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Steve Jobs was quite right when he said “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” While a good touchscreen should never require you to use a stylus for standard operations, there are tasks when using your fingers is a bit awkward. For example if you want to digitize your signature, take quick handwritten notes or simply draw, a stylus can come in very handy.
You can find a large selection of tablet styluses online and many are very cheap. However, given the fact that the technology hidden inside a capacitive stylus is extremely simple, you can just as well build it yourself.
Building your own stylus is easy, fun, and you must likely have all the materials at home already. All you need is an old pen and conductive material that transports the static electricity of your fingers onto the display. Conductive materials are, for example, most metals and water.
Here is a suggested list of ingredients:
- old pen
- wire, e.g. from an old electric cable
- soft conductive material, e.g. household foam
- a pair of scissors or a cutter
So here is what I did. I took a household foam and cut off a small piece.
Then I disassembled an old plastic pen.
I used wire with about 2.5 times the length of the pen and wrapped it around the foam…
…and tested the raw stylus on my tablet to make sure it works. You can also test the foam by itself before you combine it with the wire.
Next, I pulled the wire with its end first through the narrow tip of the pen and wrapped the wire around the outside of the pen, all the way to the bottom. If you want you can secure the end with some tape. Just make sure that you will touch the wire when you hold the pen. The screenshot below shows the first test with my self made stylus.
To make it look a little nicer, I trimmed the tip. If your foam is very soft, like mine is, you will mostly be drawing with the side of it. It may be worth playing with different foams, to see which ones give you the best result. Note that if your foam is not super conductive, you can also wet it a little to get better results.
Finally, here is my finished stylus.
This is a very simple way to build a stylus with cheap materials and with almost no tools.
You can create a much more stylish and sophisticated stylus, for example by using a metal pen. This eliminates the need for the wire, as the pen itself will transport your hand’s static electricity to the foam, which in turn will conduct it onto the tablet’s touchscreen.
If you don’t have a metal pen, but some more tools, you could drill holes into a plastic pen where you will touch it with your fingers and then let the wire exist the pen and make contact with your skin at these spots.
The video below shows how Collin from Make. made his DIY capacitive stylus.
That was simple, right? We would love to see your homemade stylus! Please share your photos in the comments.