Magnetic Charging Dock

About: I'm a Product Design Engineer, currently living in the UK. I have been fortunate to have lived, studied and worked in Hong Kong, Norway and California. I believe physical models help people to communicate,...

You might have all sorts of appliances which you need to find a power adapter cable - to re-charge. Often the cable is lost down the back of a table, or are a bit of a faff to connect if in a hurry...

This was a quick and practical solution to this [first world] problem, and also gave a useful place to keep my workshop vacuum in a handy place.

This Instructable is less about using this exact Vacuum Cleaner, and more about adapting all manner of things to suit your needs, whether it be your Amazon Echo Dot, Power Screwdriver, or anything else you need out of the way most of the time, but still removable/accessible when you need it.

Step 1: Materials

All you need is some Sugru: (LINK), Magnets: (LINK).

Disclosure - I used to work for Sugru, so of course I have a slight bias here, but I'd say that Sugru is genuinely useful because of it's properties (TDS). So compared to Epoxy, which is not elastic - it bonds well to thing which might move or expand/contract. In this example, one can get the assembly just right before letting it cure overnight, which many more runny adhesives will not do so well!

Step 2: Prepare Your Appliance

  • Remove any sticky labels.
  • Wipe with IPA if any residue or alcohol wipes (take care not to get near electrical parts).
  • Open Sugru, and separate into pieces you need for the job.
  • Press Sugru then Magnets onto appliance.*
  • Smooth out Sugru. Wet finger slightly to get nice finish.
  • Leave on flat (non magnetic) surface for 24 hours to dry.

*This product is made from ABS, which Sugru sticks quite well to. PP and PE are more difficult for Sugru or any glue for that matter as they are 'oily', so consider areas which have a good mechanical fixing point carefully.

POLARITY - Remember to note the polarity, so the magnets will 'attract' to those on the wall later...

Step 3: Prepare Surface

So the fact is, you can't stick things to the magnets (on the appliance), and the wall at the same time - so here is a clever trick to transfer the measurements!

  • Divide up the Sugru as you need it.
  • Create 'points' on the back of the magnets. Set Aside.
  • Meanwhile, mark up the centre-to-centre points of the magnets on the appliance.
  • Transfer these marks to the wall.
  • Smudge a little Sugru into the wall. This 'primes' the surface for the additional Sugru bulk.
  • Work up a couple of dots as shown.
  • Press on Magnets to right location.
  • Check centre-to-centre distance again with the paper, adjust as necessary.

REMEMBER POLARITY - Have the magnets the 'attracting' side to what you used on the Vacuum.

Step 4: Prepare Cable Flex

This can be done with any appliance to ensure the cable is positioned just so. It helps align the docking in the most intuitive way. Safe to say it's better to choose robust cables, rather than something very delicate... but hey - this is Instructables, so go ahead - experiment, and post ideas below!

  • Unpack Sugru and divide as shown.
  • Flattern a small pad, and shape to wrap around the Cable.
  • Model as shown (just like play-doh).

Consider that the Cable must now 'set' in the right position. For this instance I have propped the Vacuum up on a magazine, so as it has a similar 'offset' to the Magnets on the wall. This is not an exact science, but it helps things line-up better.

  • Leave to set for 24hours in position (accounting for magnets, as described).

Step 5: Mount Cable

  • With the dry Cable inserted into the Vacuum Cleaner, place against the wall - so the magnets contact.
  • Take a measurement of where the the cable needs to be.
  • Create the mount for the Cable in the same way as before - smudge on the wall and model up.
  • Carefully remove the Vacuum and leave to dry for 24 hours.

Step 6: Dock-tastic!

24 hours later: All ready to go!

If you enjoyed it - please consider voting =)

For more projects, please visit jude.pullen.com/designmodelling

Note - it had of course occurred to me that these magnets could even me made into electrical terminals, but even though this is a low-voltage appliance, I didn't want people to see the picture and assume you could do this with mains electricity. But for USB devices at 5V and usually 500mA, this would be pretty safe, as long as there is no way one can create a short by (e.g.) a rule sticking to the circuit. So do this at your own risk.

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    5 Discussions

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    Hey Jude

    3 months ago

    So *this* example, the magnets only function to stick the vac to the wall. However, I allude to the fact you could also wire-in power, by splitting he cable with magnetics docks in between, (obviously LOW voltage only! Not mains!). That said, it's not advisable to risk the terminals short the internal batteries, as this could be possible, if the appliance has no means of preventing a short. Short answer is don't do it if you are unsure!

    This is meant to be a 'conversation starter' - and I suspect those who are inclined could say 3D print 'non-shorting docks' for power, as essentially if you've used a cordless powerdrill, this is all that is really happening. But of course requires some competence and confidence to do this safely and well. I'm thinking of doing this with my wireless headphones...

    2 replies
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    Yonatan24Hey Jude

    Reply 3 months ago

    Great idea. I might do this to the flashlight on my helmet, it's a cheap mini red micro-usb charging flashlight. But I'm scared of shorting so I'll make the mount like a male/female connector with magnets.

    I don't know if leaving it charged in 24/7 will ruin it though...

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    Hey JudeYonatan24

    Reply 3 months ago

    This sounds really cool. I of course advise safe consideration to avoid shorting - and you might want to recess the magnets to avoid this in little 'cups'. Really cool that people are riffing off this and taking it to new places - this was the intention! PS - Use Flux to solder to magnets. Do post of you success (and ask if you don't at first!).

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    Yonatan24

    3 months ago

    If you place the vacumm cleaner on a piece of metal, will it short the battery out?

    1 reply