12 January 2014

How to Fix Broken FuelBand Button - Sugru Review

Broken Nike FuelBand button?  It seems there are many FuelBand users encountered this problem.  I have the simple fix.  This will also be a review of an amazing product, Sugru, a compound that turns into a silicone when cured.

Cutting out the button cover
If your button cover is as damaged as mine, it is pretty much useless.  Cut out the button cover on the Nike FuelBand, using a sharp blade.  Follow the inner edge and cut.  Be careful not to use too much force, as you can damage the circuit board.  Use a sharp blade and let the blade do the work.

Naked button
There is a small, clear plastic piece that may fall out.  You will need that.  Mine fell out, I saved it...then lost it.  If that happens, you will need to make one.  More on that, later. 

Activation disc, do not lose this.
If your plastic piece fell out, chances are your small metal activation disc is floating around in there.  Hopefully, it did not fall out of your button cover.  Clean the area as best you can and replace the disc.  Note that the small metal disc has a slight concave shape.  When you place the disc back in, make sure that it is dome up (not bowl up).  The edges of the dome should rest on the right contacts (seem image above).  When the button is depressed, the dome collapses and makes contact with the left/center contact, completing the circuit.  I know there is a better explanation of that from some electronic genius, but that is the best you will get from me.

Make your own plastic piece
If you have your small clear plastic piece, great.  You can move on to the fun part.  If you lost it, you will need to make a new one.  All you need is a small piece of thin plastic, not too thin.  Just dig in your recycle bin and look for any stiff plastic package, like a clam shell or blister back.  Cut out a small piece that will fit into the hole of the button, about 6mm x 4mm.  Snip off the corners for better fit (see above).

To aid in depressing the dome, the plastic piece needs a little nipple.  This was done with a small drop of super glue, applied with a toothpick.  If you are a sharp shooter with a hot glue gun, you can use that.  You can use whatever you have that will create a small bump.  This bump should be no more than 1mm high.

Place the plastic piece on top of the disc, and you are ready for the fun part.  Note that the bump or nipple you have created should face the down, towards the button.

Mmm...packets of Sugru looks like condiments
You will have about thirty minutes to work the Sugru.  These sample packs contain five grams, and five grams goes a long way.   It is a good idea to hunt around and find things that need to be repaired/reinforced before you open your packets.  Go to the Sugur website for ideas and to order your packets. 

Sculpting the new button
Take a small amount of Sugru and begin molding it to the shape you want.  I used some of my sculpting tools to sculpt the new button.  Sugru is really easy to use.  Stiff enough to hold what ever shape you are sculpting, and thin enough to feather out.  With a thirty minute work time, you will need to work relatively fast, depending on how many other projects you have.

Make sure you do not over pack the button area.  Too much, and you will block the electronic contacts.  Just use enough to cover the plastic shield.  Also, be sure to pack it into the corners and edges so it forms a tight seal.

It is suggested that once the packets are opened, you must use it all or it will cure.  I sealed the unused portions in a sandwich bag and placed it in the refrigerator, and it seems to keep the Sugru 'fresh'.

Sugru cures in twenty-four hours.

Finished button
Your button is ready to use.  I admit that I was not sure if this would work.  Though not as smooth as original, it beats having a hole where your button was, and having to use a blunt object to activate your FuelBand.  Now, I can just press the button as normal.  Plus, I have a yellow button.


There you have it, a fix to a common issue in FuelBands. 

Update:  Well, looks like putting the Sugru in a sandwich bag and placing it in the fridge did not stop it from curing.  I guess once the seal on the package is broken, the entire pack will cure in thirty minutes.  So, it would be a good idea to get all your to-be-repaired items together and do them all at once.

Still, Sugru is a great product.  I made my repairs about two weeks ago, and they are all holding up, even with daily use as the FuelBand.

Update - 5 May 2014:  I have received a few questions in the few months that this post has been up.  I answered a few of them, but I think I should include some of that information in the body of the post.   As suspected, it seems that many of you are having the same issues with the FuelBand.  Hopefully, for some of you, this post has helped you repair your FuelBand.  I got a question from Auginator :
The same exact thing you describe in this and the previous post have happened to my FuelBand!
I have cut mine open, and I discovered 2 metal discs instead of one! Both seem quite flat - like you, I had been manhandling the button to get it to work. I also noticed that the plastic bit has no blob on it, but there is some goop distributed throughout the cavity.

Any idea on the two discs? Would you like me to provide you with a picture of the original plastic part for others that find their way here?
Mine only had one disc.  For a long time, I had a hole in my button, one may have fallen out.  Although, it is possible that you just have two.  Perhaps the two discs worked with each other so there would not bee a need to dome the one disc.  I noticed my one disc was a little domed, not completely flat.  When I cleared everything out the one disc was resting on top of the button contacts.

The idea was that dome would 'bridge' the contacts.  Pressing the dome would flatten the disc and create the contact.  Then, the dome will spring back up, so there is no more contact.  This is why one reader kept getting the reset-bluetooth-battery cycle.  The button was stuck as if holding a non-broken button.

I lost the little plastic plate  It fell out of the hole one day, I saved it, then lost it.  So, I do not have a picture of it.  That is why I had to make a one that looks very similar to the lost part. I added the little nipple to the plate to aid in depressing the metal disc.

As for the gunk you have around the button.  I suspect that this is debris, like lint and/or dirt, mixed with oil from your skin.  Every time you sweat or press the button you can transfer oil in through the hole in your button.  I also had some gunk inside the button area, and it looked like dirt and oil.

I could be totally wrong.  The button gunk could be contact grease that is sometimes used in electronics.  No way of knowing unless someone volunteers to cut open a FuelBand, or we get an answer from Nike.  Too bad Nike just got rid of their FuelBand group.

I can see that there are many readers of this post and I hope that you have all fixed your buttons, whether through ideas in this post or through other methods.  Now, get moving and earn those FuelPoints.

UPDATE:  Click here for some alternate ways to tackle this issue

27 comments:

Peter Howes said...

Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for.

Anonymous said...

Dare I say the button works better than before. The plastic piece will no longer move around like it could prior so I'm hopeful that this will last some time now.

My second fuel band with this issue, the first time around I was able to replace it with the warranty.

Thanks so much for posting this!!!

Tường Lâm said...

1 question, after maked a nipple on the plastic. We put it back in , but the nipple inside or the outside?

awildermode said...

Nipple goes inside, facing the button.

Tường Lâm said...

Oh already have it. Very nice but it's go until to day it's automatic like somthing push the button it's keeping doing battery, bluetooth, and reset. It's keep doing that. So i take the button out it's stop i think it was the activation disk.

Tường Lâm said...

Oh already have it. Very nice but it's go until to day it's automatic like somthing push the button it's keeping doing battery, bluetooth, and reset. It's keep doing that. So i take the button out it's stop i think it was the activation disk.

awildermode said...

If you are getting the battery-bluetooth-reset cycle, this means your little metal disc is not springing back and is 'stuck' on the contacts.

You will need to start over. Clean the area. Use a blunt pencil to make your disc a little more dome-like by gently pushing it on a soft surface. This should give you that dome to bridge the contacts.

Proceed with the rest of the steps.

Hope that helps.

Tường Lâm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tường Lâm said...

Thank you so much. Finally i fixed it. You should make a video and post it on youtube for more information about it. Against, Thank you

awildermode said...

Awesome! I am glad that you were able to fix your FuelBand. Thanks again, for reading my post/blog.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Auginator said...

The same exact thing you describe in this and the previous post have happened to my FuelBand!

I have cut mine open, and I discovered 2 metal discs instead of one! Both seem quite flat - like you, I had been manhandling the button to get it to work. I also noticed that the plastic bit has no blob on it, but there is some goop distributed throughout the cavity.

Any idea on the two discs? Would you like me to provide you with a picture of the original plastic part for others that find their way here?

awildermode said...

Hi Auginator

My response is in the body of the post. Hope that helps. Thanks!

Gage said...

There is a bit of an easier way to go about this. Rather than cutting the entire button off, I left a small section on either of the skinny ends in tact, and just peeled the button back to do the work needed. After I fixed the button (with help of the rest of your instructions!!) i simply wrapped one piece of electrical tape around the button, ensuring that the silicone does not flap up!

Pavels Romanovskis said...

Thanks Gage! I used your tip, cutting 3/4 of the circle, peeling button up, fixing it. In my case, all silicon was gone, so I carefully placed contacts back in place, then filled couple of drops of adhesive glue (the one which forms rubbery soft gunk when dried), let it dry for about an hour, then closed button-top-surface over that rubber ball. Checked that button still works and finally fixed it with supper glue.

David Adams said...

I believe you may have had 2 little discs all along. I fiddled with the parts longer than planned and what started out as one discs ended up being 2. They may just be tightly packed together initially. Messing with them too much or waiting longer to fix the button may cause them to separate. Thanks for the help!

Fabian Ochoa said...

Hi!!! i have a little issue as well... i guess i lost the plastic and the metal part too. My question is, does the small circle part has to be metal?? or can i just replace it with another material??

awildermode said...

Yes, the small circle part has to be some sort of conductive material, metal. There are some non-metal conductive materials out there.

Not sure if this will work, get a 'spare' electronic device with rubber buttons. A broken remote, calculator, or similar will do.

Take apart device, get one of the buttons, this button should have a conductive pad, use that as your new button. Heck, depending on your device, you may find a small disc to use.

Another option is to contact Nike and see if you can get a replacement. Nike (especially their FuelBand division) is really good with customer service.

Good luck!

$!N said...

i did it and it works thank you !!
but instead of the nipple of glue i used a small piece of paper which works swell
and i could not get sugru so i just glued the button back on it !!

Anonymous said...

Okay so I think it worked? Mine is curing now so we will see! -- i don't want to jinx it.
I too couldn't get sugru easily as it is not sold in Australia. So I used building silicone and glued the button back on with superglue (i only cut 3/4 of the button off). For the plastic nipple - i cut a tiny piece of a toothpick off, shaved it down a little and super glued it to the plastic.


Thanks so much for posting this up. I just bought mind second hand off ebay - hasn't even been a week and the button went ... I probably wouldn't have tried fixing it myself, I thought it was the circuit board not a dislodgement of metal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks worked for me. Saved me $.

Anonymous said...

hello, my button is clicking but not working. my band is also charging. Can this fix blog can help me? thx

awildermode said...

Are you getting an error message when you sync to your account? Is there anything on the display?

Even though your FuelBand is charging, it is possible that the sensors and/or other internal electronics are not working.

You should contact Nike and their customer service. Hope that helps, good luck.

关振东 said...

Hi, I also have broken fuelband but I'm in China. How can I get the sugur?ths

Ojas Sangwan said...

is there an alternative for surgru

Unknown said...

Thank your very much for sharing how to fix this device, even when I lost the activation disk I solve it with a very small piece of metal from the detector tag some clothes have into the stores. Kind regards from Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Lost the two metal tiny discs and rubber covering is cut away. With metal contact it could work but I dont know how to get it back working.