Yesterday I went from enthusiasm to disappointment in a few minutes when I hacked together an iPad stylus to use for scribbling sketchnotes. The damned thing just reacted too slow to be useful.
Not long after publishing that post, I went back through the DIY video, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong. Towards the beginning (around 0:45), he says “it’s a good idea to make sure the foam you’re using is indeed conductive.” So I snipped off a chunk of foam, and tried drawing with it.
And it worked just as good as my finger.
Holding that little strip of foam, I realised I’d made myself an iPad Charcoal Stylus. I’d automatically gripped it as I’d learned to hold a piece of charcoal way back in art school (ahhhh, those were the days), as seen below.
So if you want the simplest iPad stylus the world’s ever seen, you’ll need:
- Some conductive foam (found at an electronics store if you’re not a nerd and don’t have any lying around)
Then follow these complicated instructions:
- Cut a strip of conductive foam that’s as long as you want and as wide as the thickness of your foam (a square in cross-section).
- Snip the corners off of one end so it’s more or less rounded.
- Download Sketchbook Pro, sync your iPad and start drawing!
The foam’s quite rigid stuff, so it doesn’t flop around and is easy to hold. The charcoal grip is best suited to pretty rough drawing, but I’ll be experimenting with longer styluses better suited to a typical pen grip. My first results with the iPad Charcoal Stylus are still pretty rough, but I’m now confident that has more to do with learning & getting the most out of the software, and not a half-functional stylus.
So thanks to the wonders of conductive foam I’ll be snipping myself a few more charcoals and sketchnoting TEDx Sydney tomorrow on the iPad! I just hope the conference coffee’s worth drinking.