Last weekend, I bought an iPhone, and when I got home and saw how robust the packaging was, I decided to use the box the iPhone came in to make an iPhone dock.
So, here's a quick overview of how I went about it.
First, the plastic tray the phone sits on is really thick plastic and it looked like it was half as deep as the iPhone, so if I cut it in half and glued it together, the phone would slip in and out. I figured I could come up with some way to hold the connector in the bottom of the pocket, and i could slide the whole thing into slots in the bottom half of the box.
It worked well, but the dock could use some revision in both technique and design, if someone feels like using the idea.
- a razor blade
- super glue
- mechanical pencil
Step 1: Cut the Tray in Half
The first thing I did was cut the plastic tray in half to form the front and back of the iPhone "pocket."
I rounded the corners on the back plate.
Sorry for the photo quality, I was (and am still) trying to figure out how to get the best pics out of the iPhone's camera.
Step 2: Cut the Connector Hole
After shaping the top edge of the back plate, I marked and cut the bottom for the connector.
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the cutting process, as I was doing the cutting. turns out that I trimmed a bit more than I should've, which will become apparent later.
Step 3: Trim the Front Plate
I marked a straight cut line across the front plate using the edge of the back as a straightedge. the position is arbitrary, but make sure you leave enough scrap to make a clip to hold the connector in the bottom of the dock. Accidentally*, I left about the perfect amount.
Cut along this line with the razor blade.
You'll also probably want to cut a recess so you can press the iPhone's button while it's docked. I did this after the front and back were glued together, which was a mistake.
*I didn't know I was going to need to make something as elaborate as I did to hold the connector steady while plugging the iPhone in.
Step 4: Oops
So, it turns out that the iPhone is a little thicker than twice the depth of the tray. so, I had to scavenge some spacers to fill the gap.
I used the scrap from the connector hole (picture 2) to make spacers. I trimmed the top lip off (picture 3) with the razor blade, then scraped it flat (picture 4). basically, when scraping, you apply light downward pressure in the razor blade and drag it across the plastic. The angle of the blade should be around 75 degrees with the blade lagging*, but it's not critical.
*if your stroke is left to right, looking from the side, the blade should look like this: /_
not like this : \_ or |_
Remember to trim both side strips to the length of the front plate (picture 5).
Next, I superglued the strips to the back plate (picture 6) and my fingers to the strips (picture 7). I'd recommend not copying picture 7.
I figured it would also be a good idea to fill the gap on the bottom, so I cut the lip off the remainder of the front plate (picture 8), cut it in half, then trimmed the pieces to fit between the connector hole and the strips we just glued on.
Lastly, I glued the bottom strips to the bottom.
It should look something like picture 9, but less blurry.
Step 5: Glue the Halves Together
This is pretty self explanatory. glue the two halves together.
Step 6: Cutting the Slots in the Box
First, decide what angle you want your phone to dock at. I just eyeballed it, cut one side, then transferred the dimensions to the other side so the dock wouldn't sit crooked...
I cut the slots with the razor blade. additional info in the pictures.
Step 7: Modify the Box to Run the Cable
Unfortunately, it's impractical to cut the iPhone cable in half and resolder it, so you'll have to deal with snaking the USB connector through the box to get the iPhone end where it needs to be.
First, I trimmed the space under the connector hole (picture 1). I needed to cut more out later, but how much will depend on the angle you cut your slots at.
I used a mechanical pencil to poke through the PaperFoam the support under where the connector will sit (picture 2). After I poked the hole, I used a razor blade to cut a slip along the top edge and the pencil to poke out an area big enough to slip the USB connector through. (picture 3)
Now you have to cut some slits in the back of the box to let the USB connector (picture 5). I cut a diamond out around the cord itself so it wasn't pinched. If you can find a better way to do this, please share. The only other thought I had was to make a larger hole the size of the USB connector and either leave the big hole there, or somehow re-attach the piece you cut out.
Step 8: Creating the Connector 'cage'
I wanted to be able to reuse the cable when this dock self-destructs, so I didn't want to just glue it in. I have no doubt that the phone will outlast this dock made of it's packaging.
so, after long thought and a night of trying to use it with the connector just wedged in the bottom (which doesn't work), I decided to build this cage.
I used the remainder of the front plate, namely the sides, make 3 layers to steady the connector so it can't twist or lean.
the pictures, I hope, will do an adequate job of explaining what I did. not a whole lot of forethought went into the details, and this is probably the point that could be improved upon the most. to be sure, it works great and is solid as a rock, but it was difficult, and is far from a simple, elegant solution.
Step 9: Glue the Pocket Into the Base
The last thing is to glue the pocket in. I slathered the slots with glue, stuck the pocket in, then glued the pocket to the divider along the back. unfortunately, I glued mine in slightly askew, as you can see, but that's not a design flaw, just hasty execution.
Step 10: Conclusion
On the whole, I think my attempt to turn Apple's wasteful packaging into something useful has been a success. sure, it's not the coolest looking dock ever, but it's probably the free-est.
I've been toying with the idea of using the top of the original box as a removable cover. I'd cut a slot in the top so you could still dock the phone, but it would clean it up a bit. the only reason I haven't done it already is the real phone sticking out of the picture of the phone on the top of the box is going to look funny.
apart from the improvements I've mentioned thus far, the base could use to be weighted a bit and maybe some mouse pad rubber glued to the bottom so it doesn't skate around so easily.
Also, another handy tip: I used heavy packing tape (3M, marked 'packaging tape' instead of 'sealing tape') for a protective film on the screen and also around the edges of the phone to avoid the antenna issue while retaining the look of the phone.
I just bought some denim and some fabric glue while I was at jo-ann fabrics with my fiancee today to make an iPhone slip case for protection. I plan on laminating some felt to the inside of the denim with the glue and sewing the edges. I may or may not leave a cover flap. I also may or may not make an instructable, if anyone is interested.
Participated in the
Joby Transform It! Challenge