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Van Computer Stand

Have you ever wished you had a little desk inside your van, where you could write notes, or even comfortably type on your computer? Well, here’s a nifty solution for any van or truck with an extra cup holder.

If you have an extra cup holder in your van or truck’s console area, it’s pretty easy to make yourself a mini desk area. I initially came up with this idea for my business netbook, as there was nowhere to comfortably sit and type on it. The stand is made from ordinary PVC fittings, scrap wood, and epoxy.

(Note: Click on any image to enlarge. Hit the "back" button on your browser to return to article.)

The side that fits into the cup holder is composed of a “Sanitary T” fitting with a short stub on one end. You’ll have to use your imagination to make this stub fit snugly in your particular cup holder. For my GMC van I found a threaded electrical conduit collar that fit well. I force-fit this collar by sanding down the top 1 in. or so of a piece of PVC connecting stub, and then threaded the collar onto the PVC stub. The other half of the stub was glued into the other end of the “T”. I found out it needed to fit tighter in its cup holder when the table would swing out on its own every time I made a turn. With a wrap and a half of duct tape, problem solved. It fits snuggly and stays in any position I push it to.

The table was made with scrap plywood and banded with thin strips of pine. I custom-sized it to fit my Samsung netbook. In the bottom of the table, I routed a shallow groove for the 90° elbow to fit into. Epoxy was used to secure the elbow in the groove. Finally, I sprayed the whole contraption black to match the rest of my van’s console.

After using it for a while, I realized that it was just as valuable as a small note desk, and could even serve as a handy lunch table!

If you use a "T" fitting instead of a straight 90° elbow, you’ll also have a handy place to store your misc. pens, pencils, and markers.

When I first put the stand to use, I didn’t glue the table/elbow into the “T,” so that it could be easily dismantled and removed, if the need arose. In practice, however, it never had to be removed because it never got in the way! But sometimes it would work its way loose while driving and fall out, so, eventually, I did glue it in place.


11 Responses to “Van Computer Stand”

  1. Joe Stoddard - Mountain Consulting Group

    Love it – this is going in my “Cheap Tricks” presentation at IBS. Who needs a JottoDesk?

  2. Lanya LaPunta

    Brings about the old saying:

    Necessity may be the mother of invention, but ingenuity is the papa.

    Clever, very clever.

  3. Eric Tavitian

    Dan, you’ve gotten my creative juices flowing. I’m going to take this and try it in a used GMC Safari van that’s being prepared this week as my daily driver. This is almost exactly what I was looking to do. Very cool…

  4. Matt Follett

    Cool is right! I use a tablet computer but could very easily modify the design to hold the screen at the proper angle & just use my wireless keyboard like I always do. This falls under, ‘Now why didn’t I think of that’. Great idea.

  5. John Bunday

    Super Idea! Just like the Cop Cars but a lot less expensive. I’ve got a ford 550 work truck with that stupid fold down center seat section/storage console. Worthless. The two spaces between the three seat sections collect enough cookie crumbs and other debres to throw the whole rig over 26K (CDL requirements) And god forbid, should you loose your glasses between the sections count on a half day lost. Is there any one out there who has removed the center seat section and replaced same with a builder engineered user friendly alternative?

  6. Billy the Builder

    Nice Idea. Any thought to what might happen in a Crash? Vehicle interiors are now designed to protect people from injury when hitting the interior surfaces.

  7. Ray Menard

    Oh man, this is such a clever & useful item. I am impressed. As for the crash test issue – do you leave it loaded into the cup holder or is it set up to be pulled out when underway – maybe stored in rear cup holder?

  8. Dave Linn


    Like the thought but… I take it you work only in secure areas and never leave your van even when your in at Home Depot/Lowes picking up a dollar worth of screws. Or do you bill for a new laptop on every job?


  9. Roe Osborn

    Dan, Very cool idea!!! Especially now that they’ve outlawed texting while driving in most states!!! Quick, figure out a way to mass produce the thing and get a patent, or somebody else will!!! Roe

  10. Dan Broadbelt

    Billy the Builder says:
    November 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm
    Nice Idea. Any thought to what might happen in a Crash? Vehicle interiors are now designed to protect people from injury when hitting the interior surfaces.
    Thanks all for the positive feedback. As far as what may happen in a crash this little swinging table is the least of my concerns. First of all, I’m not one of those people worried about everything. If I was, there are a lot more objects in my van that would be of more concern. I’ve got a few thousand lbs. of tools in the back any one of which under the right circumstances could come flying into the drivers compartment and kill or injury me. Actually that aluminum water bottle beside the computer stand has a pretty good chance of flying out and thwunking me in the head. (I’m pretty sure thwunking is a word, as I’ve seen Gary Larson use it in the Far Side cartoons on more than one occasion, also spell check was good with it).

    All of us in the trades take on a lot of risk every day we go out to work. You can’t worry about everything, so I spend my worrying on things like using table saws or other stuff with fast spinning metal objects.

    Dave Linn says:
    November 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm
    Like the thought but… I take it you work only in secure areas and never leave your van even when your in at Home Depot/Lowes picking up a dollar worth of screws. Or do you bill for a new laptop on every job?
    I’m glad you like the thought Dave, but it’s hard to tell from you’re your words whether you’re being facetious or you think I’m an idiot.
    (I don’t see one of those smiling, winking semi-colons ;)

    Of course I don’t leave the computer out in plain sight on a regular basis, this was only for the purpose of getting my idea across. I spent 25 years of my life in the military and I know that concealment is not cover.

    I’ll try to attach some photos of my van’s “Admin. area” to show how it appears on a day-in/day-out basis. Usually the “desk” only has some odd note pads, notes, and other things that I need to remember on that particular day. Also note the 2 flat bungee cords going across the desk. They keep things from flying off when you go around a corner, but they are sized to hold down the computer on the rare occasion when I have it up and running while I’m driving.

    Actually the thing it comes in most handy for, on a daily basis, is being used as a lunch tray. I’m sure I’m not the only one out here who is basically living their working hours out of their vehicle while using the local Home Depot, Lowes, Wawa, Sheetz, (type in your local business here) parking lot as their office away from home.

    BTW in DSCN3541 the computer is in it’s stored location. Can you see it?



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