Introduction: Wintereenmas Ideas: Keyboard Bracelet
Just a quick gift idea for your favourite geeks. How to turn an old keyboard into jewelry for nothing(ish) using tools that eveyone has in their laboratory.
Wintereenmas is a festival created by Tim Buckley in his webcomic Ctrl-Alt-Del - well worth a looksee. It usually occurs at the end of january (25th-31st) yet wherever geeks meet it lives on! As i'm studying in the wilds of wales it has become the only time i get to meet up with my mates from college for any period of time and so it has replaced christmas for the exchanging of gifts, eating what you shouldn't and generally not moving from one spot.
Step 1: Ingredients
An old keybaord that you dont mind breaking up. Year round, thousands of unwanted keyboards lead a miserable life on the streets. You may find them huddling in dumpsters or near places of technology (universities, pc stores etc), pressing their noses against the windows and remembering the time when they too were loved and the 's' didnt fall off all the time.
Adopt one of these poor individuals today..... and then rip its guts out!
A soldering iron - no self respecting geek should be without one... even if it is for poking holes and melting things.
Various flavours of pliers - i found the needlenose ones the most useful
Cord or stretchy elastic
Any of a multitude of flavours of tape - here i'm using parcel tape but gaffer/duck, masking or sellotape is good. As a general rule, double sided is a no-no if you are as hairy as me O_O This is only for a rough fitting so dont go using your best tape (admit it, you have one dont you!)
All of these i had knocking around except for the elastic which was scrounged off a mate... thanks jess!!
Step 2: A Note on Keys
In my excitement yesterday i got a bit ahead of myself and de-keyed the keyboard without taking any photos. This is easy to do - you could unscrew each individual screw and deconstruct the keyboard neatly... or give it death with a pair of pliers, either way is effective and leaves the keyboard defenceless, enabling you to get the tasty insides out.
As for the keys themselves, you want quite tall profile keys with a decent amount of height on them as we are going to be sticking holes through the sides. Laptop keys or more modern keyboards use the black art of ergonomics and so have a tendancy to produce only short keys that arent really much use for this project (but can still be useful)
Keep a hold of the innards and extra keys, you could use them in such fine projects as a wiring wallet, name badges or even fridgemagnets. (I really like the pad circuitry designs and am already thinking of turning it into lampshades or visors)
Step 3: Deflower the Keys
With the aid of needlenose pliers, perhaps even wirecutters/snips for troublesome patches, remove the back part of the key. This is the bit that would normaly press the contacts in a keyboard but will instead stick into you and generally cause a lot of annoyance. Try and get the insides flush with the front so there are no bits sticking out that could potentially main/ catch on things.
Step 4: Layout
Once you have a decent number of the keys deflowered, get a piece of tape that is longer than across your wrist or wherever you want your jewelry to end up. Place sticky side up on a table and line up your keys on top of it, next to each other. Test the bracelet every once in a while to see if it reaches all the way around your wrist. Bear in mind that if you are using elastic then it can be slightly shorter, but you need to get the thing over your hand in the first place. Using non stretchy cord works around this, but will feel looser and need tying/untying when you want to get it on or off.
If you are making this for a friend bear in mind that there is no universal wrist size, use yours for comparison but make adjustments. Also dont stare at their wrists for long periods of time, it wierds people out.
Feel free to spell out humerous sayings, netspeak or simply rude things about microsoft/macs/rival house of geek.
Step 5: Get Stabby
Fire up your soldering iron and open some windows because plastic fumes and lungs do not get on well together.
Poke 2 holes in the side walls of the keys, opposite each other. repeat with all the keys in bracelet. Make sure that you can get the cord though the holes and that you dont accidentally make them too big and take out the wall completely. when they are cooled you could trim off the excess plastic that splurges around the sides for neatness sake, or just leave it there as it has rounded edges and thus wont frey/cut/catch on the cord, extending the mileage.
Step 6: Thread Them Up
Thread your keys together and secure with a knot, making sure that you have enough breathing room to get the thing over your wrist or even blood into your hand. We dont want that dropping off now, what would the neighbours think? Tying the knot inside of the keys keeps it all neat looking and you can then trin the excess when you are truly sure that its a decent fit.
If you are using cord then you might want to add some kind of clasp or fastening device for ease of removal.
Go round up some fellow geeks and show off your bling and above all have a happy wintereenmus
Step 7: Further Ideas
Personalise the keys with paint or *gasp* glitter (is the herpes of craft supplies - demetri martin) If you are into your cyber punk or might even just go clubbing wearing this device then painting the keys in UV reactive paint would attract all eyes to you bling... if they can tear them away from the glowsticks. Adding a layer of clear varnish on top deals with the knocks of life. I'm probably going to try getting a hold of some UV nail varnish at some point and have a go with this, will perhaps post pics up later.
You can also use the larger pieces to make a wider, chunkier bracelet, just remember to space them equally around so that the two (or more) threads wont come apart.
LEDs... yet another use for throwies perhaps??
Perhaps swap out a larger key for a memory stick/ flash drive so you can keep it handy and further level up your geek credentials. And a laser. And a minature spy camera. Perhaps even RFID tags....
If you need help on fitting a flash drive into your keys, popsci have a project for making it all nakey