Mount your iPad in your truck or van
A while back, Dan Broadbelt wrote an article about a computer stand he built for his work van. It was simple, but seemed like an ingenious idea. One problem, though: I use an iPad. Nonetheless, the idea was planted, so I decided to try my own version.
Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet, make sure to check out Bill Hillman’s recent article, “iPad for Carpenters”. He’s got some great tips in there.
Anyway, as a finish carpenter, I like to use natural wood whenever possible; this iPad stand project was no exception. I had a few offcuts of glued-up 8/4 cherry and a chunk of 3/4-in. cherry ply from a past project. I also picked up a piece of scrap 3-in. ABS from a jobsite, and grabbed a 45°street elbow and a toilet-mounting ring from the hardware store. Pretty basic materials list as far as projects go.
My plan was to make a stand that would hold the iPad so it would stay securely in place while also framing the screen, almost like a picture.
I started by ripping the glue-ups right down the glue line, jointed/planed everything square, and sanded everything down to 220. I figured I should make it a little nicer-looking than just simple square stock, so I decided to give everything a 1/4-in. round-over. My thought was to make some molding that wrapped around the screen, about 3/4 in. or so.
My dimensions are based on my personal setup. I use the Otterbox Defender for iPad case (without the removable cover/stand).
After all was said and done, my stand ended up being a bit thicker than I originally predicted. The molding has to run flush to the backside of the plywood and allow for the thickness of the iPad and case plus a little under 1/8 in., so things slide in properly. And, finally, it needs to have enough thickness to lap over the case and hold it in place (I chose 1/4 in.). Add all that up and you have 2 in. You could also use 1/2-in. ply and an iPad with no case, which would mean cutting the trim to just over 1 in. thick.
The molding was easy. I just laid out the cuts and plowed them out on the table saw (see photo, right). I originally intended to install molding on two long sides and only one short side. In fact, the first version I made was built in just that way. It worked just fine, but it looked like I forgot a piece during the construction process. This time, I decided to try something different.
I laid out a long, straight center line where I could bore out the bulk of the material with a forstner bit. Since my cutout needed to be 1 1/8 in., my 1-in. bit was the obvious choice.
The bit made quick work of removing material, but I ran into a slight problem when I went to bore two holes for the charging cord. First hole, no problem. Second hole, there was no material for me to index the center of the bit to, so I thought I’d just shoot from the hip. I plunged down and immediately felt the work piece grab and scoot a little. You can see in the picture to the right that I stopped early, but I was not about to try that again!
For cleaning everything up, I knew I needed to rout off the waste, so I pinned on a small ripping of the same plywood I was using for the project, which I had cut to proper height. My Festool screw clamps came in super-handy here. I thought I would need to clamp one end and rout the other, then vice versa. The top edge of the clamps was just under the bottom of the router. Sweet! I could rout everything without screwing around.
Assembly was pretty straightforward: Miter saw, 1 in. pins, and glue.
I left everything set up, sanded again with 220, applied a couple coats of rattle can semi-gloss lacquer, scuffed with 320, and applied one final finish coat.
I used the toilet ring for the mounting plate and left it unglued so I could rotate the orientation from portrait to landscape whenever it suits my needs.
Luckily for me, my van has a cup holder that is just wider than 3 in. at the top, and it tapers to just under 3 in. at the bottom. I cut a 4-in. long piece of ABS and hammered it down into the cup holder. Since I can still drop a “no-spill” coffee cup or bottle of water inside the piece of pipe, I didn’t have to lose one of my cup holders to the iPad stand. Plus, the more things stay fixed in place, the less chance there is for me to lose them.
I tried to use some clear caulk to help keep the new stand secure, but, apparently, vinyl-to-ABS does not have the best adhesion (was sort of a gummy mess). It actually stays very firm just tapping it into the taper, but I think I may use my angle drive and sink a couple short screws through the pipe from the inside.
Beyond that, all I do is push in the elbow, and then attach the stand.
After using my first version for a little while, I realized I had overlooked having a place to store a stylus. Easy fix. I had a U-shaped clip for attaching coaxial cable to wood. My stylus fits perfectly.
|My dash-mounted clipboard is now gone, and has been replaced with something much more efficient. I can read emails, go over bids, take notes…|
|…or read my favorite online publications.|
I have yet to use the GPS capabilities while driving, just because I’m not sure about safety. Obviously, you have an interface that is at least five times larger than your average Tom Tom or Garmin, but I don’t trust all my connections enough yet.