Charging Station Prototype

We have enough rechargeable devices that we needed a way to charge them that was less chaotic, that didn’t leave devices on the floor.  I looked at commercially available options, but nothing seemed to do what I want.  So I started constructing my own wall mounting approach.

My idea was to have a shallow shelf that devices rest on, with some mechanism to hold and organize the cables and a box to hold the charger hub.   I thought initially that cables could rest in slots that were narrow enough so that the plug wouldn’t fall through:

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Cables can slip into the skinny slot to hold them in place. The wider part of the slot permits the cable end to stick down when a device is charging.

This approach didn’t work because the cables sometimes pull forward out of the slots.  The next idea was to use rubber to hold the cables in place.  But which type of rubber?  McMaster has an overwhelming number of options, both types of rubber, thicknesses, and hardnesses.   I tested several options:

dsc09092It seemed like the 1/32″ EPDM with a Shore hardness of 40A was promising.  So the prototype looks like this:

dsc00043I realized that velcro alone did not suffice to manage the cables, so I added the cable wrapping posts.  Also it seemed like the EPDM rubber was not holding cables as well as I expected, especially with thicker cables.  So I tried a change in the design with a thicker piece of rubber and a hole to hold the cable.  This seems to work better at holding cables, though it is more difficult to get them in and out.

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The black rubber has a hole punched in it to hold the cable. This does seem to be more secure, though choosing the right rubber is still an issue.

We’ve had this in use for a while now, but one problem I’ve noticed is that the users don’t like to leave the cables secured in the rubber slots.  They prefer to just leave them dangling.  Does this mean the rubber slots are unnecessary?

How can this design be improved?

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Couch Cabinet

dsc00014After finishing the Utilitarian Cabinet I said I was going to lay off the plywood for a long while. Events conspired against me: we needed a small table or cabinet to fill the narrow space beside the couch and the remaining walnut plywood was just right for the job.

For this cabinet I borrowed a Festool Domino to make the joints for the case and drawers.  The Domino is a lot nicer than dowels. It can make one pair of tight fitting mortises for alignment and loose fitting holes elsewhere, which makes the joint much easier to assemble and disassemble than dowels.  This cabinet went together without the struggles that we had with the dowel-joined Utilitarian Cabinet—I was able to do it without a helper. The drawers went together very easily as well, and the dominos helped in assembling the miter joints in the pedestal and in affixing the pedestal to the case.

I also experimented with the undermounting Blum Tandem-Plus Blumotion drawer slides, which waste less space at the sides of the drawers.   With the drawer cavity only seven inches wide I wanted to make the widest drawers I could.  Understanding the requirements for these slides proved to be rather difficult. Blum is very bad about posting detailed information, and they also sell different products in Canada than they do in the USA, so Lee Valley has products that are not otherwise available in the USA. It wasn’t immediately obvious to me—though it should have been—that the undermounting slides would have a minimum drawer width. It is not easy to figure out what this minimum width is.  Lee Valley didn’t know, and when I asked Blum USA about the Canadian slides they couldn’t find the answer!  I eventually learned that the Tandem-Plus would work on my narrow drawers as long as I used special “locking devices”.  The undermounting slides waste less horizontal space but they consume over an inch of vertical space.   This led to a problem when I positioned the handle without checking the position carefully and the mounting screw hole hit the drawer bottom.

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See the recess I carved into the drawer bottom to allow me to attach the drawer pull?

When I went to fit the drawers into the cabinet they worked right the first time. This is a huge contrast to my experience with the side mounting slides I used in the Utilitarian Cabinet where I had to spend hours on drawer fitting.  I had a brief problem with it when I did the final test fit and the drawer hit the case.  It turned out I had accidentally pressed the levers that raised the drawer.  Lowering the drawer back to the correct position was very easy.  The finished drawers open and close very smoothly and much more easily than the drawers in the Utilitarian Cabinet, though we’re not sure we like the Blumotion drawer closing action.  Because the drawers are tall and narrow I used the wood with the grain running vertically and I mounted the handles vertically.

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Note the continuous grain on the mahogany drawer fronts.

The corner in which the cabinet sits is not square.  It was necessary to curve the edge considerably to get a reasonable fit.  dsc00021