Introduction: Customizable Magnetic Charging Station
Ever since I got my new iPhone and have been using wireless charging I have had several problems. Multiple times I would place my phone on the charger(not quite in the middle) and wake up the next day and it didn't charge. Ugh. This would especially suck if it was a weekday and you had a whole day ahead of you and didn't have time to charge it. My design would solve that problem. My next problem was that I was acquiring several more devices that I used every day that needed to be charged. I had cables running everywhere and I never knew which ones were plugged in and which ones weren't. I decided I needed a solution to this. A charging station. Now yes you could probably go out and buy one that would let you charge most of you things but when you're an engineer you don't just go out and buy something, you solve your own problems your way. I already had a 3D printer and a few magnets laying around so I decided hey, why not build my own.
Things to keep on mind before you build your own:
- Wireless charging(iPhone 8 and up, Samsung Note 5 and Galaxy 6 up).
- You can't necessarily use my files and just print it and expect everything to fit properly. Most wireless chargers are similar in size but not the exact same. You may need to adjust hole sizes or file/sand them to fit.
- Make sure your printer is big enough to print the main part. If it isn't you may need to slice that part in half prior to printing.
Here is a link to the thingiverse files https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4356831. I highly recommend checking out their website anyway if you are into 3D printing.
Here is the link to my wireless charger https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HLZ42ZM/A/belk...
Here is a link to a YouTube channel that I highly recommend for all things Fusion 360 https://www.youtube.com/user/cadcamstuff
- A 3D printer or a friend with one(I use the Creality Ender 3 pro. Almost any printer with a reasonably sized print bed will work.)
- Some Filament(I used PLA almost any will work)
- Magnets(I used 8mm x 3mm neodymium button magnets)
- A computer and slicing software and if you decide to make your own model a 3D modeling software such as Fusion 360
- A Wireless charger, cable, and power adapter
- Apple Watch Charging cable
Step 1: Decide What You Are Making Your Charging Station For
Ask yourself, what purpose are you making your design. Depending on what devices you have and how you want it to function, that will effect how you design your own charger. For me personally my requirements were simple:
- It must charge all the devices I use day to day. This being my iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods
- It must be simple yet effective. This meant that it wouldn't be any bigger than it needed to be but still met the functionality I needed
- It needed to be modular and able to have future design changes made to it
- It needs to be presentable enough to be a part of a room, without looking out of place. I always make sure I design something that looks aesthetically pleasing. What's the purpose of a functional piece if you don't like the way it looks?
These were the specifications that I had in mind when I was ultimately completing my design. If you aren't into making your own designs like I am I will leave links to my files below so you can 3D print those as well.
Step 2: Not All Wireless Charger Are the Same
Something to keep in mind is NOT all wireless chargers are the same. Some are thinner or thicker than others as well as bigger or smaller in diameter. My design is custom to the specific wireless charger I use. Yours may not be the same. Here is a link to the one I use https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HLZ42ZM/A/belkin-boost-up-special-edition-wireless-charging-pad?afid=p238%7CsVhxfVoVT-dc_mtid_1870765e38482_pcrid_246387003261_pgrid_49565832687_&cid=aos-us-kwgo-pla-btb-3pp--slid---product-HLZ42ZM/A
Step 3: Begin Your Design on Paper
It is always a good idea to start out on paper. This will allow you to smooth out any design flaws that you may not have discovered otherwise. You may realize there were more challenges than you thought. I have learned it is better to erase a few times on paper then to have to completely redesign in Fusion 360. As you can see by the photos I originally made a mistake the first time and forgot to fillet the back corner of that part. It was not a big mistake by any means but something I did not even notice.
Step 4: 3D Modeling Software
This brings me to my next point, differences in 3D modeling software. If you aren't already using Fusion 360 I cannot recommend it enough. The software is extremely powerful and intuitive. It is also 100% free for hobbyists, students, and educators use. This makes it the best and only software I can recommend. SketchUp is an alternative 3D modeling software to Fusion 360. However, SketchUp has a steeper learning curve and is overall more difficult to use. There are thousands of tutorials on how to use Fusion. I cannot cover everything about it and how to learn it from scratch in this instructable but I will leave link to a YouTube channel on how to get started. Another great option if you have it is linked in learning. All their tutorials are very well and professionally made. I highly suggest going there for tutorials on learning Fusion 360 or other AutoCad programs.
Step 5: Start by Creating a Sketch
Start by creating a sketch with the outside dimensions of your part. Remember that you need to make it bigger than your device itself to leave room for a ridge to help keep the phone in place. To help visualize how big to make your part I first sketched the size of my phone and then offset that size to create the outside dimension.
Step 6: Extrude Your Sketch
Now you will extrude your sketch. You will want to extrude your sketch to at least the thickness of you wireless charger. For example my wireless charger is thicker than the diameter of the magnets I used so I extruded it to the same height as that. If the magnets you use are thicker than you wireless charger make your part thicker than their diameter to leave some extra room for the hole to print. This will make more sense later.
Step 7: Wireless Charger Hole
For my design I made the hole for the wireless charger go all the way through. This was because I didn't want my stand to be any thicker than it needed to be. Now start a new sketch on top of the part. Take a measurement of the diameter of your wireless charger. Then you will draw a circle the same size(or slightly larger to compensate for thermal expansion). You'll place that circle in the middle of the rectangle. There are two ways to find the center. One, hover your curser over the top until a green circle appears. That's the center. Two, draw an X from corner to corner. Where the lines intersect is the exact center as well. Now extrude the circle downward to the bottom of the part. If you want to do it properly, once you select extrude(or use the shortcut E) you'll see extrude to, and then select to body. This ensures that if you ever change any height dimensions or move anything that your hole will always extend all the way to the end of the body.
Step 8: Fillet the Corners
A fillet is a rounded edge on a part. This is completely a design choice and isn't necessary but I found it to match the Apple theme a bit better. First I filleted the corners. If you decide to make your design with multiple parts only fillet the two outside corners. If you only want one piece then fillet all four.
Step 9: Fillet the Top and Bottom
This then allowed the edges to be all one continuous edge on the top and bottom. Then select the top edge and fillet it to exactly half of what the height of the part is. This will allow it to flow to the bottom edge. You will also fillet that edge the same as the top edge.
Step 10: Magnet Holes
To create the holes for the magnets first you need to start a new sketch on the side of the part. Then you'll need to draw four circles. Start with the ones on the left and right side. You will be able to find the center point of each curved edge. You will place a circle there. The center point is marked by a green plus sign. For my holes I made the circles each 8mm in diameter. After you do the two side ones you need to figure out how to place the two in the middle. What I did was take a dimension from one of the side circles to the side of the part. This ended up being 4mm. Using this information I drew a line to split the part down the middle vertically. You can tell where the middle of the part is by a green triangle. Then I placed a circle anywhere down the center of the part horizontally. Now you can dimension that circle to be exactly 4mm from the center. Now we have two circles on one side that are both the same distance from the ends. Do this again with the other side to make four circles. Then you will just extrude them to the depth of the size of your magnets. Mine were 3mm in depth.
Step 11: Sketch the Ridge to Keep Your Phone in Place
This is kind of a complicated process but I will try my best to explain how to do this. The point of this I stopped create a ridge on both the top and bottom of your phone to make sure you place it close to the middle of the charger so that you never miss where you place your phone. Those of you who use a wireless charger on a daily basis knows that feeling when you wake up and your phone only charged about 10 percent. Yeah. It kinda sucks. So to start this sketch I decided to take some measurements of my phone and add a few mm so that those of you with big phones can still use this. I drew lines boxing in the circle which is 97mm in diameter. Then I offset those lines on the sides to ultimately create a larger box that is 160mm x 84mm. This is the outline where our phone will lay. Then I offset that box by 5 to give it thickness. Then cut it off with the box around the circle. Your goal is to turn all the blue lines to black lines by giving them dimensions with the dimension tool. I am not the best at doing that. I try to not trim all the excess lines but sometimes its necessary so that you can see what you're working on more clearly. I suggest not taking after me I tend to rush and not dimension everything properly. To get all the exact dimensions I used click and view all the pictures above.
Step 12: Extrude and Fillet
You'll want to take that sketch we just drew and extrude both shapes we created. These will make shapes like 2 C's facing each other. This is what will hold the phone in place. Then click on the edges with the fillet tool and "chain selection" on. I filleted to about 2mm. Now you are done with the first piece.
Step 13: Next Piece
For the part that the Airpods will sit on I designed a simple clip for the cable to attach to. This will allow you to charge any type of AirPods. I used the same technique to make this part as the first one. I started with a simple sketch outlining the part, extruded it and then added fillets that matched the wireless charging base. Then I sketched a small box on top, extruded that, and then added a hole through it close to the top but not all the way. This would allow for you to have to physically push the cord in so it would snap in and stay. The hole is the same size as the outside diameter of an Apple lightning cable. Now the last thing for this part is the holes for the magnets. Do the very same thing we did to the first part on the two sides of this one
Step 14: Final Piece
The last part is the Apple Watch charger. You can actually mirror the last piece on to this side if you would like without the notch for the cable. Then create a longer rectangle sketch(longer than the diameter of the Apple Watch charger) but the same width as the charger. Extrude it higher than the width of your Apple Watch to give it clearance when it sits on it. To finish off the design you'll want to model matching holes to the other parts so all the magnets will pull the parts together. Also I made a cut out for the cord to exit the part. Feel free to make these parts however you want to to fit your needs. I encourage you to make you own variant of this design and see what you can come up with.
Step 15: Finalize Your Design
Finalize your design. You want to make sure that everything will work as planned. You can change the colors and materials in Fusion 360, and you can go into the rendering envirement to get an idea of what it will look like in real life. Yes there are magnets in the photo above that was just for my own visual purposes when I first designed this. If you decide to model them as well, make sure you save a copy of the model without them so that you don't fill in the holes with material(trust me).
Step 16: Separate the Parts
Before you export your design there is one thing you may need to do. If you modeled all your parts in the same design you will need to separate them into their own files. To do this highlight each component individually and follow these steps. Copy the component. Then open a new project. Paste new. This should copy the component over to its own design. Then save it and name it what you would like. Do this for all three parts. This is the only way I know of to do this but I am sure there are probably other and better ways to do so. You could also model all the parts in separate designs to begin with but I prefer to have all my parts in one space so I can make sure they fit together.
Step 17: Export Your Design
Now you will need to export each of the three parts separately. You'll click on file, export, and then make sure you choose STL or OBJ(STL is more common to use). That is very important because if you don't you will not be able to slice it in Cura or another program. It will take a minute or so to export and you can choose what the export destination will be before hand. I recommend if you 3D print a lot to make designated folder of "Things to 3D print" that way you will always know where your files are.
Step 18: Cura
Cura is a free and open source slicer for 3D printing. This is what I use but there are other options such as Simplify 3D or Prusa's software. I believe that Fusion 360 has actually recently come out with their own additive manufacturing built in slicer but I have not had time to look too much into it yet. In Cura, what you will want to do is select file and then open. Find the file that you exported and named from Fusion 360 and select it and open it. This will now put it on the build plate. Slice it to see how long it will take to print. Insert your SD card and save to the removable drive.
Step 19: Print
Stick the SD card in your printer. Mine is an Ender 3 so as many of you probably know you have to put it in upside down. I have no idea why. Pre-heat PLA and then print from TF card and start your print. Wait a few hours and your print will be done.
Step 20: Assemble
If you need to put glue in the holes and place the magnets in as centered as possible. Push Apple Watch cable in the hole for that. If you need to you may need to sand or file that hole. Same goes for the wireless charger. Finally snap the parts together.
Step 21: Build Your Own
I hope you decide to build one for yourself. I apologize for the large amount of steps and long explanations but I wanted to break it up into bite size pieces rather than something that's longer and more difficult to understand. I also tried my hardest to thoroughly explain things as to not leave any unanswered questions. I encourage you to put your own spin on it and design your own. If nothing else I hope you learned something from this instructable. The STL files from mine are in the description along with links to the wireless charger and a YouTube channel for learning about Fusion
Participated in the
3D Printed Contest