Desktop Electric Switch Project

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Like many people I had been using a power strip to turn on and off my desktop environment. But I always found the mess and unsightliness of all of those cords and plugs on the desktop displeasing. See the picture to the right for an example of what I mean. I also disliked having to reach over those plugs to operate the switch on the power strip.

I could never find a solution to this issue in any electronics store. I also failed to find a solution on-line. So I finally decided to roll my own solution. This project is the result of this decision.

The device that I designed and built for this project consisted of a switch which is set on the desk and a 4 outlet box which is set on the floor.

I spent about $25 for the parts used in this project. This is the part list:

  • 12 feet of 3 wire rubber cord (18-3)
  • 3 wire light duty plug
  • Handy Box [4x2x2] with 1/2" knockouts
  • Handy Box toggle switch cover
  • Handy Box [4x4x2] with 1/2" knockouts
  • Handy Box square cover for 2 duplex outlets
  • Toggle Switch [SPST]
  • 2 Duplex Outlets
  • 3 Romex Clamp Connectors
  • Package of 8-32 12" Stove Bolts [round head]
  • 1 wire nut.

The Switch Assembly

I used about 5" of the cord, the smaller Handy Box, the Handy Box cover, the switch and one Romex Clamp for the Switch Assembly. Construction was straight forward. I did replace the 1" Stove Bolts with 1/2" Stove Bolts, but was just for appearances.

The other end of the cord will, of course, be inserted into the Outlet Assembly.

The Outlet Assembly

The Outlet Assembly uses the rest of the components in the parts list. The pictures to the right show the partially assembled outlet box.

On the left you can see the box with the two cords inserted through Romex clamps. Once again I replaced the 1" screws on the Romex clamps with the 1/2" ones that I bought for that purpose.

The top cord is the one from the switch. Notice that I colored the switch return wire red to prevent it being confused with a neutral wire. This wire should be connected to the hot side of the outlets. The two black wires are connected together using the wiring nut. This routs the hot wire from the plug to the switch. The white wire should be connected to the neutral side of the outlets. The green wires are the ground wires.

On the right you can see the box lid with the two outlets attached. Notice the white and black jumper wires used to connect the two outlets in parallel. Notice also the green screws to which you should connect the two green wires. I added a green jumper wire between the two green screws but that was not really necessary with a metal enclosure.

The Final Result

The fully assembled device, with the plug placed on the end of the input cord, is shown in the picture to the right. I added some stick-on rubber pads to the bottom of both boxes and replaced the existing power strip as shown below.

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