DIY iPad stylus


Another great Make: Online video by Collin Cunningham.

Fingertip input is great for most touchscreen usage like typing, web-browsing -- all sorts of virtual button-pushing tasks. But for many people, drawing remains an activity best approached with a pen, pencil, brush, etc.

With a bit of conductive foam and wire, it's surprisingly easy to make your own conductive stylus, suitable for use with iPhone, iPad and similar capacitive touchscreen devices - and you'll likely find it a lot more precise compared to regular fingertip input.

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube.

Collin's Lab: DIY iPad Stylus

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  1. This is pretty cool, but I have two questions:
    1. are there any easy ways of finding conductive foam if i don’t have it lying about?
    2. what drawing program did you use on the ipad?

    thanks.

    1. You can replace the conductive foam with an orange or orange peel ^____^

      though I imagine it wouldn’t conduct so well after the peel dries out

  2. I would just use a pen with a metal body, and avoid that wire and tape on the outside.

  3. I want a tablet computer that can run Photoshop and has the precision of my Wacom tablet. Can someone please get on that?

      1. Saw a demo at Macworld years ago. If someone designed something like that from the ground up instead of cobbling it together from other companies’ hardware and selling it for twice the price of a Macbook pro then I’d definitely consider it. (Also: it needs an OS designed for use with a tablet.)

    1. “I want a tablet computer that can run Photoshop and has the precision of my Wacom tablet. Can someone please get on that?”

      SECOND THAT.

  4. I tried something like this with my laptop’s touchpad. Cut about a finger size strip from a sponge. Wet the sponge, then squeeze as much of the water out as possible. Wrap the sponge in aluminum foil so that it compresses the sponge giving you tip.

  5. “I want a tablet computer that can run Photoshop and has the precision of my Wacom tablet. Can someone please get on that?”

    Netbook + Cintiq + Duct-tape

  6. They get $14-$18 for one of these at our local Apple store; like Collin I decided to make my own, after seeing it was just a piece of conductive foam in a metal case. I took a metal promotional pen case and a piece of foam I had from some chip packing materials, shoved a DS stylus inside it for rigidity, a little hot glue to hold it all together, and bang! I can use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro much better now. Well, better than using a sharpened carrot, which was my 9-year old son’s suggestion, which also worked pretty good! Try it, and save your money for apps…

    Footnote: My stylish ‘Apple’ friend suggests using a retro metal Parker pen case, which I know I have lying around somewhere, in order to bring me up to an acceptable level of coolness as an iPad user.

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