 coin battery packs with a switch, like: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13883
  • 6 coin batteries 3V
  • 10 LED’s – we used slow color flashing, like: https://amzn.to/2Efk3W0
  • electrical wire in 2 colors
  • 10 feathers about 12″ (30 cm) long


  • laser cutter
  • hot glue gun
  • soldering iron + wire
  • wire cutter + strippers


The Instructions

Laser cut and glue the plywood layers

The fans will be made of 4 layers of plywood

Hot gluing the LED's

Your LED's have two 'legs' - metal leads. The longer one is the positive leg, the shorter - negative. LED's are polarized, which means that they only allow the current to flow in one direction. This will be important when connecting all of it!

Arrange your LED’s in their slots:

  • bulbs sticking out as much as possible – the feathers will be mounted on them;
  • legs facing inwards, longer legs (+) on the left, shorter (-) on the right – this will help us not get lost in the wires.


Use little blobs of hot glue to hold them in place.

Connecting all positive metal leads

Let's get to soldering! In order for the LED's to work properly, we will connect them in parallel. This way all of them will get the same voltage.

Connecting all negative metal leads

Use a different color of wire to solder all the short (-) legs just like we did with the (+).

Battery packs

We need a power source to light up our LED's! Most single LED's need a power supply of about 3V - and this is what our batteries are. We are using 3 of them so that they will last longer, and to be quite honest: for the cool bionic look as well! We will connect them in parallel - this way we keep voltage the same, while adding their capacities.

Light Check!

See if it works... and troubleshooting.

Put in the batteries and turn the switches on! Yay if it works!


If something doesn’t work, check all your connections, see if the positive and negative wires are not touching each other and shorting the circuit?

Time for feathers

Natural fiber optics come into play - the translucent hollow shaft of the feather will light up when mounted on the LED, and the fluffy rachis will catch the rays.

Almost done! Time for your design.

Personalize your fans by adding a design on the front cover

Turn off the lights and dance like no one's watching!

Lights off and LED's on

Here is an example of a dance with the fans – male ones with feathers, female with caribou fur:





  • (Fab-Electronics.2): I can follow a schematic diagram and create a circuit including a microcontroller with electronic components.
  • (Fab-Design.2): I can participate in design reviews with prepared presentation materials as well as give and receive feedback from peers.

Lesson Feedback

One Response

  1. LizWhitewolf April 17, 2020
Load More