Introduction: Make a Griffin AirCurve Adapter for IPhone 4 With Sugru

Picture of Make a Griffin AirCurve Adapter for IPhone 4 With Sugru

-------- This instructable is an entry in the Sugru Contest.  If you like it, please vote!  Thank you :) ----------

I love the simplicity of my AirCurve but sadly it wasn't useful at all anymore after I upgraded from a 3G to iPhone 4.   AirCurve came with adapters for 2 and 3G/3GS but last I checked, Griffin hasn't yet made an adapter for iPhone 4.

So my AirCurve was sad and useless. As you can see in the second photo, the new phone and case will sit in an adapter-less AirCurve if you balance it just right.  Set this way it tends to topple over if you look at it funny - usually right into the kitchen sink. 

But besides that: since the "fit" is non-existent there is no volume boost as the sound from the iPhone speaker is not getting funneled into the AirCurve's sound channel.  What to do?

SUGRU to the rescue!  It's specifically designed for hacking your stuff.
(What is Sugru and where can you get some?)
The original phone holder/adapters that come with the AirCurve are a flexible rubber.
Sugru cures into a flexible silicone rubber and you can mold it into any shape you like.
Perfect for making your own holder/ adapter!

  (The AirCurve is a non-powered volume amplifier made for iPhone 2 & 3G/3GS, you can check it out here. Sugru is cheap and has endless uses!  I had a super 12 pack shipped from the UK to California for $16 total.  This hack cost about $2 in Sugru.)

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials
This is pretty simple hack and took less than 30 minutes (not counting Sugru cure time)

Gather ye up the following:
  • Griffin Aircurve
  • iPhone 4 (in it's case if that's how you plan to use it with the AirCurve)
  • Cling wrap
  • A bit of soapy water
  • iPhone charging cable
  • X-acto knife
  • toothpick or other tiny sculpting tool
  • SUGRU!! 1 1/2 sachets will be plenty (super 12 pack pictured) 

Step 2: Prepping

Picture of Prepping
Examine the original adapter that came with the AirCurve as we're going to try to replicate this.  There are three important things to note:
  1. The small hole on the left - this lines up with the phone's speaker and channels audio into the body of the AirCurve.  
  2. The bit of tab that sticks up in the back - this helps support the weight of the phone at an angle.
  3. Two little tabs at the front that lock into the body.
Now on to prep:
  1. Plug the charger cable into the iPhone and attach the white rubber cable holder from the AirCurve.  Wrap connector and  lower half of the phone with cling wrap.  Why?  Sugru is also highly adhesive!  You don't want it permanently adhered to your phone's port, speaker and mic and it won't stick to cling wrap.  Try to make it  very smooth and even - especially around the cable connector or it will be too fat to fit. (In my case I am using the phone in it's case, but a naked phone will work fine)
  2. Put the USB end of the cable through the top of the AirCurve and line the whole opening with a single layer of cling wrap.  Try to push it smoothly into the curves and corners and leave a slit above the charger slot open.

Step 3: Sugru Time!

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Open one sachet of Sugru and knead for 30 seconds per package directions.   I'm using orange, it goes best with my DomoKun phone case.  Make sure your hands and tools are clean as Sugru will pick up any dust and lint it touches!  Also note the time on the clock as Sugru has a 30 min working time.  That's plenty for this project but still good to be aware.

Divide Sugru into a 2/3 and 1/3 sized piece and roll into balls.  Smush the larger ball in at the end above the sound hole and the smaller ball at the other end avoiding the large, oblong cable connector hole.  (I was primarily concerned with the sound hole, hence the larger ball at that end.  In retrospect I would have put an even amount at both ends and snakes in the middle around the connector hole.)  Also smush a small amount of Sugru into the two small locking tab holes at the front of the receptacle.

Now it's time to push the iPhone into the Sugru.  
NOTE: FLIP THE PHONE AROUND.  Yes, the iPhone 4's speaker is on the RIGHT instead of left as in the 3G/3GS.   It will still line up with the AirCurve's sound channel but the phone will end up sitting backwards in the AirCurve.  If you put it in facing forward you'll get almost no sound at all.

Gently push the wrapped up phone with dock connector into it's spot on the AirCurve base with the phone facing BACKWARDS until it's completely seated in the receptacle.  It will be snug with the extra cling wrap and all the force will be on the dock connector so do this carefully to avoid damaging the connector/phone.  The phone should tilt backwards at an gentle angle.

Step 4: Finish Molding Sugru

Picture of Finish Molding Sugru

Open your second sachet of Sugru, knead and roll half of it into a snake.

Apply this as shown in the pics to fill so you have a ring of Sugru all the way around the phone.  Make it a bit thicker and taller in the back to make a tab like the original adapter to support the phone.  (Again - in retrospect, this could have all been done together in the last step but it's my first Sugru project so you live and learn :).

Using your toothpick and some soapy water on your fingers mold Sugru into whatever final shape you like.  I like to keep it pretty minimal and clean.  Press Sugro firmly into all the crevices to make a nice, tight mold.


Step 5: Cure, Trim and Done!

Picture of Cure, Trim and Done!

Do something useful with the left over half packet of Sugru like make replacement rubber feet for your electric wok.

Now let everything sit and cure. Ideally for 24 hours.  At least that's what Sugru says.
I needed to use my phone so I let it set for about 2 hours (on an 80 degree day).
It was a bit squishy but the surface held it's shape enough for what's next.  While it's sitting take a look straight into the front of the AirCurve - you should see a downward bulge in the Sugru.  We're going to cut this out in a little bit.

GENTLY pull the phone straight out of the AirCurve.  You may have to wiggle it a little bit.
I also had to use the Xacto knife to cut some of the cling wrap away that had gotten stuck around the dock adapter.  My Sugru stayed in the base but if it comes up with the phone that's ok, too.  

Peel away all the plastic wrap from the various pieces. In the molded Sugru piece you should see a small oblong knob to either side of the dock connector hole.  These were made by the speaker and mic on the iPhone.  We're concerned with the left knob (top in the photo)  You should see a matching knob on the bottom of the Sugru (remember peeking into the front earlier?) 

Using the X-acto knife, carefully cut out the sound hole knob.  Poke the tip of the knife straight down from the bottom and it should line up with the top knob. (Since this cut away part wasn't exposed to much air, it was still very squishy and usable - I was able to make a textured grip for my tablet pen and non slip feet for a soap dish with this little bit)

Bevel the top edge of the hole and trim away any feathery/uneven edges.  Clean up your new  Sugru adapter however you like then tuck it back into the AirCurve.  The sound and dock connector holes should all line up.  Now leave it alone for 24 hours to fully cure and you're all done!

(You can tuck put the phone in first to double check that everything stayed where it belongs.)

Results - the new Sugru adapter works perfectly!  Audio volume is significantly higher and my phone no longer topples over.  Sound quality is clean, clear and possibly better than previously.  Thanks to Sugru a formerly useless object is as good as new again!   Doesn't Domo look happy?

Comments

RoddyTheGreat (author)2010-12-11

Isn't your iPhone the wrong way around?

niftycurly (author)RoddyTheGreat2010-12-21

Yes - I mentioned in step 3 that the iPhone 4 has the speakers on the other side vs iPhone 3/3GS. If you left it facing forward there would be no sound in the sound channel. :)

niftycurly (author)2010-11-03

Thanks! I shall :)