Intro: Classy Charging Station
I have seen many different charging stations here, but none of them really seemed like a 1 stop charging station for any and all gadgets. Plus, a plastic box is really useful, just not too pretty. I was looking for a charge station that looked nice AND charged everything I could throw at it. This one went together for about $30, but less receptacles and cheaper outlet plates could knock that down $5-$10 bucks.
Step 1: The Box, Supplies and Tools...
The main thing that I haven't seen addressed in all these charging stations is the "wall chargers" i.e. the quick chargers for camera batteries and rechargeable AAs that have no cord. They just plus directly into the outlet. I may be charging any number of camera batteries, so I need some accessible outlets, in addition to the hideaway chargers.
So, first step was the box. I bought this one on sale from a craft store for $10. It's faux leather wrapped "3/8 particle board. Everything else came from the hardware store. I included 2 exterior outlets, but 1 would suffice for most people. So, if you only need 1, buy 1 of each thing instead of 2.
Box (size and material up to you) $10
Power Strip, 6 outlet $4
18 ga. lamp wire, 4' $1.20
2 Low profile gang boxes (used for securing the receptacles into) $3
2 110V wall receptacles, white $4
2 replacement lamp plugs $2
2 cover plates (I used brass ones for $2.50 ea, cheap white ones are $.50 ea) $5
1/4" peg board (I had a piece, but it is only a couple bucks) $0
Blue fabric (I had some, but it is very cheap) $0
Total Materials: $29 as shown, with white covers $25, single receptacle $19.40
Drill & Bits
Jigsaw or dremel
1/2" wood screws
Needle nose pliers / wire cutters
Step 2: Cut the Box...
So, gang boxes are roughly 3" x 2". I put an outlet in each end of my box. I found the dead center of each side and centered my opening in each end. I cut away the faux leather on the outside with a utility knife and marked the opening with a sharpie. Then, I drilled 3/8" holes in each corner so I could easily get my jigsaw blade in to cut down the edges.
Once the holes are cut on each end, dry fit the gang boxes. The holes can be a bit bigger, the cover will hide it all.
Finally, drill or dremel a hole in the bottom back corner for the power strip plug to go through. 1" might do it, but I had to make the opening bigger to fit my plug through.
Step 3: Secure the Gang Boxes...
There is a pop out inside each gang box for the wiring to to through. Pop it out before you instal the boxes. It is easier to do it now. Secure the gang boxes from the outside of the box with wood screws, similar to what is shown in this picture.
Step 4: Wiring the Plugs...
In the interest of keeping the wiring as simple as possible, all I did was make two little cords that went from the receptacles on the outside the box and plugged into the power strip inside the box. If you are electrically savvy, the sky is the limit on this, though...
Cut your lamp cord so you have two, 2 ft. lengths. Split each end into its two separate wires about 2" back. Then strip all the ends down to bare copper, about 5/8" each. Twist all the ends. The replacement plugs are all fairly similar. Once you get them open, there will be 2 screws, each one attached to the blades that go into the wall outlet. Thread one end of your cord through the plug, form each wire into a little hook, and then put it around the screw and tighten the screws down so 1 wire is pinched between each screw and blade.
Make 2 cords that have plugs on 1 end and bare ends on the other.
Step 5: Wiring the Receptacles...
Fish the bare ends of your cords from inside the box, through the holes you popped out of the gang boxes to the outside of the box. Here, you will see more screws on the side of your receptacle. It doesn't matter which ones you use as long as 1 wire goes on one of the gold screws and the other wire goes on one of the silver screws. Same as with the plug ends, make each wire into a little hook, hook them around the screws and tighten down so the wire is pinched.
Once the wires are hooked up, gently push the receptacles back into the gang boxes, and secure them with the included screws. Install the cover plate with the included screw.
Step 6: Making the Board...
I made the board my stuff its on out of a piece peg board since its easy to cut.Just measure the inside of your box and cut a piece 1/4"smaller in both L and W. I then covered the peg board with blue cloth ad secured it on the back with tape. You could do it a bunch of different ways. If you install outlets at both ends like I did, it's nice because the board will just sit on top of the gang boxes and you won't have to find a way to support the board. Then I just used a utility knife to notch out where my cords would come through.
Step 7: Loading Up the Box...
I got a 6 outlet power strip for this. It fit great in my box. 2 of the outlets were taken up by the cords I made that went to my outside outlets. That left 4, but I have plenty of room for another power strip if choose. I just bound up the extra of each cord with a cable tie and poked the ends into my board. Otherwise all my camera and battery chargers stow in the box, under the board when I am not using them.
Step 8: Final Product...
So, now I have a box that charges 4 devices all the time, with external room for 4 wall chargers. And room for another power strip if I should need more plugs.