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Are you tired of plugging in your 3DS XL to charge it? You can never figure out how that plug goes in and when you finally do your wrists are cramped! OWWWWW! Stop doing it the hard way and read this Instructable to help you create your very own 3DS XL dock!
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Nintendo makes a dock for the 3DS XL priced at $19.99. The downside is it can only be purchased from their online store. Honestly it's not a bad deal. However the dock for the original 3DS can be found inexpensively at many local game stores and it's compatible with your XL, with some modifications.
If your up for the task, listed below are some skill sets, materials and tools you will need to complete this modification. I basically already had everything needed for this project except for the dock itself. My total cost was $1.99, your's may vary.
slight amount of wood working
ability to operate power tools
Original dock for 3DS
Plexiglass aka Acrylic sheet
Super Glue or Epoxy or Acetone (for bonding acrylic together)
Cardboard ( I used a frozen dinner box )
Scrap 1x2" lumber or MDF at least 1/2 thick.
Dremel with cutting wheel
Jig Saw with wood blades
Sanding paper with sanding block or flat piece of wood/MDF (220 grit sand paper)
Acrylic cutting knife tool
Ruler and Right angle ruler
Ultra Fine Sharpie - Black
Step 1: Trimming Your Original 3DS Dock
In this step you are going to trim your original 3DS dock.
Trimming the dock
Before you start trimming your dock I suggest you put on some safety glasses. Leave all the shooting of the eyes to Fox McCloud and Andross.
Now go to your designated cutting area and trim the lips off of the dock. Be mindful to not cut in too deep! Using a blue blur or screw attack bit....er dremel, will make easy work of those smackers. After you have cut the lipped pieces off you want to try to sand the rough area down as much as possible. If you have a dremel you can use the flat edge of your cutting wheel to sand it pretty flat. Finish with a 220 grit sand paper. Pretty smooth sanding there Fox!
Step 2: Support Panel, Tracing and Aligning
In this step you are going to trace an outline of your 3DS XL on your cardboard then cut it out.
Tracing out your 3DS
Before you trace around your PRECIOUSSSssss...... take a piece of clear tape and wrap it around the tip of your pencil leaving only a small portion of the tip uncovered. After you have traced around your XL use your scissors to cut out the pattern. Be sure to leave a small amount of cardboard outside the line.
Aligning your 3DS XL
Unfortunately for you, I did not take pictures of this next process but with a little literature and a mocked up image, I'm sure you'll manage. Take your newly created cardboard cutout and place it blank side down on top of your smoothly sanded 3DS dock. Next grab your 3DS XL and place it on top of your dock. You should have an XL, cardboard, dock sandwich. Try your best to keep the cardboard and the XL aligned as best as possible.
Now align the 3DS XL's dock contacts with the original dock's charging legs. Once you have everything aligned press the XL and dock together closing the gap between the charging connections. Use a piece of tape to hold them together. Make any necessary adjustments to align the cardboard underneath the XL. When your confident that everything is aligned correctly, use one hand to clamp everything together and flip it over. With your other hand use a pencil to trace an outline of the bottom of the dock onto your cardboard.
At this point you should have something similar to the last picture. Keep in mind I did not photograph these steps.
Step 3: Creating the Support Panel
In this step your going to trace the pattern from your cardboard on to your acrylic and then cut it out.
Transfer your pattern, creating the support panel
Now that you have an outline of your XL and dock you will need to trace this pattern on to your plexiglass/acrylic. Pull the protective plastic layers off of your acrylic and place your cardboard cut out on top of the acrylic. Align it flush against the left and bottom edge of your acrylic. Grab a couple pieces of clear tape and tape it around the aligned edges to keep it in place. Now use your Ultra Fine Tip Sharpie and trace the perimeter of the entire cardboard piece. Once you have completed the perimeter trace, flip the piece of acrylic over and trace only the dock line. After you have finished the traces, remove the tape and then call over Cut-Man to cut out the piece.
Sand the inner and outer edges of your acrylic with your 220-grit sand paper and test fit the support panel on your dock. If all is well you should have something that appears similar to mine. This is your support panel.
Step 4: Look at Those Curves!
In this step your going to create an acrylic piece that is going to support the front portion of your XL.
Trimming your card board cut out
Take your cardboard pattern and trim it to the XL line. You will be completely removing the excess cardboard around the perimeter. Now grab that piece of scrap 1X2" pine or MDF and place your cardboard cut out over it. Align the top edge of the pattern flush with the top edge of your lumber. Trace around the two sides then remove your card board piece. On the inside of your piece label which side is which. Since there is a chance that your cardboard cut out isn't perfectly symmetrical it's important to label the sides.
Cutting out your new pattern
Use a Jig Saw to cut the newly traced pattern on your lumber/MDF. Once completed slightly sand the curved surfaces and their edges so that there are no burs/splinters. Momentarily place this piece to the side.
Plexiglass curved front panel
Using your ruler and Sharpie measure out a piece of plexi glass that is 1/2" (W) X 8 1/4" (L). You want this piece to be as straight as possible so I suggest using a plastic cutting tool. I will not go into detail on how to use this tool. You should be able to easily find a guide on youtube. When your piece is cut, sand the cut edges with your 220-grit sand paper. This piece will become your curved front support panel.
Find the center point
So now you have your acrylic piece and a shaped piece of wood. Use your ruler to find the center point on each piece and draw a line across the top of each. On the piece of wood I suggest you draw the line on both sides and the top.
Continue to curves II.
Step 5: Look at Those Curves! : Part Deux
In this step you will complete the curved front support piece for the dock.
Improvise a brace.
If you have any more scrap pieces of wood now is the time to whip it out. Create a piece roughly as long as the top curve of your shaped wood and wide enough to completely cover the width of the plexiglass.
Improvise a clamp II
Align the plexiglass flush against an edge of your wood piece, preferably the side which had left and right sides indicated. Center both lines on the plexiglass and the wood piece. Now take your brace and place it on top of the plexiglass. You should now have a delicious plexiglass sandwich. Grab a pair of vise grips or a C-clamp and clamp it all together. If necessary realign any pieces.
As you can see my plexiglass is already bent downward. The reason it was like that was because I had hoped the heat of the oven would gradually bring the sides down in a self forming manner. Gravity did not win so I improvised the brace and clamp.
Nothing like the smell of Acrylic in the morning
Now that everything is clamped, the only thing we need is heat to form the curves. If your using a metal clamp it's obviously going to get really hot, so you will need an oven mitt to pull it out. I recommend a mitt over a towel/rag because you only have a short amount of time when working with the acrylic before it hardens again. It will be much easier to handle the brace/clamp with a mitt.
Also you will need two pieces of scrap wood to form the curved edges. One piece is going to sit on a counter and the other piece is going to be in your hand.
Set your oven/quart oven roaster to around 325 degrees and let it preheat. Once it is preheated place your clamped piece in the oven. Try to keep it as level as possible. You will want to leave it in there for around 5-8 minutes or until you see the that plexiglass is starting to sag. If your unsure you can open the oven and use a pencil to sort of coax the acrylic in its destined shape. If it bends without much effort its likely ready to go. If there are tiny bubbles in the acrylic, then it is getting too hot and needs to be pulled out.
Once your material becomes pliable you will need perform this next step as quickly as possible. Grab the second piece of scrap board with your mitt free hand. Reach into the oven with your mitt hand and pull out your clamp. Place one end of the plexiglass on the scrap board that is sitting on a flat surface and roll in along the curve pressing it flat against the surface. If your left hand has the clamp, your wrist will be making a counter clockwise twist from about 11 to 9 O'clock. Use the scrap board in your other hand to do the same to the opposite side. Press and hold both pieces together for about 1 minute, you can blow air on it to help cool it.
When the the specified time has elapsed you may disassemble the clamp and compare it to your cardboard piece and or XL. Be sure to remember the orientation of your piece, left side sits on the left side of the dock, right on right.
Before proceeding you may want to consider rounding off the top ends of the curved front support panel. I used a nickel as a pattern to create the curvature and feel that it gives the final product a more finished look. If you do decide to perform this extra step be sure to sand smooth any rough edges you created. Disregard the tape.
Don't forget to turn the oven off!
Step 6: Support for the Support
In this step we are going to create 3 support brackets.
These three brackets are the final pieces that you will have to create. You are going to need to mark and cut three pieces of plexiglass. One measuring 4 3/4" (L) X 5MM (W) and two measuring 2 1/4" (L) X 5MM (W). These can be tricky to make because they are so small. If you are using a plastic knife tool. I would recommend putting them in a bench vise to snap them off after you have made your scribe line. Also you may be able to use a dremel however these need to be as smooth as possible on at least one side. After you have created all three pieces sand any rough edges.
I created my support brackets by using the same method as the curved front panel. Since the support brackets are much smaller than the curved front panel I found they had more of a tendency to twist and bow when trying to form them. If I were to make another dock in the future I will opt for the 3 bracket method with no curved edges.
As you can see by the pictures mine is already glued in place. This is because I took the picture after I completed everything.
Do not glue yours down yet!
Step 7: One Last Test, Then Onward
In this step your going to test fit all of the pieces together then attache them with tape.
Test fitting the Support Panel
Put the support panel in position on top of the dock. Once placed, tape the support panel on the left, middle, and right sides. Remember the larger side of the support panel goes on the left side of the dock, the smaller side goes on the right.
Test fitting the Curved Panel
Put your XL on top of the dock and align the charging contacts of the XL with the charging legs on the dock. When aligned, snugly press the XL up against the dock, closing the gap between both. Place a piece of tape as pictured to hold them both together.
Now place the curved panel flush against the bottom of the XL. If the curved panel isn't fitting correctly you may have it flipped the wrong way. Align it horizontally with the support panel and once your happy with the fitment tape it into place.
At this point you may connect the charger to the dock to verify everything is working correctly. While your at it take the XL off the charging dock and put it back on. If your happy with the fitment then you may proceed to the next step. If you find that the fitment is a little too snug then you can create a spacer between the XL and the dock. Cut a piece of cardboard in the shape that is pictured and readjust the curved piece.
The fitment without the spacer was a little too snug for my taste, so I opted for the spacer. I felt that without the spacer I had to give it a little push to completely flatten the XL down on the charging dock.
Take your time with this process be 100% happy with the fitment before you move on. When you are ready, proceed to the final phase.
Step 8: FINISH HIM!
This is the final step. Before you start gluing be sure to clean all the areas that are going to be glued. All you need is some rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. Allow ample time for the alcohol to dry.
Gluing the support brackets!
You have reached the final step, gluing it all together. Start by removing the curved front piece and flipping the dock upside down. Hang the charging portion of the dock off an edge of a table. Apply pressure to the dock and support plate to ensure flatness.
Now take the three little 5MM support brackets and super glue them around the left, front and right sides of the dock. Work with one piece at a time and make them as flush as possible to the support panel. Apply pressure for at least 1 minute to ensure a strong bond. Allow ample time for the glue to dry.
I personally did not completely saturate the back of the support brackets with glue. I just applied a drop on each end and one in the middle. For the longer support bracket that goes across the front, I applied four drops spread apart evenly.
Gluing the support panel
Flip your dock back over and remove the tape. Remove the support panel and apply super glue to the tops of the support brackets. Ensure that the support panel stays in its proper orientation and place it back on top of the dock/support brackets. Apply pressure for at least 1 minute to ensure a strong bond. Again, allow ample time to dry.
I personally ran a bead of super glue around the full length of each support bracket.
Gluing the curved front panel
Yet once again, place your XL back on top of the dock. Align the XL's charging contacts with the dock's charging legs. If you are going to add the cardboard spacer, do it now. Snug the XL and dock together then tape the XL to the dock.
Now grab your curved panel, quickly test fit it up against the XL and support panel. Ensure that it's in it's proper orientation before adding any glue. When you are ready run a light bead of super glue along the edge that is going to mate with the support panel. Snug the curved panel against your XL then place it on the support panel. Align it horizontally with the outside edges of the support panel. When you feel that it is properly aligned apply pressure for 1 minute to ensure a strong bond then allow time for it to dry.
THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Enjoy your new dock. I hope you enjoyed all the photos.
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