User hacks – Parker rollerball pen refills and a headphone cord wrap technique

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Do you have a useful tip, trick, life hack or cool DIY project that you think other Gadgeteer readers can use to make their life easier or would find interesting? So many people have great ideas and they never share them. To help change that, I’ll be posting regular articles sharing some of the best ideas and tricks that are sent in to me. The tips, tricks, life hacks and DIY ideas don’t have to be strictly gadget related so share them with me even if you don’t think they will fit The Gadgeteer. If I use your idea, hack or tip, I’ll mail you an awesome Gadgeteer logo sticker. Click through to read two hacks from Kenneth Lee.

How to refill a Parker rollerball pen cartridge by Kenneth Lee

I love writing in green ink had an old Parker Vector rollerball pen with blue ink. For many years, I had been unsuccessful searching stationary shops in Singapore for green Parker refills. When the refill finally ran out, I dipped the tip in a drop of water and it began writing again. Hmmm water soluble ink! In all liquid ink pens, when ink comes out, air must go in to replace it.

Studying the metal cartridge closely, I finally found the air exchange hole in front near the writing end. Refilling it will be like refilling the Pilot Varsity pen. The syringe vacuum method that I took 35 years to figure out (that’s another story) and shared 6 years ago, ought to work. The problem was how to create an airtight seal between the cartridge and the syringe. My first attempt was using a normal syringe and a plastic tube coupling. That worked! But I got feedback from Julie that it was too cumbersome and I agreed.

When searching for a syringe that would fit the Pilot Varsity pen, I recall seeing thin insulin syringes in pharmacies. So I bought a pack and to my delight, it fit perfectly. But now the challenge was how to cut the front of syringe so that it would form a tight seal over the cartridge. I had limited success and lots of inky/sore fingers. Looking at the insulin syringe, I discovered that the back of the syringe was already machine molded and when I fit it over the cartridge, it was perfect! I then pushed the plunger from the front and it worked like a charm.

The video shows how to refill an empty Parker rollerball cartridge with your favourite fountain pen ink colour.

How to wrap your earbud and headphone cables so they don’t tangle by Kenneth Lee

For many years I’ve coiled my headphone wires by wrapping them over my palm. Over time, I found that the twists made the wire curly and eventually made a mess of it. Every month I am on sound duty in church and we used the over/under coiling method to coil up lengthy XLR cables. I used this method for some years and it kept the cables nice and straight.  However, it was slow for headphone wires.  Then I learn about the figure 8 coiling method and noticed that if I scaled it down, I could use my fingers in a peace sign configuration to assist in making the figure 8 coils; it twists the wire one way and untwists the wire.  This method had the same speed as coiling over the palm and the best part of it was it doesn’t require any other equipment other than what you already have.


Now it’s your turn, please share your tips, tricks, life hacks and DIY projects with us. If I end up posting your idea, I’ll make you a Gadgeteer sticker. Send your ideas here.

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3 thoughts on “User hacks – Parker rollerball pen refills and a headphone cord wrap technique”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. They have sold roller ball pens that take a fountain pen cartridge in the past, but I am not sure if they still do.

  3. I always thought that everyone needed an Rx to buy insulin syringes. So I was surprised you could buy yours.
    I went online. Here is a list of which states require an Rx and which ones don’t. NY, where I am, is listed as “No”. But I know my wife has needed an Rx to get the needles for her medi-pen.

    Alabama: No
    Alaska: Yes (Some pharmacies may sell without a RX)
    Arizona: No (Even though permitted, some pharmacies may require a RX)
    Arkansas: No
    California: No (Even though permitted, some pharmacies may require a RX)
    Colorado: No (Even though permitted, some pharmacies may require a RX)
    Connecticut: Yes (Residents may get a 10-day supply of syringes without a RX)
    Delaware: Yes
    Distric of Columbia: Yes (If you have a diabetic ID you can purchase syringes without a RX if purchased with insulin)
    Flordia: Yes/No (Some counties may require a RX for syringes; most do not)
    Georgia: No
    Hawaii: No
    Idaho: No (Photo ID may be required)
    Illinois: No (You do need a RX to purchase more than 20 syringes at one time)
    Indiana: No (You must sign a register for purchase of syringes)
    Iowa: No
    Kansas: Yes/No (most pharmacies will sell syringes if they are being purchased with insulin, regular (R) insulin does not require a RX)
    Kentucky: No
    Louisiana: No
    Maine: Yes
    Maryland: No (You must sign a register)
    Massachusetts: No
    Michigan: No
    Minnesota: No
    Mississippi: No
    Missouri: No
    Montana: No
    Nebraska: No
    Nevada: No
    New Hampshire: No
    New Jersey: Yes (The requirement for a RX may be waived with photo ID)
    New Mexico: No
    New York: No (Pharmacies can dispense up to 10 syringes at their discretion w/o Rx but you must be at least 18 years old)
    North Carolina: No
    North Dakota: No
    Ohio: No
    Oklahoma: No/Yes (some local areas may require Rx for syringes)
    Oregon: No
    Pennsylvania: No
    Rhode Island: No
    South Carolina: No
    South Dakota: No
    Tennessee: No
    Texas: No/Yes (some regions may require Rx)
    Utah: No/Yes (Some pharmacies will require Rx for syringes and some pharmacies may refuse to sell syringes after 10 p.m. even if you have a prescription on file)
    Vermont: No
    Virginia: Yes/No
    Washington (state): No
    West Virginia: No
    Wisconsin: No
    Wyoming: No

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