I'm a total gadgetophile and lately the cables around my computer have gotten a bit out of hand. Furthermore, I've discovered that six USB ports just isn't enough! In an effort to reduce said clutter and spruce up the old computer desk, I've crafted this lovely USB cable organizer.
Total cost to me was 25 dollars, but you might have to spend a bit more if you don't have most of the required stuff lying around like I did.
***UPDATE 5/4/10: Post some pictures of your own cable organizer based on my instructable, and I'll send you a patch!***
Step 1: Gather Materials
For this project (which took me one evening and part of the next morning to complete) you will need the following items:
- Wooden box: you can make this, or buy one. Mine was presented to me as a graduation gift from the Globe Furniture Company of La Grande, Oregon. They gave one out to everyone in my graduating class, and it's been holding fimo clay, loose change, or poker chips and cards for the last 11 years (11 years! Holy crap, I'm old!)
- High speed USB 2.0 hub: I have been burned in the past by cheap USB hubs that claimed to be USB 2.0 and high speed, but turned out to be neither. I finally ended up going down to Staples and spending 25 bucks on one that I knew would work.
- USB extension cord: this may not be required depending ont he USB hub you buy. The one I got was way too short, so I pulled this out of my box of computer cables. I believe it was originally about $10.
Since my box was old and damaged (I'd left some uncured fimo sitting on top of it which dissolved some of the varnish) I also needed:
- Sand paper
- Wood stain
You may not require those, but there's a good chance that after you're done drilling holes in the box it will need to be sanded, stained, and varnished anyway
- Electric sander
Step 2: Sand the Box
Fairly straightforward step. Simply sand all the old varnish from the box in preparation for drilling. If you made your own box, you can obviously skip this step.
A breathing mask is essential for this step, as all that dust is bad for you.
Step 3: Drill the Holes
The USB hub I bought had one male USB-A plug to go to the computer, one mini-B plug, and 3 female USB-A plugs. I added one hole to the back for the male A plug, and four holes on the top for the various connectors I would use.
I did my best to make the holes just big enough that you could squeeze the plug in question through with a little elbow grease, but nothing would accidentally fall back into the box.
The hole on the back was sized for a male USB-A.
The first hole on the top was sized for the mini-B, and the other three holes were for male USB-A as well.
With a ruler, measure four evenly spaced holes along the top of the box, and one dead center in the back, near the bottom.
With my calipers, I've discovered that the narrowest point on a male USB-A plug is about 5/16", and the narrowest point on a mini-B is about 1/4". The USB-A's are about 9/16" long and the mini-B is about 3/8" long.
At each of the spots for the male USB-A's, measure a line centered on the spot about 5/8" long. With a 5/16" drill bit, make a hole at each end of that line. Use your dremel's grinder to connect the two holes as a slot, and clean up any debris. Do the same for the mini-B, but the line should be about 3/8" and the drill bit should be 1/4".
Next, make sure all the cables and plugs fit through the holes as required. If they don't, simply work the holes with your dremel until they do fit.
Step 4: Stain and Varnish
At this point, if you're not lazy and impatient, you're supposed to hand sand the outside of the box.
Sanding along the grain of the wood, start with rough sandpaper, moving slowly towards finer and finer grit paper until the outside of the box is absolutely smooth.
I am lazy and impatient, and didn't want to wait, so I figured the electric sander had done a good enough job. I was wrong, and you can see some of the marks in the wood from where the rough grit paper went against the grain. I still think it looks good, and I am entirely too lazy to do the whole sanding/staining/varnishing thing over.
After you've sanded, follow whatever the directions on your stain say. Most of the wood stains I've used say to brush on and then wipe off the excess with a dry cloth. I gave it about 3 hours to dry, but I'm told you're supposed to wait 12 and then give it another coat. Screw that noise!
After the stain had dried to my satisfaction, I varnished it. Again, follow the directions included with whatever brand of varnish you use. Every different brand seems to have different directions. I used minwax, and it said to brush it on, give it 4 hours to dry, and then repeat until you're happy with the results. Again, screw that noise! I gave it one coat, waited an hour and a half and gave it another, and then let it cure overnight. I think it looks just fine.
You'll need good ventilation and a breathing mask for this step as well. Fumes, especially from polyurethane varnish, are extremely bad for you!
Step 5: Non-slip Pads
This is another "not required" step. My computer desk is laminated particle board, and kind of slippery. I decided I'd glue some rubber feet to the bottom of the box so it wouldn't slide around.
You could use anything that's rubber on one side, but I used an old counter mat from work. Simply cut out four tabs, and glue them to the bottom of the box, one to each corner.
Step 6: Finishing Up and Final Thoughts
Once the glue dries on your non-slip pads, simply install all of the cables just like you did when you were testing the size of the holes you'd drilled. Attach the extension cord, and plug it in to your computer. If you've bought the right kind of USB hub, it should automatically install itself, and you're done!
This was a very simple and relatively cheap project that made a lot more space for me at my computer desk. Also, a wooden box looks a whole lot nicer than a big tangle of USB cables. If I need some more length on the cables, I can simply pull them further out of the holes, and when I'm done, push the cable back into the box.
Thank you for reading! I hope you liked it, and if you decide to do something similar, please take a moment to post a picture. If you do, I'll send you a DIY patch!
Also, take a moment to rate this instructable and/or leave a comment. Did you like it? Do you know of a better way to do any of the steps? What do you think of my writing? Did you like the new star trek movie? How's the weather? Why is the ocean blue? Where am I? What's going on?!!?