Wooden playdate charger

I'm working on a wooden dock for the playdate. After seeing folks 3D print charging docks I wanted to give it a go but I don't have access to a 3D printer so I decided to use wood.

I've made 2 prototypes so far and have some improvements I will make to the third.

The first prototype was hacked together from a hardwood engineered flooring sample.

Testing magnets with USB wire jammed in from behind - 10mm diamater

This was fine so I cut it out (previous attempts to drill the holes from an already cut piece smashed up the wood around the corners) and after many days of laborious sanding and sawing and gluing ended up with the first box

Various problems with this one:

  • Playdate doesn't charge reliably - you gotta wiggle it around until the magnets which are way larger than the corner screws on the PD make contact
  • Really rough around the edges, several corners broke on the front and back from drilling and screwing
  • Box just sits square on the table and doesn't incline
  • The magnets are hella strong and you have to use 2 hands to remove it
  • Hard wired

On to prototype 2...


After I posted this stuff to Twitter someone said they'd like to buy one and how much would it be, so I was encouraged by this and figured I'd need a better design and process before making any for sale.

For the second prototype I ordered some wood veneer, 3mm walnut from an etsy seller.

Turns out walnut isn't that hard a wood! Oh well. I have some 5.5mm ply lying around so I made the inner box from that and stuck the walnut on top. Overall it was much easier but still a pain to saw it all by hand and sand it just right and glue it.

I didn't take many WIP pics...

Problems with this one:

  • Still no incline; still hard wired
  • The linseed oil I used to treat the wood doesn't protect it much and takes an absolute age to cure
  • The little 5mm (1mm thick) magnets are great for contacting the PD screws but were really fiddly to put in

Resolutions for the next prototype:

  • Get the wood cut properly by a professional with a table saw and a laser cutter (can also burn a logo into the front panel then)
  • Get some USB-C components and use those instead of butchering an old micro-USB wire
  • Get some longer 5mm magnets to make installing them in the wooden frame easier
  • Use dark varnish instead of linseed oil to treat the wood
  • Get some 10mm dowel or thereabouts to add a couple of legs to the front of the base so it can incline

great work!! this looks awesome.

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Looks great! You might also make the incline by cutting the bottom of the wood on a slant. (Both styles look good in my head!)

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Thanks both!!
Morgan: Yeah, I thought about that, but it creates some annoying angles to cut/sand. Also I kind of didn't want it to look too retro, like one of those old 60s desk intercoms :sweat_smile:

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Joining the others - this looks great!

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So cool!
The wood gives so much power!
So much it charges the Playdate!!
(kidding of course.) :yellow_heart:

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This looks great!

Maybe you could also drill in a pen holder :wink:

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Thanks folks!!
@Vachi - this got me thinking about putting solar panels on it...
@orkn this... is a more appropriate idea than you imagine, as given the wood theme I'm sure it would be a pencil holder, and I'm making a game about sharpening pencils for the playdate!


:thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :thinking:

could easily be some other kind of more portable add-on like that oneil camera

I was thinking about a crank-able power charger. Unsure how small one can be for such a thing.

I ordered some usb 2.0 C-type receptacles, hoping that they'd give me a steady 5V. Seems like it! Wired it up and now my second prototype has a port instead of a wire.