Magic tech Play-Doh
I’m a long-time fan of Sugru, and it amazes me how many people haven’t discovered it yet. If you’re one of them, you need this stuff in your life. It’s like Play-Doh with magic properties. For fixers and fiddlers like me, it’s the best.
This year, Sugru have released a little kit that’s ideal for trying it out, especially for tinkering with tech. Released in October, the Rebel Tech Kit costs £10 and comes with four packs of Sugru (black, white, grey and red), a remover tool (basically a plectrum) and a booklet of ideas in a little tin.
The booklet is the best part – Sugru is one of those things that’s a brilliant concept, but you really need some examples to understand it. Basically, you can use it for modding things (adding bumpers, hooks or grips to objects), making things (cable clips for your desk, a headphone hook for your monitor, a DIY tablet stand) and fixing things (the hole in the bottom of your shoe, the fork with a broken handle, your manky AF Macbook cable).
That last one is what I used my Rebel Tech Kit for. Here’s my Sugru review.
Anyone who knows me will know instantly this isn’t my Macbook. It’s my partner’s, and when I caught sight of the charging cable I just about had a heart attack. Damaged to the point that I could see the wires beneath, patched up with actual sellotape (not even electrical tape!) this thing was a fire waiting to happen.
It was also the perfect project for my Rebel Tech Kit.
First, I checked it was safe to repair a charging cable with Sugru. There are lots of tutorials online, and Sugru give some numbers so you can ensure you’re not using it on too high a voltage (max 24V at the time of writing, so my cable was fine, but do check first).
Then, I turned the charger off at the socket, and disengaged the power brick. Time for fixin’.
Sugru is weird. It comes in tiny sachets and has a sticky consistency with an odd, synthetic smell. You remove it from the packet and roll it all around to make it pliable.
I started with white Sugru because that was the colour of the cable, but snow white, pure Sugru looked absolutely awful next to the grubby old plastic. So I opened the black packet and mixed in some black. I could have got a pretty good match with the cable colour if I’d wanted to, but this stuff was getting all over my hands and I was keen to get fixing, so I went for a dark grey.
I removed the sellotape (cringe) and all bits of broken plastic, then straightened out the charger and placed it into a sausage of Sugru. I pushed it into the middle and rolled the Sugru around it to make a good, solid coating. It’s a lot longer than it needs to be – I could have just done the first inch or so – but I wanted to make it stronger so this didn’t happen again.
As you can see on the cardboard, the darker Sugru can stain, so it’s a good idea to put it on something to protect your surfaces.
This is harder than it sounds. Sugru is fingerprinty, and those prints will be there forever if you let it cure that way. I tried several methods – rolling it in my hands (handprints instead), rolling it in cardboard (too hard), rolling it in clingfilm (it looked like a mouldy baby carrot, see right – I’m still scarred), and finally settled for rolling it in thicker cellophane, which provided a decent, if not professional, result.
I left the end ‘natural’, with the intention of cutting it straight with a knife – but then decided no knife should ever go near a power cord, and left it as it was. You might be fussier, but I’ll take the DIY look over the monstrosity we had before.
The silicone rubber has to cure, which means leaving it alone for 24 hours. I read somewhere that it’s best to leave the repaired cable hanging downwards (something to do with avoiding wrinkles), so I dangled it off a table for a day.
Since then, we’ve been using the repaired cable for a fortnight, and it works beautifully. It’s flexible and strong, I no longer have to worry about the house burning down (from this, at least – hopefully there are no Galaxy Note 7s laying around), and my partner doesn’t have to spend his life savings on an official Apple replacement cable.
The Sugru Rebel Tech Kit is a cheap and fun way to get started with hacking your tech using Sugru. Once you’ve discovered it, it’s like Blu-Tac or superglue – you’ll think of a billion uses for it and always want some in the house.
Main image: Sugru