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DIY Charging Station

ChargingStation2_01.jpgTo say that I am fond of cable management is a bit of an understatement. When confronted with a tangled rat's nest of wires I can concentrate on little else. Jaws clenched and temples throbbing the world silently fades as my focus gets narrower and more fierce. That mess is broken, and I have to fix it. Why won't they let me fix it? Alternately, each encounter with a tightly velcro'd grouping of insulated conductor proves enticing much like the garter on a lass's upper--

Ahem. Yeah, I like clean cabling, both its aesthetic and efficiency.

My computer workstations at work and home are already upstanding pillars to this interest. However, the myriad of AC adapters for my portable electronics were in dire need of some attention. I needed a charging station.

Off-the-shelf valets run upwards of $30 but are devoid of the home-brewed functionality for what I had in mind. There is no lack of options either at Instructables or otherwise for the DIY solution but while everything I came across certainly hid the cables many seemed a bit lacking in presentation.

I wanted a solution that would mesh well with my living room while keeping the functionality of the other stations. Something that was cheap but didn't look it. Something that was easy to use and eventually modify down the inevitable upgrade road.

Hit the jump for the step-by-step process of what I came up with using $25 worth of on-hand materials.

Let me start with the fact that this layout is ultra flexible. Nearly every material can be substituted with something more pleasing or simple to acquire. There are but two main factors that distinguish this design from others:

  • It closes (hinged lid)
  • Use of a false bottom

ChargingStation_00.jpg

Materials:

  • Vessel. I acquired the two boxes pictured above on sale from a craft store. Each was $10.
  • Surge protector. Container size and number of items to power will dictate.
  • Platform. I used 1/8" pegboard. It's easy to cut and pretty cheap if you buy a sheet of the stuff. You'll need an area equal to the opening of your vessel.
  • Pigtails/Extension cords. Unless you go the squid-route you'll need something to allow for the boxier AC adapters.
  • Support for the platform. I tried something different for each box. One used 1/2" wooden dowel cuttings and the other some leftover foaming insulation.
  • Optional: Bolts with Wingnuts. This is to secure the platform to the support while allowing easy access.

Tools:

  • Eye protection: Safety first.
  • Tape measure
  • Drill with appropriate bits to create a 1" hole in the container
  • Circular saw. Overkill for the pegboard but each cut took literally 15 seconds. Your choice in platform material will dictate.
  • Adhesive. I used a quick-set epoxy, only needed to attach the dowel sections and bolts.
  • Serrated knife. Only needed to cut the cured insulation.
  • Optional: Dremel with sanding bits. I used this for the notching and sanding of all cuts.

Step 1: Create a HoleChargingStation_03.jpg
This is where the male end of your surge protector will exit the vessel. I started with a 1" bit and then sanded a bit further for a cleaner finish.

Step 2: Build your SupportChargingStation_04.jpg
The idea is to line the edges with your material of choice. Here the foam is applied and, after curing (8 hours), will be cut back to allow the most volume inside the box while still supporting the platform soundly.

You'll also see a bolt in each corner. This finished product doesn't use them but keeps the option of securing the platform to the support open. Simply epoxy appropriately sized bolts to the bottom of the container prior to filling in your support medium.

Step 3: Build your PlatformChargingStation_05.jpg
Your platform will be equal in size to the area of the inside opening of your container. Simply measure twice, cut once. I'm fond of pegboard but you could easily use anything from cardboard to felt-covered wicker as long as it rests on your support and can be notched to allow cable access. My camera charger plugs directly in to the wall (no cables) so I had to drill a hole to accommodate.

Step 4: Install CablingChargingStation_07.jpg
Here's where your surge protector, pigtails, and AC adapters come in to play. I'd make this as neat as possible to ensure future expansion is smooth but the only real requirements entail plugging in and not spilling over the top. Estimate the ideal cable lengths and tie back accordingly.

Step 5: Install the PlatformChargingStation_08.jpg
This step involves topping off the container. You'll want to play around to achieve a good balance of item placement ahead of time so that your notches are spaced accordingly. I used the Dremel to sand holes for the connections but your medium will dictate.

Ideally the flat surface will sit slightly recessed from the top while allowing it to close fully. The biggest pain here was the Canon battery charger.

Step 6: Geek it OutChargingStation_09.jpg
Sorry Mr. Neruda but function is not enough for me.

Most of the cheaper DIY charging stations out there utilize a plastic/rubber bin with holes cut in the top. We just did the same thing with a wooden box that cost but a fraction more. Why? Because we wanted that shiz to look nice.

I added a small accent light from an unused shadow box I had laying around. It does nothing but illuminate the electronics.

Though the larger of the two stations accommodates the entirety of my pockets' contents, at the end of the day I can better appreciate the footprint of the smaller.

I'd like to tie in some sort of external charge indicator lights or individual on/off switches like this guy did but really, the sky's the limit. If you want to put in a twitter-responsive remote-control door with secondary biometric authentication I urge you to.

Then send me the pics.
If you know what I mean.

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