What's the best way to bend coat hanger wire, for making a DIY GameKlip?

So I discovered my Samsung Galaxy S3 supports USB gamepads.  Well long story short, I quickly hacked apart an old original Xbox controller, replaced its 10 foot xbox cable with a 1 inch USB cable, and it works GREAT in most gamepad-supported Android games like Dead Trigger and Shadowgun.  The next obvious move was to make a holder to attach my phone to the gamepad, to have a portable gaming device, like an nVidia Shield.  Now I know commercial solutions exist, like the Gameklip, but they're all designed for the PS3 controller, which I don't have.

So I've attached pictures of my first two versions.  The first picture showing the regular coat hanger wire wrapped in black electrical tape.  It held the phone just fine, but it was butt ugly, because I used electrical tape to protect the phone from the steel coat hanger wire.  So I made a second one (2nd picture), using a rubber/plastic coated coat hanger, thinking it would look better, because I wouldn't need to wrap it in electrical tape.

Well the problem is that I'm so horribly bad at bending wire, and at planning, and measuring, that I had to make so many corrections, that it too looks butt ugly.  It's a completely different design than the first one, for starters.  I can never think of how to design these things on paper.  I always just get a rough idea in my head, and then play it by ear as I go along.  But because steel coat hanger wire is so incredibly tough, every time I try to bend it with pliers, or a vice grip, I end up damaging the nice plastic coating, making it look ugly.  Multiply that by the number of times I had to make corrections, and well, you can see the result.  The second design is the one I'd like to stick with, however.  Mechanically speaking, it is perfect.  Two nubs on the bottom, and a nub on the left and right sides, hold the phone in place using gravity and friction.  Then the whole thing uses spring-tension to compress the left and right nubs inwards, squeezing the phone in place, but without letting these nubs get in the way of the USB port or the headphone port.  One can adjust the width and tension of these left and right nubs, just by squeezing or stretching them apart, to fit different sized phones and cases.  Finally, two support legs are left at the end of the wire to easily place the whole thing on a table.

Both versions are attached to the controller in the same way:  I started with two loops, as small as I could make them, right next to each other.  Then I just bolt the whole thing to the controller through those two loops, and two holes I've drilled in the controller's memory slot.  It's an incredible pain in the ass to try and get the nut and washer in the tiny amount of space in that memory card slot, but I managed to do it twice.

I want to build a third, good looking one.  So now I've gone out and invested in some proper, straight steel wire (of the same thickness and stiffness as the coat hanger wire), and some heat-shrink tubing to protect the phone from the steel.  But I need advice on how to do this properly, so that it looks good.  The only way I can use the heat-shrink tubing, is to put it on FIRST, BEFORE bending the wire.  I couldn't possibly imagine how to do it AFTER bending the wire.  But the problem is, I'm worried that my vice grips/pliers will damage it the same way they damaged the plastic coating of the coat hanger.

Any suggestions/tips would be greatly appreciated!

Picture of What's the best way to bend coat hanger wire, for making a DIY GameKlip?
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petercd3 years ago
slip ordinary clear tubing (pvc) over them once you've bent it, because as you guessed the pliers will damage the heatshrink if you do it beforehand.
For bending put 2 identical drill bits in a vice with a gap between them which is wide enough for the wire. Then you slip the wire into the gap and wrap it aound the drill bits in your desired pattern.
moeburn (author)  petercd3 years ago
Trouble is, I'm going to try and re-create the 2nd white design. I don't see how I could slip PVC over it once its done. Unless you mean several individual pieces of PVC, that I slide on one by one after each individual bend?

As for the drill bit idea, I actually went out and bought myself a proper wire bending jig, that achieves the same effect:


It doesn't solve all my wire bending problems, but it certainly has helped.
petercd moeburn3 years ago
yea, those bends do look kinda tight, using pieces may look a bit like a dogs breakfast.
Of course now that you've bought the wire jig you probably dont want to hear this, but maybe a section of perspex will do the trick, it shapes fairly easy with heat and you could line it with old mouse pad foam.
,,,or a hybrid of a wire frame and perspex tray for the ipad.
RavensCraft3 years ago
You can bend bare wire first ,then coat it with Plastidip.
Absolutely. Plasti-Dip FTW.
moeburn (author)  steveastrouk3 years ago
Do you guys know any place that sells PlastiDip in Toronto? I don't have the patience to wait for shipping from online :P
Burf3 years ago
Heat the wire cherry red where you want to make the bends. That will soften the wire sufficiently to make bending relatively easy. Re-temper the wire once you have it in the shape you want it.
Kiteman3 years ago
I find accurate bends easier if I use pliers to hold the wire at the point where I want the bend.