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Flashback: Lego Recharger

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    Flashback: Lego Recharger



    This week's flashback is as fun as it is useful, brought to you by our own Make: Online contributing writer and the host of Make: television, John Edgar Park. Originally appearing on the pages of MAKE Volume 12, the Lego Recharger helps keep your gadgets all juiced up and stores your keys too. How incredibly convenient! Check it out.

    Lego Recharger
    By John Edgar Park


    On a recent trip to Legoland, I saw a neat product in one of the stores: a Lego key rack with Lego brick keychains. What a great idea, I thought. With this I could come home, empty my pockets, and have a consistent place to hang my keys. But wait, what about all the other devices I just pulled out of my pockets, where do they go? And, for that matter, how will all their batteries stay charged?

    Then it dawned on me. If I attached a powered Lego brick to each gadget to provide life-giving juice for their thirsty batteries, I'd solve 3 major problems in my life: lack of gadget organization, lack of battery power, and lack of Legos attached to all my possessions.

    The first thing I did was to sift through my Lego Mindstorms and Technic bins. I grabbed some 9V motor wire bricks and a large baseplate to start playing with the design. I wanted to avoid modifying the bricks as much as possible. I also wanted color coding so I'd be less likely to accidentally hang my iPod on the cellphone's brick, thus blowing up the iPod. This is a danger of universal connectors. Since the motor wire bricks come only in black, I needed to use additional bricks for color coding. I considered color-coded tiles on top of the device-end brick, but the smooth tiles always seem to hide a Lego's, well, Lego-ness, so I opted for a 2×2 studded plate instead. Much more geek chic. I placed color-matched bricks below the respective charger-side brick on the base plate.

    Next, I needed to splice the motor wire bricks onto my power adapters and gadget plugs. My first attempt involved cutting, stripping, and twisting corresponding wires together, soldering them, and then covering the splice with heat-shrink tubing. This worked great, but wasn't very elegant. I wanted to leave these Lego dongles on my gadgets all the time, even when they were in my pockets, so getting the wire length down to a minimum was important. The splice wasn't helping that.

    Looking more closely at the Lego 9V motor wire brick, I noticed 4 pressure tabs on its ends. I grabbed a small screwdriver and pried the bottom off the brick. Inside, the insulated wire pair was pierced onto 2 sharp metal posts. The wire was held in place by the pressure between a small ridge of plastic and the recently pried-off bottom. Excellent. I'd now be able to cut all of my charger wires in half, and simply crimp a Lego motor wire brick onto each end.

    For my key chain, I ripped off the original Lego design. I drilled a small hole into a 2×4 brick and then screwed a small screw eye into it. My apologies to Lego purists for all the drilling, but hey, Lego did it first!

    The whole system was cheap and easy to build, works great, and keeps my devices organized and charged. I've gotten so used to it that I've installed an unwired counterpart key rack at my office.
    I said in search of my botni, not in search of my bhootni. Please stop sending me PMs.
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