My husband is a fairly typical man; he enjoys watching full-contact sports, he loves being up to his elbows in a greasy car engine, and his favorite movies involve explosions or no-brainer laughs. He's not exactly the kind of guy who is enthusiastic about receiving a mushy card or other sentimental whatnots. That makes holidays like Valentine's Day a little difficult. I make most of my holiday gifts, but what do you make for a boyfriend or husband that isn't "into" Valentine's Day? Try making him a practical, personalized gift that he will truly appreciate, such as a QR code keychain.
What Is a QR Code?
A QR code is a special barcode that can be programmed to hold any information you want. A QR barcode is square in shape, consisting of many smaller squares in black and white. They are commonly used to transfer information into Android and iPhone cellular telephones.
Making a QR Code Barcode
There are several free applications available on the internet that will generate a QR code based on your input, including the QR Code Generator from the ZXing Project. To make a personalized QR barcode, simply put your boyfriend's contact information into the form and press the "generate" button.
You can fill in as much or as little information as you want, including name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. You may also wish to used the memo field of the contact information to include a message such as, "If these keys are found, please return to John Doe."
Once you have generated your barcode, save the image file to your computer's hard drive. You can then use an image editing program to resize the barcode as needed and to print it onto a piece of paper.
Making a Personalized QR Code Keychain
- Personalized QR code barcode, printed to about 1 1/2 inches square
- Balsa wood
- Xacto knife
- Mod Podge
- Foam brush
- Two-part polymer resin
- Jewelry charm hasp
- Jewelry glue
- Jewelry pliers
- Key ring
1. Use scissors or a paper cutter to cut out the QR code.
2. Measure a 1 1/2 inch square on the balsa wood. Use an Xacto knife to cut out the square. Lightly sand the edges to smooth them.
3. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the surface of the balsa wood using a foam brush. Carefully line up the QR code and press it onto the surface of the balsa wood. Allow it to dry completely. Check the progress frequently to make sure the paper doesn't ripple as the glue dries; smooth it out with your fingernail as needed.
4. Mix a small batch of polymer resin according to the package instructions. Pour the polymer resin over the QR code to permanently seal it to the surface of the balsa wood with a waterproof finish. (Tip: Place the balsa wood piece on a metal cooling rack with newspaper spread underneath to both catch drips and to prevent excess resin from adhering the balsa wood to a flat surface.)
5. After several minutes, small air bubbles will rise to the surface of the polymer resin. Blow gently on the bubbles to pop them. Allow the polymer resin to cure overnight in a warm, dry, dust-free environment.
6. Use jewelry glue to attach a hasp to the back of the piece of balsa wood. (A hasp is the metal loop at the top of a charm that allows it to be strung onto a chain.)
7. Use a pair of jewelry pliers to attach a short length of chain to the hasp. Attach the other end to a key ring.
Other Practical QR Code GiftsThere are many other possible uses for QR codes as well. Using the same or similar techniques, you can apply QR codes to other items as well. Here are some ideas:
- If your husband or boyfriend travels a lot for work, make a larger version of the QR code keychain for use as a luggage tag.
- Print custom QR codes onto business card stock to create geeky calling cards for your man.
- Program a QR code with an inside joke between you and your boyfriend. Print out the barcode and tuck it into his lunch bag on Valentine's Day for a fun and unexpected greeting that is sure to make him smile.