The Ease Of Wireless Charging, Without The Wait

Historically, there have been a few cases of useful wireless power transmission over great distances, like a team at MIT that was able to light up a 60 W bulb at several meters, and of course Nikola Tesla had grand dreams of drawing energy from the atmosphere. But for most of us wireless power is limited to small, short-range devices like cellphone chargers. While it’s not a lot of work to plug in a phone when it needs a charge, even this small task can be automated.

This build begins with a 3D printed cradle for the smartphone to sit in. When the device detects that the phone has been placed in the cradle, it uses a linear actuator to drive a custom-built charging cable into the phone’s USB port. Similarly, when the phone is lifted from the cradle the cable is automatically removed. It appears that there is some play in the phone’s position that lets the charger be plugged in smoothly, and the project’s creator [Larpushka] points out that the linear actuator is not particularly strong so we don’t imagine the risk of damage is very high.

While wireless charging still may have the edge when it comes to keeping debris out of the port, we still really enjoy a project like this that seems to be done for its own sake. There are some improvements that [Larpushka] plans to make, but for now we’re delighted by this build. For anyone looking to add true wireless charging to any phone that doesn’t have it, though, it’s not too difficult to accomplish either.

14 thoughts on “The Ease Of Wireless Charging, Without The Wait

        1. i have to put tape over the speaker ports of my laptop because all it takes is one thoughtless trip to the workbench and they’re ruined. some environments have more metal filings than the norm :)

      1. Not to mention they consistently short out stuff in your ports. Nowadays there is short protection, but it still messes things up and takes a toll on battery life.

        I personally love the Wallace & Gromit-style automation here. I imagine a clanking machine that roughly removes your coat and shoes when you get home, fishes the phone out of the pocket, then jams it into an alcove in the wall and plugs it in for you. Then produces tea and cheese.

    1. I have all devices in my home on Wsken magnets. Apple, USB C and USB Micro all have the same magnet cord.

      It costs a bit to keep replacing them. But more than offset by not needing to open the glued together phones to replace the charge ports as they wear out.

      No lint collects either. Magnetic particles do, but if you don’t drop your phone in the dirt, or the charge cable on the car floor, it isn’t too bad.

  1. This is very much like the rigs we used in the Nokia factories for a functional test of the handset, handsfree, keypads, charging, speakers, mics, screen, radios etc, all automated in a rig that you just placed the phone into and close the door.

  2. Wouldn’t an easier design be an old-school “dock” like we used to have for iPods? a stand neatly machined to match the bottom of the phone, with the cable in the correct position to dock?

    1. yeah that’s just what i was thinking. i had a phone with a janky charging connector that had to be held at a certain angle to connect, and i had great success making an ad hoc dock for that. and that was even before 3d printing made it easy :)

  3. Having to insert the wireless adapter into the usb port to perform wireless charging defeats the purpose. Unless you make the adapter thin enough to mount on the back of the phone, with a thin flex cable always attached to the usb port. Then we would not need to keep the usb port clean so that the connection doesn’t fail.

    Or insist on a new phone with wireless charging built in.

  4. How about automating battery REPLACEMENT? Place your phone in a black box and you have a fully charged battery in 30 seconds.
    Wouldn’t need any modifications to your existing phone. You could do this with an external battery built into a phone case so the internal battery is never disconnected. You could supply power from the external case battery to the internal battery via wireless since it’s always in direct contact.

  5. Mr. Goldberg would be happy. It looks like USB C, but all of these tiny things have no tolerance for sloppy or numb fingers insertion. USB micro is the worst, the tab breaks off in the phone. The oddball USB 3.0 micro is far more robust. I have one and can plug it in by feel only and with confidence. I’d give up a little slimness for a full size USB port. Thicker at one end? No reason a phone has to be a uniform thickness.

    For years I’ve had to warn of steel wool bits that are allover our shop. First for compact headphones back in the 80’s then the speakers in any cell phone back and front today. I dislike earbuds. Be careful where you set them down. Take a clean hard drive magnet and test what you think is clean.

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