Well, I'm about to embark on a long road trip...... I have been looking for a laptop stand I can use in the car for quite some time and wasn't interested in undoing any of the factory "settings" of the nuts and bolts as required by some store bought laptop stands. Not too mention spend a lot of money when I have so many bits and pieces of material around the house.
As shown in the picture I made this laptop stand from PVC pipe, 1 inch to be more precise. I imagine 3/4" would work as well, but considering I used some nuts and bolts to hold the wood platform to the PVC frame 3/4" or 1/2" might be a bit small, especially if you have big fingers and don't want to fight getting the platform secured the way I did. I'm sure one could find a few other ways to secure the wood platform (tray) to the PVC pipe.
Step 1: The PVC Pieces
Pictured here are the pieces of PVC pipe I cut or used to put the frame of the laptop stand together. The squarish portion is of course what a wood tray will be secured to. The tray is just a piece of 1/4" plywood I cut to fit. Sanded down very well and later in the process I used a table saw to cut some air flow slots in.
The basic idea here is to have the tray rest on my lap (or on the passengers lap), with the 2 long pieces to support the tray where it is near one's knees. I thought of using just one support here but I really didn't like the idea of that kind of balancing act..... If this doesn't work on the road trip I can certainly change it cheap enough. I suspect if anything will need to be changed it will be to provide a wider stance for the support legs.
The 2 elbow pieces near the bottom of the picture (they are not noted) will be used to support that end of the stand in the back bottom corner of the passenger seat when no one is sitting there. There are times I need to use my work laptop while on the road and trying to balance it over the armrest while typing or mousing the cursor around can be tedious in those moments of trying to save the customer from any embarrassing issues with their customer. I am parked by the way when I need to do this, trying to use this or any device that takes your eyes off the road is just plain old anti common sense. (mini rant over)
The pieces as named and noted in the picture that shows the overall frame:
all lengths are approximate and also depend on your needs.
1. Belly Bar - 10 "
2. Left and right Thigh Bars - 9.5"
3. Left and right Belly Bar Tee sections
4. Left and right Knee Tee Sections
5. Left and right knee bars - 1.5"
6. Left and right leg support Tee sections
7. Center leg bar - 1.75"
8. Left and right leg bars - 18" The length of these bars really depends on the target vehicle you plan on using the most.
9 (optional) 2 end caps at bottom end of the left and right leg bars.
Step 2: Platform Forming Process
Perform the following without gluing at this time, to test fit your pieces for your laptop.. Course if you want, you could probably fore go the gluing completely since the tray is secured to the 4 corner Tees. But if you choose to glue, it would probably be best to use this order.
1. Collect 2 belly bar Tee sections and the Belly Bar tube.
2. Glue the 2 Tee sections at each of the belly bar making sure the Tee outlets are facing the same way.
3. Collect the left and right thigh bars.
4. Glue each thigh bar to each respective left/right belly bar Tee sections at the Tee outlet. (not the straight through outlet)
5. Collect the center leg support and the 2 leg Tee sections.
6 I press fitted these 3 pieces together, but you could glue these three. But fit these pieces together in the same arrangement as the belly bar and belly bar Tee sections are fitted together.
7 Collect the left knee bar and the left knee Tee section and glue the left knee bar to the T outlet of the left knee Tee section.
8 Collect the right knee bar and the right knee Tee section and glue the right knee bar to the T outlet of the right knee Tee section.
9 Press fit (DO NOT GLUE) the remaining side of the left knee bar to the left leg support Tee section using the open straight Tee opening.
10 Press fit (DO NOT GLUE) the remaining side of the right knee bar to the right leg support Tee section using the open straight Tee opening.
11. You should now have a U shaped section of the frame with the knee pieces ready to be glued to that U section. Ready for gluing the straight through opening of the left knee Tee, open end of the left thigh bar, the straight through opening of the right knee Tee, open end of the right thigh bar
12. When those are ready for gluing and after the glue is applied, simply close the frame by fitting the straight through opening of the left knee Tee, open end of the left thigh bar, the straight through opening of the right knee Tee, open end of the right thigh bar.
13. Personally I do not see a need to glue the support legs to their respective Tee sections. If you ever need to use this in different cars, trucks, maybe a boat as well, I'm sure being able to have a few sets of legs available to accommodate a variety of vehicles (if your one of those people who have that "privilege", not that there's anything wrong with that) all the better. 8 )
Step 3: Fastener Fixation
I used M6 bolts, washers, and nuts for to secure the wooded tray to the PVC frame. Many other items could be used for the tray, that is up to you of course. I considered using a piece of fiberglass cloth and some bondo, but I am in a bit of a hurry to get this finished soon and give it a thorough road trip test.
1. I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood the size of the outside of the PVC frame where the laptop will be placed.
2. I sanded the tray down, just enough to remove any splinters and fraying. I did sand down the corners and edges so they were fairly rounded. I don't want the wood bumping into the plastic of the car's interior and causing scratches.
2. I used some clamps to hold the board in place for the next step, (I've learned to use clamps lately, didn't before a few years ago, and found it really helps to make a better looking project.
3. In each corner, I only used one bolt/washer/nut to secure the wood to the center side of the Belly bar and knee Tee sections. And you can remove each corner clamp as you secure each corner with the nuts and bolts.
4. optional, I did use some thread locker on the nuts/bolts.
Step 4: Airflow - Gotta Breathe
1. Once I had the tray secured to the frame, I fired up my table saw and sliced some slots in the center of the tray to allow some airflow for the laptop.
2. Sanded down the slots.
Step 5: Final Assembly, Provide a Finish, and or Add to It.
At this time you can attach the 2 leg supports to the leg support Tees, the caps are optional, as of this time I do plan on using them.
The pictures shown here are just the raw stand itself both in my house and in the car I plan on using it in the most.
Just pick you finish of choice at this point, leave it as is, spray paint, brush paint, whatever suits you desire to cover it, again if you wish.
I do plan on making a section of pipe to go from the remaining opening of the right belly Tee to the remaining opening of the left belly Tee. This section will go down far enough so the belly end of the tray can be supported in the seat. But it cannot be too wide since I do want it to rub against the center console or the door's armrest. I may find some felt of the loops portion of Velcro to cover the PVC pipe that may be close to those parts or the car's interior.
One other item I will be working on is a way to secure the laptop power supply to the underside of the tray, but I'm still not sure how I will go about this. I would rather have the power supply secured in some way, but when it does come time for me to use this in a support scenario, (i will be in park someplace) that is something I will not have time to deal with anyway. However, in a shotgun road trip scenario I will not want the power supply or cords wrapped around my feet.