Introduction: Making a Box of Power
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
Here's the materials I used:
-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
With all your parts and tools together, you're ready to plan your box of power.
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
Next, we'll wire all our outlets, etc. together.
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!
Plug in, flip your switch, and, if you've included lightbulbs and haven't miswired anything, you should be in well-lit, outlet-filled bliss.
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:)