So it took me awhile to get around to it, but I’ve been meaning to finish the post on our computer cabinet. Wendy posted the first time showing the cabinet work itself, but after we got home from that trip, I started the wiring project in earnest. I just never posted the finished result. So here’s a shot of the finished cabinet in place sans wiring and network equipment.
Previous Cabinet Makers post October, 2013.
My plan was to have a nice looking albeit small, low profile place to store the various laptops, keyboards, ipads, routers, hotspots, etc. Up to that point all of that stuff just got piled up in a corner or shoved into a bag of some kind. The other goal was to provide a convenient way to keep it all charged! My goal was to have all of our computer and network equipment stored in the cabinet and have everything running/charging on 12 vdc. I almost succeeded :).
I also wanted each component to have a specific slot for storage and charging. That way, we don’t have to keep track of which cable should be used for a specific device. The device will only fit in one place and the charge cord is already attached! Simple, clean and elegant! The plans for the cabinet already anticipated the various locations for each device, so when I started wiring it up I first had to build some padded enclosures for each device. I bought three sheets of dense packing foam and made some very basic drawings to guide the construction.
I took basic measurements of each device: Ipad, Ipod, cell phone and laptop. Just in case, I built the cell phone enclosures for an Iphone. I also included some open storage slots for miscellaneous cords, thumb drives, keyboards, mice, etc. Here’s a pic of my rough plans.
I used Super99 spray adhesive and pieces of cardboard to shield that parts I wanted to protect from the spray.
Construction paper worked nicely for templates and above you can see a few of the foam pieces prior to glue-up. I just built up the layers until I had an ’empty’ space for each device.
Here’s are a couple of shots of the Ipad/Ipod/Iphone enclosure under construction. Once finished, this will fit into the upper left cabinet door and all those expensive toys will have their own comfy, safe place to ride.
I had to do some extensive internet research to find all of the charging equipment that I needed. For example, the Dell laptops came with chargers for 120vac only. I could not find any hard-wire chargers for the laptops, so I settled for chargers for a car lighter and bought a hard-wire lighter socket. Ipads use USB for charging, but they require a higher amperage charger in order to fully charge. Since most USB chargers are 1A, your standard 12vdc USB charger won’t work. In addition, Apple builds in some special circuitry that will prevent your generic hard-wire charger from working. Oh, by the way, those multi-port USB devices you can buy – they usually are for data only and often only have one USB port wired for charging!
I also wanted hard-wire devices so I could connect directly to a 12vdc fuse panel. Since the Ipods are also charged via USB, but don’t require as many amps, the Ipad solution works for them also. I had to find 12vdc chargers for our LG cell phones. If we ever switch to Iphones, the necessary wiring is already in place since they (planned obsolescence notwithstanding) require the same USB charging port as the Ipad.
Since I wanted everything to run on 12vdc, I bought a nice compact 12vdc fuse panel from Blue Sea, I found a plunger type switch at my local hardware store and ran a new 12vdc circuit from the house dc wiring distribution block using 6GA cable. That’s probably overkill, but better safe than sorry and I had it lying around anyway.
Here’s a shot of the wiring just before I put the cabinet back in place. I also had to run some antenna and Ethernet jumpers up into the cabinets above the salon windows. I wanted hard-wire Ethernet for the NAS, DVD and TV and I had an antenna for the hotspot cradle on the roof.
The top row of coiled cables are the USB chargers hard-wired directly to the fuse panel. Below that to the left is a blank space outlined in blue tape for our WiFiRanger Mobile router. Just to the right of that is an empty space for the hotspot cradle and directly below is the charger for the cradle itself. The hotspot is powered from the router. Next in line to the right is the fuse panel, the plunger switch and then the socket and chargers for the laptops. The cabinet will nicely hide all of the wiring.
Here area few shots of the completed project with several of the devices in place. I think it turned out better than I hoped. The only thing I was not able to do is find and wire a 12vdc power adapter for the NAS, TV and DVD. Those all require clean 120vac, so our Trace SW4024 inverter can power those easily off the house battery bank. All the computing and entertainment you need and no shore power connection required.