Introduction: LED Poi Handles
Liven up your tosses, gunslingers, and general steeze with these comfortable lights for your PomGrip handles. This tutorial covers specifically how to alter Pod Poi loop handles, but the same principles can be used to modify most other poi sets as well.
Credit for the wire bracing design (as it was shown to me in June 2016) goes to Josh Mikol of Sacramento.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
- Pod Poi, or other set of poi with loop handles or PomGrip handles already attached (http://www.flowtoys.com/podpoi/)
- PomGrip handles (2)
- NiteIze SpotLit clip on lights (2) (available in pink, blue, green, red, orange, white, and rainbow; can also find at hardware stores like Home Depot or Orchards Supply)
- 24 gauge jewelry wire
- 1" jewelry spacer bars (2) (comes in a multi-pack, you can discard the shorter ones)
- 5/16"x3/4" washers (2) (standard ones that come with PomGrips)
- Electrical tape
- Needle and thread
- X-Acto knife or box cutter
- Wire cutters
- Pliers (helps to have both regular and needle-nose)
- Long sharp tweezers, or other thin poking tool (not pictured)
Step 2: Carve Groove Inside PomGrips
The SpotLit light housing is juuust silghtly too large to fit comfortably inside an unaltered PomGrip, so it helps a lot to carve a groove on the inside of the handle with an X-Acto knife. [NOTE: In the pictures you'll notice that the washer is already inside the handle when I'm cutting the grooves. However, it's easier to work with the handle if you cut the grooves BEFORE rigging up the loop and washer (which I'll cover later in Step 3).]
If you feel on the inside of your PomGrip, you'll notice a slight ridge ringing the large opening on top. Start your cut just below this ridge and turn the handle with your other hand to make a shallow cut all the way around, then move the knife down about 1/16" (roughly the width of that ridge ringing the top) and make another parallel cut all the way around. Once you have those two cuts, you can stick your knife into the top cut at an angle till it's almost flat against the inside of the Pom, then work it around to slice under that strip of silicone between the parallel cuts. You can use pliers to pull this strip out once you've mostly detached it with the knife.
This part requires some finesse if you don't want to totally shred your handle, so start slow and shallow and then cut deeper if need be.
When you're finished, you should have a groove about 1/16" wide going around the inside of each handle. The lip of the NiteIze housing should slot into this nicely later.
Step 3: Sew Loop Handles Around Washer
Trim and then re-sew the ends of your loop handles to your desired length, noting that approximately one inch will be inside the handle when you're done wrapping it around the washer. I've found that one inch sticking out the bottom of the handle (before the swivel) is a good length to hold on to while spinning, so I marked out two inches with a ruler, cut my handle there, and sewed the ends back together. [You can also simply stick the standard length loop handle through the washer and immediately sew it without trimming, but this results in about three inches of nylon coming out the bottom of the handle, which is a bit long for my preference.]
Next, pull the loop through the bottom of a PomGrip - it's easier to work with if you continue to pull until the swivel pops temporarily into the bottom of the handle. Stick the tip of the loop through a washer and fold it back and over the washer. To make sure the loop doesn't slip off, I sew the loop end to the straight part of the loop it's pressing against and run a few stitches through the center of the washer and back. No need to get too crazy with the sewing here, just make sure the loop can't slip off the washer when you wiggle it around.
Step 4: Disassemble NiteIze and Prep LED
Use a flathead screwdriver to pry the NiteIze components apart, then carefully pull the mini LED out of the plastic housing. Be as gentle as possible with the LED - it's easy to short-circuit the board or break off the solder points if you're not careful.
We'll help protect the light from short-circuits by using a piece of electrical tape as a barrier. Pull out approximately two inches of electrical tape, and then fold it back on itself to form a one-inch rectangle and cut this piece off. Use the X-Acto knife to cut a small hole in the center of the tape and pull it down on top of the LED. You can then trim the corners off the tape.
Step 5: Cut and Thread Wire Through Housing
The only way I've found to guarantee that the light will stay in the PomGrip when you drop your poi is to strap it in with wire. As the time-consuming nature of this step is the only significant ongoing disadvantage of the handle, I'm open to any alternatives you guys can come up with!
[NOTE: When the time comes to change the batteries in your handles (each light takes two CR2016 button batteries, which can be bought cheaply on Amazon and last about 20 hours), start from this step after you cut the wire, pull the housing out of the handle, and switch out the batteries. Once you've done it a few times, the whole battery-changing process should take 10-15 minutes per handle.]
You'll start by cutting four 8" lengths of jewelry wire (two per handle). If you haven't already, take your poking device - I use sharp, thin tweezers - and poke four evenly-spaced holes in the center of the ridge ringing each light housing. Thread the wire in one hole and out an adjacent hole, pull so the ends are matched up in length, then grab both ends with the pliers and twist the wire down until there's a small triangular gap of about 1/2" between the bottom of the twist and the housing. Do the same with another length of wire through the other two holes, then repeat for the second handle.
Fold both sets of twisted wires on each handle up so the ends meet, and trim them with the wire cutters so the lengths are roughly equal.
Step 6: Insert Wired LED Housing Into PomGrip
Gently push the electrical tape-protected LED back into the housing as far as it will go (the wire will prevent it from going all the way in). Now would be a good time to make sure the LED works - press on the bottom of the light until it clicks, then turn it off once you've confirmed it's still functional.
Pick up the PomGrip and use pliers or your fingers to pull the washer up, allowing room to insert the wired housing. I've found this part is easiest if I hold the handle such that my thumb and middle finger wedge between the underside of the washer and the top rim of the Pom - this should prevent the washer from slipping back into the handle while you work.
Position the housing so that the wires are directly across from each other on either side of the washer, then feed them around the edge of the washer and straight down through the small hole in the bottom of the Pom. Pull the wires out the bottom and keep your fingers wedged under the washer until the bottom of the LED comes flush with the top of the washer. You can then work the housing into the top of the handle, which will require some massaging and stretching of the silicone. Needle nose pliers help to pull the lip back and get the ridge of the housing seated nicely in that groove you cut earlier with the X-acto knife.
Once the housing is completely in the Pom, pull hard on the tether and the protruding wires to make sure there's none bunched up inside the handle. You'll then want to:
- Line up the wires directly across from each other and in line with the gap in the loop handle
- Push on the loop handle to widen the gap and thread one wire through it
- Leave the wires in line with each other, with the gap in the loop handle in line behind them for the next step.
Step 7: Thread Bent Metal Baseplate Onto Wires and Push Into Slits
You'll now thread on the metal bracket that the wires will brace against on the bottom of the handle. Take one of the 1" jewelry spacer bars and use pliers to bend each end down 90 degrees, with the bend happening right on each of the inner holes. These holes are just barely wide enough for the wire to fit through, so your job will be a lot easier if you take your poking device from earlier and twist it around in the holes to enlarge them a bit.
Thread one of the wire ends through each of the inner holes and work the baseplate down towards the handle.
NOT PICTURED: Once the baseplate has been threaded down, line it up so each end is pressing against the bottom of handle (they should be positioned just wider than the hole in the bottom of the PomGrip). Then take your X-Acto knife and push it into the handle about 1/2" at each of these points to create slits for each end of the bracket to slide into.
Push the bracket into the slits - making sure that one end goes THROUGH THE LOOP HANDLE, as pictured - until it's flush against the bottom of the Pom. As this will likely have pushed some wire/nylon inside the handle, I use one pair of pliers to hold the baseplate against the Pom and use my fingers to pull hard on the tether, and then use another pair of pliers to pull tight on the wires.
Step 8: Twist Wire Against Baseplate and Trim
Once your baseplate is secure and wires/nylon pulled tight, you're pretty much home free. Grab the two wire ends with pliers and hold the Pom steady as you twist until the wires start to curl on themselves and form a tight knot against the baseplate. Then use the wire cutters to trim this braid (being careful not to trim so close that the wire knot comes undone), and flatten down any sharp ends with the pliers.
Step 9: Finished!
Voila! Your LED handles are ready to dazzle, and you undoubtedly now have a more intimate relationship with your poi after all those hours of toil. Now go out and spin!
(Epilogue: If/when your batteries die after 20 hours, proceed back to Step 5.)