Picture of A Better Laptop Power Cord
Tired of using your laptop in lecture halls with 300+ seats and one outlet... or when all the seats next to the outlets are full? (and you're too lazy to charge your laptop beforehand) You can easily lengthen your power cord to reach 25 feet and add a 3-way plug, while still being able to store it relatively easily.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: So here's your laptop cord...

Picture of So here's your laptop cord...
A big mess of tangled wires with practically no way to organize things... It's like the laptop companies wanted you to hate them. The thick 120v cord is the same length as the skinny charging cord... why? Maybe for when the outlet is 5 feet off the ground? couldn't it just hang off the plug (probably violates some code or law... oh well )

I'm doing 3 things, you can choose to do as many you want and you will still have a much awesomer power cord.

1) Shortening the big 120v cord so it wraps around the brick only once.
2) Adding a 3-way plug to the power cord so I can charge when all the outlets are full.
3) lengthening the small charging cord to 20' to reach farther.

Step 2: Make sure your laptop cord is only 2 strand

Picture of Make sure your laptop cord is only 2 strand
I used auto-strippers to look inside the round charging cord that comes from the brick, and confirmed that is only 2 wires (one central wire and braiding on the outside). I think I've seem some laptop plugs with a muli-pronged plug that carry a couple voltages to the laptop, this couldn't be replaced with 2-strand wire.

Step 3: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
mouse over the picture.

Step 4: Cut and strip the charging wire

Picture of Cut and strip the charging wire
No turning back now... Notice that one wire is a coated central wire and the other is braiding around that wire.

Make sure to keep track of your wire polarities at all times!

Step 5: Strip your lamp cord and add heat-shrink.

Picture of Strip your lamp cord and add heat-shrink.
Lamp cord and most power cords have a rough wire and a smooth wire to distinguish between (+) and (-). If unsure, use a multimeter to check for resistance.

Step 6: Solder Together (don't forget the heatshrink!)

Picture of Solder Together (don't forget the heatshrink!)
I soldered the wires in-line, just slightly twisted together. Notice one wire is slightly longer to match up with the other.

Step 7: Put the heat-shrink on

Picture of Put the heat-shrink on
Use smaller heatshrink for the individual connections, and a big piece to cover those two.

Step 8: Repeat on the other side

Picture of Repeat on the other side
LindaE12 months ago

$10 at a hardware store... problem solved!

JewelA14 months ago

Excellent instructable!

lazydiyer3 years ago
Simply awesome. Theres some good points in the comments, but honestly, this is such a smart, practical and plain USEFUL idea, that I've got nothing but praise.

Well done !
whitefox423 years ago
this is great. I have one problem. I need to splice the end of one adapter plug to another. they both use to work on the laptop but one is a dell brand and one is made in china. I have the one with the wire wrapped around the outside of another wire but that one also has a wire wrapped around another wire. so I have 3 on one cord and the made in china one has two wires and this tiny blue string that has on tiny strand in it. I that what they consider a wire? no wonder the things don't work. I don't have a meter. which ones should I connect?
ChinaMike5 years ago
Phil B said: "...the lamp cord you used is not much different in size from the 120 volt cord you shortened. I, personally, would have lengthened the 120 volt cord and left the co-axial cord intact. " I believe his reasonins was, not to have that cumbersome BRICK so near the laptop, but to leave it on the ground and away from usable desk space. I for one get so frustrated moving that mess out of the way! I came across this article looking for some advice/help on repairing a damaged laptop charger line. It seems this is not-too-uncommon as I have found myriads of examples, demos, and so on. I do like this (I think!). The extra length could really be useful. I live in Hawaii, and work two part time jobs. One is early morning, the other is later evening, so I have all this day time to kill. The library (state library down town) is magnificent! There is an inner two story courtyard that includes a palm tree or three, but the problem is as he had stated "not enough outlets". I may follow suit with this plan while repairing my damaged cord and add the length! Cheers! China Mike
Prfesser6 years ago
Very nice idea! Wish I'd had something like this at some of the airports I've visited.

Many power cords to the brick are 3-wire, but the plug-in to the brick is usually a standard connector, and replacement plugs are readily available, so you don't have to tear up the original cord.

Laptops draw low current; my brick says 1.7 amps. Wire can probably be as small as 22 or even 24 gauge but *must* be stranded for flexibility, else it will eventually break.

Great job!
theRIAA (author)  Prfesser6 years ago
Thank you, I went for the smaller cheaper "lamp wire" at the hardware store because i figured that. But I also wanted a cord that was durable, so i wouldn't recommend some skinny crap wire because people are gonna be stepping all over it and it's going to have to hold some weight when you pull things around on accident or coil it up.
jk550926 years ago
Seems like a good idea. When I was in a 300+ lecture hall with a very few outlets, I bought an 8 outlet power strip with 50ft cord. My neighbors loved me.
theRIAA (author)  jk550926 years ago
you carried around a 50ft extension cord? did everyone use laptops in that class?
NikonDork6 years ago
Simple, brilliant, and rewired/insulated properly. Well done RIAA!
theRIAA (author)  NikonDork6 years ago
karossii6 years ago
not that I would truly expect anyone to change such bad habits, especially since it is such a common practice, but wrapping the cord around the power brick is a horrible way to store the power cords. You kink and stress the cables, causing all kinds of potential hot spots, shorts, or just poorly insulated areas which can lead to dirty power. This is only exacerbated by the way you splice lamp cord onto a coaxial cord as stated in another comment. That is one more reason I love my toshiba laptops; they come with an attached velcro cord wrap as a factory standard, and explain how to coil and secure the cable properly. After years working with electronics big and small (but mostly from stage electronics), I know better than to wind up cords like you are showing. You should always loosely coil a cable, alternating which way you're twisting/looping with each turn of the wire. Then secure with cable ties, velcro straps, or even twine or gaffer's tape (though these last two are very poor solutions for your power cord). That will prolong the life of the cables, make it super easy to store them and ready them for use, cause them to lay flat and not tangle with others, etc., etc.
theRIAA (author)  karossii6 years ago
humm.... well I assume the connectors will break down before the wire do... and if the wire do short out, i can just replace then. Over/under coiling is great for 200ft+ sections of expensive AV cable... but I just don't really care when I'm packing up my things after every class. I don't think this lamp cord is going to break. And as for the uneven power, my multimeter shows a constant 19.58v, sometimes spiking up to 19.59 when i throw the cables around like a fool... so about a 0.01v spike max? I'll take my chances... I don't think you start seeing any problems with less then 0.20v consistent changes in voltage. Does anyone have any stories of data corruption with very small spikes in voltage?
ReCreate6 years ago
This is a bit ingenious...But it could get quite annoying after a while.
theRIAA (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
why is it annoying? I found it faster to wrap and unwrap because i don't have to unwrap the entire thing to plug it in or use it...
Yes but such a long cable,not good
Phil B6 years ago
You have done some good and clever thinking for this project, and it should work out well for you. There are two things I see. One, the skinny charging cord from the brick to the laptop is co-axial. The conductor that surrounds the center conductor is meant to shield and blunt any AC hum and static that might be generated in the power supply so there is a smoother current to the computer less likely to interfere with data transfer within the computer. The same is true of the cylindrical lump in the skinny cord. It is a Balun transformer designed to blunt further any electrical pulses. By introducing a long section of parallel conductor lamp cord you have reduced the amount of pulses causing potential interference that can be attenuated by the co-axial cable. And, the lamp cord you used is not much different in size from the 120 volt cord you shortened. I, personally, would have lengthened the 120 volt cord and left the co-axial cord intact.
knife1416 years ago
Excellent instructable! Great idea and nicely done.