Introduction: How to Make a USB Ipod Wall Charger

Picture of How to Make a USB Ipod Wall Charger

Using the ac adapter from an old parallel port external Zip drive and a USB to PS2 mouse adapter, I made this Ipod charger.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools

I used the AC/DC power adapter plug (5.0V DC output) from an old parallel port zip drive, and the ps2 adapter that came with my USB optical mouse. Two things I'll surely never use again.

The tools I used were a sharp knife, an electric multimeter, soldering iron and solder, a pair of diagonal wire cutters, and some wire strippers.

Step 2: Cutting Away the Dead Wood

Picture of Cutting Away the Dead Wood

The hardest part of this project, and the only place where you can make a mistake!

Obviously the zip power supply should not be plugged in unless we are ready to test it with the multimeter.

First we'll prepare the (unplugged!) AC/DC power supply. Clip off the DC plug end, split the wires back about 1" being careful that the wires are both individually insulated (not exposed), and strip them, exposing ~1/4" of wire.

Check again to make sure that you haven't somehow left the adapter plugged into the wall, and if not, grab the bare wire, and twist it with your fingers to make it nice and tight.

*danger* During this step under no circumstances let the bare wires touch *danger*
*warning* Be familiar with the proper use of your multimeter *warning*

Set the multimeter to measure DC Volts, and test the wires with the adapter plugged in.
Once you have determined which lead is positive and which is negative, write it down.
Double check.
If you get it wrong, you may damage your Ipod, and that would suck.

Now to prepare the PS2 to USB adapter, you'll need a sharp knife.
Slice the outer plastic on the adapter from the PS2 end of the adapter to about 1/2" from the USB end, pull it open, and cut away the epoxy glue and wires inside leaving only the soldering lugs on the back end of the USB plug. This may require the diagonal cutters again, but I did it all with a sharp pocket knife.
Also, don't cut yourself like I did.

The picture below shows the pinout for a male USB plug, like the one at the end of your Ipod adapter. It's probably best to clip off the data lugs (middle two) before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Looking at the the diagram from the last step, you should be able to find the top of the female usb end, so that we don't get our wires crossed. On the male end pictured the contacts are upwards, on your female end, in the adapter you just butchered, up is with the contacts facing down. Be sure you have it right before you solder your positive wire to the +5V lug and the negative wire to the ground lug. Run the wire right through the old ps2 mouse plug hole!

Test it with the multimeter before you plug in your Ipod!
Test before!

Now you can fill the void in the usb adapter with silicon glue, j.b.weld, epoxy or whatever you prefer, and it's completely tricked out!


Von Klaus (author)2007-01-06

oh yeah USB porn!

bigt4616 (author)Von Klaus2008-03-30

you dirty usbs, get a room

thermoelectric (author)bigt46162008-05-10

yea u dirty usb's..... Can i come 2 ur honeymoon

PERV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wtf kinda ppl wanna see USB's inserting into eachother!!!

Other USB's LOL

lol i can imagine it now.... Playdrive with USB Heffner

Ora (author)zpersichetti2008-06-16

More like HughSB Hefner

crazydog75 (author)Ora2011-08-03

that was awesome.

zpersichetti (author)Ora2008-06-16

lol yup


thermoelectric (author)Ora2008-06-16




 enough with the madness
as long as you get it on video i will take a copy

severepb (author)2010-01-03

thanks. this gives me a great idea, sorta

Exterminate... (author)2009-09-19

This worked fine for non-IPod devices, but it only tuned my nano on (no charging) and did nothing to my iPod touch. I then found this: . Apparently the data lugs must carry some power for an iPod to charge. Thanks apple for your complete control freakery

sixpakal (author)2009-05-22

Really, We are making a female? USB pR0n or primitive robot girlfriend? Your pick.

bradyman3 (author)2008-10-27

I have a 80gb ipod classic and nothing happend I used a 5vdc charger. Should I use A bigger voltage??

swishinj (author)bradyman32009-05-01

does this work on iPod touch 2g

Scott9 (author)bradyman32009-03-29

Hmm nope, it should work fine with 5V

halberdear (author)bradyman32008-12-29

umm...80gb or 8gb?

LasVegas (author)2006-11-06

Great idea to save on the cost of an iPod wall charger. And a use for all those extra PS/2 to USB adapters! Your warning about having the brick unplugged before working with the wires isn't necessary since the 5V out of that brick isn't enough to even feel, let alone do damage to your being. There is a danger of harming the power brick in the event of a short though. There is no danger of harming a multimeter at all. Worse case scenario would be try to test with the meter's wires plugged into the Amp lines and the wires themselves no having enough internal resistance to prevent the power brick from shorting out. This is very unlikely. Also, the white line (or ridges) on the power wire will almost always be the negative line. You never know when the supply is made in some parts of the world. It doesn't hurt to verify this with a volt meter. It would have been nice to show your soldering work on the connector itself. and how the data lines would be cut short to prevent any possibility of inadvertent shorts. All in all, a very good instructable! :)

Derin (author)LasVegas2008-07-12

most digi meters have about 10meg internal resistance

zaketus (author)Derin2009-03-18

When probes are plugged into the "amp lines" (=connected to measure current), resistance is something very small, so voltage drop is as small as possible, when measuring current. That's the same reason, why DMM's resistance is 10Mohm, when measuring voltage: to have as small effect on circuit that is about to be measured (of course, in some cases 10Mohm isn't enough).

jjon (author)2009-01-18

I made one of these before I read this. It works great too.

evanwehrer (author)2008-08-28

OH MY GOD I DID THIS EXACT THING! Even with the same wall adapter.

mannyhall (author)2007-12-18

is it important to have this ....
Intelligent IC chip inside recognizes a fully charged battery and automatically switches to a saver mode to prevent overcharging and short circuit.... (some charger has this feature).
Based on FAQ from kensington website, keep charging the ipod is not a good thing, see here:**&p_li=
(it looks like iPod has no built in auto-stop-charging). What do you guys think?

Nickthetinker (author)mannyhall2007-12-20

The reason why the fully charged battery shouldn't be affected by a charging voltage is that is that the charging circuit should be applying the same voltage to the battery as it's maximum (fully charged voltage). The result is a net current of zer0. IRL there is still a small trickle which serves to maintain the battery at full charge. There is some debate as to whether it is better to charge a battery whenever it is used or to run it completely out. I have heard convincing arguments for both, but I always charge my cordless drill and cellphone whether they are dying or not so why not an ipod? As for the mysterious smart charging ipod microchip there isn't one in the usb cable, and the usb is always 5VDC hot. No warnings to not plug an ipod into usb...

dfc849 (author)2006-12-04

hey can i use a 5V 850mA or a 5V 2.0A charger for my nano? the 5V 850mA is un anused RAZR charger, i dont know where the other one came from

pir8p3t3 (author)dfc8492006-12-05

The one I used here is a 5V 1.0A, and works quite well. The 2.0A should work fine, but I am not sure if the 850mA would be underpowered. I can't find the specifications I used when I picked out this power supply anymore, but it seems to me that the current draw for the ipod mini was about 300mA so 850mA would have worked. Some chargers I saw online for nano say they are rated at 500mA so the RAZR charger should work for you.

DeadlyDad (author)pir8p3t32007-10-16

According to the official USB specifications:
"The power source and sink requirements of different device classes can be simplified with the introduction of the concept of a unit load. A unit load is defined to be 100 mA. The number of unit loads a device can draw is an absolute maximum, not an average over time. A device may be either low-power at one unit load or high-power, consuming up to five unit loads."

Which means that anything that can supply at least 500mA per port (i.e. two ports require a 1A supply, etc.) or more is completely within spec. If you have a 2A supply, I would just pick up a cheap four port hub and use that.

pir8p3t3 (author)DeadlyDad2007-10-20

as an update along these lines I have actually done just that. The pins inside the ps2/usb converter finally snapped off a couple weeks ago. I used a super cheap unpowered 4 port usb hub. It had never worked right as more than 2 devices would pull too much current causing them both to not be recognized by my PC. I found the power inputs and soldered on the ZIP drive power supply. Now it works 3 ways! It's still an ok splitter for 2 low power usb thumbdrives, it works as a usb charger for my ipod when it's plugged into the wall, and I can plug in both the power and the USB (daring!) and I have a power boosted 4 port hub which can run any 4 devices easily. The hub makes a better setup anyway as the solder joints are protected by a screwed together hard plastic shell.

minisharkx (author)2007-03-07

ok im making something simaler to this using the ps/2 adaptor thing and it helped alot i got the female usb perfectly this time but now i need some help i need some kind of electricity conducting glue since im only 15 dont have a job and my dad keeps his solder at work

minisharkx (author)2007-03-07

careful when cutting away the epoxy glue, i cut my finger open on accident and it didnt hurt as much as bled for 5 minutes, so if your using just a razor without a handle -points to the emos- then be careful or wrap your fingers in some kind of tape as a precaution

remyzero7 (author)2007-02-03

some advice on where to find the "sharp knife" you used would really be appreciated. i managed to cut the thing open with a pair of dykes & an exacto knife, but the exacto cuts on my fingers weren't awesome. but then, i've got gorilla hands... :-/. Thanks for the idea, though! I really wanted a female USB jack to walk into my hands, and here i had one all along...

pir8p3t3 (author)remyzero72007-02-07

For sharp knives, I always suggest the do it yourself method.

remyzero7 (author)pir8p3t32007-02-13

Good call! I keep forgetting that all of the answers are right here if you know where to look. Cheers- Remy

Bad Donut (author)2007-02-10

I found it interesting that the zune (my friends, i would NEVER get one) comes with a commercial version of one of these

pir8p3t3 (author)2007-01-09

I've had a few folks asking about this so I thought I'd post this info. The amperage rating of a transformer refers to the ability of the transformer (power supply) to supply a certain amount of current to the load (ipod). The difference between using a 5V x 1A plug vs. a 5V 500mA plug is analogous to using a draft horse to pull a wagon which could be handled by a donkey. Although the capability is far superior to the task, no damage is done by using the more powerful animal.

Phenomenal (author)pir8p3t32007-01-20

I have a cd player adapter thats 4.5V and 600 mA, and one thats 5.5V and 250 mA, and a cell phone adapter thats 5.0V and 700 mA. Which ones of these can be used?

pir8p3t3 (author)Phenomenal2007-01-22

the 4.5V and 5.5V adapters are not 5V adapters and thus are not suitable for the job of powering a 5V circuit like USB. the %.0V 700mA one should be adequate.

theRIAA (author)2006-11-06

you should replace "to outlet" with like "to 5v converter" theres some people out there....

pir8p3t3 (author)theRIAA2006-11-08

I changed that text in the pic

pir8p3t3 (author)2006-11-07

Thanks for the early comments! The reason I included the warning about the multimeter is just to prevent folks from measuring amps without a load, and oh noes, cuz that pic might fall into the wrong hands through hotlinking or some such! I'll see about updating it

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