Do you have batteries chargers everywhere in your home and shop? Do you have a tough time figuring out which ones are charged and ready to use? Are you running out of outlets to plug everything into? I need to do something about it. So, I built this USCSS Nostromo (Alien 79') inspired charger and battery holder for my shop. It helps me organize all my batteries for my cameras, scales, mice, keyboards, gimbals, and misc chargers in one spot. It also is a cell phone and tablet holder/charger.
In this Instructable I will show how to make a Battery Charging Station and Holder for your home studio or workshop.
I use MDF, hardboard existing decora outlets and an old server AC power connector to build a Sci-Fi space ship inspired battery station complete with vinyl graphics for my shop.
You can watch the video of the build process above, or click this link
Parts list I used:
3/8" 10mm MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
1/4" 6mm hardboard
5 white Decora outlets
1 AC Power Entry Module (scavenged form a server many years ago)
14 gauge home electrical wire
3 16gauge-14CAl. female 1/4" disconnect connectors (crimping tool is useful as well)
Polyester body filler (flat squeegee or plastic card to apply the martial will also be needed
Sandpaper 180,220 and 400 grit, along with a sanding block
Primer, I used BIN
Gloss enamel paint to match the gloss level of my Decora wall outlets. (paint sprayer, brush or roller will work)
Writing implement, paper and measuring devices
Safety Gear I use: Respirator, saftey glasses, ear protection and rubber gloves
Equipment I used: Table saw, router, spindal sander, palm sander, air nailer, misc hand tools, clamps
Step 1: The Plan: Initial Drawing and Layout
I made my Battery Charger based on the types of batteries that I use in my shop. I have two Panasonic cameras and lots of devices that use "AA" and "AAA" batteries. Your needs and use may vary, so you will want to design your station layout based on your situation. I have lots of chargers that need to be plugged in around my shop and I wanted one place to plug them all in and a place to keep all of my batteries once they are charged and ready to go. My Charging station has an abundance of Decora outlets for all my chargers and room for all my batteries. Plus two storage compartments at the bottom for additional chargers for my gimbal and future adapters I don't even own yet.
Create a basic front view sketch of how you might want to layout your charging station or you can follow mine. Once I was happy with my layout, I created a simple orthographic front view with some dimensions that were big enough for all my components (wall outlets and batteries) Don't forget to take into account your material thickness. I used 3/8" 10mm MDF, if you use thicker material you will need to take that into consideration. A basic plan will also enable you to estimate how much martial you will need to build your unit. Some sort of a plan is essential to starting this project. I would say the better your plan the higher you chances of success are.
Step 2: Layout and Cut the Parts to Size
The charger is essentially a box with some special strips that make the battery holder channels.
I use the basic plan from step one to cut the front panels from the 10mm MDF and the slightly smaller back mounting panel, then I cut several 2.75" MDF strips to make the the sides and the bottom two compartments. I also build a router template out of a piece of 3/4" scrap plywood. The router template will be used to cut the holes for the Decora outlets.
I layout where the outlets will go on the front panel with a pencil. I also cut out the strips and stops for the battery holder and mobile devices.
Next I use the router to cut out the 5 holes for the Decora outlets with my router table and a flush trim bit using the template I cut out earlier. I air nail the the plywood template onto the MDF so the router bit can follow the pattern to cut out the correct size hole for the outlets.
I also remove some of the material from the underside of the MDF in the areas where the outlets will go so they can be flush with the from of the unit. You can see this more clearly in the video.
Additionally I need to cut out the opening for the AC power cable module to be attached to the unit. I route the recess by eye and then come back with my drill press and mill the rest of the opening. You could drill four corner holes and cut out the opening with a jig saw as well, or by hand with a coping saw if you did not have the power tools.
Step 3: Assemble and Test Fit Your Parts
I use wood glue and my Air-nailer to fasten together the MDF front to the sides. I use clamps to hold the parts securely in place so I can nail them with out moving. Then I add the top and bottom parts to the front and to make the compartments. Finally I add the trim pieces on the bottom to make the box flush.
Next I use a file to add the sharp corners to the opening where the Decora outlets will go. I do this to all five openings.
Step 4: Smooth Out the Edges and Fill the Holes and Router the Edges
Now I need to fill any imperfection on the surface of the MDF. For this I will use Polyester Body Filler, otherwise referred to as BONDO. I have a Bondo playlist on the material if your interested. #Bondiester
I use a plastic card to fill the holes and imperfections in the surface of the MDF. One the Polyester has cured and hardened, it can be rough sanded by hand with 180 grit sandpaper, then finished with the orbital sander using 400 grit to get everything smooth and flat.
Now that the unit is flat and smooth we can use the table router to round the four corners with a 1/2" roundover bit and then round the front facing edges with a 5/8" bit to give it that Sci-Fi look with a nice product design feel.
This is also a great time to work on the back side to add the mounting tabs for the back plate. I screw and glue on some supports that the back mounting plate will attach to later in step 7.
Step 5: Add the Battery Storage Channels and the Back Plate
It's time to add the channels for the "AA" and "AAA" battery storage. You may have batteries of other sizes other than what I have so adjust accordingly. I lay out the location of the battery slots with a pencil right on to the MDF. This will become my guide lated when I epoxy the parts into place.
I use 1/4" hardboard for most of these parts and use the batteries to space everything to the right size. I glue and clamp the 1/4" brown hardboard. Once the parts have dried I paint the underside of them white before I use 5minute epoxy to secure the parts together and use clamps to secure everything while the epoxy cures. Next I add the tray that holds the batteries in place and acts as the ledge holder for you mobile devices to be held firmly in place for viewing and charging.
The bottom tray finger holes are cut out on the band saw and sanded with the oscillating spinal sander before being finally glued in place.
I use a small fine chisel to clean up any epoxy that may have oozed out that would prevent the batteries from moving freely in the channels.
Lastly I use a Keyhole router bit in my drill press with a cross slide vice to add the mounting keyholes to the backplate. You can also use a plunge router for this is you don't have a simple mill set up.
Step 6: Prime and Paint
It's time to paint the Battery Station. I painted mine white to match the interior of the USCSS Nostromo form the 1979' Alien movie. I am a big fan of H.R. Giger, his aliens are the gold standard for any Aliens as we know them today. You can paint your unit any color you like of course.
It's important to first prime your creation to seal the MDF and hardboard. This will give you better paint adhesion and a much nicer gloss finish if that is what you are going for. I used BIN primer to seal everything and sprayed it out of a Harbor freight HVLP gun in my Spray Booth.
Once the primer has dried I sand it with a 320 grit to smooth the surface and remove any imperfection or dried paint bits that are on the surface.
Finally I paint the primed part with an gloss white enamel, also with my HVLP spray gun. I used gloss enamel because I had some left over form another project. I give it two coats. You will get a nice glossy finish but it takes 24 hours to dry before you can handle the part. If you don't have a spray gun you can use a foam brush to get decent results as well.
I paint the unprimed back panel as well, since I have plenty of paint let tin the gun. The paint soaks into the MDF since to does not have primer on it and the finish is not as glossy as the front. You never will see this panel so it is not a big deal.
Step 7: Add the Outlets and Wire the Charging Station
After 24 hours of drying the unit is ready to have the electrical installed.
First I wire the ground wire on the Decora plugs since they have screws facing the side walls of the unit, they need to be wired up before installation.
Once all the outlets are in place I epoxy them in with some 5 minute epoxy, since I do not want to have the screw heads showing from the front of the unit.
Next I add the AC Power Entry Module. I use two screws to attach that to the unit and secure it in place.
I use 14 gauge wire to wire the outlets in series using the plug hole connectors on the back. This makes wiring super easy and no screw driver is needed. You only need to strip the wire and insert it into the hole on the back of the outlets.
I use three 1/4" female disconnect connectors to wire the AC Power Entry Module into the system also with the 14 gauge wire.
Lastly I screw on the back mounting panel to seal the unit.
Step 8: Wall Mount and Add (optional) Graphics
Since this is a Sci-Fi inspired piece, I add some vinyl graphics to the unit that I designed. I have a local vendor cut the vinyl for me. I use tape to line the graphics up so they are nice and straight. The Vinyl graphics are optional of course but I like the detail it adds to the piece.
Now the unit is ready to be mounted to the wall via four screws. Since the back plate has the keyhole mounting slots it's as easy as dropping the unit down on the screws on the wall and it is secure.Just plug the unit in with a PC power cord and your are ready to take charge of your battery situation for your home or shop.
Step 9: Conclusion: Stay Organized
This was a super fun build. The bonus is that it holds a cell phone or mobile device like a tablet and can charge those devices as well. If you think and design ahead you can increase the functionality of your projects.
Build time was about 4-5 days including the paint. I am super pleased with the unit so far and it is working as it was designed to.
If you build one, leave a comment here or on Youtube. Subscribe to me there as well as follow. I post weekly design and making videos. I have a few other instuctables, follow me here too, I hope you like those as much as this one.
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/fJjvRY-_rqQ