Paracord Replacement Strap for UP2 Fitness Tracker

Fitness Trackers are a great motivational tool to get people moving more. The Jawbone UP2 is a good mid-priced model with a very nice app for tracking steps and sleep. The only major flaw is that the rubber wrist bands crack and break and there is no way to replace them. The first time it broke, we sent the whole unit back for replacement but, by the second time it broke, the warranty was up and that wasn't an option.

I searched the internet for articles on repairing/replacing the bands. Surprisingly, there was almost nothing out there so I decided to give it a try using paracord and some homemade loops. I was encouraged by the results of this first go at it. I think that with a little experimentation with paracord sizes and patterns and a little more care with the loops you could make some really impressive bands.

Step 1: Materials

  1. Paracord. I used #95 because I wanted a narrow band but it could easily handle something larger like #325. The band uses only about 5 feet total of paracord so, if you need to rappel out of the 4th floor of a burning building, this isn't going to help.
  2. Clasp for band. Size according to your band but smaller is probably better.
  3. Main unit of the Jawbone UP2.
  4. Stranded copper wire for wrapping the loops. Remove insulation and use single strands. You can get this from salvaged speaker wire or power cords. Don't use too fine of strands or you'll drive yourself crazy wrapping the loops.
  5. Stiff wire for making loops. I went for the stiffest fine wire that I had laying around. This is 3/64" diameter. I should have polished it with steel wool before bending, wrapping, and soldering.
  6. Solder. Most any kind will work. I just used 60/40 that I had for electronic projects.

Step 2: Tools

  1. Soldering iron to bind and smooth the copper wire wraps around the loops.
  2. Drill with 1/16" bit. I actually used a drill press with a clamp to hold the tracking unit.
  3. Wire strippers to strip the insulation off the multi-strand copper wire used to wrap the loops.
  4. Standard and needle nose pliers to bend the loops.
  5. Medium heavy clippers to cut the stiff loop wire.
  6. Butane lighter to melt the ends of the paracord after cutting and at the end of the braid to lock it.
  7. Candle to melt the ends of the paracord when fusing the two colors together.
  8. Sharp scissors for cutting paracord.

Step 3: Drill and Add Loops

  1. The tools section shows a hand drill but I ended up using a drill press so that I could clamp the device while drilling. The hole should be just slightly larger than the wire. I used a 1/16" drill for 3/32" wire.
  2. I used the stiffest small diameter wire that I had on hand. I pre-bent the wire to the shape and size that I wanted and then unbent part of it to slip it through the hold. I figured that, if I bent it after it was through the hole in the device, I would likely tear the plastic. I got the width right but I would make the depth less next time. I didn't have any experience with paracord braiding to know how deep it should be..
  3. After the wire is through the hole and re-bent, clip the wires to leave as small of a gap as possible without overlapping. This is important for the next step.
  4. Wrap the wire along clipped side of the wire. This provides a base to solder onto.
  5. Lay a coating of solder along the copper wrapped wire. Melt a bit of solder on the tip of a hot soldering iron for a good heat connection. Hold the iron against the bottom of the wire and the solder against the top of the wire. When it starts to melt you can move the iron and solder back and forth across the wire to make a smooth tinning job. Clip the excess copper wire ends as close as possible. Use a file to clean it up if necessary as any rough bits will snag the paracord and make it a pain to weave.

Step 4: Add Paracord Braid

Now on to the final stage where you get creative and weave on you favorite paracord pattern. Piece of cake, right? Five-year olds are churning them out by the dozen, can't be that hard. If you are fifty-something and it is your first one, it can be a bit daunting to start. I did this project not just to salvage the Jawbone UP2 but also because I was looking for a reason to try paracord braiding. This isn't meant to be an Instructable on how to braid paracord, there are plenty of those but I will add a few of things that we figured out and a site with a good pattern for first-timers.

  1. I always thought that they used two separate pieces of paracord for multiple colors but often they actually fuse them together. There are lots of different methods to fuse the paracord and you can search them on the internet but, for this project, it is good enough to melt one piece with a candle and push it against the other to fuse it. Hold the pieces as close to the ends as possible so that you can push firmly without them wiggling too much. It may take a couple of tries to get it. If you can give it a firm tug and it holds, you've got it.
  2. The key to first time success, other than having a five year-old help you, is to use a simple two color pattern and have the pattern in front of you. The pattern that we used is here.
  3. To keep it nice and tight, you want do do as many loops as possible. That is usually one or two more that you think you can do. When you are finished, cut the cord, leaving about 1/4". Melt the cord using a lighter and shape it into a mushroom shape to lock the weave in place. Use a leather glove or a utensil to shape it so you don't burn yourself.

Good Luck and get crazy with your colors and patterns!

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6 Discussions

That looks nice! Thanks for sharing the pictures. There should be a “Pimp Your Activity Bracelet” contest.


2 years ago

I love this! I've been looking for a way to repair my band. Thanks so much for posting a lovely, creative solution.


2 years ago

Thank you. This is the solution I've been looking for. How well has the replacement band held up? And where did you get the clasp?

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

It has held up amazingly well. Even the slightly frayed part that I didn't get quite right when I made it hasn't gotten any worse. And I find it much nicer to have the paracord around my wrist than plastic. My wife had a bunch of clasps on hand for general sewing projects but I also found a bunch of different sizes at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. I hope it works out for you.