So, my shiny new Google Nexus 5 arrived a week ago, and I spent the first couple of days just ogling the new device, setting it up with all my favorite apps and tools, enjoying games and videos on my 5″ display and generally wasting the days away 🙂 After years in the iPhone world, it was time to cross over to the dark side (or is iOS the dark side?).
After the initial euphoria about the new toy subsided, I started looking for a good protective cover for my N5, and being a 3D printing nut, I searched on Thingiverse before I even thought of Amazon :-). Unfortunately for me, the phone was very, very new, and there was only one conceptual design on Thingiverse for a Nexus 5 case, with no successful prints yet. That’s fine, I thought… this is the realm of DIY and Tinkering.
Sourcing the Design
BUT, something else on Thingiverse had caught my eye when searching for the N5 case:
Now, reading the specs for the Nexus 5, I knew that it supported wireless charging, but the Google wireless charger was not available on the Play store when I looked. However, this charging dock was designed for the Nokia QI Charging Pad, which is available at a few places (like AT&T stores) for $24.50, and the design posted by Joe F on Thingiverse would provide a nice inclined base to match! WOOT!
I downloaded the design files for the dock from Thingiverse and set out to customize the dock for myself a little bit. I just wanted to add something to it myself, to convince my wife that I did not just “download and print” , but had put in some effort myself 😉
I first uploaded the design files (STL format) to TinkerCad, a fantastic online tool to do quick and fun tweaks to your design files. I then rotated the body so I could lay it flat on the work surface. Then, I grabbed the letters of my last name from the model gallery, put them in order, grouped them, and stood them up, like a wall. I then extended the letters along the y-axis so that the letters penetrated opposite walls of the dock, like so:
I then marked this object as a ‘hole’ and the base as a solid object, and then proceeded to use this object to punch a hole through the solid base, resulting in:
With this complete, I finalized the model, and the final render came out looking like:
Voila! I had just downloaded something from Thingiverse, and quickly modified and personalized it using free, online tools! What could be more thrilling!
Printing the dock
Next, I downloaded the customized model in .STL format to my Mac, and fired up MakerWare, available from MakerBot here. In MakerWare, I positioned the TinkerCad model on the build platform and exported out the machine code file (.X3G format), selecting options for a Normal Print and ‘Supports’ since the lettering cutouts on the dock meant that I would have a lot of overhanging parts. I then transferred the .X3G file to an SD card, fired up the trusted MakerBot Replicator2 and loaded it with a translucent blue filament, and fired off the ‘Print from SD’ command.
After roughly 4 hours and 60 grams of plastic, I had my very own charging dock!
Kudos to Joe for a flawless design, as the Nokia QI charging plate fit into the designed groove very very nicely. The dock now sits nicely on my nightstand, and my N5 rests on it peacefully every night, charging wirelessly without worrying about plugging and unplugging the darn little micro-usb cable!
My dock can be seen on Thingiverse at: http://www.thingiverse.com/make:53498
- Printer: MakerBot Replicator 2
- Software / Services: Thingiverse, TinkerCad, MakerWare (using MakerBot slicer)
- Settings: Standard mode (15% infill, 0.2mm layer, 90mm/s), Rafts disabled, Supports enabled.
- Print Time: 4 hours
- Material: Translucent Blue 1.75mm PLA
- Mass (Weight): 40 grams
Thingiverse is quickly becoming my first stop to look for new designs, and I was pleasantly surprised to see designs related to N5 popping up there almost as soon as the phone was launched. This was also my first pass at using TinkerCad for an actual design-to-print project, and I was pleasantly surprised at its usability, considering it is a fully browser-based tool. I also felt the pain of dealing with small geometries and support structures, as evident from the no-so-clean finish on the final piece and the broken ‘U’ on one side. Next time, I might try changing the print orientation or cleaning up the model using MeshMixer or Netfabb.