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*UPDATE* Read about my experiences with this solution after three months here.
IMPORTANT NOTE ! Never close the box while batteries are charging ! Battery charging generates heat which needs to escape. If you close the box during charging operation you might risk a fire !
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I own several cameras and every camera requires its own battery type. In total I need four different chargers for my batteries. In addition to that every camera/device needs another USB connector. Every time I need to charge a battery or download files I am recabling. I was sick of that for a long time, now I have built a solution to end the cable madness. What I have done is basically taking a wooden box and installing the chargers and a 7-port USB 3.0 hub inside using velcro. It’s nothing fancy but it is practical. Long story short, here is the result:

To find the right size of the box I compiled all the components I wanted to install and measured them. Then I made rough layout on the table and measured the dimensions. Finally I ordered the box via eBay.

When you have all the stuff you need (shopping list at the end of this post), take the components you want to fit in the box and position them. Make a “dry run” to see if the wiring will fit into the box. Remember that cables have a minimal bending radius (the smallest radius you can bend them without damaging the leads). Also the connectors need some space. This has to be tested and is usually a lot faster than measuring and drawing everything. My dry run looked like this:

20130906-diy-powerdatabox-001Then the hands-on work can start.  First I cut two long holes into the sides of the box to make an opening for the power and USB cables. This was done by drilling two 10 mm holes on each side and sawing the material between the holes away. The detail work was done with files. Then I covered the openings from the inside with duct tape and spraypainted the box from the outside. I used a 200 ml can of paint and that was a tad less than necessary. Use a bigger spray can for multiple coats (the box I used is 40x30x15 cm).

After the paint had dried I put a strip of velcro on the floor of the box. The chargers were outfitted with a corresponding strap of hooks to secure them safely. Velcro has the nice advantage that you can take the charger out of the box without any problems if necessary (i.e. if you sell the camera and need another charger or if you are travelling).

Routing the cables is tricky. I used special cable clips to get some kind of control. Finding the best layout takes a little try and error, but it is not rocket science. See the video – routing and organizing the cables takes up most of the time. Be patient.

Here is the shopping list (suggesting all necessary USB cables and chargers/power cords are already in your posession):
– A wooden box (in my case 40x30x15)
– USB 3.0 hub
– A can of white spray paint
– Cable clips with self-adhesive tape
– Cable binders

Necessary tools:
– Electric drill
– Saw
– Set of wood files

IMPORTANT NOTE ! Never close the box while batteries are charging ! Battery charging generates heat which needs to escape. If you close the box during charging operation you might risk a fire !

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