Inspiration

How many broken phone charging cables do you have lying around your house that are all victims of the same fraying at the end of the wires? Probably a good amount, just like the majority of people that have smartphones. Our team personally always found our chords breaking due to the unrealistic angles they had to sometimes approach our chargers.

What it does

We’ve developed a solution to this frustrating problem through a ball and socket design that allows flexibility in a charging cable without sacrificing the durability.

How we built it

We used Autodesk Inventor to CAD the charger, then send it to a MakerBot to print. For the components of the charger, we used the inside of the Apple iPhone charging block.

Challenges we ran into

The largest problems we ran into were 3D Printing and deconstructing the Apple iPhone charging block. For the charging block, the largest issue was taking it apart without damaging any of the inside components and then adding our own slight adjustments to the system. Having very little previous experience with it, soldering was a huge challenge that involved lots of patience and frustration. We ended up settling for just using electrical tape between tied-together copper wires when we started getting crunched for time. 3D Printing became a giant issue when we left our design overnight Saturday to print and came back early Sunday morning to a disastrously botched print. We ended up having to run over to a different lab and tinker with the design a little bit to shorten the print time.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of the fact we overcame the inevitable challenges that accompany a Hackathon, especially when it's your first one. We were able to come out with a physical prototype despite a failed 3D print and minimal time to make up for it. Our product isn't perfect, but its something that we all worked ourselves to the very limit on and did the very best we could, so no matter what we grew from the experience.

What we learned

We learned how to actually set up a 3D print using our CAD files with the MakerBot software. This being our first real project together using the software, it was a bit challenging getting all of the exact details sorted out. We picked up a lot of basic electrical engineering knowledge in our many soldering attempts. Most importantly, however, we learned through all of our failures and successes that when you pour your heart into a project and don't quit the whole way that it is an extremely rewarding experience.

What's next for Flex-Charge

The next step for Flex-Charge would be moving in a more space efficient direction. We will need to scale down our large prototype while making sure all the empty space on the inside in minimized.

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