IKEA Power Charging Box With Individual Switches

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Introduction: IKEA Power Charging Box With Individual Switches

So the other day I saw this instructable on how to make an easy power station using an IKEA box:
The-IKEA-charging-box---no-more-cable-mess!

I definitely needed something similar, so I went and bought one of those boxes at IKEA, but it stood in my office for a couple of weeks. Last weekend I finally decided to have a go at it. One major difference I wanted for my charging station: the ability to turn off each power supply individually instead of having all on while charging a single device. That meant going to the electronic store and buy 4 switches (there were nicer models, but they didn't have 4 identical ones, so I just got these).

Total cost for the project: 11,24 Euros

Ikea box: 1,99 Euros
Ikea box lid: 1,25 Euros
4 switches: 4 x 1,00 Euros
4 plugs: 4 x 1,00 Euros

I believe I could have gotten the switches and plugs slightly cheaper if I had looked around.
The rest of the parts I had them at home. Should be fairly cheap ones anyway.

It's not absolutely finished. I still want to get a protective plastic part for the inside, just to prevent any accidental contact with the exposed connectors. Another possibility is to just use heat-shrink tubing, although it might be difficult to completely cover the connectors next to the wall.
For now I just know that I shall only remove the lid "locks" after disconnecting the power plug.
In the end, still a fairly easy and cheap project.

Step 1: The Parts

- The original IKEA box and lid
- 4 power plugs
- 4 electrical switches
- electrical wiring
- connectors and "joiners" (if someone can give me the correct names I'll edit this. My mother tongue is not English... You can see some pictures of these in the next steps)

Step 2: Installing the Switches

After deciding on the right height position and dividing evenly the horizontal space, I marked the locations for the switches.

Using a cutter, I made the holes. Even if not perfectly cut, once inserted, the switch covers the sides and looks quite nice.

Here's how it looked:

Step 3: The Electrical Wiring

Unfortunately the picture is quite dark, but hopefully you can still see how I connected the different parts.

Pretty much it's just the 4 plugs connected in parallel, each having it's own switch.

Step 4: Connecting the Power Supplies

Here's how it looks with the power supplies inside.

As you can see, the switch connectors are exposed. I still want to get a protective cover for all those parts, if not, just use heat-shrinking tubing. For now I just have to remember to disconnect the main power supply before opening the box.

Step 5: Drilling the Lid

In order for the box to close properly I had to make some holes for the cables to come up on the top of the box.
I could have just drilled a circle in the middle of the lid, but thought it would occupy to much space.
Therefore I decided to cut some holes on the edge. Now this was probably the most difficult part of the project. Not only it is in rather difficult place to cut properly (at least with the tools I had available), but it would also be showing.

After a first attempt just with the cutter, I ended up using my dremel to make it a bit better looking.
I'll have to take another picture from the opposite side in order to get a better view.

Step 6: The Final Result

Works just as planned!

As I've mentioned before, I still want to get a protective cover or use heat-shrinking tubing for the inside electrical parts, and I'm still checking if it will require any ventilation holes. So far it never got warm at all, but haven't had all the power supplies on for several hours for a proper test.

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    54 Discussions

    Good 'ible. Add ons that could be worked into it: Shaped indentions for chargees, sensors (photo/pressure/magnetic) and SCR to turn on/off the plug, Indicator light for each item, small thermostatic fan perhaps.  On some items, the plug could be mounted in such a way as to make it a 'drop in charger'. I forsee making a modular system for myself (so that I can change to a new phone eventually.)

    1 reply

    Draft something in sketch up for 3d printing, I Sounds feasible.

    The Connectors are usually called splices. I usually use self criming butt splicesfor wire joining

    Do you have a link to where you can buy the switches and the connectors and joiners?

    Hi... I seem to have trouble looking at your connection on how to parallel - can anyone send me a schematic or a good explanation on how to do this - thanks!

    Ok the correct term that you are looking for is Quick Connects. They come in I think 4 different sizes and according to wire size also. Maybe more depending on what you are doing... Most are going to use the blue connectors.

    How hard would it be to add an LED to show the state of the switch, like on/off... I know it's not that hard to just take a look at it, but hey: Everything is better with LEDs. (it's a healthy obsession... really...) Now, another idea would be to 1) use close-cell foam and cut out a nest for each device, then 2) use a pressure switch, so that it will only charge when the device is in the cradle, making it a smart-dock of sorts. you should probobly keep the front switches too, so that you can prevent leeching when it's fully charged.

    12 replies

    I actually installed an LED on my tub so I could tell when I was full. I kept shorting out tho. boo :\

    Adding a led per switch probably wouldn't be difficult at all, a led and a big ass resistor added inline with the positive lead coming off the switch, I would imagine it's that simple. Or even better yet, buy rocker switches with lights inside them.

    I just realized they had switches with the light around the rim or in it and thwacked meself in the face. Now, how to make it shut off automatically...

    Connect a 24 hour wall timer to the wall and then plug the box into that, but that wouldn't work too well now would it? If you had more circuit building skills, you could probably make an auto sensing circuit that would be able to tell when a charger stops drawing a certain amount of current (which you could have an adjustable threshold).

    I was thinking about how to do that easily, but couldn't think of any ways...

    (Correct me if I'm wrong,) A thermal probe would require a micro-controller, or a transistor that would have to be specifically tailored for the job when the thermistor drops below/goes above the specified resistance. This would also be hard because most thermistors are non-linear, so you would pretty much have to have a micro-controller. A much simpler solution (Again, I'm not sure if this will work with every type of battery. It did with mine) would be to add a relay in line with the power cord, so when the battery (device) connects, it closes the circut, turning on the relay. You would need a low voltage relay, and wouldn't work if your battery (device) is completely dead, or cannot send its charge back out. This, (most likely) will only work with simple devices like NiMH batteries.I would not try this with an iPhone, though.

    thermal probe from a fridge is electrically thing with 2 wires and thats all. its probe (metallic baloon on thin pipe that looks like wire) is based on gas expansion in temperature and not electronics. it can be hacked to switch at high temperatures like 30 - 40 C with the relay on battery - it should work for turn on (what my thing with the thermal probe does not) but you need to make it somehow shut down on its own. without this the relay just continues to work on the charged battery + on the charger itself after you remove the battery (unless its pulsing charger) it may affect battery charging - when battery becomes close to 90 - 100 % the charge current drops and the relay current rises (with the voltage on the battery). if the currents become equal the battery wont charge any higher above this point (all what the charger gives goes to the relay) what you could do reliably with relay is monitor the current the chargers draw on the 240 V side. and still you need kind of start button as with the thermal probe i think the current monitoring with relay is the best solution here

    The "electrically thing" is a thermistor. True to its name, it is a resistor that changes resistance based on the temperature. It is not based on gas expansion. It is based on the properties of a material having different resistance at different temperatures. And it can not be hacked. You can not "hack" a piece of ceramic/polymer with two wires attached to it. And most chargers these days have sensors that detect when the battery (device) is charged, so over-charging and explosions don't happen.

    its not resistor. its mechanical on off switch its made like this : sealed baloon (the probe) is connected thru very thin pipe (1 mm external diameter) to pressure sensor. the pressure sensor is a mechanical electrical switch when temperature changes at the probe (here is most of the trapped air located so its the most sesitive part) it changes the pressure of air (i think its air) and the switch reacts as any switch its connected in series with the charger withou any additional electronics

    You just made me think of a version using kitchen timers in place of the switches... LOL