Crafting a Ring

A project log for Wordy

Ring that has interesting vocabulary, plays accelerometer Pong, and answers questions. Implemented on the Arduino-based MicroView platform.

Elecia WhiteElecia White 12/09/2014 at 23:310 Comments

Part of making a wearable device is making it look nice. That was a more difficult proposition than I expected.

I had this fantasy of putting my battery in the ring body using a bendy polymer battery. While they do exist, I couldn't find any with the power rating I need that was also rechargeable and had the safety circuit.

I ended up with the battery under the MicroView and on top of the accelerometer.

Now I needed a ring to fit it on. I started out with Amaco's cloud clay because that's what my local hobby shop had when I was considering the idea (I <heart> D&J Hobby). It is strange stuff, very light. It is flexible when cured so it works well as a ring.

Once a ring dried, I could put connector pieces on with hot glue, then essentially plug the MicroView assembly into the ring base.

This worked pretty well but looked pretty awful, especially from the front and back.

The cloud clay dries in 24 hours so I was able to leave it attached to electronics while it was drying. I tried lots of different blanks, getting ideas and making new ones pretty quickly. I used fingernail polish on some of them to give a glossy, finished surface. That worked fairly well given my fairly messy painting skills. However, the paint needs two coats (at least) and takes a really long time to dry so I went back to D&J to get the black version of the clay.

This whole time, I was trying to put the ring on my right hand ring finger. That is where the the MicroView "fits":

However, Pong is really, really hard to play from that angle. Also, after wearing the assembled one for 3-4 hours, I found it itched a bit. I think that was battery edges scraping into my skin.

I decided to try Sculpey. I have a lot of it. It's faster turn around time meant I could build something the day I wanted it. (Ahem, ok, maybe I switched to Sculpey because the nail polish took too long to dry and the white looked shabby and the black wasn't done yet and I wanted to wear it to a party.)

The first Sculpey ring broke right away, probably I didn't do it right but it also indicated the rigidity was going to work against me. It wasn't that comfortable either.

I went to Michael's to look for ring blanks in the jewelry section. I came home with the blanks I was looking for (though I wanted the good version, they only had the cheap version which are scratchy and uncomfortable). Amazon has a much better selection but I was not in the order and wait patiently mode. I also found a "chain making kit" with a number of large-ish silver rings. Some of the rings fit my right hand index finger. When 4-5 were combined together, they were a sturdy, nice looking ring.

Atop that, I put a box made of Sculpey. This wouldn't see the stresses associated with moving my hands so it was less likely to break.

As noted in the instructions, I put the connectors on the MicroView, add a bead of hot glue, then put the electronics in the box. Getting it out hasn't been bad. Someday it will leave all of the connectors behind (and that will be a good thing).

I like this ring because it is very sturdy, it feels stable. The ring stays powered. And I can tap the top (screen) or the metal band. It is functional.

However, it is huge. The box is bigger than it needs to be which means the whole thing is bigger, clunkier than necessary.

I either need to make another, smaller version or I need to sand this one a bit, then cover it in clear nail polish to make it look a bit nicer.

With any project, the thing that takes the longest isn't the part I expected. I suspect making this look nice could take infinite time, something I don't have. So excuse me while I got put the connectors on the pins, heat the hot glue gun, and put this on so I can wear it to dinner tonight.

Oh, I want to say that the ring is turning out to be amusing. Geeks like it, normal people ask about it. I think the "I love vocabulary" is a harder feature to grok than "my ring plays Pong". It helps with my sit-in-a-corner-during-a-party shyness. Of course, I do also sit in the corner and play with sometimes. But then Wordy will put up a word that makes me think that I need to share it...