Desktop Power Supply Hack

I received this wooden tool chest as a bonus for buying some old furniture from an out-of-business machine shop. It was sitting around for a while and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had the idea that it would be cool for something and, in full pack-rat mentality, I’d hung on to it for several years.

A fair amount of my recent projects have been what you might call stupidly-attentive-to-detail. I’ve usually obsessed about having every wire cut to length and soldered perfectly. I have delayed a project while I waited for that one perfect $2.00 part to arrive in the mail. I realized this was queuing up my project list and creating quite a bit of frustration. I was actually not getting any enjoyment from side projects. So, I decided to have a little hack project and get something running in a single evening.


As I work on more electronics projects I have had a genuine need of a bench-top power supply. A lot of the projects I’ve worked on in the past were for the sake of doing the project. I didn’t have much to show or use again after I was done. I wanted to build something that I could hang onto. So I decided to hack together a simple 5 / 12 VDC power supply.

After a quick survey of my parts bins, I had everything I needed that couldn’t be bought in one trip to Radio Shack. I had the box, a PC power supply, PC fan grill, 120 VAC plug, soldering iron, hole saw. I rode to Radio Shack and picked up the remaining: wire terminals, switch, and blue LED PC fan! In a few hours I was able to hack a working power supply together.

The craftsmanship is pretty crude. I had to cut the AC plug hole with a jig saw. The pictures show how badly the hole saw tore up the case. The wiring is definitely not pretty. But it works and that’s all I wanted. I had fun building it and having to MacGyver it.


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