It's often impossible to find a cradle which fits your smartphone while it's in its holster, shielded box, or even just in a funny skin.
I've made one for my HTC HD2 Smartphone, which is living in a cozy Otterbox Defender case 80% of the time, myself in just 10 minutes with the materials I've found at hand.
All you need is a piece of 1/8 in (6mm) of plywood, scotch tape, scissors, and a hand wood saw. The rest depends on your creativity.
Step 1: First Cut
I had a plywood piece approximately 1 inch (2-3 cm) wide and a foot long.
Marked the width of the phone ( 2.5 inch / 7 cm or so ) on it 3 times and cut it to 3 equal pieces with a hand saw.
Step 2: All of the Pieces
Then I have placed the phone connected to the charger on the table, took one of the cut pieces and placed it on the table under the micro USB charger's plug. I have made its sides aligned with the phone's edges, and contoured the micro USB connector's shape on the wood with a pen. Then cut that piece more or less along the markings. Finally I've got 4 pieces of plywood (as pictured).
Step 3: Height Adjustment
I took another whole piece under the connector again and noticed how far the bottom of the connector is from the surface of the piece. I had to cut out 2 cardboard rectangles to rise it enough so there is no gap between the piece and connector.
Step 4: Base Piece
You can use paper or wood glue to secure these cardboard shims to the plywood piece, but I've used a piece of scotch tape (postage tape, or whatever you have at hands, I just liked to use the transparent tape to expose the wood underneath). Just don't forget to adjust the cardboard thickness for the tape thickness. Cut the excess of the tape from the sides or fold it over to your liking.
Step 5: Cheeks On
The smaller pieces (I call them "cheeks") are going to work as the side guides for the micro USB connector. Secure them on top of the base piece with the scotch tape. Place them slightly closer to each other so they provide a snug fit. The scotch tape is working better here compared to the glue, because it will be able to stretch a little in order to accommodate the shift of the "cheeks" while clamping the USB connector in between.
Step 6: The Clamp
Secure the connector between "cheeks" (The phone is on the connector still). Place the last whole piece of plywood over them and position it so the edge of the phone is in contact with the edge of the plywood brick (i.o.w. how would you like it to sit on the phone). Hold the brick tight and pull off the phone so it's completely disconnected without moving the connector out of the clamp. Note the connector's position in the plywood.
Use the same tape to secure the top piece over the USB connector in that perfect position. The connector is usually a bit thicker than the 6mm plywood of the cheeks, so the tape will squeeze it between the base and the top piece quite reliably. If not, add a piece of cardboard on top of the connector as a shim.
A steam-punk approach would be to add a couple of shiny screws on the sides, so the clamp could be easily undone and the charger is back to the portable state. The tape however is much faster to wind over and works just fine.
Step 7: That's All for Me
I'm charging my phone on the table, so it all looks as simple as this (image). But I can connect my phone almost blindly now, just align the edges (on touch or visually) and bring things together. All that in one swift move.
As you can see this design is very basic. But that allows for many creative features, which you can add yourself. Such as (just from the top of my head):
- smooth all of the corners with sandpaper neatly before assembling;
- use lacquer for smooth finish;
- spray it with epoxy and/or paint it in any finish;
- add some paper images under the transparent scotch;
- attach a back plate, so you can rest the phone on any surface (or without it);
- attach some legs to the brick, so the phone can stand in a near to vertical position.
- add a polycarbonate panel (perhaps with side flaps) to the front, so the phone screen is protected from falling objects when charging.
- Fit the brick into a fancy base (just did that with my gamepad - pictured).