Make Your Own Stylus

Question:

What do you get when you mix the following ingredients in the right way:

  • An old school pencil
  • Some household silicone
  • A little bit of conductive paint

Answer:

A quite decent stylus. (I hope, since I did finish just now and can not say anything on the durability and longer term handling)

The current weekly writing challenge: image vs. text made me think about the drawing gear at my disposal. How would I actually produce decent digital drawings? I always wanted a Wacom drawing pad. But they are quite expensive and I never had the spare money.

For some time I used to paint, oil on canvas. I even did graffiti, way back in the 90’s. But you know, I don’t feel that talented. I like to draw, spray and paint, but I could never produce something that I was truly proud of. It is not that I didn’t had the idea. I was simply not able to let the idea become true. I never thought it would be different with digital drawings, so I could never convince me, that a Wacom is worth the money for me.

Back to the topic. I again thought of buying a drawing pad and looked around at Amazon. They are still expensive. Along those pads Amazon featured pens to draw on tablets and suddenly it struck me: I do have a Kindle Fire HD. There should be some Apps. A little research and I decided to go with SketchBook Pro for no special reason.

But should I really buy a Wacom stylus for 25€ or a no-name product for five. I read the user ratings. Regardless of the price, all seem to have the same problem: the tip is made of some really thin rubber and tends to break after a short time. Although, there were many five-stars. So it may depend on the drawing-style.

Inspired by this post, I decided to create my own stylus and publish the process underpainted with – literally translated from the German word: “untermalen”, which means accompanied with – photos of the steps, as my contribution to the writing challenge.

Step 1:

DSC00002

Find a pencil you are comfortable holding and drawing with.

DSC00005

Step 2:

Make the pencils tip smoothly round. Firstly use some coarse grained sandpaper. Finish with fine grained one.

DSC00011

Step 3:

Wrap the tip in some house-hold silicone. As long as the silicone is fresh use some dishwashing-detergent and your fingers to form the silicone into a smooth tip. I made the silicone cover circa 3mm thick.

Step 4:

Wait! The house-hold silicone needs a few days usually to achieve its final hardness.

Step 5:

Paint the tip and the rest of the pencil – at least the area you are holding the pencil connected to the tip – with conductive paint. I used Bare Paint from Bareconductive.

IMG_20130222_112456

Step 6:

Wait again. The Bare Paint usually dries completely in a few hours.

Finished!

Update: After a few tests I must say: there are a few things that needs to get changed. The paint doesn’t stick very well to the silicone rubber and doesn’t meet its flexibility. I will try to completely remove the silicone and paint directly on the pencil. I loose the soft touch to the tablets surface this way, but maybe its not that bad.

The even worse thing is that the conductive paint tends to rub off when touched. Maybe it is not completely dried, yet. But I’m not so happy about he overall black look of the stylus, either, so I will have to change this. Currently I’m thinking to establish the electric contact through thin wires wrapped around the pencil. As soon as I have the new design working, I will update this post.

Update: Here is the next try. I integrated copper strands on every side of the pencil and omitted the silicone cover around the tip. Unfortunately it is not working so well. I guess the contact area is to small. I will keep on tuning. DSC00002

Update: I flattened the tip and repainted it. But again, it didn’t work. After thinking a bit about it, I finally discovered the problem. I bought the Bare Paint almost a year ago. I guess – like with every other paint – the particles settle to the ground. I didn’t stir the paint. Unless in the first version, I took the paint from the top, with the consequence that there was nothing electrical conductive in it. The simple solution: stirring, then repainting. Now it works.

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