Introduction: DIY Electronics Docking Station
When I get a newly released gadget, there's usually a period when accessories are not available, so I make my own. In this instructable, I'll show you how you can make a desktop docking station for your phone. The material is highly reusable, and it should work on tablets and other electronics, too!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- The phone or electronic gadget,
- Thermoplastic pellets; I'm using Instamorph.
- A charging/data cable,
- A heat gun,
- A frying pan with Teflon coating,
- A flat surface as a sculpting tool. I'm using a piece of clear acrylic for demonstration.
Optionally, you can decorate the finished piece with
- A can of Plasti-Dip spray
- A Sharpie pen
Step 2: Prepare the Plastic
Prepare the thermoplastic so that it is malleable by hand:
1. Place thermoplastic pebbles in a non-stick pan,
2. Use heat gun to heat the pebbles until they become clear. Caution: The resulting plastic may be very hot!
3. Make sure the plastic is cool enough to handle, but not yet stiff,
4. Knead the melted plastic to reach a smooth consistency
- Instamorph can be reheated and reused again and again. So, if you don't like the result, just heat it up and re-sculpt it.
- Instamorph softens at 140F, the temperature of a medium well done steak. If you don't have a heat gun, you can use hot water to soften the plastic. Make sure the water is eliminated before putting it on your electronics to avoid damage.
- Optionally, if you want to color the thermoplastic, this is where you mix in the dye. You can use polyester dye or alcohol based stamping ink.
Step 3: Create a Base Around the Plugged in Gadget Using Thermoplastic
1. Test a small piece of melted thermoplastic on the phone to see if it sticks too much. See tips below.
2. Plug in the data/charging cable. We're going to sculpt the plastic around the phone with the cable plugged in.
3. Sculpt a base around the phone and the cable. I like to place the phone face down, put on a glob of thermoplastic, shape and route the cables out.
4. Wait for the plastic to cool down and hold shape.
- Usually the plastic gets less sticky when cooled off. Wipe some oil or another release agent on the phone to help if the material sticks stubbornly.
- Some phones are thicker on the edges, making it hard to pull off the base. Modify the plastic to make room for easier docking/undocking.
Step 4: Decorate!
This is where your creativity begins! The cooled down plastic base can be sculpted, welded with more plastic, painted with plasti-dip, cut, stickered, and drilled. You can stick objects onto it, too! Use your imagination.
For this phone, I added a decorative/structurally supporting piece of extra Instamorph, spray painted it with yellow Plasti-Dip, and drew some decorative patterns to finish.
- This project is environmentally friendly. To reuse the plastic, simply peel off the Plasti-Dip and reheat.
- If you don't like the result, you can always re-sculpt by heating thermoplastic.
- Heat up two pieces of thermoplastic to join them together.
- Be sure to spray Plasti-Dip in a well ventilated area and wear eye protection.
- A heat gun with fine nozzles can heat up smaller areas for rework.