Thursday, April 28, 2005

how to make a duct tape ipod shuffle case that doesn't suck

15-20$ for an ipod shuffle case is a little nuts, and when I bought my shuffle such cases were a month off anyway. I had already scuffed the side against my cellphone (not my keys, my CELLPHONE) and realized some form of protection was in order.

I recall the duct tape ipod case that had made the rounds a while back, and realized that given the size of the shuffle, making one for this thing would be simple. Plus you could simply trace the edges onto a sheet of paper, cut it out, and cover it with duct tape and be done with it. You don't need a hole for the buttons as, so long as you knew where they were, you could press them through the tape.

This is what I came up with:

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Yeah, not pretty. Plus not terribly functional as I hadn't left a way to operate the back switch. I also realized that I didn't really want duct tape rubbing against the shuffle itself as I'd wind up with clumps of adhesive on the thing. The sharpie indicators were less than graceful as well.

The way to fix the last problem seemed simplest; make it out of some clear material of some sort. Wrapping it in another type of tape seemed the logical solution, as well as coloring the paper I was using to cover pencil marks.

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yeesh. Sharpie and packing tape, not a good combo.

I had started to buy black paper to try this idea again when I realized two things while wandering around wal-mart:
- the clear duct tape that has been making the rounds on the "internets" would be perfect.
- if I used a clear paper of some form, the frame would be totally see through so I wouldn't have to worry with cutting little holes and the overhang of tape, etc.

About at this point I also decided to finally hook up the scanner my mom had given me secondhand (she had bought an all-in-one scanner/printer) and scan my pencil outlines. I used the jpgs I scanned to draw outlines in quark xpress and printed them out, several to a page.

Here is the one I've been using as of late:

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the back:

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The interior is vellum, the exterior is clear duct tape. The top is a single piece of red duct tape for decoration. This had begun to get a little ratty and I never had liked how the vellum wasn't really see through (the ipod is in that thing, and you can't really see the buttons through it, although it is transparent enough to have the LED indicator shine through).

Today I decided to print out another one (and write this stuff up. The wonders of avoiding studying for finals!). Here's how I went about it:

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The print-out is on top of a small cutting pad, taped down. On top of it (although it's nearly impossible to see) is a piece of overhead transparency taped down. I took my x-acto knife and cut around all the edges and gently scored the edges where I would be folding it.
wound up with this:

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somewhat assembled:

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now meet my friend tape!

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I put the ipod inside the folded transparency and then wrapped a strip of tape around the whole thing, cutting corners where necessary to get it to fold correctly.

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Anyway several strips later, we have:

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The earphones hold down the tab on top when they're plugged in.

With the ipod inside:

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Man this is a crapload of pictures. Anyway, done. I've been meaning to make a PDF of the outline but I'm still not entirely satisfied with how it works (has to be a better way of doing the back switch). I'm also not entirely happy with this one because so much gunk got onto the edges of the tape, but for demonstration purposes it will do. I'd like to try other types of paper, or maybe something more transparent than my vellum yet less so than transparency. I have some fuzzy paper, so I could make (no joke) a velour lined ipod case.

Anyway if anyone really wants a copy of that PDF, ask and I can see what I can do.

**EDIT: comments are now enabled for anonymous users. oopsie.


Blogger Jim Younkin said...

Dandy hack John! I've added it to shufflehacks.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Rae Rae said...

John Spain, you are my hero.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Casper Vidor said...

Jesus Christ! Didn't you spend about $20 (I mean when you factor in time, gas for the trip, and the cost of counseling)? Maybe you should just invest in the real thing.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Espen Throndsen said...

Ohh my God..

Do you think that tape looks bether than a ipod with a few scuffs on it?

In 2 years when you ipod is outdated an not operational, are you gona use it as a decoration?

3:13 PM  
Blogger krylonultraflat said...

In 2 years when you ipod is outdated an not operational, are you gona use it as a decoration?

actually my cat seems to like them, so all but the one i'm using has been turned over to him.
Annnnndddd in 2 years when my ipod is outdated I'll still be using it. I'm not in the habit of spending money on crap I intend to throw away.

Jesus Christ! Didn't you spend about $20 (I mean when you factor in time, gas for the trip, and the cost of counseling)? Maybe you should just invest in the real thing.

The "real thing" is a piece of plastic. This is a piece of plastic. Investment wise, this saved me many an hour of going fucking insane while studying, so all things considered it's kind of counseling in and of itself.

And on a side note, the picture put on endgadget is the shittiest one. Granted, the final version isn't pretty either.

I forgot to note that the best part about these (at least the one I was using) is that it makes an ipod shuffle not LOOK like an ipod shuffle, thus making it so I can leave it on my dashboard.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

How about a ziplock bag? 2"x4" you get 100 for 2.00, that's 2 cents each, they're water proof, transparent, cheap AND they'll keep you music fresh.


4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, well all I have to say is your going to flunk your finals. But no worry, I am sure you have a prosperous career as an inventor ahead of you...... On second thought, go study and buy a bloody ziploc bag!!!

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon above me: Apparently you have no imagination whatsoever. And somethin like this is a nice break. Give the guy some credit, it's original and pretty cool. Everyone in this world is too damn critical.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Dark_Citizen said...

I like the idea!
Though, I myself, am an aspiring Lexar Media LDP-800 (SD card slot, fm radio, in and out jacks, built-in transmitter.. woot! look it up on Although I dislike most of the general ideas Ipod and it's progeny brings to bear, I do like it when people mod their junk. It makes me smile inside.
Here's a thought. Do what you did with your latest incarnation of the DIY shuffle case, but, as a final touch, hit it with a few light coats of klear kote, which you should be able to find at your local auto shop, like pepboys or kragens. that should get rid of the gooey lint factor, and give it a nice glossy sheen to boot.
happy modding! ^_^

5:01 AM  
Blogger krylonultraflat said...

hit it with a few light coats of klear kote, which you should be able to find at your local auto shop, like pepboys or kragens. that should get rid of the gooey lint factor, and give it a nice glossy sheen to boot.

holy crap! why did I never think of that? that's perfect! As soon as I'm back at my desk I'm going to try that out.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man good going i dont care if its stupid or not cus i got a good laugh out of reading the post

good entertainment, thx

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While ziplock bags are indeed a handy idea for those time-pressed un-imaginative anal retentives, those of us with some creativity appreciate and applaud one man's effort to customize and make unique what would otherwise be a mass produced piece of technology. I subscribe to hacking, marking up or otherwise making unique all technology, be it for practical or personal reasons (or maybe both).

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slip a (non-lubed) condom over it. You can get them in different colors and textures. Nobody should steal a that off your dash. :) You can find all kinds of cool ones.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous katherine said...


I'd like a pdf of the pattern.

I went to apple store last night to check out what they have for the shuffle, I just found the prices are ridiculous.

I want to make a cover with duct tape.. speaks indviduality :)

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Drea said...

Very Clever!

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like a copy of the pdf, or some measurements. You can send em to m p a l o n e 4 @ y a h o o . c o m

5:58 PM  
Anonymous JDB said...

would it be possible to do the same thing with a regular ipod, or an ipod mini?

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Kayla said...

The Apple sports case for the shuffle is $28! That's such a rip off; close to 1/3 of the price of the shuffle!

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice xD

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats ugly.

4:09 PM  
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Blogger Katie said...

I love it! And for the chick/dude that said it was ugly... Ugly is strictly based on personal opinion. If someone makes something that is completely functional, who cares what it looks like... Besides sweetie you sound like you would have stuck SanRio stickers all over it anyway...

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would l-u-v to get a copy of the template. I'm trying to make some custom decals for a shuffle, but alas, I own no shuffle myself. I'm at

10:10 PM  
Blogger nollij said...

What's up with all the comment spam? As I always say "SPAMMERS WILL BE SHOT ON SITE!" BTW, Nice Mod. Duct Tape is one of mankind's best inventions and a friend to you and me; nice use of the clear variety!

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your duct tape ipod case. If you are still looking for a clearer paper I suggest using acetate. You should be able to find it at any office supply store. It comes in 8.5"x11" sheets, is totally translucent and is about 1 mm thick. Have fun!

6:45 AM  
Anonymous me said...

Hey i did the same type of thing for and ipod mini it is more like a case that always stays on, like an iSkin, but can be slid off. Id send a picture but i have no idea how

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, it's not that big of a deal. I make REAL ipod [not shuffle] duct tape cases out of nothin' but duct tape and scissors. no paper, no template. and they turn out great. it only takes me like 30 min too =]

12:23 AM  
Blogger stefani said...

I love you. You are clearly my soul mate. I have made at least 10 incarnations of an ipod nano case, 4 knit, 2 out of manila envelopes covered in clear packing tape, 2 out of plain old duct tape, one out of a zip lock bag. OK, that's 9. But I just can't buy one...

Are you single? Please marry me.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

w00t @ duct tapeyness!!!
i would hug you(well the computer), but i'm in a library and they tend to frown on that. :[
keep up the shmexy duct tape ideas!!!

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey you should buy a ipod nano. they're way better than shuffles!

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

other dude said "How about a ziplock bag? 2"x4" you get 100 for 2.00, that's 2 cents each, they're water proof..."

duh, duh, duh. correction. ZIPLOCK BGAS ARE NOT WATERPROOF! learn from my mistake. I lost a nintendo gameboy b/cuz some stupid bastard said ziplock bags were waterproof.

8:27 PM  
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1GB ipod shuffle review video detail at ipod inside blog

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4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool, but it still sucks... a lot.
it may be useful but in my eyes, it's crap if it doesn't look good, and trust me, it doesn't look good

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can u please make one that actually isn't just plain poo like the one you made before? i mean, seriously, i hate it

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

those 2 comments ^ are both from me
) :< i do not like your case at all

6:38 PM  
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3:08 AM  
Blogger said...

I'm very interested in seeing all the pictures from your step by step process. I have never made a nano case before but I have made many iPod classic cases. Check out my site! You can download a pdf of my instructions too. Let me know what you think.

3:21 PM  
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