DIY Tablet Mount

While our swagger wagon is in the body shop getting all fixed up (we were rear-ended a few weeks ago) and we’re driving a nice rental van complete with a dvd system, I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you what we do sans dvd player in our van when we need one…like for road trips.

Two years ago, when we were on the hunt for a bigger vehicle to accommodate baby #3, we had a list of things we wanted and didn’t want – this color or this color, none of these colors, leather for easy clean-up, and low mileage on our new-to-us, used vehicle.  On that list at first was “NOT a minivan” and low and behold, that’s what we ended up getting thanks to their lower costs and better gas mileage.  Also not on our list was a dvd system.  It’s not that we think they’re bad because they’re quite handy at times but the thought of dealing with two (later three) toddlers screaming to watch a movie on the five-minute drive to the grocery store did not sound fun to me.  Plus, we had a portable dvd player that my in-laws had given us that worked just fine…except that the first time we used it on-the-go in the van by propping it up on the folded-down middle seat, Seraphia got car sick watching a movie and before we could gage what exactly was going on with her whiny demenear…well, you can imagine.  Thank God for the tiny gas station bathroom that washed all of her stomach contents off her person.  We needed something else by way of tv.  Something that eventually all rows would be able to see and that was where a car television should be – up high and towards the front.

So, last Christmas we used some gifted cash to buy this refurbished Kindle Fire*, found this case* for it at Dirt Cheap for $4 (it’s a really awesome case!), and figured out a FREE way to attach it to our sun roof for optimum viewing for all strapped toddlers. 

Here’s how…

[By the way, if you think I’m cray for writing about this, I probably am.  Ha!  But, let me tell you, I scoured the internet for days before we made a road trip that we needed this to happen for this past summer and there was zilch.  Now that we’ve concocted our own solution, I thought maybe it’d be helpful to the two or three other peeps out there searching for a similar solution!  :)   ]

So, we had our Kindle/tablet in it’s case and we needed it to be temporarily mounted just for long trips.  If we opened the case, we could slide one end of it into the opening of the sun roof and the whole thing would hang there just great.  Only, when we drove with it like this, it swayed back and forth…not so great if we wanted to hamper the car sickness of our oldest or if anyone really wanted to watch the movie playing.  To stop the swaying, I ran to Lowe’s one morning to grab a couple of corner braces like this:
I thought maybe I could just slide one side into the sun roof opening with the case and the other would sit against the back of the Kindle.  But the brackets turned out to be too thick and wouldn’t fit.

And then the mail lady came.  And she dropped off a little box.  And I removed whatever was in the little box.  And a light bulb went off.  And I got to work.  

First, I opened the box up all the way and cut off one whole end.
IMG_0841The end I cut off was a mirror image to the top of the box above the horizontal fold that you see in the picture above.

All I needed was the bottom of the box, two sides, and one of the top flaps.  I was lucky in that the bottom of the box I found was almost the exact width of our tablet.  If you’re looking to make one of your own, all you really need is the side and top flap on one large box – something like what the green lines indicate below.    box panelIf you make two folds in the cardboard where the two ends of your tablet case would be and use the top fold, you’ll then just need to cut away two squares at the top corners.  (This all might make a little more sense once you see it in action below.) 

So, installation…

With the case holding the tablet, I opened ‘er up, grabbed my cardboard reinforcement, and laid the case onto the cardboard with the empty flap of the case against the shorter, top fold.
IMG_0829 IMG_0831IMG_0830IMG_0832 IMG_0833

Then, with the sun roof cover closed, I slid the empty side of the tablet case along with the cardboard into the sun roof cover’s slot in the ceiling.
IMG_0834 IMG_0835 IMG_0836 IMG_0837

Last, to keep the tablet and cardboard backing from swaying forwards and backwards, I folded out the two side pieces of cardboard.
IMG_0838 IMG_0839(Those small pieces of cardboard sitting against the sun roof cover are totally not needed…I was just too lazy to cut them off.)

Works like a charm!  Plug it in to the dashboard, turn up the sound, and you’ve got yourself a built-in but removable movie system!

If you don’t have a sun roof, you can always grab a tablet mount off Amazon that attaches to the head rest of the front seat.  We bought this one* but ended up not liking it only because the third row tots couldn’t see the greatest without straining.  For a two-row vehicle though, it’d be great!

I remember back in the 90’s, growing up when my parent’s bought a new Suburban complete with a VHS and television set built-in to the front console.  It was super duper cool along with the huge bag phone sitting in front.  Entertainment and wireless communication at your reach all while you’re heading to your next destination.  Someday our kids will talk about “those days when my parents rigged an old tablet to the ceiling of our minivan” as they stare at the projection plastering the air right in front of them…also as their old lady is squinting at her old iPhone 4s, trying to keep up with her fellow oldies on that old app called Bookface…or Facepad…or something like that. 


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