Introduction: Docking Station, Retractable Cords & Working Handset for Your Cell Phone Built From an Old Phone.
Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure Challenge
This project has been sitting in a drawer for some time. I got the inspiration when I found the Vtech handset in the clearance aisle a Wal-mart for $2.97. I had the old phone from another project where I needed the receiver speaker for a DIY crystal radio, the rest was sitting around gathering dust. And that was as far as I got...until now, two years later. I can't lie...the "Trash to Treasure" contest was the big motivation to finish this project. So...here it goes.
Step 1: What You'll Need...
Thick leather gloves
Pencil and Sharpie
Ruler or measuring tape
Drill and 3/32 and 5/8 drill bits (you can use a spade bit)
Rotory tool or other capable cutting implement
Table saw or handsaw
Sand paper 220 and 400 grit
Some clamps (wood or C style)
Needle nosed pliers
Scrap PVC schedule 40 pipe (at least 2 inch diameter)
Retractable USB cord
3.5 to 4 foot USB to whatever your phone takes to charge (mine is micro USB)
Weatherstripping 1/2 inch by 3/4 inch
Plastic paint (I use Krylon Fusion)
Special Materials (SEE NEXT STEP)
Spray paint handle
Step 2: Special Materials
There are some special materials for this project.
You can use regular rubber grommets, but I used some bumpers and snap bushings from Ace Hardware. See pictures 1 thru 1.4.
The handset is a commercial model by Vtech ( Link to source)...but...I found an Instructable by mouse.reeve that instructs you how to adapt the handset for use with a cellphone ( Link to instructable ).
If you use the Vtech...you will need the extension 3.5mm to 3.5mm (pictured) for headsets...not headphones.
Step 3: Prepping the Phone
Remove the handset. Open the case (two screws on the bottom in mine). Remove the dialing button pad and set aside...you won't be using this. You do not have to cut away the face like I did. At first I was going another way.
Step 4: Create a Stunt Phone
You need to mark and cut a block of wood to the same length as your phone to shape the PVC cradle around. The width should be your phone width plus 3/4 inch to leave room for the weatherstripping foam. the height should be 3/4 inch or more...but the closer to 3/4 inch the better.
Step 5: Roughcut Your PVC Pipe
Roughly measure your PVC pipe to your phones length. After donning your safety glasses and dust mask, cut it (I used a rotary cutting tool), then split it longways.
Step 6: Heat and Open the PVC
Using your leather gloves and dust mask, carefully move the heat gun back and forth across the back of the PVC. The nozzle of the heat gun should be about two inches from the surface of the PVC. Try the low setting first. If that isn't hot enough, turn the heat gun to high. Be careful not to burn the PVC. Keep the gun nozzle moving. After 10 seconds of heating, try to open up the cut you made. Continue until the PVC is pretty much open.
Step 7: Flattening the Back of the PVC
Heat your PVC and press it between two blocks of wood and allow it to cool. Continue until the center is completely flat as wide as your stunt phone. You may need to clamp it and leave it for awhile to achieve this.
Step 8: Shaping the PVC Cradle
Send in the stunt phone...time to cut everything down to size. I used a rotary tool to cut here, but the right kind of handsaw will work.
Using the stunt phone as a template, mark the length cuts on the flattened PVC and make those cuts (these cuts are at the top and bottom of the "phone" ).
Now clamp the stunt phone into place on the PVC and another scrap board the same width as the stunt phone. Measure 3/4 inches from each side of the stunt phone, mark it and cut it off, leaving 3/4 inch wings on each side.
Heat the PVC at the base of those wings (right next to the wood) with the heat gun...then press the sides onto third scrap piece of wood to create a 90 degree angle. Hold until it cools and stabilizes, then repeat on the other side.
Trim any wing material that extends beyond the top of the stunt phone.
Release the clamps and check your work on your phone.
This was by far the hardest part of the project.
Step 9: Sand the Cellphone Cradle
Sand and smooth the flats, corners and edges with some 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. Don't forget your dust mask.
Step 10: ***SHORTCUT***
Don't want to fabricate a cellphone cradle? I'm pretty sure one of these will work as well. Universal cellphone vent mount holder
Step 11: Drill Wire Holes Through Old Phone Case.
Measure and drill the holes for the grommets. Each image in this section is captioned with instructions.
Step 12: Check the Fit, Then Position, Glue and Paint
Check the fit and positioning, then mix the epoxy and glue the cradle into place. When the epoxy sets (30 minutes if you use the Loctite) check the hold and then scuff with 400 grit sandpaper, clean with a little mineral spirits and let dry. Then paint with plastic paint in the color of your choice. I'm a traditionalist, so I chose glossy black. Set aside to cure.
Step 13: In the Meantime...install the Retractor
This was a retractable cable that I had from an old device that used mini-USB. I don't have any devices that use mini anymore...so this was scrap. If you don't have one you can buy these at Dollar Tree for three dollars...or just leave it out. The wires tuck in easily in the space created by removing the dial pad. But I had it, so I used it. It could work better...but it does work.
I cut the ends off, drilled a small hole in the metal support, threaded one end of the wire through, tied two overhand knots and finally brushed the knots with super glue.
Do yourself a favor and tie and overhand knot in the loose end, so it doesn't retract though the hole. Of course, I learned this the way I learn most lessons...the hard way.
Step 14: Create the "grommets"
You can use regular grommets here, but these really look good. The images are captioned with the steps. Remember to check to see if the USB end of the USB cable will fit though the hole in the case before you assemble the USB cable grommet. If it won't, you'll have to wait until the paint is cured, then run the small end through the hole in the case before assembling the grommet.
If you have chosen not to use the extension adapter, you are definitely going to have to wait to assemble the grommets...because there is no way the handset is fitting through the 5/8 inch hole in the case :)
The rubber grommet that I used (pictured in step 3) has a steel washer in it. Cut down to the steel washer from top and bottom, then open the cut and the washer slides right out.
Step 15: Installing the Wires and Grommets
When the case paint is cured, install the wires and grommets with a little bit of super glue around the plug and where the plug collar will mate to the case. Just a light brush coat...don't want it squishing out.
Step 16: Making an Inlet for the Handset, and an Outlet for the USB
I just cut a small slit in the old handset and phone cord jacks...just wide enough to slip the new cords though. Sure...you could disassemble one of the ends and rewire it back when inside the case, but electronics is not my forte, and I sure don't want to mess up my smartphone...so this seemed, while not the most pleasing choice...the most practical. Just be sure to cut the handset jack on the side facing the back and the phone cord jack to the side facing the center of the back. You could cut in the from the bottom of both jacks but on mine, that was a lot of material and there needs to be enough to hook to the edge of the bottom pan of the phone.
Some captioning in the photos on this step.
Step 17: Connect the Retractor to the USB and Handset Cables
This is more complicated to explain than it is to do. The images are captioned, so check them out too. Basically you need to position the case so it is up against the front of the metal base. Pull out enough of each cable thought the case to easily reach the connector jacks on your cellphone. Now, wrap a zip tie around the USB cable, the headset cable AND an open zip tie. Tighten that zip tie (the one you just wrapped around everything). Next, connect but don't completely tighten the open zip tie. Extend the loose end of the retractor wire through that loop and tie it around the zip tie with and overhand knot, then another overhand knot. Tighten the zip tie as tightly as possible without breaking it, and make sure the first zip tie is just as snug. Brush everything with super glue. Check that your wires are run though the appropriate jacks. Set the case in place over the metal base and screw it down.
Step 18: Measure and Install the Side Foam
Cut the weatherstripping long, protect the adhesive with some wax paper, and check the fit of your phone. it should be pretty snug...but if it is too snug, trim the weatherstripping down with a razor knife. Measure and trim the ends to fit. Add some adhesive to the backing and bottom of the weatherstripping, position it carefully and stick it in place. Some of these images are captioned.
Step 19: And You're Done!
Thanks for reading. Please post your projects if you decide to make a retro phone cellphone dock. Have a Happy Independence Day...be safe and have fun.
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