So I’m in Winnipeg now. Winnipeg, affectionately referred to as Winterpeg, and thought by some (possibly me) to be a window into the truth behind the colloquialism “when Hell freezes over.” Okay, so I’m being a bit dramatic — but it can get freaking cold here in the depths of winter, man! Minus 75 degrees Celsius in the wind isn’t uncommon here. I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, but I’m sure you Americans will agree that anything north of Fargo has got to be cold.
In any case, my new location has me continuing my investigation into how to use my tech while freezing my butt off. Previously, I talked about winterizing smartphones, tablets, and laptops. My latest quest has been how to use my capacitive touch screen devices without having to take my gloves off just to answer the phone. And we all know I’m into doing things on the cheap, so we can squash any thoughts about buying those fancy-schmancy touchscreen gloves. It’s DIY or die, baby! This is what I found:
Perusing the Google brought forth three methods from three different, and trusted sites — Lifehacker, Make, and Instructables.
Sewing Conductive Thread
Instructables has a nice tutorial on sewing about a foot of conductive thread into the fingertip of a glove. The idea is to sew just a few close-set stitches (3-5) on the touchy-feely side of the glove, keeping things to about 1/4″ (6mm) in diameter. Smaller is bad, as your iPhone or other smartphone will pretend you don’t exist, and too big will sacrifice accuracy. Why all those inches of thread for just a few, small stitches? Because you want to leave a rats-nest of the special thread on the inside of the glove’s finger, to make sure you get good conductive contact. You may also want to save some for other fingers so you can do multi-touch gestures and the like.
The whole operation costs less than $5 (not including the gloves of course).
No-Sew Method 1: Snap-Fastener
Make Projects has a slightly different take on the subject. They take the complicated sewing out of the equation and shove a brass or nickel-plated snap-fastener right through the fingertip of a heavy glove so it can go clickety-clack on your screen. Now, one might be concerned about scratching or cracking the glass, but if that is the case then I say to you, this: how hard are you tapping your screen anyway? Are you angry? Calm down, guy… seriously.
In a way, this method is more complicated, as it requires more tools than just some thread abd a needle. There is little in the way of precision required here, however, and you get to hit things with a hammer (when you set the snap-fastener’s rivet).
This method costs about $5 to $7.
No-Sew Method 2: Thermal Compound
Leave it to a Lifehacker contributer to come up with a clever and cheap (albeit messy) way to get the job done. Easy, too. This method would work better for thinner gloves, I should think, but be that as it may, it’s pretty cool — and there is not even a dream of a pun intended there. All you need here is a little CPU thermal compound rubbed in to the fingertip of your glove, and voila! No fuss connectivity. Well… no fuss until you need to rub some more in — and maybe a bit of increased screen cleaning.
This is by far the easiest method, though it lacks permanence. The cost of thermal compound (available at most computer stores) is about $7. You can even get it at Radio Shack.
Those were the best — and cheapest methods I found to use your touchscreen tech in the dead of winter. Which one’s your favourite? If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!