An Adapted iPad Stylus – straight from the kitchen sink

Some of this will apply to ANYONE wanting to make their own stylus and other bits of this will apply to the special needs population exclusively.

I have been on a quest to help my son (who has Kernicterus – which includes Cerebral Palsy) color/play independently on his iPad.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about the stylus.    As you will be able to tell, I’m no expert in ANY field related to this – but I did find some things that work!  Just PLEASE be sure that whatever you are doing is safe!  (And as for picture quality – broken camera, so this is all the work of my iPhone!)


From previous purchases it was obvious that the typical styluses offered in the store won’t fly for us. The tips come off all too easily and are inevitably lost. I failed at a few attempts on the home-made front yesterday too.

I tried this with a very moist nib and the copper braid but it was VERY unresponsive

A dead battery. This will work, but do you really want to dang a battery on a glass screen???

The main principle here to to keep the flow of “electricity” from the users body to the tip.

You can do this any number of ways, but be sure that whatever you are planning, you test it every step of the way. Experimenting with the sponge vs the wet Q-tip, I found the sponge to be far superior and I like the copper wire MUCH better than aluminum foil too.

There are other materials you could use for the grip. Here are a few ideas:

Before applying these around the sponge and copper, you may want to either:

  • put something else like a pen casing (or any appropriate cylinder shape – or really whatever shape suits your fancy) around the sponge, and wire
  • or encase the sponge and conduit in saran-wrap (to prevent moisture from breaking down the exterior)
  • The idea behind this is that the saran-wrap or pen casing would make it last longer.  My theory is that it would keep the sponge and it’s moisture separate from the clay or composite used to make the grip..
  • NOTE: With any non-metal or non-electrostatic exterior: you’ll need to have the copper braid (or other conduit material) run to the outside and maintain contact with the users skin

Crayola Air Dry Clay 2.5 Lb Bucket, White

Air Dry clay would certainly be soft for the user. I wonder about its long-term durability and tolerance to moisture.

Sugru Air-curing Rubber - 8 x 5g of mini packs with a mixture of Multicolors

OT’s with Apps made some nice looking styluses with this sugru material. It seems like a nice rubber texture and would seem to be very durable.

InstaMorph - Moldable Plastic - 6 oz

Other Ideas:

How it all works for us:

7 thoughts on “An Adapted iPad Stylus – straight from the kitchen sink

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for checking it out! The sponge did not need any water. The dish sponge I had, already had plenty of moisture in it to effectively conduct the current w/o any water being added. I hope that clarifies! (Also, if it dries out over time, I’m sure I can add a drop or 2 or water.) -miriam

      • You are right in not understanding…not sure I wrote that on much sleep!!! IT DID NOT MAKE SENSE! sooooo….sorry for that! I changed it up a little to make it more clear. Basically, in making this for my son I figured out a few basic concepts that you could apply to making any type of stylus and wanted to share and jotted them down way too quick w/ 3 kids hollering for my attention. Sorry for the confusion!!
        The saran-wrap would be if you were going to put airclay or something around the sponge to make your own grip…I was just thinking that it might make it last longer, so the sponge and it’s moisture wouldn’t mix w/ the clay or whatever material you use to make the grip. I hope that helps! Thanks again for checking it out…and helping me clarify! (The little youtube video linked in may be helpful for you, if you haven’t seen it already.)

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