From the Tips Box: DIY iPad Styluses, Easy Cable Organizing, and Dirt Cheap Wi-Fi Antennas

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Once a week we dump out the tips box to share great reader tips with everyone; this week we’re looking at DIY iPad styluses, easy cable organizing, and how to hack your own dirt-cheap signal extending Wi-Fi antennas.

Roll Your Own iPad Stylus With A Drafting Pencil

Branden writes in with the following tip for creating a quick and dirty iPad stylus:

I saw your cute DIY hack for the Cars iPad toy and it reminded me of a quick trick for creating an iPad stylus. When all the hacks were floating around the internet right after the release of the iPad, I skipped most of them. They all involved stuff like soldering, drilling, winding wire, etc. Not fun.

A super easy way to make a stylus is to simply take a small piece of conductive foam and pinch it into the lead holder in a metal drafting pencil. You might need to experiment with different drafting pencil bodies to get it right but all of the ones on my desk work fine.

We’ve got drafting pencils on hand; now all we need to do is go dig around in the workshop for conductive foam. Great tip Branden!

Recycle and Organize Your Cables All At Once

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Ollie writes in with a clever and simple organization hack:

I’ve been using this trick for years, ever since I saw it on the tubes. I keep all my infrequently uses cables organizes with paper towel and toilet paper rolls. It’s simple really… you just gently fold the cables and tuck them in the tubes. After that you can stack the tubes (like canes in a shipping crate) inside a cardboard box. I have a couple filing boxes of neatly organizes cables in my office closet.

We’ve used a variety of techniques over the years includes ties and Ziplock bags, as far as speed goes; however, this is certainly beats both.

DIY Dirt Cheap Wi-Fi Antennas

Isela writes in with the following Wi-Fi extending hack:

I was looking at my local electronics store for some Wi-Fi extending antennas. They wanted $50 for a high-gain pair! Since I only paid $50 for the router it seemed pretty silly to pay another $50 when I could just buy another router and set it up as a repeater for that price. I went home, did a little Googling, and found this video where a guy hacks apart one of those fancy high-gain antennas and finds that its pretty much the exactly same thing as the standard antenna except the wire is longer and has a set of coils in it. Using the video as a guide I pulled apart my existing antennas and with some scrap wire, a drop of solder, and a straw (he wasn’t kidding about the hack costing a nickel), I’ve got high-gain antennas! Score!

We’re sorely tempted to go pull apart our router. We have all the necessary components: copper, solder, straws, and a healthy disregard for warranties.


Have a tip or trick to share? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com to share it with your fellow readers.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.