Introduction: Build a Hidden Qi Wireless Phone Charger!

Picture of Build a Hidden Qi Wireless Phone Charger!

Phone docks are expensive and platform-specific. Charging cables are annoying and unsightly. Wireless chargers alleviate some of these inconveniences, but still leave a lot of polish to be desired. I set out to eliminate all of these complaints, and in building a wireless charger into a nightstand or desk, I am now able to plop my phone down on my nightstand and watch as the battery fills up - like magic.

For this Instructable, I will be demonstrating the process of building a wireless Qi charger into a desk or nightstand. The results are polished, convenient, and impressive. Done right, you'll make your phone-charging experience seamless and attractive.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

In terms of supplies for the project, you'll need the following parts and tools ready to use. You may have to hunt around to find a MakerSpace with a ShopBot CNC Router, but you could (in theory) chisel out your wood surface instead.

  • PowerBot Qi standard induction charger (any color!)
    • I chose the red model knowing that I wanted to use one of the rubber rings to indicate where my charging pad is hidden.
    • This model comes with a USB cable long enough to use for this project!
  • Any 5v AC - USB power adapter, 1.5A output or greater works best
    • You can use any 5v USB adapter, including the one that came with your phone. A higher output adapter will charge your phone faster.
  • Small phillips screwdriver
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Hot glue gun
  • Router (CNC or manual)
    • I used a ShopBot, see if your MakerSpace has one!

You'll also need the obvious:

  • A desk or nightstand that you're comfortable taking apart and manipulating
    • I used a board of walnut to illustrate my project since my desk is made of glass and my nightstand is ugly.
  • A phone that supports induction charging via the Qi standard
    • iPhones are not supported
    • Most Samsung Galaxy phones are supported with a special back cover
    • Many recent Windows Phones and Android Phones support Qi
      • Phones with MicroUSB charging ports that do NOT natively support Qi can use the following adapter to add Qi charging capability using the MicroUSB port

Step 2: Disassemble the PowerBot

Picture of Disassemble the PowerBot

Dig in! Peel away what you can of the plastic housing with your flathead screwdriver, then pry the rest off. The PowerBot casing is in two halves, you'll need to separate the two. With the PCB exposed (it's screwed into the top half of the casing), use your phillips screwdriver to remove the guts of the PowerBot. What you see in my final picture here is where the magic happens - that's an induction coil you're looking at! Your Qi compatible phone has a similar coil inside it, to receive the electromagnetic field produced by the PowerBot.

The induction charging system can only work within a limited distance. The coil in your phone can't be too far away from the coil from the PowerBot, so removing the PowerBot's casing reduces unnecessary obstruction between the two coils. This will come into play in the next step...

Step 3: Find the Maximum Charging Distance

Picture of Find the Maximum Charging Distance

As you can see in these pictures, I've confirmed that the naked PowerBot is working with my phone, and I've confirmed that the PowerBot continues to charge my phone when the phone is raised above the induction coil. I estimate from this test that it will continue to charge up until around 0.3 inches. If you have a case on your phone, this may be a little tight - you'll definitely need to use a CNC router for better precision. If you keep your phone case-free, you may be able to get away with a hand router (or even a chisel!).

Remember - GREEN means it's charging. RED means there's no connection.

Step 4: Get Your CNC File Ready (for ShopBot Only)

Picture of Get Your CNC File Ready (for ShopBot Only)

I measured the size of the naked PowerBot, and accounted for the room that the included MicroUSB cable needs. After creating a quick 2D vector in Adobe Illustrator, I imported the vector lines into my school's ShopBot software, figured out how deep I wanted the router to cut (With my 1 inch wood slab, I cut in 0.8 inches. This leaves me with a little over 0.1 inches of wiggle room for charging.), and started the task.

Attached are all the files I used in the process of using the CNC router.

Step 5: Fit and Attach Naked PowerBot

Picture of Fit and Attach Naked PowerBot

With my included CNC files, your naked PowerBot will fit in just about perfectly! You shouldn't have to use any excessive force sliding the naked PowerBot into the hole, and the MicroUSB cable should fit happily, too. Make sure the MicroUSB cable is plugged in BEFORE sliding the naked PowerBot into place.

After confirming that the naked PowerBot fits and still functions (red light means "Ready to Charge!" in the second picture), use your hot glue gun to (CAREFULLY) glue the naked PowerBot into place. This is key - you don't want your hidden charger falling fate to gravity. I glued in/around the existing screw holes, and my naked PowerBot is held snugly in place. Keep your MicroUSB cable ATTACHED throughout this process, but keep your 5v AC/USB adapter UNPLUGGED from the wall.

Step 6: Flip Your Surface Over and Test!

Picture of Flip Your Surface Over and Test!

Success! I drop my phone onto my hidden charger, and immediately it begins to charge. I also hot-glued the red rubber ring from the first step to the top of the surface (desk or table) to indicate where the charger is. You can now reassemble your desk or table, and enjoy your hidden charger!


Mickeypedia (author)2015-01-04

Thanks for this post! I used it as an inspiration for a birthday present for my mom who was complaining about plugging in her cell phone to charge at night. I didn't have access to take her nightstand so I built the wireless charger into a decorative plaque that I stained and engraved with her initials to sit on her nightstand that she can just set her phone on at night to charge. It turned out great and works great!

P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of images (should have used my moms phone, it's nicer than mine lol)

bobburghart (author)Mickeypedia2015-01-04

Looks stunning! Nice thin design, too!

TonyB7 (author)2014-12-27

I will be incorporating this into my home bar that I am currently building. I'll post up my pictures on my site and be sure to link to your excellent Instructable and give credit were it is due. Thanks for the great idea.

bobburghart (author)TonyB72014-12-27

Great use of the concept, can't wait to see your project!

bobburghart (author)2014-11-03

I'll be responding to any comments and questions here!

wonderbrett (author)bobburghart2014-11-05

Curious -
with the right tools and metal, would it be possible to make an entire tabletop like this? So regardless of where the phone sits, it would work?

bilge17 (author)bobburghart2014-11-04

Great work on this ible...I like the suggestion of recessing the red ring into the top surface also. I have another suggestion, make an clear acrylic ring the same size to fit into the recessed space and drill a tiny hole where the green/red LED is on the Bot unit is below. it will always glow red until you set your phone on it.

bobburghart (author)bilge172014-11-04

I like this idea, it keeps the surface flush while still indicating exactly where the wireless charger is. I'm personally not a fan of the LED light being visible (my phone tells me when it's charging), but that's a preference thing.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the Illustrator files for the two sized rubber rings (as mentioned in my previous comment here). I used my rubber rings from a knockoff PowerBot I disassembled, and it turns out the rings are not the same size as the genuine PowerBot's rings. I was hasty in my disassembly of the genuine PowerBot and didn't think to save the red rings. Sorry!

synthdust (author)2014-11-04

Might be neat to simulate a light coffee/beverage ring to indicate where the charger is instead of an out of place red ring. Just a thought!

bobburghart (author)synthdust2014-11-04

Of all the "where did I hide my wireless charger?" solutions so far, I like this one best. I'm going to "sticky" your comment so it shows up on top, so others see your idea!

MiklosM3 (author)2017-11-09

and how do you make sure not to punch through the board? what are the preventive steps in this matter?


MiklosM3 (author)2017-11-09


thanks for the great post!

could you pls. provide a drawing with dimensions of the cut?

many thanks

jack.h (author)2016-02-06

I want to power two of these on the same power supply and I was wondering what output I need. If I buy a 4 amp power supply will that ruin the induction charger if only one is operating?

DakotaLally (author)jack.h2017-09-21

I know this is late, but maybe it'll be helpful to someone else, I always remember this: "Voltage is forced, current is drawn.". A 4A, a 12A, a 500A power supply is just fine, so long as your voltage is in check. Overdoing it on max amperage is usually a good thing if you are building something based off an instructable.

A good way to think of it is a bench-top power supply will likely be able to deliver 1.5-120, maybe as high as 480 volts, and usually at amperages of 80-0.5, depending on the voltage and how the rails are set up.

Cjbreal (author)2015-12-03

I'd like to take apart a Samsung Galaxy wireless charging pad you have any insight? if you'd like to see what I'm going to put it inside of you can check me out if you'd like CJB real ideas LLC Google Sites

Cjbreal (author)2015-12-03

I'd like to take apart a Samsung Galaxy wireless charging pad you have any insight? if you'd like to see what I'm going to put it inside of you can check me out if you'd like CJB real ideas LLC Google Sites

Cjbreal (author)2015-12-03

I can't wait to put this in every one of my stands

wkearney99 (author)2015-11-15

Another idea would be to make an overlay holder for the phone or whatever other device you'd be charging. Possible even by doing something like using magnets to allow for changing the templates over time, as the devices get replaced.

MartinB73 (author)2015-10-31

Came here for inspiration, found it. My Nexus 7 2nd edition's charging port literally fell off in the middle of the summer. Haven't used it since then, and I'm using my laptop for everything now. My phone sucks, and the only good IT gadget I have is my tablet. Gonna get a qi charger soon, to stop that micro-usb harass.

ЕвгенийД2 (author)2015-08-07

Your idea is excellent! Tell please as PowerBot which you used precisely is called?

Dedededanny (author)2015-07-01

It seems a lot of people have been paying ridiculously high prices for the charging mat and the receiver. Ebay has the transmitter for about $6 and a reciever for a couple dollars. just search for your specific model phone. Shipping from china takes quite a while, but it's so much cheaper.

seejay323 made it! (author)2015-06-21

Thanks for the idea! I built one into my nightstand. After some research about chargers, I used the Nokia DT-900 because there were comments about how "loose" the placement of the phone could be and still charge. I drilled a tiny hole through the edge of the board so the charging light is dimly visible when I'm in bed and this hole also serves to mark where to place the phone.


For the LED light, are there two or just one LEDs, i'm thinking a rectangular ring surrounding where the phone should be would be nice, one that will shine red when no phone, green when there is a phone

bleah3 (author)2015-04-26

Would there be a risk of fire with the case off and placed against the wood, or in my situation, particle board?

bobburghart (author)bleah32015-05-08

The unit does not create a lot of heat in use. The Qi coil doesn't output any power unless a receiver is in place (charging a phone). The power from your USB cable travels through pins that aren't open to shorting. As long as you keep things neat, I don't consider risk of fire to be significant. Ensure that you're using a trustworthy power supply, that'll keep voltages steady.

I recommend clear-coating the particle board that you cut away before placing the charger inside. That'll keep particles contained. Line the inside of the cut-away with clear coat and I think you'll be safe.

msdrpepper (author)2014-11-18

Oh, I got all thrilled and ready to send this to my son, and then I saw where you said "iPhones are not supported" - yet... the link to the PowerBot on Amazon says "Including Samsung, iPhone, Nokia....with receivers"... so now I'm like, "Wait, What??" (may be because I'm sleepy and waiting for the clothes to finish drying)? I've been searching on my Swagbucks and it sounds like the older 4G iPhones could use this Instructable? and maybe the 6+ ?? But I think you are right, with some of the websites I just now read, looks like the 5S and 5C's are cut out of the whole Qi thing. I always thought those induction chargers were a) cool but b) I wasn't about to shell out gobs of money on those from the fancy overpriced catalogs. So now I'm a bit befuddled and kinda peeved at Apple. *sigh* But your instructable is definitely a classier looking charger then the rubber mats I typically see!! :)

I believe the only way to use these qi charger on a iPhone is to purchase a special case/qi reciever.

SparkySolar (author)2014-12-25

How could this be adspted to sn Iphone?

javiff (author)2014-11-10

This is my first comment in ages. The project has really cached me, I really find it marvellous. Just fantastic

SparkySolar (author)2014-11-06

wicked cool

zwilmes (author)2014-11-04

I am definitely going to build one of these. I'm planning on inlaying a contrasting wood ring inside of the wood surface to indicate the charging area. Thanks so much for this great idea!

bobburghart (author)zwilmes2014-11-06

Post pictures of the inlay! I think that'll look great!

Corhay (author)2014-11-04

About how much does this cost?

bobburghart (author)Corhay2014-11-05

Sorry, jarikcbol's response is incorrect. The Qi charger is less than $14 on Amazon right now, and that's Prime/free shipping eligible. The wall charger part (AC adapter) is less than $11, with the same Prime/free shipping eligibility.

With Prime, that's $25 and tax for the Qi charger I used and a good USB AC adapter. Without Prime, you'll need another $10.02 in your cart to be eligible for free "super saver" shipping.

The Qi charging film for MicroUSB phones is less than $8 on Amazon, with the same Prime/free shipping eligibility of the first two items. You can click on my orange links in my first step to view these exact items.

I DO NOT recommend using the Qi adapter for iPhones. The ones available are not MFI (Apple) certified, and thus are not guaranteed to work. Often, iOS firmware upgrades will break non-MFI charging accessories.

Corhay (author)bobburghart2014-11-06

Thank you very much

jarikcbol (author)Corhay2014-11-05

the Qi charger is 39.99 on Amazon, and the adapter for an iPhone 5/6 is 35.00, so if you are modifying an existing table, about 75$ worth of hardware, and some time. The parts are cheeper if you have Amazon prime, or shop around elsewhere a bit.

bobburghart (author)jarikcbol2014-11-05

The cost for the Qi charger and USB wall adapter is closer to $25 in total. The Qi charger alone is $14. Please click my orange links in Step 1 to view the exact items I used in this project, you can see the actual prices on the Amazon product pages. All items linked are eligible for free shipping, too.

Corhay (author)jarikcbol2014-11-05

Thank you

smokin_cannon (author)2014-11-06

Great project!

I've been wanting to do this, but thought that the charger was $100. If not for the link to Amazon, I wouldn't have read all the way through thinking it was cost prohibitive.

Thanks for posting instructions and resources.

synthdust (author)2014-11-04

Might be neat to simulate a light coffee/beverage ring to indicate where the charger is instead of an out of place red ring. Just a thought!

synthdust (author)2014-11-04

Might be neat to simulate a light coffee/beverage ring to indicate where the charger is instead of an out of place red ring. Just a thought!

mikeasaurus (author)2014-11-04

This looks sleek. I need to get me one of these induction chargers!

bobburghart (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-04

Thanks! You can get them really cheap on eBay, but shipping overseas takes a long time. I posted the Amazon link because it's prime eligible!

TANZMEISTER (author)2014-11-04

Filling said ring (or any design/shape you want) with Sugru might make a more finished/awesome looking product. Thanks for the great ible! I might make one with a acrylic/glass window (I like the industrial sort of look of exposed parts) for my wife for Christmas.

bobburghart (author)TANZMEISTER2014-11-04

I was thinking maybe laser engraving a design, I love the etched look of wood. If you do end up making the window (or the sugru variant), try to post a couple pictures here! It would be great to have that variety showcased!

drohats (author)2014-11-03

As an improvement you could have CNC a groove for the red rubber ring and made it flush to the top surface.

Eh Lie Us! (author)drohats2014-11-04

what about with textured paint?

bobburghart (author)drohats2014-11-03

Great suggestion! For anybody that does like the look of the rubber ring, and wants to make it a permanent part of their desk/table/nightstand, this is actually a really cool idea. I hadn't thought of it at all!

kosborne2 (author)2014-11-04

How slow is the charging as see the power bot only outputs 350mA?

bobburghart (author)kosborne22014-11-04

The PowerBot outputs anywhere between 350mA and 1000mA. You can see that the input ranges from 500mA to 1500mA. I believe that that ~30% loss in power is due to the relative inefficiency of induction charging, there is more resistance and distance involved with wireless induction charging than there is with a traditional cable charger.

With a 1500mA power adapter, the PowerBot will charge your phone at 1000mA. This is equivalent to the speed that your phone would charge with a 1000mA cabled charger, and is still twice as fast as your phone would charge with a standard 500mA USB2.0 port on your computer.

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