15 September 2015

Fixing That Nike FuelBand - Alternate Versions

In January 2014, I posted about fixing the Nike FuelBand.  The repair lasted until the FuelBand itself failed on me.  I have since got a new band. Again, the silicone on and around the button started to wear.  Since I have used up my Sugru, I went for the alternative:  electrical tape.

Electrical tape fix
Sugru or other mouldable glues may not be easily or immediately available in your area. Electrical tape is one alternate fix with an everyday item that you may already have or can get at a local hardware store.  Simply wrap the tape twice around the button area.  You may need to trim the tape to a narrower width, otherwise you will get wrinkles in the tape as it is wrapped.  Most electrical tape comes in 17mm width, I trimmed mine down to about 13mm.

The only down side to using electrical tape is the residue from the adhesive.  Occasionally, you will get black marks on your wrist.  You could use other colours of electrical tape, but I have found any tape will leave residue.  Because of the properties of silicone, pretty much nothing sticks to it, the tape tends to shift or rotate, and cause the adhesive to separate from the tape and end up on your wrist or possibly clothing.

Adhesive residue from electrical tape
If you elect to use this method, it is a good idea to remove the tape once in a while and re-tape it.  Make sure to clean the residue to avoid bubbles.

I have been experimenting with the electrical tape method for a few months.  It works, but I have another alternate way to fix this issue with FuelBands.  Heat shrink tubing

Heat shrink tubing
Yes, heat shrink tubing.  This idea came to me as I was using some to fix the aglets (or "fluglebinder" for you are a Tom Cruise and Cocktails fan) on my one of my skate laces.  The only hurdle is finding some tubing large enough to fit the band.  You should be able to locate some at your local hardware store or electronics store.  The tubing is also available in a variety of colours.

As you know, the circumference around the clasp area is slightly larger than the body of the band.  I was able to find a piece that was about 22mm wide when flatten (see photo above).  This is the perfect size, as it barely fits around the ends.  With a little encouragement, you can get it past the wider part of the band.

Cut tubing to length
You will need to cut a piece long enough to cover the button and the area around it, about 15mm.  This gives about 3-4mm overlap on all sided of the button.  Remember, it shrinks.  You could leave a smaller overlap (13mm) as a 3-4mm overlap covers the first row of lights on the band.  This 'loss' of one row of lights noticeable when displaying longer words like "START", "HOURS", battery level, etc.  Not that big of a deal since most of the display images does not utilize the row of light closest to the button.

I have my band set to default/left hand wear, I do not see, nor miss, the first red light.  It might be an issue for those who have it set to right hand wear, as you will not see your final green light.  If that is the case, go with a shorter tube with less overlap, or just think ahead (unlike me) and not cover those lights.

Heat shrink tubing over FuelBand button
Once you work the tubing past the ends, slide it over the button, making sure it is centered.  This is a good time to double check that the area is clean of debris before heating.

Be careful when heating up the tubing.  Make sure you keep your heat source moving and check that the FuelBand is not too hot.  Better yet, have a stationary heat source and keep the FuelBand in motion to get those NikeFuel Points.

I used a heat gun, again, keeping it constantly moving until the tubing was tight on the band.  I am not sure what the temperature limits of the band and interior electronics are so just be careful.  Do I need to state that you should do this at your own risk?  Well, there, I said it.  And, be careful not to burn yourself.

The finished product looks and works better than anything I have tried, so far. There are advantages to using heat shrink tubing versus electrical tape or a mouldable glue. There is no need to sculpt and maintain a constant thickness as you would with a mouldable glue and there is little risk of it chipping off.  The tubing does not have any adhesive, therefore, no residue to worry about and not need to reapply as often.

I have been wearing this for about two weeks and it is holding up strong.  Good luck!

Update:  Answering questions in comments.

1 - Heat shrink tubing was the best solution to the broken button.  Tape and Sugru methods I have used in the past do not last as long.  Having said that, heat shrink tubing does has its limits.  You will need to replace the tubing every few months, depending on your activity and button usage. 

2 - If the silicone cover is still intact, leave it there and slip tubing over the button as is.  If the silicone cover as torn off, you will need to clean the area.  Make sure the tiny metal disc is contacting the sensor.  Read this post on how to fix a torn button issue. 

Nike has abandoned support for the FuelBand, so no more updates or ability to acquire new bands.  If you still want to track your daily movements, I recommend getting something (like Fitbit) with support.

My Nike FuelBand crapped out on me about a year ago.  Nothing to do with my button fix...it just stopped working and I had to do a complete reset and lost data since last sync.  I have since received a Fitbit and have been using that. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. Two years after you tried it, I was wondering:
1) if you could let us know how the heat shrink tubing is holding up as a repair for your FuelBand button? I'm about to repair mine and I'd like to know which is the best route from the various ones you've tried.
2) For the heat shrink tubing method, did you leave the original silicon button cover in place, or did you discard it? (I think I'll try using a hair dryer since I don't have a heat gun.)
Thanks in advance!