Getting rid of a tangled web of phone chargers

USB

Every night, [Roberto]‘s kitchen counter is cluttered with three cell phones, three different cell phone chargers and a mess of wires until morning comes and the chargers are moved to a drawer for the following night. For [Roberto] this is a bit of a pain – a much easier solution would be to have a few USB ports embedded right into his kitchen backsplash. With the right tools, this can be easily done, resulting in a very professional looking installation for charging a trio of phones.

After removing a Euro AC outlet and replacing it with three iPhone chargers, [Roberto] simply soldered the six mains connections on the chargers to his house’s wiring. This resulted in a perfectly functional but rather ugly home project, though.

The next step was to machine a blank AC outlet cover for the three USB ports. [Roberto]‘s CNC mill made quick work of this piece of plastic and turned it into a professional-looking installation.

Comments

  1. Springuin says:

    Be sure to checkout the link, the finished result is really beautiful

  2. Electroalek says:

    Pretty cool. You could go a bit cheaper with making your own AC to DC converter and using three USB ports

  3. josh says:

    Pretty good job. Of course, these are available off the shelf in the US. But, if you have time to kill and a low budget, this is nice!

  4. Jack says:

    This may be more attractive, but the transformers running full time waste a surprising amount of electricity.

    • Greenaum says:

      A tiny amount really. And it all goes into heating the kitchen by 1/100th of a degree.

    • John belwell says:

      Those are switchers,for the three of them i would guess about 2-2.5w consumption per hour.

      With such high power waste they could have of had Indirect LED Lighting in the kitchen.

      It would be nice if the project had a short of power switch.

      • “2-2.5W consumption per hour”

        Remember watts are a unit of power, not energy ;-) That should be either just “2-2.5W consumption” or, if you must, “2-2.5Wh energy per hour”.

        • truebassb says:

          Well said. I’m keeping it simplified as “total watts drawn from the electronetwork in the duration of 1 hour : 2-2.5 watts without load” or mistated as 2w per hour.

          Btw i’m John Belwell,i had forgot to log in ao i send the comment twice as i didn’t noticed my name,lol.

    • David says:

      Well no, they are obviously switch mode supplies, so they don’t have “tranformers running full time”. The standby power is probably very low. There could be a problem though, since they are not designed to be packed together that way. They could overheat when they are all on at once. That should be checked.

    • truebassb says:

      Those are switchers,for the three of them i would guess about 2-2.5w consumption per hour,not more but not less as these heat up enough to the touch even with no load.

      With such high power waste they could have of had Indirect LED Lighting in the kitchen.

      It would be nice if the project had a short of power switch.

      • David says:

        If you have USB chargers that feel hot to the touch with no load, throw them away, they are broken.

        • truebassb says:

          So i’m gonna enter an Apple Store and get all the slim iPhone chargers for recycling as they are broken.

          Are you in?

          • truebassb says:

            Sorry if you get this as irony,i did not intented that.

          • David says:

            The only measurement I could find for Apple iPhone charger standby power is 0.2W, which is not enough to heat it.

          • truebassb says:

            It’s really a mystery.

            The 1A slim one i have heats up noticeable to the touch under no load,and a friend’s slim one got heated up enough to melt the one side while charging his iPad.

            Some other 1A Chargers don’t,the same goes to the same design of all the slim and brick style chargers,i only talk about original chargers that came with the devices.

            I believe it has more to do with the batch than with the charger design.

  5. Delayne says:

    Nice Recovery

  6. ejonesss says:

    couldnt you get a usb hub and charge from that?

    connect the hub to the charger then connect the phones to the hub (expandable for future phones)

    • Destate9 says:

      Well, this dude says he’s using iPhone chargers, and iPhones require some stupid handshake over the D+ and D- lines before it will charge the phone. For anything else you’d be correct.

      Also, what kind of current are those rated for? I personally have had problems with my sister using my phone charger instead of the one meant for her phone (mine is rated for 0.8 amps, her’s is rated for 1.2 amps), which ended up killing my charger. Now I always check current ratings before I plug into anything, although I assume a rating of 1 amp would be safe for most devices.

      • David says:

        Don’t blame your sister, your charger would probably have died anyway. A charger is responsible for protecting itself from an excessive load.

      • Per Jensen says:

        Handshaking ? 4 Resistors is all it takes…

        • Destate9 says:

          4 Resistors? It seems that I had a misconception of what went on, but that sounds interesting. Any links?

          • Greenaum says:

            Not to hand, but it’s easy to find. You just connect a couple of resistors to the D+ and D- lines, then use the power lines as usual. This is a simple, cheap, protocol that’s detected by the cleverer electronics in a phone or MP3 player. It lets your phone / MP3 know that the charger can supply more than the USB standard 500mA, without needing any complex systems in the charger. Have a look.

          • Dissy says:

            This link describes the protocol, and what resistance codes to use for what amperage

            http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/icharge.html

            BTW, I do not believe Apple invented the “stupid” usb3 protocol, where these resistor codes are defined.

      • foo says:

        the ‘stupid’ handshaking you refer to is actually standard spec… any device drawing substantial current without checking the USB socket can supply it is out of spec, and could potentially damage equipment which didn’t expect to have 10W drawn from it to charge a tablet.

  7. Ian says:
  8. Kompteck says:

    Looks like a fire hazard to me.

  9. Christoph says:
  10. James says:

    Not sure how keen I’d be to shove 3 chargers in my wall, at least I’d want to have a look inside them before I did.

    http://www.eevblog.com/forum/blog-specific/eevblog-388-fake-apple-usb-charger-teardown/msg165466/#msg165466

  11. Hirudinea says:

    Next project, inductive charger in the counter. (Hey that’s a good idea.)

  12. Lectrishun says:

    Leviton makes a Decora recep + USB 2.0/3.0 charger that fits in a single gang box.http://www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/SectionDisplay.jsp?section=53874&minisite=10251

    • n0lkk says:

      Looks like a handy product, but too bad it’s not rated for a 20 amp kitchen circuit.

      • Joe says:

        n0lkk

        Almost every kitchen you go (in the US) you will find “15A” devices on the 20A circuits… It’s pretty much standard practice. 20A outlets have the side-ways flat prong, like a side-ways “T”…

        The only time a 15A device on a 20A circuit is not acceptable, from my understanding, is when you have just a single device (outlet) on the entire 20A circuit. It goes without saying that the conductors in the wiring must be appropriate for 20A of course, but the devices themselves are OK at 15A.

        One other thing to note–the linked outlet/USB is not a “GFCI” type outlet. All kitchen outlets need to be GFCI protected, so you’d want to make sure that if you bought this it was downstream (fed by) a GFCI outlet (or breaker)–In my kitchen I have outlets every 2′, so every other outlet is a GFCI and the ones that aren’t are fed by one.

  13. n0lkk says:

    Of course ugly is relative ;) I bring up the National Electric Code because I live in the USA. Probably not NEC friendly, unless the chargers ha a volume > = to the volume the receptacle takes up in the box, a heat dissipation thing I have been told. As long as fire occurs for any reason it will never be a problem. Anyway the NEC is fairly low voltage low current friendly. Making a simple matter to retro fit a home with USB jacks throughout a home feed from a single power source, doing what you have to do at the jacks to make iProducts happy. The only problem I’d see is a voltage drop though wire that’s easily ran & hidden.

  14. SteveHaD says:

    For those who aren’t comfortable messing around with mains electrics like this, they now sell faceplates that come with USB ports built in. For example – http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/fastmac_usc_usb_outlet.jpg?w=240&h=320

    So no need to try cram everything into the wall and hope nothing catches on fire in the night. Just wire it in exactly the same as the old one.

    This DIY solution is nice but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.

  15. WestfW says:

    The prevalence of “fake” (unsafe) USB chargers would make me very hesitant to put them in my wall. :-(

  16. Bill Gander says:

    Cell.Phone.Caddy.

  17. rbarrios says:

    A few clarifications. They are genuine Apple chargers, adequately fused and protected. Each draws 0.3W from the mains (do your math). Temperature inside the outlet goes just to 38C with thee chargers at full power, charging three devices from empty battery at the same time, with 24C at home. This is no more risky than having three chargers in three outlets. If anything, having them inside the wall (concrete, bricks) is actually safer. Appart from that, there is nothing flammable around.

  18. pikuorguk says:

    hack-a-day, once again proving most of their readers look at the picture, read the headline and then invent the rest of the story.

    If you read his actual post on his website it has a bit at the bottom explaining current draw, temperature and safety…

  19. Dax says:

    “simply soldered the six mains connections on the chargers to his house’s wiring”

    That’s massively dangerous. In case of a short, a connection can melt and leave the shorted out charger connected to the live wire.

  20. David says:

    These guys have been making something similar in Australia for a while

    http://sockitz.com.au/

    When the usb covers are closed it switches off the power to save energy.

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