Self Retracting Earbud Case





Introduction: Self Retracting Earbud Case

The self retracting earbud case is a project I created for my Principles of Engineering class assignment. It is used to keep your earbuds nice and tidy. The self retracting earbud case is made out of things that would have gone to the trash can, such as bottle caps, worn out tape measures, and old yellowed manila folders. I am not a good artist, so I was reluctant to decorate my case, in the instance that it would turn out looking like it came out of a paint monster, but finished products could be decorated to your tastes. I hope you have fun with this project.

*Please read through the whole Instructable before starting and keep in mind that the spring from the tape measure may not be strong enough to handle turning cords. I tested around with my spring too much, so it is now weakened and not strong enough to turn the heavy earbud cords.

Materials Needed:

  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Cardstock
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Compass
  • X-acto Knife
  • Bottle Cap
  • Drill Bit
  • Bolt (not pictured)

Step 1: Take Apart the Tape Measure

Take apart the tape measure using a flathead screwdriver. Take caution, as the wire spring may pop out. You will get four parts: the shell, button, small spring, measuring tape, wire spring (spring) and black holder part (holder). For this project, you will need the spring and holder.

Step 2: Place the Spring Back Into the Holder

If your spring popped out of the holder, coil it back up and place it back into the holder. It is wise to wear thick gloves to protect fingers against the sharp edges of the spring. The holder should have two notches were the end of the wire goes to keep it in place.

Step 3: Cut Out the Cardstock Tube and Cap

Measure the circumference of the holder and the height of your bottle cap from the inside up. Then, cut a piece of cardstock that length and height. For instance, my holder had a circumference of 10 centimeters and the bottle cap was 4 centimeters high, so I cut out a 4 by 10 piece of cardstock. Turn this into a tube by taping the two ends as shown. Keep aside for later. Cut out a circular “cap” that is the diameter of the bottle cap and add flaps to use to tape on later. Save this too.

Step 4: Make the Spring Holder

Also cut out two thin strips of cardstock to tape onto the holder as to keep the wire from popping out. Tape as shown.

Step 5: Cut the Chopstick and Put Into the Bolt

Take out the chopstick and X-acto knife. Measure 2 centimeters from the top and cut off the rest of the stick. Then, use the knife to make an indent in the center of the chopstick, taking care to not break the chopstick in to two pieces. Place the chopstick into the bolt so that it fits snugly.

Step 6: Cut the Hole in the Bottle Cap

Take out the bottle cap and the drill bit. Find the center of the bottle cap and use the drill bit to create a hole. I did it by hand, so I started out with a 1/16 inch drill bit and worked my way up to a ¼ inch drill bit. A drill may speed things up. Make sure that the chopstick can fit into the hole; if not, make the hole bigger.

Step 7: Glue the Bolt Into the Bottle Cap

Using a hot glue gun, glue the bolt holding the chopstick into the bottle cap as shown in the picture. It is best if you surround the hole with glue and place the bolt on top of the glue.

Step 8: Cut the Gaps Into the Bottle Cap for the Cord.

Using the X-acto knife, cut two holes into the sides of the bottle cap, directly across from each other. Make them approximately half to one centimeter wide, depending on if your earbuds have a headphone piece or not.

Step 9: Place the Holder Into the Bottle Cap

Take the holder and place the wire in between the gap between the chopstick pieces. Make sure that you twist the holder left and right to find out which direction results in compression of the spring. If the spring is relaxed, then it is not in compression. *Refer to video.

Step 10: Place the Cardstock Tube on the Holder

Take out the tube that you put aside earlier and fit it onto the holder.

Step 11: Wrap the Cord Around the Tube

Wrap the cord around the tube. The side with the earbuds should be in the direction of compression. When you pull the cord out, the spring becomes compressed, so when you release the cord, the spring coils into relaxing position. Make sure that the strings are going in the right direction.

Step 12: Put the Cap On

Finally, tape/ glue on the cap you made in Step 3. Decorate if desired.

Step 13: How the Spring Works



    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest

    2 Discussions

    Excellent Ellen!

    Cool project. If you want to make the video easier for people to watch, you can upload it to a site like YouTube and then use the Embed Video tool in the step editor to embed the video on the page. Then people could watch it on the page without having to download it.