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Power Handhelds Toys Hardware

What To Do With All of My Gadget Chargers? 696

legoman666 writes "On my desk I have chargers for the following gadgets: Nokia N810, LG Chocolate, Sony Ericcson Z310a, Canon Powershot SD1000, Cowan iAudio X5L, Lenovo Thinkpad, Logitech MX1000 and my Nintendo DS. Not a single pair of them share a similar connector. I have two power strips whose singular purpose is to energize these chargers. My question to Slashdot is: How do you organize all of your different chargers? Please, share your secrets."
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What To Do With All of My Gadget Chargers?

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  • Insomnia (Score:5, Funny)

    by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:47AM (#24762349) Homepage Journal

    I organize mine alphabetically by manufacturer. It gives me something to do on the nights that I can't sleep.

    But no matter how sleep-deprived I am, I would never submit such drivel to slashdot, nor, were I an editor, would I post it.

    • Re:Insomnia (Score:4, Informative)

      by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:01AM (#24762451)

      Organizing those dongles is beyond human efforts. The only real way to deal with those stupid things is to have a tray beneath the rear of the desk to keep their power strips hidden. Then run the wires underneath the desktop and fish the ends up through a hole near where you will plug in the gimmicks that use them.
                Every time I look at mine I feel guilty for not having a smoke alarm hanging above them.

    • Serious issue! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Swizec ( 978239 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:01AM (#24762455) Homepage
      It does raise a serious issue of why the flying fuck in the sky don't gadgets simply have the same bloody connectors for charging? There's no excuse! If all manufacturers could agree on the USB standard then why can't they make a charger standard?
      • by ex0a ( 1199351 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:10AM (#24762515)

        It does raise a serious issue of why the flying fuck in the sky don't gadgets simply have the same bloody connectors for charging? There's no excuse!

        Your question takes two steps to solve. First, hold shift. Second, press 4.

      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Informative)

        by kmac06 ( 608921 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:11AM (#24762523)
        For one thing, different gadgets require different voltages. If you hook up the wrong voltage, you can fry the gadget. Different size plugs helps to avoid this. Also, different devices require different amperage. There is no reason to make a rectifier that can handle higher amperage that it really needs, since that adds cost.
        • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:29AM (#24762641) Homepage

          Boost/Buck converters negate those factors.

          E.g. phones which can charge over USB dont use 5v batteries.

        • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:50AM (#24762763) Homepage

          Yes, AT THE MOMENT.

          There's no reason why gadgets can't be designed around a particular voltage - look at all the stuff you can buy which plugs into car cigarette lighters.

          Being forced to use 12V doesn't seem to slow anybody down.

          • Re:Serious issue! (Score:4, Informative)

            by jcgf ( 688310 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:11AM (#24764837)

            Yes, powering lower voltages off of 12VDC is easy. For my DIY projects I usually just throw in a LM317 or LM350 regulator set to the voltage I want (unless it's 5VDC needed, then I just go with the (slightly cheaper) 7805).

            I don't usually bother, but you can also wire the LM317 as a current regulator. So if you wanted a USB device to run off 12, you can limit the voltage to 5VDC and the current to 500mA etc.

            Anyways, I guess I'm trying to agree with you in my long winded way.

      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:19AM (#24762573) Homepage

        China has already mandated USB charging for all new mobile phones [slashgear.com]

      • And you are more than happy to buy one locking you to a specific manufacturer for $19.99. Same reason the headsets are all different.

        The manufacturers are simply giving you what you ask for. YOU are the problem.


      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:57AM (#24762793) Homepage Journal

        One would assume that the manufacturer's motivations remain where they "should" be, to insure profit. If you lose or break a charger, or if it just plain fails, you can either order another one from the manufacturer for some unreasonable amount, or you can buy a whole new unit. I've had to buy a whole new unit on several occasions.

        The packs are almost always marked for voltage and polarity, but the hardware rarely is. (the packs are probably required by UL to be marked) So if you lose the pack you have no idea what the requirements are to replace it yourself. Experimenting is very likely to lead to smoking the equipment. (see first point, I'm sure they're very satisfied with this possibility)

        Most larger airports have a shop that sells a variety of fixed packs and universal packs for travelers that have forgotten to pack the cord to their gadget, cordless razors in particular. I'd be interested to see some input from one of those employees.

        USB only supplies 5vDC nominal, and not at terribly high current, so I don't think that would make a good universal standard. Firewire would be a better choice for current and voltage, but it can vary between what, +12 and +24 or something like that, and isn't nearly as popular to begin with so that's probably also out.

        Many of my toys are 12vDC, of the round pin variety. Polarity is totally random, as is size of the center pin, but many are compatible. If they're going to standardize, this is probably where to go.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by aurispector ( 530273 )

          "Many of my toys are 12vDC, of the round pin variety. Polarity is totally random, as is size of the center pin, but many are compatible. If they're going to standardize, this is probably where to go."

          I keep a well-used voltage tester handy for exactly this reason. This, coupled with an ultra-fine point sharpie marker (those marked "fine" are ballpoints, not markers) means I can mark the volt, amps and polarity somewhere on the device and mark the charger with the device is belongs to - it's amazing how few

        • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Knightman ( 142928 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @08:39AM (#24763537)

          One would assume that the manufacturer's motivations remain where they "should" be, to insure profit. If you lose or break a charger, or if it just plain fails, you can either order another one from the manufacturer for some unreasonable amount, or you can buy a whole new unit. I've had to buy a whole new unit on several occasions.

          When a charger I own breaks or get lost I stroll to the nearest hotel and asks if they got one of the model I need. The hotels are very happy to get rid of them since they usually have bins full of chargers that people have left in their rooms and never claimed.

      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dikeman ( 620856 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @07:47AM (#24763103) Homepage
        I know a lobbyist who works for a company that makes connectors. He actively lobbies in Brussels against any standard. That's his daywork, he get's paid to do so. His company has thousands of different connectors in production, and standards would make there business les profitable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lazybeam ( 162300 )

        I've had several mobile phones from Nokia, and they've all used the same connector (even if the voltage ranges from 3.3 to 5.8 at least it can get you out of trouble). My latest Nokia has a much smaller connector which annoys me. It means I have to carry the charger around instead of just leaving them where I use them (in bedroom, in kitchen, at work...)

        In a related rant, I have several devices that run off 12V. Problem is they use the same connector but some have reverse polarity. Someone has already blown

      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Phreakiture ( 547094 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @08:32AM (#24763465) Homepage

        USB would actually be a good charger standard, for that matter. It works for some phones and cameras (though Moto perverted the spec for the RAZR -- this should be avoided as it is deliberate proprietariness and that's bullshit).

        Anyway, how about some answers? Over at the Gawker Media site Lifehacker [lifehacker.com], there [lifehacker.com] have [lifehacker.com] been [lifehacker.com] a [lifehacker.com] few [lifehacker.com] suggestions [lifehacker.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by txoof ( 553270 )

        There's probably a warranty-security issue here too. Manufactures of higher end devices spec out a third party plug, or have one designed specifically for their product to reduce any problems further down the line. They know exactly what voltage range, quality of full wave rectification, and total amperage their gizmo needs. Since you just paid $400 for your new toy, it sure would suck for both you and the company if your El Cheapomatic Universal Dongleizer provided one of those resources just outside o

        • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Fishead ( 658061 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @12:36PM (#24767183)

          All devices should have over-voltage protection by default. Even if the device you are manufacturing comes with a super-wahzoo psu that is absolutely limited to 5Vdc output, your device should be able to handle 30Vdc and not have a problem. Simple electronics design, not complicated rocket science. Varistors are cheap. Resetable surface mount fuses are cheap. Voltage regulators are cheap.

      • Re:Serious issue! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:01AM (#24764625) Homepage

        Well, in some ways many HAVE agreed on a charger standard - and it's USB!

        Manufacturers are starting to realize that charging from standard USB ports is less likely to sell "add-ons" like chargers, but FAR more likely to sell the devices themselves due to issues such as this.

        Even my new Motorola Talkabout FRS radios have Mini-USB ports for the sole purpose of charging.

        Unfortunately manufacturers haven't quite standardized on how to handle "dumb" chargers without violating the USB specification. USB devices are not permitted to draw more than 100 mA without negotiating with a PC for more current. So a manufacturer has three choices:
        1) Violate the USB specification (can't put the USB logo on your packaging)
        2) Figure out some way to signal the presence of a "dumb" charger to the device, allowing it to draw more than 100 mA (sometimes even more than 500) when connected to such a charger. There's a de facto standard for Mini-USB plugs - There's a pin that is not connected in normal USB operation that "dumb charger" plugs will usually ground. If a device sees that this pin is grounded it will draw as much current as it can. I know these cables can be used with, at the least, Holux GPS receivers, HTC PDAs, and I believe most new Motorola phones and FRS radios. Unfortunately you cannot have a single cable that will both communicate and "dumb charge" from one of those wallwarts that has a USB Type A jack.
        3) Limit current to 100 mA (this is unsatisfactory for many devices)
        4) Wait for USB 3.0 - Supposedly USB 3.0 has taken this whole issue into consideration.

  • Through them out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rolfc ( 842110 )
    You don't need all those gadgets, and you would save your self a lot of money in the future.
    • by Xiph ( 723935 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:56AM (#24762417)

      Or as the khalif of baghdad, when it was taken by mongolian forces.

      You should be placed in a tower, with all your gadges, and the the doors should be sealed, and all the windows should be barred, and you would no bread nor water delivered for thirty days, for you are so happy for your gadgets, that i can only conclude you can live on them!

      There, i've made a reference to Marco Polo on slashdot, although sort of half-assed but hey...

  • by Unclenefeesa ( 640611 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:51AM (#24762375)
    on a longer power strip would be an obvious solution !!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anss123 ( 985305 )
      I've noticed that the power warts get quite hot. I'm not comfortable keeping them plugged in all the time. On off switches on the strip is in this case useless since you need to keep it on almost always (since something is charging). Ahh, luxury problems. Aren't they sweet?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Meh, I modified a drawer in my "back of the couch table" to have a power strip in it, I then tied up all the plugs with tyewraps and made a charging drawer. Open drawer, plug in and charge item/items. Attached to the power strip is a $3.95 light timer that turns the strip on and off. On an hour before I get home and off when I leave for work. This works great and reduces the parasitic load on my electric bill. Plus everything is out of sight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MagdJTK ( 1275470 )

        I've noticed that the power warts get quite hot.

        Indeed. And all that heat is wasting a lot of energy. Everyone should turn things they're not using off at the wall (or unplug them of course). It's incredible the amount of energy that's being wasted in this way.

  • News for nerds? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kuroji ( 990107 ) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:51AM (#24762377)
    Or stuff that matters? I'm trying to figure out which this falls under, because it doesn't look like it's remotely close to either of them.
  • by extirpater ( 132500 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:52AM (#24762379)

    Risk of Exploding
    1- nokia
    2- dell
    3- sony

  • USB (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:52AM (#24762383)

    Pack them all away and get USB charging cables for them all. Much easier and takes up much less space.

    • Re:USB (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Barny ( 103770 ) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:20AM (#24762579) Journal

      And will make your USB power fall over and die and blow something up, very creative and "performance art".


      500W PSU
      a pair of side cutters
      soldering iron
      a terminal block
      tons of heat-shrink

      Select and solder some heatsinked resistors over the 12v and 5v rails so that you are sinking an amp in each (switchmode PSUs need a constant load).

      Next tap wires for different chargers, 12v and 5v are easy (as almost all are now) 3.3 and 12v will give you around 9v, 5v and 12v will give you 7.

      Then all you need is a nice little cabinet with some ventilation and one power lead and you can dump all your junk in there to charge and GO THE FUCK OUTSIDE AND LEAVE THEM BEHIND!

      A phone, an mp3 player and a camera should do anyone, heck some phones can be your mp3 and camera too now.

      And if you can't follow even a bit of what I said, don't try it :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hcdejong ( 561314 )

        Right, replace a wasteful solution with an even more wasteful one. Running a 500W power supply to supply maybe 20 W on average, dumping another 20W into resistors plus the internal losses of the power supply. It also won't take up less space than the wall warts you replace, plus it requires active cooling (another component to go wrong in the long term, and drive you crazy with noise in the meantime).

        Also, you hardly ever need to charge all your gadgets at once, making your concerns a bit unlikely. And if y

    • Re:USB (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SpooForBrains ( 771537 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:25AM (#24762609)
      If you can get hold of a Blackberry Travel Charger, it serves as a very handy charging plug for all your USB powered devices. Except Sony Ericssons, which, for some reason, will ONLY charge from USB if the USB cable is connected to an actual computer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mike89 ( 1006497 )

        Except Sony Ericssons, which, for some reason, will ONLY charge from USB if the USB cable is connected to an actual computer.

        Another reason I regret buying one :(. My Creative Zen Vision M is the same, which is a PITA. Damn gadget designers, get a clue!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Muad'Dave ( 255648 )

      My Verizon phone (a RAZR), has a USB charging port on it, but will NOT accept any other USB charger. If I try to use my Blackberry charger the phone says something like "Unauthorized charger detected" and refuses to charge.

      I'm tempted to call their support line and ask how I can 'authorize' a different charger for my phone.

  • by DJProtoss ( 589443 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:52AM (#24762389)
    Yes the charge rate is slower, but you need far fewer plugs - I've managed to get usb chargers for all my gadgets ( ds included ) and net result is I only need to manage one plug for the server. ( the number of usb cables is a different question, but they are much easier to manage ).
  • Randomly (Score:5, Funny)

    by Patrik_AKA_RedX ( 624423 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:55AM (#24762411) Journal
    I store all my chargers in a drawer. Each time I need one I sort throught them, untangle the wires and curse about it.
  • by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:58AM (#24762433)

    forget the nay sayers... I for one want to see what the /. community do. Do they run a DC ring around the house? Strip the wires and fudge some coins together to make a potential divider? replace the transformers with rodent power?

    I have 4 USB hdds that I've not gotten around to putting in a case yet, because I dont have the cash for a mixed sata/ide jbod server, all of which need their own adaptor. I have a headset that needs an adaptor. My phone charger, and mp3 charger. That's some 7 sockets I'm using on 8 socket power strip, with the 8th going to a another 4 socket in serial to power my PC and high-fi (i know you shouldn't have power strips in parallel... but pfft, im not running a kettle off it like at Uni :D)

    it is a problem. step down transformers are notoriously wasteful. There has to be a better way!?

  • Do they all NEED to be plugged in at the same time?

    You could get one of those 200-in-1 universal adapter things and keep a note of the power requirements for each device in a handy notepad. Then you can just dump those chargers in a drawer somewhere, where they belong.

  • by ThomsonsPier ( 988872 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @05:59AM (#24762443)
    Cut off the plugs from all of the cables and solder all of the wires to the output of one transformer, thus enabling you to simultaneously charge all of your devices and cook your dinner on the monstrosity you now have plugged into the wall.

    You may wish to update your fire insurance.
  • Callpod (Score:5, Informative)

    by aluxe ( 1352095 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:03AM (#24762479)
    http://callpod.com/ [callpod.com] I think they're a bit pricey, but definitely worth it if you've got a ton of gadgets. Two cellphones qualifies... :)
  • A few practical tips (Score:3, Informative)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:03AM (#24762481) Homepage

    I try to hide whatever chargers and wiring in general I don't have to unplug. That way I can wrap it all up with cable ties and keep it managed somehow. Fastening power strips to the bottom of the desk can be a good option. (The double sided tape thing never works... Use something more permanent.)

    Also non-brand chargers can make sense when space is a premium. TinyPlugs are excellent for Nokia phones, for instance.

    Having an off switch on the power strip with all the chargers can be a good idea too, if you aren't charging anything you can turn the whole thing off and save power. (No leeching.)

  • by TheP4st ( 1164315 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:07AM (#24762503)
    A classic case of luxury problem.
    Why three mobile phones, are you waiting for the not so ineviteble question "Is that 3 mobiles in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
  • Three Mobile Phones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush ( 923173 ) * on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:13AM (#24762533) Homepage
    I neglected to ask this in my previous post: why the f-ck have you got three mobile phones?
  • Welll (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:19AM (#24762569) Homepage

    What sort of answer are you expecting?

    - I chop off all the connectors from my expensive, official chargers and solder them to cheap multi-level adaptors?
    - I bought X, a thing which includes connectors for everything and lets you charge Watts of equipment simultaneously?
    - I run DC electric around my house in multi-voltage and have purchased specific connectors for every piece of equipment I own and hope I don't plug my phone into the wrong voltage?

    I don't think that there is a sensible solution at the moment. I tend to have a charging area - where I keep all the chargers on a power strip which is plugged in whenever I need to charge anything. My wife and I often want to charge two similar items at the same time - for those cases I purchase an extra charger (usually from eBay or a boot sale) or use one mains charger and plug the supplied car-charger into a 220-12v adaptor I bought that has a "cigarette lighter" socket on it.

    The other options don't really bear thinking about. Running DC electric around a house is an absolute nightmare so you're basically going to want to lump all the things needing charge near a suitable DC output - which could be the official chargers on a powerstrip, or a multi-voltage thing, like a PC PSU or similar multi-out DC supply if you have THAT many but I'd check the efficiency of using such a thing when a single mobile phone is plugged into it.

    So you have to have all your charging equipment in one place, and you can either rig up some Heath Robinson solution to charge any peripheral with any connector via any voltage or you could just plug the mains adaptors that you already have into a £2.99 power strip. You can neaten it up by hiding the actual blocks out of site and rigging up a bit of polished wood that can hold all the various gadgets with the right connectors already in place through holes on it. But that's just poncing about.

    You don't save much by doing anything different - in fact, the exact opposite when something goes wrong or doesn't work first time. Forget the whiners moaning about the power used by extra PSU's on the strips - plug in an energy monitor while they are all idle if you are that worried, but the easiest solution is "plug them all in when something is charging, take them all out when nothing is", which is facilitated by an amazing invention called the main switch on a power strip.

    There is no magic solution. Even "wireless charging" is bound to be the same in 100 years - every bloody manufacturer will use a different field strength, frequency, polarisation etc. so that you have to buy their charger. Until someone (ISO, I'm looking at you) actually standardises on a DC supply to a house and countries enforce its use in law, you're stuck with it. The only DC standard I'm aware of is in cars and that actually WORKS to a degree - a car charger is a car charger and will work in basically every car in the world (24v supplies on lorries not included, but they do usually come with rather large warnings on the dash and you can get 24-12v convertors for just such an occasion).

  • Keep-A-Cable (Score:3, Informative)

    by lapse ( 94787 ) * on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @06:28AM (#24762625)
    I've found this to be very helpful: keepacable.com [keepacable.com].
  • by wyoung76 ( 764124 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @07:08AM (#24762845)
    http://www.greenplug.us/ [greenplug.us] Green Plug has been mentioned before on /. and has been adopted by Westinghouse (http://mobile.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/06/15/0136223) If it is adopted widely, the problem of multiple chargers will largely disappear.
  • Labels (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:18AM (#24764013)

    I have a bunch of sheets of blank white label (sticker) stock. Each time I get a new charger thingy or other non-standard wire, I just cut out a little piece of sticker, stick it on the charger and write what device it's for. That's also good for going through your drawer of chargers and seeing- oh! I haven't had that XYZ for years! So this charger can get tossed.

  • by chord.wav ( 599850 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:00AM (#24764611) Journal

    I know what you mean, I have a Ferarri F350, a hybrid Toyota, a Hummer and a Smart. Oh I forgot the Tesla prototype. The thing is, I want all of them to perform at their 100% but I want to use the same fuel. What do you slashdotters do to avoid this kind of problem?

    Answer: Stop whining about trivial problems you already know the answer for.

  • by drpt ( 1257416 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @11:58AM (#24766551) Homepage
    Use microwaves,, just place face up in a microwave safe dish for 48 seconds 4.5v, 81 seconds 12v (microwave ovens vary you may need to tweak the times) after it cools off try it, if it isn't charged simply repeat the process.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!