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Charging Station in Travel Case

Picture of Charging Station in Travel Case
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We have multiple chargers and three Canon plug-in chargers to look after. It seems we can never find the charger from the pile of tangles wires that was labelled "adapters" so this was the next logical step. I wanted to call this "Off to Grandma's House" as the option of being able to pack it up and hit the road seemed like a great advantage as that's when the cameras and tablets are in greatest use.

The main design criteria are:

1. Must be portable
2. No adapter/charger can be cut, taken apart, modified or hot glued in place. If we need to take a charger out of the system it must be done without damage and basic hand tools.

BILL OF MATERIALS
1 case
1 piece of 1/4" plywood approximately 20" by 10"
6 blocks of 3/4" or 1" spacing the panel away from the bottom the case
2 square feet of rubbery drawer or toolbox liner.
3 receptacles
1 three conductor power cord from discarded equipment.
1 indoor extension cord.
1 main power switch (optional but recommended)
2 inches of 1/8" heat shrink tubing
2 feet of misc 300/600 volt 18 to 16 AWG (gauge) wire. TEW 16 is fine.
Miscellaneous hook and loop fastener, screws, cable ties, hot glue etc.

TOOLS
Drill and HSS bits
Table saw or decent mitre saw
Coping saw or jig saw
Wire stripper
Scissors
Screwdrivers
Pliers
Soldering iron
Hot glue gun
Ohmmeter or continuity tester
Safety glasses etc.

The case is classic imported BBQ Tool Set courtesy of employee gift exchange Christmas 2012. This may or may not work for the types of chargers you have. Hardware stores have some pretty heavy-duty aluminum cases for around $20. Check out their tool departments.

Before we being the builder must have some basic knowledge of electricity and safe use of tools. If you already use a cordless drill and know how to check basic circuits with a meter you are golden!

Strip the BBQ tools out and pull the cardboard panels that held the tools.

Measure the case up for inside dimensions. Subtract some for the material glued inside if needed. Cut 6 blocks to act as spacers so that the panel will clear the receptacles. I used 1" blocks. Glue blocks into corners of case bottom and two at the half-way mark in the middle. Hot glue works okay here.

Cut a plywood panel to fit the opening. I used 6mm plywood cut from some old electrical equipment crates I got from work.

Layout the devices you want to put in. The Canon chargers lay pretty flat and have no leads, so they can go pretty much anywhere. If you have a large wall-wart, try to keep it away from the hinge. I sketched the chargers on to the plywood with pencil. I took at standard receptacle cover plate (single gang) and used it as a template.

Plan for notches where the wires go under and come out.

Once you are good on your layout, hit the drill press and scroll saw. You can replace these with a cordless drill and jig or better yet a coping saw to cut the receptacle holes. I used a countersink bit on the screw holes to let the screws set into the wood more.

Note the power switch is optional. If you want to install a "main power" switch, you must choose one suitably rated. These are labelled 250 VAC/10 A or similar. We use 120 VAC here so 250V rating is fine. If you live in Asia or Europe the 250 VAC rating is required. If you are not sure, ask an electrician!

Once the holes are cut, check them by inserting the receptacles. These are basic household 250V/15A receptacles. They can be found at HomeDepot or Lowes et al for under $1.

When the fit was right I sanded and applied some Minwax "Red Chestnut" stain with a brush, the wiped away with a rag after a few minutes.

When the stain was drying I prepped the indoor extension cord by cutting the plug end off and leaving about 4" of wire. Strip these back about 3/4". The power cord was from an old computer I cut the modular connector off the end and stripped the wires back 1/4".

Fit the receptacles in and push the end of the power cord in. As I attached the power cord to the main switch I soldered the wires and put heat shrink on them. If you don't go with a main power switch, connect the power cord leads to the first receptacle. Twist the exposed wire and then make a loop. Fit the loop under the screw and tighten. The loop should always curve in the same direction as the screw when tightening.

When wiring receptacles
- GOLD screw is hot and takes the BLACK wire from your cord.
- SILVER screw is neutral and takes the WHITE wire from your cord.
- GREEN screw is ground and takes the GREEN wire from your cord.
(if you have any questions, please ask someone who knows.)

Using some small lengths of wire, jump from the first receptacle to the other receptacle making sure not to mix the wires from the gold screws with those from the silver or green.

Connect the indoor extension cord to the last receptacle in the chain and make sure the wire to the small blade contact (HOT) is going to the GOLD screw on the receptacle.

Tidy all the wiring with cable ties, velcro what ever you have to make it fit. Make sure that no wires are being pinched or could rub on anything sharp. Use electrical tape liberally if you think chafing may occur.

Fit the panel it and hold while drilling the pilot holes for the 6 mounting screw. I used #6 x 3/4" wood screws and it holds down well.

When it's all screwed down, connect your ohmmeter to the power cord's two blades... turn the main power switch off...must not be 0 ohms. Close the main power switch, it may change but must not be 0 ohms. 100 ohms is okay depending on the adapters you have installed.  If you have a receptacle tester use that to check the wiring on the receptacles.

This project took about 4 hours. Most of the time was spent making the holes in the wood and the basic wiring.

That's awesome! It looks like you have everything covered!
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