A couple of days ago, someone posted a link to a tweet in a Slack instance I’m on. The tweet demonstrates using a fake “VGA cable” to charge an iPhone. It looks to be a product in Japan — just a plastic-molded VGA housing that you’d insert an existing charge cable into. It’s silly, clever, and a tiny bit of a real-world-troll.
It also seems
un-Googleable un-DuckDuckGoable. The search results are flooded with stories of counterfeit Apple dongles, cheap third-party dongles, and the like. I commented on the Slack thread that… you know, it doesn’t seem too geometrically complex, and that it might be a fun 3D modeling project to remake. I thought the knurled thumbscrews might be especially challenging. I’d never done texture like that before and welcomed the problem.
On my lunch break, I grabbed the one VGA cable I still have kicking around the basement, my calipers, and notebook. The shape of my cable end was 100% boxy, boring, and not as immediately recognizable as a VGA cable. But still, it gave me some starting measurements.
I used those measurements to rough-out the base geometry.
Later in the day I found the Knurled Surface Finishing Library for OpenSCAD on Thingiverse. This 100% simplified the job of making knurling. I’d expected to have to do some kind of spiral extrude of a v-shape turned at just the right angle. But nope, with that library, I just had to call a function to make cylinder and then give it a bunch of knurling and rounding parameters! With that out of the way, the rest fell quickly into place.
The next day I made two variations that scooped out some insides to make room for cables. One was a cylindrical tunnel right through, with no special retainers for any specific cable end. You’d have to use a lot of hot glue or epoxy to get it to stay. The other was for a specific pink Amazon Basics Lightning cable I happened to have bought in bulk a number of years ago.
I was a little worried about the tolerances of both my design and printer, but the cable fit beautifully! Because my phone is my camera and my camera is my phone, I only have a picture of it charging my headphones, which is a little less believable than the phone, but still looks cool!
The STL and source files for the Fake VGA Charge Cable are on Thingiverse. There are three variants: the one for my Amazon cable, one with a generic passthrough hole, and the completely solid version. They’re released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license, so if you have a totally different charge cable, feel free to make some measurements and remix the design to fit your situation. You can take the solid STL file and edit that directly in your favorite CAD software, or if you’re familiar with OpenSCAD, you can just drop your measurements into the top of the file.
I hope you have fun with the design! If you do decide to modify or print it, please send pictures!