I just figured out a new way to make your own capacitive pen or stylus for any capacitive touchscreen device (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.). For less than $5! This is a totally new way that I haven’t seen anywhere else online. No foam, no foil, no sponges. You just need two things: an object with a 3-4 mm writing surface and some wire glue.
Start first by getting some wire glue. Wire glue is an electrically conductive bonding agent you can use in place of solder. You can buy it at ThinkGeek.com for $3.99. I had stumbled across the stuff when I was doing one of my far-too-frequent shopping trips for the latest and greatest on ThinkGeek.
Next, coat whatever you want to use as your writing/stylus instrument with the wire glue and let it dry completely. Be sure to coat far enough up the stylus where your fingers will touch it. The wire glue will conduct the electricity from your finger to the tip. Here’s the tricky part: you need a writing surface that will be at least 3-4 mm in width. It seems at present, the touchscreens on the market need this big of a surface to register the capacitance distortion. That’s why all those brush, foam, and rubber based styli are that wide. Anything smaller and your iPad won’t register it.
Here you see I’ve used a Q-Tip and flattened the tip to about 4 mm. Making sure my fingers touched the glue coating (I didn’t want to coat the whole Q-Tip so I used just a little bit at the tip). Voila! I now have my own capacitive stylus. I’m going to experiment a bit with this and see if I can mix the wire glue with something like glossy paint or nail polish without losing the electrical conductance of the wire glue while making the surface a bit smoother.
I had originally wanted to figure a solution out because I didn’t like the feel of the foam- or rubber-based pens out there. Until they make the capacitive touchscreen a bit more sensitive, I guess we’ll be dependent on the app makers to respond with pen strokes that output a finer point. Here are some other solutions out there if you just want to buy something a little bit slicker: