Picture of Functional Soldered Abacus Pinky Ring
What to do when the batteries in your calculator run out and there are too many buttons to press to get to the calculator app on your mobile device?  I know, no one can figure out things in their head anymore. Reach for one of the oldest calculating devices called an abacus. Lucky you just happens to be wearing the one you made. Watch the waiter or waitress look on in amazement as you calculate their tip.

This abacus ring  is based on a traditional Chinese abacus(suanpan), 2 top  + 5 bottom bead configuration. Works for decimal and also hexidecimal numbers. There are stories of people that can do complex calculations on an abacus faster than another person using an electronic calculator.

Pinky ring not for you? Try the slide rule bangle bracelet instead.

DISCLAIMER: Not yet approved for use on SATs or any other standardized testing.

Step 1: Getting crafty...

Picture of Getting crafty...
This piece of wearable functional jewelry was soldered together.

You will need metal crimp beads. I picked the smallest size they had at the craft store because I wanted the abacus to be small. 

Although the beads look tiny, when they are on the frame, they can still be easily manipulated with just your fingers. Assembling the abacus was another story.

Head pins or thin stiff wire.  These are probably stainless steel or some kind of alloy steel  that solder sticks to.  You could use brass or copper wire for a different look.  Gold plated hardware might be available.

You will need the usual soldering tools and a fine tip soldering iron.

Since this is in contact with your hands, use lead-free solder. As with all jewelry in skin contact, know if you are allergic to anything.

Have a nice pair of wire cutters to trim the excess wire after soldering.

I used masking tape to hold down the parts as I soldered.

You might want to work under a magnifying unit to do the soldering on the close joints.  Not as bad as SMT soldering but still a little tricky as all the parts want to move independently.

You might want to work in a nice, well lit,  clean, clear of obstruction, well ventilated and flat working area. Wait, who are we kidding?

CAUTION: Parts are tiny. Many will end up on the floor somehow.  Vacuum afterwards. Same goes for the tiny metal shards that you clip off when your trim your solder work.  Solder fumes are bad for you. Soldering irons and freshly soldered parts are hot.
Susitna5 months ago
I really like it. I'm going to try to adapt it for a watch band.
caitlinsdad (author)  Susitna5 months ago

for a nice chronograph I hope...

facklere1 year ago

I love abaci and I loved this idea. Thanks, it was fun to make. :)

caitlinsdad (author)  facklere1 year ago


Please check your ibles inbox for a message (YOU button on top for your profile where the inbox shows up)

Congrats on being a finalist!

hunter9991 year ago

Maths on the go! I like it, thanks for sharing :-)

Cute and functional! Clever idea. ^^

caitlinsdad (author)  watchmeflyy1 year ago

I'm aware of the abacus; in fact, my grandmother was an accountant in China who regularly used one. I was referring to making a tiny abacus for a ring in my comment. *sheepish grin -- sorry for the confusion*

caitlinsdad (author)  watchmeflyy1 year ago

No worries. My father used to use an abacus to tally up the receipts in the hand laundry business. All the beads were worn but it was put to good use.

Mielameri1 year ago
Lol! How cool! There's something really satisfying about using an abacus. In conclusion: visual representation of calculations + jewelry = so much win
caitlinsdad (author)  Mielameri1 year ago

Thanks. Geek chic.

kkeyan71 year ago
..,. .
caitlinsdad (author)  kkeyan71 year ago

Thanks for putting in your two bits...

Very cool, thanks for the inspiration.

caitlinsdad (author)  robbtoberfest1 year ago

Cool. I hope you make something.