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This project is one of the most successful tutorials on my YouTube channel. It uses concrete as a solid and very heavy base material. As a desk accessory, it's probably heavier than it really needs to be, but it sure isn't going to get moved or tipped over accidentally! Functionally I see it having four main purposes. First, it's a USB charging hub for mobile phones, cameras, battery packs, etc. Second and third, it's a pencil/pen cup and storage for charging cords. Lastly, it has served as an interesting conversation piece in my home office.

The original inspiration for this project came from a video on the MAKE YouTube channel, where Giaco Whatever builds a USB hub with concrete as the main element. His version is a lot simpler than mine. Reflecting back, I think I got a bit carried away with enthusiasm.

Please take a few minutes to watch the full build video. I'm sure you will find some of the smaller details that I may have missed in this instructable.

Step 1: Hack the USB Hub!

Picture of Hack the USB Hub!
USB HUB-2.jpg
USB HUB-3.jpg
USB HUB-4.jpg

If you are planning to make your own concrete USB hub, you have many choices to start with. I started with a four port charging hub. There are some six port versions that would probably work just as well. I had to practically destroy the case in order to get to the guts on mine. Once it was apart, I could look it over and take measurements that I needed so that I could start some sketches. As they say, "form follows function".

CraftAndu22 days ago
Looks great!
Works by Solo (author)  CraftAndu21 days ago
Thanks!
Pretty nice!
May I suggest one improvement? The power supply could be moved outside and just have the USB ports inside - this may overheat under heavy load.
Works by Solo (author)  thedeveloperguy23 days ago
Thanks for the suggestion. No worries. The original product was in a completely enclosed and unventilated tight plastic case. If you check out my design, you'll see that the bottom is completely open giving more ventilation than the original product ever had.
Yepp, but only a thin plastic case, it can radiate a lot of heat, unlike under thick wood and concrete. Hopefully no problem will happen!
Works by Solo (author)  thedeveloperguy21 days ago
Thank you for the comments. It has been in daily operation for over two years now. The bottom is completely open. It has better ventilation than when in it’s original case. It is working nice and cool.
Matlek21 days ago
Very neat! It looks great!
Works by Solo (author)  Matlek21 days ago
Thanks!
rtaliano22 days ago
Very cool project. You have inspired me to get into CNC. You could also use the coloring agents available for concrete as well. Keep us posted on how warm it gets under load as someone mentioned. I would think the concrete would be able to unload enough of it?
Works by Solo (author)  rtaliano22 days ago
Thank you! I hope you enjoy your adventure into the world of CNC.
Colors in the concrete could be fun. I'll consider that.
So far, the unit has stayed cool. We've had all four ports in service several times. it's actually vented better than it was in it's original encloseure.
Bringing back a classic I see!! Congrats on the email blast feature!
Works by Solo (author)  geeksmithing23 days ago
Thanks, Wes! You and I both ended up with projects with extended mileage on this one!
Heck yeah we did! Voted! ;)
Honus24 days ago
This is awesome! Did you have to use a release agent on the screws so they wouldn't stick to the concrete during casting?
Works by Solo (author)  Honus23 days ago
No, but if I would have, they'd probably be less crunchy. Haha! Next time! LOL!
t3chflicks24 days ago
Look hella slick! Love it! toothbrush was unexpected
Works by Solo (author)  t3chflicks23 days ago
HaHa! Yeah, you caught that! Thanks!
MadeByBarb25 days ago
Wowsa! Lovely project! I especially like the hand drawn concept work! I just need to cross the line into 3D printing! But I still rather 'feel' the material in my hands than see it one a screen...
Works by Solo (author)  MadeByBarb25 days ago
Thanks, Barb! I agree with you 100%! Drawing on paper with pen or pencil is a completely different experience from design on a computer. Sketching on paper can be fresh and spontaneous. Ideas can sometimes evolve just by the way I hold my pencil, making "happy accidents". It's a similar experience working directly hands-on with natural materials. I think that "touch" gives us a sort of connectedness, which can allow the wood, stone, fabric, etc. to somehow tell us what it wants to be.
On the other side of my brain, I'm such a nerd for technology. LOL! I enjoy getting technical with mechanical design. The computer is a good tool for that kind of work. So, I just do whatever feel right at the time.