Important note: please ignore me when i say "you can experiment with plugging in multiple sources of current." read sneigke's comment below to understand why this is a dangerous/stupid idea!
Here's a video of this easy-but-fun project:
This and pretty much everything else I build are for sale as kits and finished projects at my site, dirtnail.com.
Why build this? Good question. For me, it was basically because I wanted to finish a cool-looking project and get an obscene number of available outlets in a day:)
Step 1: Gather Your Materials, Tools
-A toolbox to ruin (or cardboard if you're ok w/ that:)
-Desired number of AC outlets
-Desired number of lightbulb sockets
-An AC on/off switch
-Some decent-gauge cable, to wire your outlets, etc. to each other
-Thicker gauge AC cord, to connect box of power to the wall. I used one from a broken surge protector.
And the tools:
-Piece of cardboard, or other suitable stencil material
-Pen/pencil/other writing instrument to use with your stencil on the side of the toolbox
-Utility blade, or something else to cut through the side of your toolbox
-Philips head screwdriver
Step 2: Stencil, Cut Your Layout
Basically, this involves deciding how many and where you want any switches, outlets, and light sockets. If you're doing a bunch of something, I recommend making a cardboard cutout a little bigger than the size of your part and stenciling this on the side of the toolbox; if you're just doing 1 or 2 of a component, it's probably not worth the time to make the stencil.
To cut out the shapes, carefully use a utility blade, saw, or whatever else works well for your toolbox material. If you're using a utility blade, I can't stress carefully enough: they're easy to snap, and any red you see on the toolbox is from me doing so into my finger:)
Step 3: Wire It All Together, Screw Them In
To do this, I cut lengths of wire a few inches longer than the space between outlets, stripped both ends, and interconnected the outlets before fully securing them to the box.
Brass to black, silver to white: to wire your outlets w/ the right polarity, connect the black wire to the brass screws and the white wire to the silver ones. And, if you're more safety-conscious or just plain smarter than me, go ahead and hook up that ground wire as well:)
Your on-off switch should be connected to black (hot) directly from the incoming power cord if you want it to control power to everything.
For any light sockets: wire these such that they won't interrupt your circuit when a lightbulb is not present. One way to do this is to wire in parallel to any of the outlets (your outlets are connected in series to each other).
After I had everything wired together, I secured the whole shebang to the toolbox. For the outlets,
this meant cutting a pilot hole for the included screws and then screwing them through the plastic. On the light sockets, that's layers of electrical tape wrapped until i had a thickness on each side that was enough to keep the socket from sliding into or out of the box.
On the power cord, I tied a knot on the inside and then did the electrical tape trick for the outer.
Step 4: Shine On!
Some improvements you might consider are:
-Adding a nonconductive, watertight sealant around the edges of the outlets.
-Providing separation between exposed, AC-carrying wires and whatever you put in the toolbox. this could be bending the wires to the side and placing an inner layer of plastic between wires and toolbox contents.
-Adding a DC converter and having one side of this output adjustable DC current/voltage for projects.
-Adding a camera, duct tape dispenser, or whatever else you never have handy but always wnat for your projects.
-Basically, anything you feel like adding on!
And, as Pink Floyd would say:
Shine on, you crazy diamond:)