This tutorial will show how to make USB charging stations (smartphones and other devices) for home, travel, at work etc. With the ever increasing number of gadgets that use USB cords for charging (see list of examples in last step), I decided to get a couple of docking stations to alleviate the resulting “cable chaos” and shortage of power outlets.
After researching what was available, I decided the costs were going to be too high and there didn’t seem to be any docking stations tailored for travel (light weight or small enough for our travel bags). After a little thought, I created the following solution.
I made my first docking station with a white base for our guest bedroom, and then made a second docking station with a black base for travel. The rubber coatings of the docking stations insure no damage to any devices.
Step 1: Tools, Materials and Optional Items
Tools and materials needed:
- Wire cutter pliers
- Grinder, or a Dremel tool with grinder bit attachment or a metal file
- Rubbermaid small dish drainer (wire), white or black (Walmart cost was $7.57 each)
- Liquid Tape, color to match dish drainer above (unknown cost - I already had these on hand)
- (2) inexpensive stylus pens (Walmart cost was $0.94 each)
- BlackWeb 6-Port USB Wall Charger (Walmart trademark – cost $16.96) <or> Anker PowerPort 6 Lite USB wall charger (Walmart cost was $19.97)
- (6) 2-in-1 short Lightning-micro USB cables
Optional Extras for Travel or Guests
- Onn Tri-fold Gadget Organizer (Walmart trademark – cost $6.44)
- Micro USB to USB-C Adapter (Walmart $2.88)
- Jitterbug “J” USB cable (for Jitterbug “J” flip phones)
- Garmin USB 2.0 mini cable (to power Garmin devices indoors)
Step 2: Creating a Docking Station
Each docking station was created by cutting out a section of a wire Rubbermaid dish drainer. The first one I made for our guest bedroom was white and the one I made for traveling was black. I got each of the dish drainers from our local Walmart. For this Instructable, I used the white to show how I outlined the basic section for cutout (figure 1).
First, I cut and removed the seventh drainer “support bar” (the larger gaps in figure 4, right side of figure) Cutting it out beforehand reduces the chance of mis-bending the rest of the docking section when twisting off at the spot weld. Cut the bar sides about a half inch from the two spot weld points and bend up the two remaining wires (figure 2). The two wires will make it easier to grip with pliers and to twist off at the spot weld (figure 3). After twisting off at the spot welds, cut out the remaining dock section. You don’t need to cut close yet, just rough cut out for now. After the basic section has been removed, trim the cut off wires remaining closer to the “support bars”. Cut the two wire ends the same height as the “support bars” (left side of figure 4).
Next I ground off the sharp edges created from the wire cutting and coated with the same color of Liquid Tape. The Liquid Tape insures no damage will be caused when using the docking station.
I bent the sixth “support bar” forward to act as a “clamp” to hold the 6-port wall charger (compare figures 4 & 5).
Step 3: Using the Docking Stations
The two wires on the end of the docking station can be used “as is” for most devices. I placed rubber tips on the end wire pieces (from an old bungee cord) for extra protection (figure 4). For taller devices (iPad, etc.), I remove the tops of the two stylus pens and place them inverted over the wires for extra height in the back slot (figure 5).
I place one of the USB wall chargers in the “clamp” formed by the two front “support bars” (figure 5). The weight of the wall charger and the very low profile of the docking station is usually ample to support most devices while inserted in the other docking slots – even the back slot. However, use your own judgment when placing devices in the docking station. For devices that won’t fit in the slots or that are very heavy, I usually just position near the docking station to charge.
Normally, I only use 2-in-1 lightning/micro USB cables (figure 6). If someone has a special need for another type of cable, I adjust accordingly (figure 7). In figure 7 above, a Jitterbug “J” flip phone USB cable and a Garmin USB 2.0 mini cable were added. (Note: The Garmin cable is not being used to charge anything, but to provide external power while indoors to conserve internal battery power.)
Step 4: Assembling the Portable Version & Misc
For traveling, I use an Onn Tri-fold Gadget Organizer. It easily handles the 6-port USB wall charger, all cables and the two stylus pens (figures 10 & 11). Because of the shape of the docking station, it can be placed against the side of the organizer when packing so that the overall “foot print” is minimal (figure 9). The entire outfit is very light weight.
I mentioned two 6-port wall chargers in the materials list. Initially I bought the Anker PowerPort 6 Lite USB wall charger and used it for a while. At the time it was the only USB charger that I could find with 2.4 amp capability. It has (3) 2.4 amp USB ports and (3) 1.0 amp ports with a total maximum output of 6 amps shared across the ports. It is still being used in the guest room docking station.
Recently I found a BlackWeb 6-Port USB Wall Charger which has (6) 2.4 amp ports and a maximum total output of 12 amps shared across the ports. I use that as a travel docking station. Both chargers have the same physical dimensions, but the BlackWeb has the better specs for our travel needs.
In the first step, I referred to a long list of the things I routinely use with the docking stations and wall chargers:
- Smartphones (Android & iPhones), Tablets, iPads, etc
- Jitterbug "J" cell phones
- Portable Power Banks for USB devices (Smart Phones, shutter remotes, portable keyboards, GPS units, etc)
- JBL Portable Bluetooth Speakers
- Bluetooth remote Shutter releases
- Smartphone camera gear
- KobraTech Cell Phone Tripod Adapter - UniMount 360 - Universal Phone Tripod Mount Attachment for Any Size Smartphone -
- BENRO Handheld Tripod 3 in 1 Self-portrait Monopod Extendable Phone Selfie Stick with Built-in Bluetooth Remote Shutter - Blue
Note: Always check the charging requirements for any device before using with a wall charger. The proper use of any device with a wall charger is the responsibility of the user.