Charge USB Devices With Paper




About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.

Oh and a 5V source, like any 5V source I used an old phone charger. 

The reasoning behind this is the need to charge my mp3 player and only having a spare phone charger for a phone I no longer use, so I reckoned there was a way based on the fact that I managed the exact opposite when my phone died. 

I wouldn't say I set to work so much as stared at a plug for a while. 

I managed not to use a single tool and only two materials... So no list.

You'll have to forgive me on some of the photos, I've had to use my phone for these since it's the only camera with a short enough focal distance I have at the moment, so they're all a little washed out looking...

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Step 1: Rip the End Off the Cable

I just yanked the plug off and exposed the end of the inner wires by stripping a quarter inch off each end with my thumbnail. 

Basically grip the nail where you want to strip, bend the cable over the back of the nail, press your nail down hard and pull the cable. 

Image below's borrowed from another of my 'ibles...

Step 2: Eh What Now?

At first my notion was that I could just poke at the contacts in the male plug before realizing the metal outer would short the connections... 

However that gave me the notion of making the male plug a female plug for this purpose, yes this instructable has forever muddied the waters of robot and computer sexuality, at least it'll slow down the terminators...

So get a bit of paper...

Step 3: Dots.

Hold the USB plug down and draw two dots marking the outer two pins, if they're facing upwards ground is left and +5V is right

Step 4: Holes.

Poke two holes in the paper with a pen, slide the wires through a little so they lay flat on the back with just the exposed copper showing. 

Step 5: Folding.

Fold the paper over backwards and then over a few times to create a rough shape, it just needs to be fat enough to hold the exposed wires against the pins. 

Step 6: Squeezing It In.

This is mildly tricky, you've got to shimmy the paper in at an angle to start with so the contacts don't just get pushed away from the back of the paper, also you may need to squeeze it in at the sides, bend any excess paper upwards to ensure that it doesn't interfere with the contacts.

Step 7: Success...

It worked first time, which was a shock, a really big shock.  This seems like it needs refined and learned, not just thought up.

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    59 Discussions

    DJ Radio

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I thought it was just the paper and then I saw the 5V cord thing. I am disappoint.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    it's cool
    and here's a perfect solution for you
    good luck

    Hmm that's weird, possible wire mixup or the power lines are touching data lines, in an ipod connector pins really are small so dirt or a sliver of wire could be grounding a data line to the plug without being very obvious to the eye


    I have the exact same mp3 player! I have never come across someone else with the same. Do you think this would work with an iPod Touch?

    2 replies

    The iPod touch would not work, since it requires the "apple identification chip". Basically meaning you have to pay apple a hundred billion dollars if you want to charge without a computer.

    Yeah though an ipod's significantly more expensive, take care with it. Thats funny about the mp3 I found it under my bed after two weeks of parties nobody wanted it back


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice 'ible. An ingenious idea! Did you change the title? I seem ti remember it being something more confusing...

    1 reply

    see when i was looking at the intructables newsletter i saw the first picture and was totally like wtf. i thought this is going to be really stupid, but then when i looked through the instructable its almost incredible. such a simple useful idea. sorry for doubting you

    4 replies