Make your own MacBook docking station slash adapter holder slash cable sorter thingy

Problem:  New Macbook Pro, two offices, lots of peripherals/monitors/etc to plug in and disconnect at least twice a day.

I plug in four to five different items into my new MacBook Pro with Retina Display every morning when I get to work.  All of these get unplugged at the end of the day, or alternatively when I leave to go to my other office on the other side of campus, in which case I’m plugging/unplugging stuff four times in a day.

Aside from the tediousness of it, there’s also the issue of keeping the two display adapters in the proper order so my external displays aren’t swapped back and forth every time I plug in.

This is a pain to manage several times a day

This is a pain to manage several times a day

Potential solutions:

Henge Docks:  Their MBP w/Retina product isn’t out yet

Twelve South BookArc Pro: MBPr solution also not out yet, and though it includes a cable holder, it doesn’t give you a way to keep the cables in the proper port order.

Kickstarter W1PPS:  This looked cool but failed to get funded

Matrox DS-1 Thunderbolt Dock:  $250 and not out yet. Also only handles one display (only one Thunderbolt out), so I’m still going to have at least 3 cables (Magsafe, 2 TBs).

Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock: $400! and not out yet.  Also only handles one display (only one Thunderbolt out), so I’m still going to have at least 3 cables (Magsafe, 2 TBs).

Homemade solution: InstaMorph Moldable Plastic

IMG_0596

6oz container of Instamorph pellets

The instamorph pellets at room temperature

The instamorph pellets at room temperature

Check out the pictures below of the 0.1 version of my homemade dock thingy:

The dock thingy inserted into the MacBook Pro

The dock thingy inserted into the MacBook Pro

I have some gaps between the adapters I need to seal up, and the MagSafe slips out too easily, but otherwise this is a good version 0.1

I have some gaps between the adapters I need to seal up, and the MagSafe slips out too easily, but otherwise this is a good version 0.1

Yes, its hideous, but it took a total of 5 minutes of work.  Turns out the hot water outlet on the office coffeemaker is the exact right temperature needed to soften the pellets.  Just pour the pellets into a ceramic cup (don’t use paper or styrofoam unless you want the plastic to stick to the cup), then fill the cup with hot water.  Once the pellets turn clear, they are ready to be formed.   Poor the water out of the mug and then extract your mass of plastic.

I “cooked” too much plastic (about half the 6oz container) so I broke the glob in half and put the rest back in the bottle.  I rolled the remaining part out with my hands like you would have in elementary school when making a snake with art clay.  Then I wrapped it around the cables, being sure to press down around each adapter end and especially in between them.  After that’s done, you let it cool until the product turns white again.  If you mess up, just re-heat the product and start all over again.

This only took about 1/4 of the 6oz container, so I have plenty of pellets left to make one for my other office and will still have 3oz of Instamorph to piddle around with.