If you have ever played Pokémon Go, you probably know that there is just one thing that can come between you having the most fun of your life while playing it – your phone battery dying off. It often feels final, abrupt and most of all; frustrating.
It is almost like when a referee blows the final whistle in a football game, just when a player of the team you’re supporting was going to score a game-winning goal.
Pokémon Go can get really exciting and addictive. That is why it has players from all age groups: from adults to children. It’s no surprise to find players hunting pocket monsters for hours on end. The only downside so far has been quick phone battery consumption.
To curb this problem and enable players to enjoy longer hours catching pocket monsters, several solutions have come up already including a Poke Ball shaped phone charger.
Nevertheless, none of the solutions can match what Minecraft artist Spencer Kern came up with. Kern has created a portable, solar-powered 3D printed Pokémon station which is capable of charging at least a dozen Phones simultaneously. For many die-hard fans of Pokémon Go across the globe, this invention is literally the definition of heaven on earth. Picture this!
A fully charged phone can last only a few hours at best while playing Pokémon Go. As a player, by the time you overcome the Zubats and Pidgeys in order to meet with the more thrilling Ninetails; you will already be low on battery. Therefore, you’ll need more than just a few hours to get to the more exciting parts of the game.
So besides carrying an external battery pack, what other solution is out there? Well, that is where the 3D printed solar-powered Pokémon station comes in. Not only is this solution effective, but it’s also the most environment friendly version you will find.
Kern himself is not new to the spirit of community and fun that comes with playing Pokémon Go. The craftsman works in the Swedish Game Studio Mojang for the Minecraft team in Washington. He explains that the studio is highly divided among various player groups wishing to prove that their team is the best. For this reason, they competitively play Pokémon Go quite often:
“Like millions of other people I have been swept up in the magic and nostalgia of Pokémon once again thanks to the release of Pokémon Go. It has been amazing to watch people come together and enjoy catching digital monsters out in the world with their friends and neighbors.”
Water Cooler Social Effect
Kern disclosed that for the most part what he found to be most appealing about Pokémon Go was the social aspect that is promoted by the game because usually, players get to meet with other players around PokeStops. Kery says that he couldn’t help noticing how people got frustrated when playing the game especially because of their rather short battery life.
It’s with this in mind that he thought of creating a thematic phone charging station that allows players to recharge their phone batteries, continue playing Pokémon and meet or at least get to talk with other players.
When he gave it more thought, he decided that the best theme for the charging station he wanted to create was going to be “The Pokémon Station”. In the original Pokémon Go, Pokémon Station is basically a hub where players take their pocket creatures to enable them to heal in-between battles. Kern’s Pokémon Station is pretty much the same with just a slight difference.
His station serves as a charging station to fuel twelve smartphones all at once. This way, players get to savor the game for hours with no worries about draining their batteries.
Construction of the Pokémon Station
Kern’s phone charging solution for Pokémon Go players is essentially a shell beautifully shaped like a Pokémon Station mostly through the combination of both wood and 3D printed components. The charger however, is Solar Powered making it Environmentally Friendly and apparently can deliver enough juice to power about 12 phones at a go.
Kern explains that:
“The basic idea behind the construction of the Pokémon Station was to take a Yeti 400 solar generator that I normally use for camping, and build a decorative shell for it. The shell would then have a massive USB hub built into it so that it could power 10-12 cell phones simultaneously.”
The good thing is Spencer Kern is savvy when it comes to 3D Design hence he was first able to build a model that would act as a blueprint that enabled him to find the ideal layout for his Pokémon Station. When asked why he had to build a blueprint he said:
“This allows me to quickly test out different layouts and construction methods while keeping everything scaled properly. It is also helpful to have a complete model early on because it means that I can build, test, and print all of the 3D components based on the designs of the main structure.”
It was possible for Kern to 3D print the entire Pokémon Station. Nonetheless, he knew that 3D printing it all would take him a lot of time. The best solution he was able to come up with was to use common wood for all ordinary pieces and supports. For example, when creating the walls and roofs, all he had to do was cut and sand them down then glue them together in order to form the canvas on which more detailed 3D printed components would be added.
Some 3D printed components were purely of decorate importance to make the Pokémon Station have an appealing look and since some of these parts could not have been properly created from Wood, 3D printing bridged the gap. Kern says he took 3 nights to 3D print and sand all the parts that he needed for the Pokémon Station .
Finally, he finished the design with a paint job and where painting wasn’t sufficient he glued some custom made parts onto the 3D printed surfaces. This included the Pokémon Station sign and the glass doors:
“This was much faster than attempting to paint them and it helped cover up some of the deep surface irregularities that would have taken forever to sand out.”
Kern was certain that the powerful Yeti 400 solar generator he’d used would do the trick once plugged into a USB hub. The final model had two standard power outlets. But Kern was still not convinced and wanted to determine once and for all if his labor would reap good results. He discloses that:
“A quick weekend trip to a downtown park provided a great test for the Pokémon Station. There were tons of trainers running around and everyone seemed to have a great time hanging out while charging up.”
If you’d like to find out more about 3D printing then please check out my Introduction to 3D Printing at Home online course.
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Happy 3D printing!