What the heck’s a popsocket?

I asked my students what these silly things on the back of their phones were, and why they were needed.  Apparently, phones are sufficiently heavy that you’ll drop them on your face while trying to read/text while lying down.  They also seem to help with taking selfies.  It turns out that they were thought up by a philosophy professor so tell that to your Mom and Dad when they ask why their paying so much money for your liberal-arts education.  Heck, I’ll even give you some inspiration, because one of my students bought me my very own popsocket (I feel sooooo millennial) and I just had to customize it.

My kickin’ T-Mobile slider phone – unlocked and now Popsocketed.

I first went over to Thingiverse to see what was available for customizing Popsockets.  The design didn’t quite work for me; the two pieces do not fit together, most likely because the design doesn’t account for kerf.  Well, it’s sort of kerf, but kerf is the space made by cutting an object into two, and here I’m dealing with space lost by subtle calibration errors in extruding filament from my 3D printer.  The point is, I need to design my own model.

The three pieces of my Periodic Popsocket, sliced and ready to print.

I’m a fan of OpenSCAD for creating my 3D designs as I feel more in control over the dimensions than when using a graphical CAD program.  The script to create the pieces is located at the end of this post, in case someone is interested, but it’s a pretty straightforward design with a few cylinders and cutouts.

Periodic Popsocket – unplugged and unglued

There’s still some tweaking to do since the green and gold filaments (PLA here) extrude slightly differently, and therefore I needed to do some post-print processing to get the pieces to fit.  I also suspect that a few people won’t notice that’s actually the silhouette of the periodic table – most likely because I haven’t included the f-block.

Selfie? This is a pre front-facing-camera phone.

What I find fascinating about this project is that it took about 24 hours:  Student gives me a Popsocket (reminder – bribes only work if I know what to do with the present); CAD design created; prototype printed; 7 iterations of revisions completed; and blog post written.  That doesn’t include the test I gave, the office hours I held or the dinner I cooked.  It also doesn’t include the grading I did, but that’s because I didn’t do any grading.  I think I’m close to something the chem club can use for another fundraiser.

Caption here – seriously, I’ve run out of ideas.



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2 thoughts on “What the heck’s a popsocket?”

  1. Imagine my surprise when my Google search for popsocket chemistry brought me to the blog of BoBtheChemist. I am also a person they call Bob and I am a chemist. My dad calls me Bob The Chemist all the time and at a previous position the staff referred to me as Chemist Bob. I have read a few of your blogs and they are very interesting. Thank you for sharing your love of chemistry and your knowledge. I look forward to reading more.

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