This Instructable will walk you through making a stylish slip-on bracelet out of an RJ-45 console cable! Making one is quite easy to do, and wearing one will solidify your position as the coolest slightly nerdy person that your friends have ever known. :)
To give you some background on what these bracelets are made of, console cables are connected to the routers, switches, and other networking devices that power the Internet so that network engineers can configure them. They consist of eight copper wires each coated in a different color to identify the function of that particular one. The eight wires are housed in a flat outer casing to keep them together and protect them from harm. The bright colors of the wires and the smooth colors of the outer casings (there are several) are what we take advantage of for this project!
Although console cables are used in the designs shown here, a regular Ethernet cable could be substituted as well. The twisted pairs of wires inside could make for a very interesting look!
Step 1: Materials
There are two ways to make the bracelets - one which uses the RJ-45 connector that comes attached to the cable and another which uses a new connector that we crimp on. The latter method is easier and cleaner, so we will walk through that one in this Instructable. However, materials and directions for the other way will also be included.
Materials used in this Instructable:
1. RJ-45 Console Cable
2. RJ-45 Crimping Tool *** See Note Below ***
3. RJ-45 Connector *** See Update Note Below ***
4. X-Acto Knife (or equivalent)
Materials for using a cable with an already attached connector:
1. RJ-45 Console Cable
2. Drill with a 1/16th inch drill bit
4. X-Acto Knife
5. Super Glue
NOTE - You'll eventually form the bracelet by crimping two ends of the cable together, but many RJ-45 crimping tools won't allow for the completed bracelet to slide out afterward. For this reason, it's important that you use a pair like the one shown in the picture where one of the handles can be lifted and the bracelet slid down the other handle.
UPDATE - There is a brand of RJ-45 connectors called 'EZ-RJ45' which will save you a lot of time - it already has the necessary openings on both ends of the connector, saving you the hassle of having to cut one side out with the X-Acto Knife. These do tend to be more expensive than regular connectors, though.
Step 2: Preparing the RJ-45 Connector
UPDATE - There is a brand of RJ-45 connectors called 'EZ-RJ45' which already has the openings on both ends, allowing you to skip this step (saving you a lot of time and hassle!) They do tend to be more expensive, though.
NOTE - Please read the instructions here carefully, as this is the most dangerous step. As a rule of thumb, never apply force to the knife in the direction of any part of you!
Position the connector such that it is resting on it's side with the prong edge facing toward you and the flatter side facing away from you. Looking at the rightmost face, you should see a rectangular piece sticking out a bit and directly under that you will see individual slots for each of the eight wires. There is a thin layer of plastic between those slots and the face that we will take out using the X-Acto knife.
To do this, take hold of the connector as shown in the first picture in this section and, using your other hand, position the tip of the X-Acto knife at the plastic in front of the top-most slot. At this point, your X-Acto knife should be nearly parallel to the table you are working on. To cut through, DO NOT push the X-Acto knife in towards the face. Instead, slowly apply an increasing amount of pressure down on the blade (towards the table) until it slides down a bit, carving out a small piece of the plastic. Repeat this until the blade goes through the thin plastic layer.
Once you have an opening in the plastic, the next step is to clear out space for each of the 8 slots. You can do this by putting the knife in the opening and pushing down until it slides to the last slot, flipping the connector over, and then repeating. Also, to clear out some of the plastics from the sides, you can use the same technique from the previous paragraph while twisting the blade a tiny amount. This will cause you to whittle off pieces of the plastic on the sides. Try and whittle out the very tip of the connector and don't go too far in, as you will damage the small guidelines in the plastic that will ultimately help hold the individual wires in place.
To tell whether you are finished, take a small piece of the console cable and strip off the outer casing. Then, ensure that you can slide all eight of the wires into the space that you just cut away. An example of this is shown in the second picture. The fit will likely be pretty tight, so you may have to apply a bit of force to get the wires in. Alternatively, if you suspect that you haven't fully removed the plastic in front of all the slots, insert the wires into the other end of the connector and make sure that each come out the hole that you carved (as shown in the third picture.)
The finished product should look like the connector in the fourth picture.
If working with a connector already attached to the cable, you will need to use the drill and X-Acto knife to carve out approximately 2/10th or 3/10th of an inch into each slot. Unfortunately this takes a bit of work because you have to drill through the plastic and the wires in the slots. The above methods for clearing out this space should still work, though.
Step 3: Preparing the Cable - Sizing
The next step is to cut off the piece of the console cable that will actually span the length of the bracelet. Since this bracelet will slip-on, it's important that it can fit over your hand, but too much slack will cause it to fit very loosely on your wrist.
To gauge how long this piece should be, put your hand in the position shown in the picture and wrap the cable around the widest part of your hand (which is typically near the knuckle of your thumb.) From there, add about a half an inch and cut the cable there. It's likely that you will need to successively shorten the bracelet before putting the ends together, but the extra slack will give you some room to play with just in case.
Step 4: Preparing the Cable - Design
To customize your bracelet, think of an interesting design that you can make by selectively removing pieces of the outer casing to expose the underlying wires. For design examples, check out the images of several completed bracelets at the beginning of the Instructable.
NOTE: The only requirement is that one end needs approximately 3/10ths of an inch of the outer casing to aid in holding it tight when it is crimped in the connector, and the other end needs around 4/10ths of an inch of just wire so it can fit through the guiding lines in the connector. A picture of this is included in this section.
An easy way to make the patterns is to slide the outer casing off of the wire completely, leaving a small section on (like the one described in the previous paragraph) to keep the wires together. To remove the casing, hold all of the wires with two fingers and then pinch the casing along the length of the wire with your other hand. This should allow the casing to slide off easily and also makes it easier to slide the casing piece(s) back on once you have cut them out.
Another thing to note is that some of the casings have a line down the center of one side that is leftover from when the cables were made. You may want to have this side face outwards so as to have the bracelet be as comfortable as possible.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Now that your cable is ready, it's time to put everything together! At this point your cable should at least have one end with a small section with casing and another end that is just wires. Insert the wire end into the face of the connector where the plastic was cut out earlier. Push each wire in until it goes slightly past the guidelines inside the connector. Then, insert the cased side into the opposite end of the connector. It should look like what is shown in the first picture in this section.
Next, put your hand in the position used to measure out the bracelet length and then, holding the bracelet together with your other hand, slide it over your wrist. It will likely go easiest with the connector facing the palm side of your hand. You want the bracelet to just barely slide on (so it isn't super loose on your wrist,) so gauge how much slack you have, pull the wire end out of the connector, cut a small piece from it, and repeat the process until it fits nicely.
Almost there! One thing I encountered when going through this is that some connectors don't form a firm grip on the casing end, so what I recommend is to cut out a small (3/10th of an inch) piece of the leftover casing and cut it in half as shown in the second picture. Then, insert this piece into the casing end of the connector so that it rests on top of the cable already in there (so, closest to the side with the prong.) The third picture shows everything inserted into the connector.
Finally, insert the connector with all of the pieces inside into the crimping tool. Firmly grip the tool such that the metal spikes get pushed down into the wires and the plastic spike gets pushed into the casing end of the cable. If everything goes well, both sides should be firmly in place and your bracelet is complete! If one side is loose or falls out completely, you may need to secure it with super glue and wait for it to dry. :(
If working with a cable where the connector is already attached, all you will need to do (after ensuring that the cable is the right size when the wires are inserted into the face of the connector) is to fill the opening with superglue and insert the wires. Make sure that there is as little air in the opening so that the wires get firmly glued into place. This may require inserting and removing the wires a few times to push the glue in, each time applying more glue into the opening. Once it is in place, set it somewhere to dry and give it around 24 hours before trying to wear it.
Step 6: Thanks!
Thanks for going through this Instructable - I hope you found it easy to follow and congrats on successfully making your own console cable bracelet! Post in the comments if you have any suggestions, difficulties, or if you have an awesome design that everyone should check out! :D