3D printing a charging cradle for a Sony Xperia Z

This is a recap of a term project of sorts in Solidworks class last spring. We had to pick something to design (printing it was optional).

My latest smart phone is a Sony Xperia Z, a cheap enough out-of-pocket expense to replace a cracked Nexus 4. The new phone is water-resistant, but I found pulling the cover off the charging port every night was a pain. They do sell a charging cradle, though its poor design means it will not work with as phone case.

Copyright Sony
Copyright Sony

Considering the Xperia Z is so thin I can barely pick the phone up off a table without a case, and considering the school having a 3D printer, I found my design project. This post outlines the topics covered in my class presentation.

Appearances can be deceiving - this alarm clock has an IP address.
The finished print

The design provides power to two pads on the side of the phone, and I chose to use a USB breakout board from Adafruit to permit the charging cradle to accept micro-USB.

Copyright Engadget
Copyright Engadget
Copyright Adafruit
Copyright Adafruit

I decided the easiest way to connect to the pads would be by using pogo pins – spring-loaded contacts which could be lined up with the charging pads:

xperia5

The actual design in solidworks went through a few revisions, where material was removed to speed the print, and the screw holes were built up to compensate for PLA’s weaknesses.

Rough draft
Rough draft
Final version

There was a base plate to cover the wiring, but in practice I found this thing so useful I didn’t even bother covering it.

The slides for the presentation can be found here. SolidWorks 2014 files are here.