Five minute project: Chip Earrings

Chip Earrings 7

Chip Earrings 8

Chip Earrings 1

For components with a convenient accessible hole, like this low-dropout 5 V linear regulator in a TO-220 package, it’s straightforward to adapt conventional hoop earrings. The hard part is picking good looking components.

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Some components do not have an appropriate ready-made hole.

For “old-school” through-hole components like these, the actual chip is only a small fraction of the size of the package. That means that you can actually drill through the outer part (where there’s just plastic and the copper leadframe) with a “regular” steel drill bit. (For smaller packages, or if you need a hole closer to the center, you risk hitting the chip– and we recommend that you avoid it. Not only is it harder to drill through, but it carries a risk of spreading toxic dust.)

You can start by pressing the chips into firm foam (e.g., black antistatic foam) to protect the leads while you drill. We used a 1/16″ drill bit, but found it pretty dull after drilling through just two packages. Presumably, this is because of the high silica content in the black epoxy encapsulant (which also gives the package high thermal conductivity). After drilling, you can deburr the hole (if necessary) with a larger-diameter drill bit. And, remember to clean the chip thoroughly to remove any excess dust that may be present.

Chip Earrings 2

On the back side, bend the leads of the pins back so that they are less “pokey” and so that they don’t catch on long hair. The wire hangers can be made of any appropriate wire– we used 1/32″ diameter stainless steel wire, but titanium would be a better choice, and precious metals can be used as well.

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2 thoughts on “Five minute project: Chip Earrings

  1. If you used a shift register IC and connected the serial input to the serial output, you could have an ear ring counter.

  2. Remember when the original Pentium chips were recalled? Many of those defective chips were made into earrings and sold at places like Fry’s.

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