January 14, 2007

Lisa: Supercharged

Every electronic gadget we buy seems to come with its own proprietary charging cord and adapter. I've been wanting to make a charging center to hide the resulting ugly and inconvenient cord soup residing in the bin on our kitchen counter. At first, I was thinking of a painted wooden box, with holes drilled in it for the cord ends to poke out of. Then I got inspired by these ribbon boxes, and Sarah helped me develop the final idea.

Here's what went into it:

  • 10 1/2"x8"x6" cardboard Memory Dock box, purchased at Roberts

  • Power Sentry Home Office Computer Surge Protector, bought at Target

  • #1 X-Acto knife from Michael's

  • 2 packages of Jo-Ann ScrapEssentials brushed silver oval bookplates

  • 1 package of Jo-Ann ScrapEssentials silver mini-brads
  • As with most craft projects, shopping for the supplies took far more time than the project itself. It seems like I used to see those cardboard photo boxes everywhere, but maybe they've fallen out of fashion. Once I got the stuff, all it took was cutting the holes in the box with the X-Acto knife, and attaching the bookplates around the openings with the brads. I was initially planning on using grommets or eyelets (like in the Martha Stewart version), but I couldn't find any big enough for all the plug ends to fit through.

    Here's the result!

    Posted by lisa at January 14, 2007 04:14 PM

    Wow, Lis, that looks great! I hope mine turns out half as well. :)

    Posted by: sarah on January 14, 2007 07:39 PM

    that is WAY cool. and it even looks cute

    Posted by: Young Jeffrey on January 15, 2007 11:38 AM

    Nothing short of brilliant. You should market that.

    Posted by: Andrea (RAZRPHONE!) on January 16, 2007 10:38 AM

    you guys are totally my crafting heroes! i want to attempt to make one of these myself, although i'm not sure i have your mad skills.

    Posted by: corinne on January 16, 2007 12:04 PM

    Corinne finally comes out of hiding to post a comment! Yay!

    Posted by: lisa on January 16, 2007 01:06 PM

    I hope you have some overall off switch, all those adapters still take power when not used.

    Posted by: Woeka on January 17, 2007 04:15 AM

    The surge protector inside the box has an off switch, and it's easy to open the box to access that switch.

    Posted by: lisa on January 17, 2007 10:46 AM

    I have had this EXACT same idea for a while. Beautiful!

    Posted by: jaXed on January 17, 2007 11:16 AM

    Curious about heat issues within the box. Does it get hot in that box? I love the idea and have wanted to make one as well. I found yours to be the best look, simple, clean, and tech looking, but still able to be placed anywhere within the house.

    Posted by: tTKSA Wittwer on January 17, 2007 08:58 PM

    SUPA FAMOUS YAYYAY! Congradulations Lisa!

    Posted by: Young Jeffrey on January 17, 2007 10:55 PM

    Thank you so much. You've given me something to do this weekend.

    Posted by: Joe Philipson on January 18, 2007 02:29 AM

    Great idea! Finally a way to clean up some of the clutter under my desk (and prevent my cat from stepping on the power switch on the surge protector and turning my computer off)!

    Posted by: Dawn on January 18, 2007 06:44 AM

    That is entirely too clever! Nicely done.

    Posted by: Christy on January 18, 2007 07:08 AM

    Its good that there is an overall ON/OFF switch, but having 5 transformers ON using power, when only one is needed is a large waste of power over time. That is why the new Nokia phones will now have "Phone Charged, Please unplug" come on the screen (at least in the UK). But I do like the idea, just needs some switches on the outside for each transformer.

    Posted by: Mike Hart on January 18, 2007 07:12 AM

    fire hazard.

    sorry, it's cute, but this is a fire hazard.

    Posted by: amy on January 18, 2007 07:57 AM

    That's a good idea. I need some table space for my camera dock as well...I saw this and it seems like a slightly more "fire averse" solution. (http://flickr.com/photos/ginatrapani/sets/72057594052599641/)

    Posted by: Blair on January 18, 2007 08:41 AM

    This is just proof you own too much crap.

    Posted by: Oren on January 18, 2007 08:58 AM

    attention, it could become hot and be very dangerous, I would not do it without a cooling system (or open it on the background)

    Posted by: jo on January 18, 2007 09:02 AM

    After seeing all the comments here and on Lifehacker and Make about overheating, I have been neurotically checking the box for warmth. Sorry, guys, it's barely even warm inside, even when several devices are charging. I think it's certainly safer than our old system (a mess of cords all tangled together in a bin below a wall outlet), and the lid seems to keep out dust. Anyway, I'll keep an eye on it, but for now I'm happy with the solution.

    Posted by: lisa on January 18, 2007 09:18 AM

    The box is a fire hazard but I would contend that the US standard socket is a bigger fire hazard.

    This shoebox solution is fine for occasionally used equipment but not for hot and heavy constant usage.

    Posted by: Billy on January 18, 2007 09:20 AM

    Billy, that sounds about right to me. If this was the creator's solution for a power center for, say, a computer that was continually plugged in and other devices, there would be cause for concern. As it is, she only uses the station when she is charging her devices (I would guess that is only every few days), and then can turn off the power strip and thus save electricity and reduce any heat issues. One of the commenters on Lifehacker mentioned that they would simply remove the lid from the box while charging. This is another viable option, as the box is not sealed.

    Posted by: sarah on January 18, 2007 09:27 AM

    This looks nice and tidy, but is a terrible waise of energy!! Lots of us leave chargers plugfged in all the time and we really shouldn't.

    If you make this, PLEASE take the extra step of opening the box to only have the chargers you're actually using plugged in.

    Perhaps the plugs could all be unplugged by default, and you only plug in the one or two you're actually using. An adaptor with a switch for each plug socket would make this easier.


    Posted by: D on January 18, 2007 09:55 AM

    A fire-proof metal box may prevent fires from at least spreading!

    Posted by: JoeyB on January 18, 2007 11:35 AM

    A very simplar idea from technomadics space:


    Posted by: Maggie Leber on January 18, 2007 12:21 PM

    To tell you the truth, the heat issue is totally overblown. My girlfriend and I can't wait to try this out.

    Posted by: Phil Gomes on January 18, 2007 12:59 PM

    Hmm, wouldn't it be better to have all the items INSIDE the box? That is what I did using a flip lid boxfile. Otherwise great idea!

    Posted by: Mrstock on January 18, 2007 01:01 PM

    i'd buy that...

    Posted by: r. titus on January 18, 2007 01:06 PM

    There is a fire risk with a flammable box and warm electrical devices.
    The problem with electrical devices is that the warmer they get the more likley they are to fail, so an enclosed box could accelerate any issue that occurs. Those plug in chargers are made to a budget remember.
    Consider using a metal box as it dissipates heat easily and is non-flammable. This does increase the risk of getting a shock though.
    It would be harder to make, and there's a risk of cutting yourself on sharp edges in the process.
    Turning the whole thing off when not in use is a good safety precaution, but the most likely scenario for a problem is when you're out all day and forget to turn it off.

    Posted by: richard powell on January 18, 2007 03:26 PM

    Actually, the fallacy about a plugged in 'wall wart' draining power is often no longer true these days. Most power adapters today are electronic and drain virtually no power if nothing is plugged into the other end.

    There is in fact a very easy way to check this: plug your adapter in, both with and without the device attached, for a certain time. See how warm it gets after that. The heat is proportional to the power consumed. The electronic ones are much lighter in weight and small in size than the old ones too.

    The comments about heat do have a point though. Perhaps you could add some ventilation slots at the top. If heat is generated, it can escape much more easily through convection.

    Posted by: Steven Wittens on January 18, 2007 05:14 PM

    how cute is that... but after being living thru a fire, there's no way I would feel comfortable living with it and EVER leaving my house. An inelegant solution would be to have the adaptors poking out on one side, and the plugs poking out on the other, then you plug whatever adaptor you want into a powerstrip, and unplug when finished. At least that way you wouldn't have to look at the cord craziness... But there's a better solution somewhere. Someone find it !!

    Posted by: veebo on January 18, 2007 09:45 PM

    If she cut a larger hole above where the main power cord comes in and puts a screen of some kind to let out any heat build up, wouldn't that suffice?

    Posted by: David Baker on January 18, 2007 10:06 PM

    Great art man.I wold call it an art.It really need some head to think and impliment lol

    Posted by: Ashish Mohta on January 19, 2007 09:47 AM

    So Um. Your blog exploded, and I would like to point out that I knew you way back when. Also? cute idea (as always). Will you make me one? hee hee.

    Posted by: Mallory on January 19, 2007 01:35 PM

    So much to say in regards to all these comments, but well, I'll just say it's cute. Great idea Lis.

    Posted by: Mindy on January 19, 2007 01:45 PM

    Regarding the concerns over fire risks: you could plug the power bar in to a GFI protected outlet. They are the wall plugs with the little circuit breaker in them that you see in bathrooms and sometimes on exterior plugs. You can get them at any store that sells standard wall plugs for $20-$30.

    Posted by: Chris on January 26, 2007 09:29 AM

    Now that is very clever! I think I'll have to build that myself this weekend!

    Posted by: William Spaetzel on February 1, 2007 12:12 PM
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