Custom Nintendo Switch Dock made out of Aluminum
This is Modified’s very first project! I was pretty excited to work on something for the Nintendo Switch.
I don’t particularly care for the stock Switch Dock. Why? Two main reasons:
- Cable Locations
First off, the size: it completely covers the front the screen of Switch. Although, there is no current stock way to play the on the Switch’s screen when docked; you wouldn’t be able to regardless! By making the Dock smaller, should this feature be added, I’ll have the ability to play this way. It is also easier to insert the Switch into the Dock.
Now, the cable locations for the Dock are just fine if you are one of the very few that put their Dock/Switch sideways, however, I don’t think that was ever the intended use. I, personally, have my Dock orientated so the Switch’s screen is facing out. When using the stock Dock, the Ethernet, HDMI, Power, and USB all come out of the side. The cables have to wrap around to the front or back. I find the engineering behind this choice a little strange, however, it does all the dock to be potentially cheaper. Otherwise, vertical mount connectors would have to be used and those are in lesser demand thus less quantity made equaling a higher cost for the part. The connectors used are more readably available.
I remedy this by laying the board flat and rotating it 90 degrees. This allowed the USB to come out of the front, and the other connectors out of the back. It is so much cleaner and easier to use. I can plug a USB cable in without having to remove the Switch, pick up the dock, pop out the plastic cover, plug in the cable, put the cover back on, and put the Switch back in. I don’t really see any of the HDMI or power cables either (other than my less than stellar cable management giving them away ha). With having the two USB A ports sticking out of the front, I was forced to mount the spring loaded USB C mechanism above the circuit board.
After tearing apart the Dock and doing some measuring, I did have one design requirement: I had a scrap chunk of Aluminum I needed to fit everything inside of. It was more than tall enough, however, the length and width was cutting it close. The PCB just barely fit. The front wall ended up a hair under 0.050. I was worried about how that was going to machine, and if you look closely enough in the video you’ll see some unfortunate vibration as it was machining. We tried fly cutting it, but that appeared to actually make it slightly worse. Thankfully, it’s not too noticeable. The rest machined largely without issue, other than having to use a long 1/2″ end mill to do the slot where the Switch fits. There was some minor tool deflection.
The rest of the Dock did not have any design challenges and turned out really well. When it came to machining there was a few
For the back, I put in a few holes for “some” airflow. I haven’t put a probe in there to measure heat, but considering the stock dock doesn’t much if any airflow those may not have been necessary. The whole Dock is a big heatsink anyways! Also on the back, I programmed a cool 45 degree facing operation. This created a really cool look.
The front features an engraving of the Switch and Nintendo logos. I took the opportunity to have some fun, and dot in the “i” in Nintendo lights up green when the Dock is use. I was able to use the stock LED board with a little wrapping of Kapton tape and silicon. There has been a lot of comments about Nintendo coming after me, but this is a one-time only for personal use creation. It’s not for sale. Nintendo isn’t going to bother with anything.
The bottom features a clear acrylic panel I cut on my K40 laser. I love being able to see the guts!
The Dock turned out really well, and I hope you think so too! I believe it’s the first Switch Dock to be made out of Aluminum, have USB out of the front, and definitely the heaviest!
Please check out the video to see the Dock’s creation and subscribe if you haven’t already.
I love creating and building things. I have been doing Mechanical Design and CAM programming for 8 years. I also love Gaming, Electronics and PCB Design.
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