DIY Touchscreen Gloves–indulging my inner geek

My one coveted pair of touchscreen gloves, that came as swag in last year’s Run in the New Year 5k, were ‘accidentally’ carried off by my nephew at the end of that very cold but exciting night of college football back in November.  I’ve put him on notice that I will be coming to retrieve them.  But in the meantime, because I need to use my phone when bicycling and running in the cold, I experimented this week with diy options.

In searching online for diy touchscreen gloves, I learned about conductive thread, that can be purchased and knitted (or crocheted) onto the fingertips of an existing pair of gloves.  The reviews are mixed.  I have a hunch this is because people don’t make sure the thread goes all the way through to make good contact with both the fingertip and phone screen.  I considered buying a spool of the conductive thread, which would have made a lot of touchscreen gloves.  But then, I was at a Radio Shack store this past weekend, and happened to see this Graphite Conductive Glue.  radio-shack-conductive-glue

I forked over $6 for the tiny tube, and came home to try it out.  The result is, it was super easy and the gloves work great!

Here’s what I did:

First, I protected my fingers with ordinary invisible tape, because the label says the glue can be a skin irritant.

tape-fingers-rsr

Then I put the gloves on and carefully applied the glue in a circle on the forefinger and thumb contact points.  I used a circular motion to embed the glue into the fibers and make sure it would go through to the other side of the knitted fabric.  Conductivity from fingers to screen is the key, so a topical application of glue only on the outside of the glove won’t work.  glue-on-glove-rsr

To further insure that the glue would penetrate to the other side of the fabric, I pressed my fingers together.  I did this carefully, so as not to smudge the neat circles.  (I did smudge them a bit on the first pair.) embedding-glue-rsr

Once I was confident in my technique, I applied the glue to my most favorite old pair of mittens.  I’m happy with the result.  mittens-done-rsrThe glue took about an hour to dry to the touch.  Then I tested them on my tablet.  They work very well!  It’s now a few days later, and they are still working very well.

Here is a quick demo of my ‘new’ diy touchscreen gloves in action.

As you can see, I glued all of the fingers on the glove in the video.  I think this was a waste of glue.  I haven’t needed any fingers other than the thumb and forefinger for operating my phone and tablet.

About that skin irritation warning on the label…I suspect the warning applies only to the glue when wet.  I’ve sensed no irritation from the dried glue whatsoever.  But be careful; heed the warning and watch for signs of possible irritation on your own skin.  And follow the label instructions.  Here is the product MSDS sheet.

Additional notes:

  • The dried glue circles are hard, and not flexible.  I was able to restore enough of the fabric’s flexibility by gently bending and curling the dried glue tips.
  • After doing a total of five gloves so far, I think there is still a lot of glue in the tube.  So one $6 tube is enough to do quite a few gloves.
  • How the glue will hold up in rain, snow or the washing machine is still an open question.  I’ll report back when my gloves have been tested in wet conditions and laundering.

Train, bus, bike, Uber, bike, Uber, train.

I had to spend several days in Topeka this week.  Normal routine would be to drive my car. It’s only a 2-hour drive.  But Topeka is on the Amtrak route…and has bike share.  And the weather wasn’t supposed to be too bad for January.  So I resolved to make the trip without my car.  Along with business attire, I packed my bike helmet, crushable all-weather jacket, fleece neck gator and good gloves.  In other words, these items again:

bike-cold-weather-gear-wAll went mostly okay.  The run down:

  • The city transit system got me from the train depot to my hotel, because my bag was too much to transport on a bike.  The Amtrak station attendant was great in helping me get to the right bus stop.  The bus drivers were all lovely and helpful.
  • Bike share got me from my hotel to meeting each morning.
  • Uber got me back to my hotel each evening.  (It was dark, the streets are not bike-friendly, and the bike share bikes don’t have lights.)
  • The weather was basically great the first two mornings.  The third morning was bitter cold (14F), but there was no wind, so I was fine biking in my layers, jacket, and fleece accessories.
  • The wait for the 12:29am train home at the end of my stay was several hours of heavy boredom.

Pros of going car-less:

  • Daily exercise and fresh air
  • Doing something fun and different

Cons of going car-less:

  • The time and hassle of adapting to the train schedule
  • The time and hassle of researching and adapting to the city bus schedule
  • The time and hassle of identifying bikable routes, and then finding out they weren’t so bikeable.  Topeka is substantially lacking in sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Unpredictable weather

Will I do it again?  Certainly, when circumstances allow for it.  Do these alternatives to driving my personal car need to be expanded to be more useful?  Yes.  All of them.  Until then, most of the time I’ll still have to drive my car, alongside the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.

amtrak-topeka-w-rsr

 

Janathon is on!

janathon-participant-logo

The Janathon format is simpler this year; daily exercise is to be posted on the Janathon Facebook page.  So, no repetitive daily posts here, to report that I ran, or bicycled, or did yoga.  But that is what I’ve been doing, and ta-da … week #1 is now in the books!  *Applause* to all Janathoners for keeping your daily exercise streak going!  Bicycling or yoga or both, has been my daily activity, since the New Year’s 5k.

My city escaped the snowfall this past week, but not the bitter cold temperatures.  I bundled up in layers for my bike commute, and stayed mostly warm against the single-digit temps.  But because I’m a wimp, I refused to ride against the wind.  Twice this week, I biked to work and then loaded my bike on the city transit bus for the ride home.  bike-cold-weather-gear-w

 

The music world has lost a beautiful singer-songwriter today, Peter Sarstedt.