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Homemade Screen Protectors
Jan 5, 2000 by Dale Coffing
your comments on this article
Editors Note: If you don't want to mess around with homemade versions the absolute best to buy commercially is called the WriteShield and you can get it for 10% off here. Do not confuse them with Fellowes WriteRights™ at your local retail stores which I do NOT recommend since the WriteRights work only slightly better than the homemade version BUT they cost $25/dozen. The WriteShield seems expensive but if you are going to spend the money this is the one to go with since it applies totally bubble free and lasts for at least 6 months (it may be longer but I haven't had to replace mine yet :)
These instructions were written for my Casio however they are adaptable to any PDA. The downloadable template has screen sizes for the Compaq iPAQ thanks to Earl Sarain, Casio E-1xx, Casio E-10, Hewlett Packard HP-54x series Pocket PC, Philips Nino thanks to Don B., HandSpring Visor and PalmIII thanks to Kent O'Driscoll. The handheld market benefits the most I think since they have no available screen protectors available commercially and these sheets will fit them great. New template by Jason Barkes for the iPAQ Pocket PC.
I have been wanting to find a satisfactory solution to protecting the screen on my Casio E-105 since the first day I noticed scratches starting to develop. I originally ordered Casio brand screen protectors and they worked alright but they did have a tendency to slide around slightly and dirt would get under the protector. [UPDATE: If you prefer this non-adhesive style Casioluvver sent me a great template and instructions that improves on the Casio design. If you want a non-adhesive template for your iPAQ click on this link to read all about iPAQluvver version.] I then tried some old WriteRIGHTS from Concept Kitchen which didn't slide around so no dirt gets underneath but they go for $25/dozen... I don't think so. The cost of these commercially available products plus the fact I am a projects kind of guy encouraged me to start looking for other solutions. By the way, if you need information on fixing scratches see this link then put on protectors. Of course the ULTIMATE fix is to replace the touch panel that sits on top of the LCD screen; for the Casio E1xx or iPAQ or a Palm.
I then got some advice from Gino on The
to use a product called LaminateIt! by GBC. I found some at my local
Office Depot for $7.99 that has ten 8-1/2 by 11 inch sheets available
online at OfficeDepot
You can make nine Casio protectors out of one sheet which means the price per protector runs about $0.09 each. Not bad! They don't distort the screen at all and the strong adhesive doesn't remain on the screen when it is time to replace it. A side benefit is it has a nice glossy finish to it so when the unit is off you can actually use it as a mirror. They last about two weeks for me since I use Calligrapher. Your use will vary based on how much scribbling you do. You will also need some scissors for this project. My wife does some simple craft work and she had bought a Fiskars Paper Trimmer from Wal-Mart. It works fantastic for making perfectly straight and perpendicular cuts on the laminate sheets. Much faster and far better than scissors.
help me in marking the laminate sheets for cutting I designed a simple Screen Protector
Template in MSWord. It's available for you to download by
right clicking the file name and "Save Target As" to download to
your local drive. I tried printing directly to
the backing of the laminate sheet but it is "waxy" and the ink-jet ink would not
dry. [UPDATE Tip:
you use the Window Decal as your material of choice you can print
directly on the sheet.] Printing out the document will reveal 9 pre-measured Casio
sized screens. Lay the Template over the top of a sheet of the
Step 2: When using the Paper Trimmer I found it very helpful to have the backing side down . It seem to make a much cleaner cut when I tried it that way. It only takes a couple minutes to completely trim a sheet into all 9 screen protectors. You can test the exactness of your final cuts by simply placing them on top of the Casio screen. They should fit fully inside the screen without any overlap onto the Casio case.
Pull back the clear laminate and cut about 1/2 inch off the top edge of the screen protector backing. This will help you position the protector properly without to much trouble of it adhering prematurely. LaminateIt! instructions suggest you simply fold back the 1/2 inch. This is a good time to cut a tiny notch out of one of the corners to allow for easier removal later. [UPDATE Tip: Holding the corner of the sheet between your thumb and forefinger as seen in the picture allows this corner to pull up easier for later removal due to fingerprint oils or bending up a portion of the corner will leave a tiny "pull tab" for later removal too. Thanks JonN for the tip.] It is important to have clean hands and LCD screen before putting on the protector. Any fingerprints or dirt that is trapped underneath will show. According to the Casio Hardware Manual never use thinner, benzene, cosmetics, or other volatile agents to clean the CASSIOPEIA. Use a soft cloth moistened with a weak solution of water and mild neutral detergent.
Comments: The whole project takes only minutes and it is so easy to do. It's well worth the time as it protects your hard earned investment to keep your screen looking as new as the day you got it! Thanks to all of you who have sent me email with thanks, observations and suggestions. It has been encouraging to know that I have been able to be of some help to many of you. I have included an email by John Hannum below in particular because it covers so many of the questions that have been sent in and his observations and suggestions are very insightful and helpful.
UPDATE TIP -This was sent in by David Keystone:
UPDATE TIP - Thanks to BÁrt and Troyzzz for posting this reminder tip: If your screen ever stops responding to touches, check to see if there is any dirt or a stuck screen protector between the housing and the screen on the edges. This will cause the screen to be permanently touched in this area so it won't respond to actions of the stylus pen. Editor's note: Use a stiff piece of transparency or card to slide under and around the frame to remove any dirt that has accumulated as part of your screen cleaning before installing the protector. A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water on a cloth will remove left over adhesive residue with a little patience. Do not use any ammonia based cleaner like Windex Thanks to Ryan Clayton for this update!
If you have any comments or questions I would be happy to respond. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions to help others with this.
Good luck and have fun!
Compatibility with Palm and other PDA's
I have received positive feedback from owners of the Casio E-10, HandHeldPC NEC780, HP690, HandSpring Visor, Palm III, PalmV users that the Avery Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets Product works and is compatible with their screens. However, on the Palm devices due to the low backlighting level of the screen the LaminateIt! provides a much better looking protector since it applies with better clarity. This problem doesn't really exist for Casio's due to the very high brightness levels of the screen that wash out the relatively light imperfections in the adhesive application. I would recommend the LaminateIt product for Palm for this reason. I have a Palm template but it really is not as good as the one by Kent O. below. You can download my template file by right clicking on Screen Protector Template and "Save Target As" to download to your local drive. Joe Ponkey who is a HandSpring Visor owner says "I thought you'd like to know ... the 2.38”W by 3.15”H template is perfect for the Handspring Visor."
From John Hannum
January 15, 2000
Subject: E-10x Screen Protector
I received your e-mail with the screen protector template. Thank you again. I made a copy, bought a supply of LaminateIt sheets from a local Staples, and set to work.
Unfortunately, it took me considerably more than one try to get an acceptable protector installation. I am sending along a list of the problems I ran into and some suggested solutions. You may want to add these to your web site.
1. Static Electricity
When you separate the backing from the laminate material in a relatively dry environment, a static charge builds up on both the backing and the transparent plastic laminate. The charge on the backing doesn't matter, but the charge on the transparent laminate attracts all sorts of dust particles out of the air. Murphy's law being what it is, most of these particles land on the sticky side where they can't be removed. The only thing I found that helped this problem was to dampen the front and the back of the prospective screen protector before removing the backing with the same solution of soap and water used to clean the E-100/105's screen. The dampness helps to dissipate the static charge. I suppose that one would have less trouble in this regard if the installation were done in a humid summer environment. Access to a dust-free environment would also help.
Editors note: If you look closely at my picture I am actually holding back the LaminateIt with my finger and thumb. LaminateIt instructions suggest you simply fold back the backing which would also work but I think is tougher. - Dale
In the instructions on your web site you state, "Pull back the clear laminate and cut about 1/2 inch off the top edge of the screen protector backing." to help position the protector properly. You also show the backing being trimmed with a scissors. I ran into trouble here because the separated laminate tended to curl right back around to the backing. If the scissors were positioned to trim the backing, the laminate stuck to them. Again, the opposite static charges on the backing and the laminate may have had something to do with this. My solution to this one was to peel almost an inch of the backing away from the laminate and bend it out sharply from the sticky laminate surface. The sharp bend prevented the laminate from curling around to stick to the backing, and I was able to trim the backing. Then, I carefully pressed the backing back down on the laminate being careful not to get my fingers on the exposed sticky part.
3. The credit card/squeegee
Apparently, the credit cards around today are made from 2 different types of plastic, one hard and one soft. I would guess that you used a hard one because you didn't seem to have any trouble using it to smooth out the protector. I, unfortunately, got hold of a soft one. When I attempted to use it as a squeegee, the edge disintegrated into little, tiny, plastic shavings, which, of course, immediately worked their way under the protector and stuck in the glue. I recommend testing the edge of any prospective squeegee by rubbing it on something hard and smooth. If the edge disintegrates, don't use it. Also, somewhere I have seen a device called, I believe, an artist's palette spatula. It looks like a short-bladed putty knife and is made out of hard plastic. Perhaps something like this would be more suitable.
Whatever you do, don't let the laminate develop a crease during installation. A crease is almost impossible to remove and the laminate near the crease will not seat down tight against the E-100/105 screen.
This isn't really a problem, just an observation. But it could be interpreted as a problem by the unwary. Even when applied properly a screen protector can give the E-100/105 screen a finely mottled appearance. This mottling is caused by dozens of tiny voids and irregularities in the adhesive coating on the laminate sheet. These voids and irregularities are essentially tiny air bubbles trapped in and around the adhesive, but no amount of reasonable pressure on the screen of the unit will eliminate them. Fortunately, this mottled appearance disappears when the screen lights up. In normal use, the license, certificate, etc. to be laminated is place between a pair of these laminating sheets and the whole shebang is run through a laminating press, which applies enough pressure to squeeze all these voids and irregularities flat and to squeeze out any trapped air. I certainly wouldn't recommend applying that level of pressure to the screen of the E-100/105.
Editors Note: It appears that some of LaminateIt! product is shipping with this "problem" symptom. Although I haven't purchased any this way myself a sample was sent to me by Mark K. and this has absolutely been confirmed with the irregularities in the adhesive layer. I couldn't tell from looking at the sheet it had a problem until I actually applied it. However, as Jon reports the mottling is only apparent with the unit off. - Dale
In closing I would like to make an observation. If one can judge by the postings at a number of web discussion boards, there is a considerable level of concern about scratching and other damage to the screens of palm computers in general. Yet a quick perusal of various on-line shopping sites reveals that many do not carry screen protectors and at most of those that do availability is limited to stock on hand. For this reason, I believe that your web site is performing an invaluable service. Thank you again, and I hope that I may have been of some assistance.
Thanks John for taking the time to respond with your suggestions!
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