NOTE: I am entering this instructable in the Remix 2.0 contest. So, if you liked this, please vote for me. Thanks! Now that this little piece of shamless self promotion is out of the way, let us proceed...
This project is based off of the "Pace Counter Beads" or "Ranger Beads" that are used in the military to keep track of distance traveled. There have been plenty of instructables and videos done about making these. I usually reference these two:
The first author was actually the original place I saw these beads made and has, in no small part, inspired this project.
I have made plenty of the traditional types of pace counter beads, which are designed to hang off a carabiner or a belt loop. However my mother, who was going to use a set of these to keep track of laps around a track, suggested that one could be made into a bracelet. And so, this project was born...
Step 1: Materials and Tools
You will need the following materials:
- 550 Paracord
- Beads ( Under $5 for a package of over 700)
- Buckle (package of 5 for $2.50)
and the following tools:
- Measuring Aid (in my case, a cheap measuring tape) (you could also just wing it)
Step 2: Cut Paracord and Disembowel It
When I offered to loan my mother a set of my already made pace counter beads, she said that they would probably be the perfect length to go around her wrist. So, I will base this one off of that measurement, but you should base yours off of your own measurements
Now, these pace counter beads are about 9.5" long so, since the paracord is doubled over, it uses about 19 inches (or 48.26 cm) of cordage. I cut mine about 20" (51 cm) long, but found it a bit short by the end of the project, so I would suggest cutting about 4 to 5 inches extra paracord for this.bracelet. This extra will get taken up by knots, etc...
After cutting the paracord, cut off any fused ends and "disembowel" or pull out the white inner strands of the paracord. Keep these strands around, as you will need one later. Then, pass the ends of the paracord over the flame of a lighter to prevent the ends from fraying too much.
Step 3: Thread the Beads
A traditional set of Pace Beads uses 13 beads; 4 for the top rung and 9 for the bottom rung. This will give you the ability to count up to 50. Traditionally, you pull down one of the lower beads for every 100 meters you travel. After you pull down all of the beads on the lower rung, you pull one down from the top rung to indicate that you have traveled 1000 meters or 1 kilometer (also known as 1 "klick" in military circles). So, a traditional pace counter set can keep track of up to 50 kilometers.
However, in this set I used a total of 14 beads (5 on the top rung instead of 4) because my mother wanted to be able to count up to 60, as some of her physical therapy exercises have up to 60 iterations. Also, to be entirely clear, she also picked out the color and order of beads.
Now, threading the beads onto the hollowed out paracord can be a complete pain in the butt, however you can simplify this using a tactic from the previously mentioned ITS Tactical video. This will make the process much easier.
Take the strand of hollowed out paracord and find the mid point of the strand and fold it over. Then thread one of the inner strands from earlier through the loop and thread the beads onto this inner strand. Wrap the remaining length of the inner strand around your hand and pull the beads down until they pop onto the paracord strand. Do this for all the beads. An individual strand of 550 paracord has a breaking strength of around 80 pounds, so don't be afraid to put some force into it.
This technique has saved me so much time and so many curse words in making sets of these beads, so my hat is off to ITS Tactical and his creative solution.
Step 4: Middle Knot
Now we are tying the middle knot, which separates your top rung from your bottom rung. I usually use the guideline that the knot should be about two finger widths away from the bottom bead of your top rung. Tie it and move on to the next step.
Step 5: The Buckle
Now that you have the beads on the strand of paracord, you can hitch it onto the buckle with a "girth hitch".
To do this, pass the loop of the pace beads through one side of your buckle. In my case, I had a buckle where one piece had one hole and the second piece had two holes. I would suggest to use the end with just one hole for this step, as it will make things a bit easier on the next step.
Then, simply push the other end of the pace counter beads through that loop. You may need to pull the beads apart a bit to give the rope a bit more flexibility. But, once you have it passed through entirely, you can pull it tight to affix it to one side of the buckle.
Step 6: The Other Buckle
Now there is the slightly tricky task of affixing the other end of the paracord to the second buckle piece. Now, as I mentioned before, by the end of this project I found I was a little bit short on paracord on the bracelet, so I used two other pieces of cordage to demonstrate the knot that we will use to finish our bracelet.
So, I threaded mine through the back hole first and then pulled both ends down through the front loop, leaving me with 4 strands. The red outside strand goes under the core and over the blue outside strand, while the blue outside strand is exactly the opposite (over the core, under the red outside strand). Then, pull the ends tight and trim them.
Step 7: Finished Product
Here is the finished pace counter bracelet, in all it's glory. Not a bad ending for Saturday project.
My mother enjoyed the end product. She also mentioned that these beads might also be good for several other activities other than just tracking distance or laps around a track, such as crocheting or knitting. You could even track calories (assigning, lets say, that one bead equals 50 calories) or "points" from WeightWatchers or a similar system. It is a simple device with a lot of versatility.