A few weeks ago I became aware of the new brush stylus for the iPad, the Nomad Brush (http://nomadbrush.com/ ). While I was in awe and wanted one I just can't afford to purchase one as I rarely do digital sketching on my iPad. I wondered if I could MacGuyver one together so I dug out my old brushes looking for one I could alter the bristles on. I grabbed some conductive thread - tested a few to see which had the straightest thread and hacked one together. While I cannot vouch for how the Nomad Brush works or how it compares to this DIY brush, I must admit it works better than I expected. The next steps will show you the materials you need and go thru the process I used to put it together. I had all the materials on hand at home so if I had to estimate how much it cost me I'd say a couple of bucks (if even). Oh, and yeah it isn't as pretty as the nomad but it gets the job done. Enjoy!
Step 1: Materials + Tools
The materials and tools you will need:
- needle nose pliers
- super glue
- cheap paintbrush :: make sure that it has a metal bristle handle that has an edge so that you can open it up with the pliers. It needs to be metal because it needs to conduct the electrical charge from your body to the screen thru the conductive thread. The iPad's screen is capacative. You can read more about it different touchscreen technologies here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchscreen
- conductive thread :: I found that Sparkfun's 2 ply ended up having the straightest threads after untwisting / unravelling it.(http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8544)
- patience :: unraveling the thread and putting it back together takes a barrel-load of patience
- iPad with a painting App :: how else are you going to test it and have fun once you are done?
Step 2: Step 1: Removing Bristles From Cheap Brush
- First step is to remove the bristle holder/barrel from the body of the brush so that you can open it up and get at the bristles.
- Do this carefully with the needle nose plier. Gently insert them at the bottom of the barrel and start to straighten out the metal barrel.
- Do this until you can carefully remove the bristles.
- Don't over straighten it, you want to be able to put the bristles and conductive thread back in there and have enough of a curve to be able to squish it back together again to keep all the bristles/thread in.
- It is by far easier to remove the bristles than to put them back in.
Step 3: Step 2: Make Your Conductive Thread "bristles"
- use the scissors to cut pieces of thread about 1/2" larger than the bristles you just took out of the brush.
- carefully unravel the thread into individual strands
- at the very minimum you need a little more thread that in the picture below.
This is the first step where your patience will be tested : I had a pot of soothing tea handy and boy did I need it!
Also, keep your cats away from the pile of straight unravelled thread.
Step 4: Step 3: Mix in the Conductive Thread With the Bristles
- carefully lay the conductive threads around the bristles.
- make sure not to put them all in the center of the bristles but leave the on the exterior, surrounding the original brush bristles.
- the conductive thread needs to make contact with the metal bristle holder in order to work with the capacitive touchscreen on the iPad.
- don't worry about getting everything perfectly aligned, you will trim it once the bristle holder is closed up.
Step 5: Step 4: Closing the Bristle Holder
- patience is required for this step as well.
- carefully lay the bristle and conductive thread into the bristle holder.
- once you have it in there, you close the barrel/bristle holder back up.
- attach the barrel/bristle holder onto the brush handle once the bristles are secure and carefully shape it with the pliers.
- shape it until it is closed so that no bristles are going to fall off and it fits nicely on the barrel.
- shaping the barrel while on the handle seems to help and aid in not making it too mishapen.
- Once it is shaped, slide it off, put some super glue in the handle and slide it back on. This will prevent it from slipping off while using it.
Step 6: Step 5: Trim Bristles
Here is a pic after I cut the excess conductive thread bristles off.
You can see the difference in the brush tips as well as how the opening/closing of the barrel affected the shape.
It is a bit wonky but it is useable.
Step 7: Step 6: Playtime!
So after all the hard work you now should have a brush you can use.
The main tip is that you HAVE to be touching the metal bristle holder part of the brush in order for the brush to work.
As you can see it works well. The software I have installed (and shown in the photo) is ArtRage for the iPad. There is a bit of lag time/delay in some brush strokes but hey, I can't complain. I made it with a couple of bucks of material that I had lying around.
I hope you have fun with making your own brush for your iPad!
If you make any of your own brushes or have tips post photo links in the comments. I'd love to see them!