My bedside stand probably looks like a lot of people’s – it started out with a charger and cab le for my smartphone. Later, it got a multi-port charger because I also had a tablet. Then I added an Echo Dot. Then I needed a place to plug-in and charge my camera from time to time. Then I splurged and got a smart watch. By now, my bedside stand looked like an electronic squid with all of the cords sprouting from the multi-port charger. I wanted to restore order.

Behold, the Smart Station!

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The Smart Station has the multi-port charger inside. The charger feeds the Echo Dot. It also feeds the Apple Watch charger. The new iPhone supports wireless charging so there is one of those too.

Obviously, you don’t go out and buy this Smart Station. I designed it using AutoDesk Fusion 360. I then printed it on my Lulzbot TAZ 6. I sanded, primed, sanded, and painted it. The top fastens to the bottom using 3mm screws into brass heat-set inserts. Rather than focus on the electronics – which are all off-the-shelf and readily available – I thought I’d focus on how I designed the station. (The animated GIF highlights the steps.)

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I started by drafting a sketch of the footprint. This included the hole for the Dot and a cylindrical tower for the watch band to wrap around. The base sketch also placed a perimeter around where the space for the multi-port charger. A few of the dimensions were critical. For example, the multi-port charger has three ports on one end. Only one of these was needed. I wanted to make the remaining port accessible through the side of the Smart Station. There also needed to be a hole in the back for the AC cord.

The final assembly uses 3mm screws into heat-pressed inserts. There is a close-up of the sketch showing the three concentric circles – the smallest one for each insert which will be heated and pressed into the base, the next larger is for the threaded shaft of the screws, and the largest is for a recess for the head of the screw.

I then extruded a big block. This is not the method I’ve used in past projects. However, I needed a sloped cutout at the front and other methods of combining extrusions and bevels were not exact.

I sketched the slope relative to one side of the block.

I extruded the cutout to create the sloped front. This is where the phone would eventually rest.

I extruded the holes in three steps. The smallest diameter cuts through the top and 5mm into the bottom to hold the inserts. The middle sized diameter cuts only through the top. Finally, the largest diameter cuts only part way into the top.

The overall block was then cleaned up with chamfers.

The top was cut from the block. This preserves the holes and the front slope.

The pass throughs for the Dot and the watch tower were extruded.

The watch tower was extruded.

Then the tower was capped and chamfered.

Once the watch tower was created, I was able to draft the sketch for the watch’s magnetic charger pad.

The hole for the watch’s charging pad does not cut completely through the tower. It has a center slot which does cut through the wall to allow the USB plug to pass through during final assembly.

That competed the top.

The bottom was hollowed out in two steps – first extruding the main hole and then – using the side sketch previously used to create the sloped front – the sloped interior was cut.

The perimeter walls around the multi-port charger were extruded up from the bottom. The holes for the AC cord and for the side USB ports pass-thru were extruded.

I drafted a new sketch on the sloped front for the phone’s wireless charging pad.

This is extruded part way into the front slope.

The resulting inset was projected onto a new bottom sketch. An inset hole was created from the projection.

The inset hole was then extruded back through the area of the wireless charging pad. The result was a hole with a lip to retain the pad.

Note: The wireless charging pad has a micro-USB port on the edge to receive power. This would interfere with the available hole. I could have created a suitable extrusion to allow space for cable, however, the port was on the top and would require changing the orientation of the pad. Since the pad has a log and other writing on it’s face, changing it’s orientation would have looked odd. I chose to modify the pad slightly to mount a new micro-USB plug on the back.

In the partial-assembly photo, you can see how the multi-port charger is “trapped” in place. You can also see the six heat-pressed brass inserts. The Smart Station uses one USB port from the end. This is a 2A port and is used by the wireless charging pad. The two side ports are 1A each and are used for the watch charging pad and for the Dot.

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The Smart Stations was printed with ABS. That was a mistake. Even with a heated enclosure for the 3D printer, the stress of the ABS shrinking as it cooled caused warping because there was a large flat base followed by tall walls. The Hawkeye Pi Camera suffered a similar fate. I had PLA available so that project was printed with PLA. I hope to standardize on a single material for most projects and will be trying HIPS next time.

There it is – one outlet to charge them all, multi-ports to find them, the Smart Station to bring them all and bind them 😉