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Make A Cable-Managed, Battery-Powered, Multi-Gadget Charger

Charging multiple gadgets gets annoying fast. You have to own multiple cables, a variety of chargers and always have access to an outlet. If you want to bypass all of these issues, you can with a portable, battery-powered option that can charge up to seven gadgets of your choice.

Portable charging stations don’t come cheap. They also tend to limit the number of ports you have, they take up a lot of space, and they require an outlet to charge at all times. By making your own — which doesn’t require much more than combining a few existing products — you can overcome these issues. In this post, we’ll put together a portable charger that can handle seven gadgets, adapt to a variety of plugs and offer hours of backup battery power.

What You’ll Need

To get started, you’re going to need a few items:

  • A gadget travel organiser: They don’t make my favourite anymore, but there are plenty of alternatives, like the Skooba Cable Stable (or the larger version), GRID-IT, or GRID-IT with Wrap.
  • D-Link 7-Port USB Hub: Two of the ports are fast-charging ports that provide the extra power needed to charge tablets (2.1A), and the other ports provide the standard amount of power (1A).
  • IOGear GearPower 11,000mAh Portable Battery: Because you’re dealing with so many potential gadgets, you need a high-capacity battery. This one’s cheaper than most, it’s compact, and it works well with the USB hub. Like all external USB batteries, it won’t be able to charge seven gadgets at once. Nevertheless, it can provide a good amount of backup power when you need it and don’t have an outlet available.
  • Cables for your devices: Because there are seven ports available, you can include a variety of cables you already have. If you don’t really know exactly what you’re going to need, you might want to throw in one or two 3-in-1 cables that offer multiple plugs (Apple’s iPod and Lightning connectors plus microUSB).
  • Optional: AppleCore Cord Wraps: You don’t need these for every cable, as they will be managed nicely by the organiser, but I like to use one to wrap the power cable to the USB hub. You definitely do not need these, so skip them if you want to save money.

Step 1: Insert the USB Hub and Power Adaptor

First things first, we need to get the USB hub and power adaptor in the right spot. If you’re using a linear organiser, you probably want to stick the hub in the middle and the power adaptor at one end like this:

If you’re using something with a bit more room, like the GRID-IT, you can place them side-by-side:

In either case, be sure to leave enough room for the battery (which we’ll add next).

Step 2: Add and Connect the Battery

Now you can add the battery. In linear organisers, the power adaptor and the battery may need to share some space. With the GRID-IT, you’ll often have plenty of room on one side.

Either way, you want to keep the battery’s USB-A ports close to the hub’s USB-B port so you can connect the two easily. (If you don’t know the difference between types of USB ports, consult this reference image.) Once you’ve lined it all up, connect the two with a standard cable. In most cases, you’ll want to use the battery’s 2.1A port because it provides more power, but the choice is up to you.

Once they’re connected, you just touch the battery’s power button and it will provide power to the hub. You’ll also notice a microUSB port on the battery. You can charge the battery whenever you have outlet power using one of the microUSB cables you’ll likely add in the next step.

Step 3: Attach Your Cables

Attaching cables doesn’t take a lot of know-how, but keeping them neat and managed in a tiny space gets a little tough — especially when they’re all so close together. Short cables are ideal, but you can shorten longer ones with a simple cable shortening technique:

Just don’t overshorten them or you won’t have enough flexibility of movement when plugging in your gadgets.

Step 4: Organise Cables on the Other Side

If using a linear organiser, you’ll have another side where you can organise the cables. With a GRID-IT, you can just use some of the empty space. If using an organiser that works like a folder, you can just move the cables to that side of the organiser and pin them down with any available elastic bands.

Once you have everything in place, you’re all set! You can set this contraption by your bed to charge at home and quickly take it with you when you need power on the go.