Introduction: Cheap and Easy IPod (or Gadget) Car Mount

Picture of Cheap and Easy IPod (or Gadget) Car Mount

I recently bought an iPod touch and a protective case to go with it.
While using the iPod in my car, I really found it inconvenient to change tracks while driving. You can only skip songs after pressing the home button first, then swiping across the screen to unlock the player. First of all, I had to get the iPod from the passenger seat; I then have to fiddle with it until I have skipped to a song I like. And everything while not paying too much attention on the road, which actually is what I’m supposed to be doing while driving ;-).

So I thought about an iPod mount for my vent in the car.
I already had plans in my head on how I wanted the car mount to loo like and work when I stumbled over a (admittedly ugly not so pretty, picture 2) generic $10 car mount for electronic gadgets and thought I’ll give that a try.

Well, that didn’t go too well.
As I use my iPod with a protective case, it didn’t fit within the car mount. So I modified that one to make it fit. Then I wanted to attach it to my car’s vent and found out that the attachment fixture didn’t fit my vent. Well, here I go.

So I finally decided to put my car mount plan into action to get a car mount that fits my device perfectly while also being able to get the design I wanted (picture 1; I may have to update the car mount if I buy a Q-peel case or an armor-like case; I just love the look of the more bold cases).

Excuse me for not having image notes added so far, but I was working at a PC where I couldn't tinker with my internet browser's settings. So I couldn't save the notes and gave up.
I'll probably add the notes later, but if you have questions, you can also pm me. I'll try to help the best I can.

Step 1: Parts and Tools Needed

Picture of Parts and Tools Needed
Parts needed:
  • Scrap wood (the sort of wood that kids use with hack saws, with a thickness of approximately 4 mm).
  • Rubber band (to attach the car mount to the vent)

Tools needed:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Callipers (not really necessary but really helpful)
  • Handsaw
  • Wood glue
  • Pipe cleaner (or some sort of wire)

Step 2: Marking Up 1, the Base-plate

Picture of Marking Up 1, the Base-plate
  • Lay your iPod (or gadget) on top of a piece of scrap wood that fits the size of your iPod (picture 1)
  • Use the pencil to outline the outer dimensions of the device
  • I also marked the devices ports (headphone jack, dock connector, buttons) so I know where to put the holding-brackets in a later step (picture 2)

I later shortened the base plate to a length just around the position of the volume buttons as I found that length gives enough support for my iPod. This also made the car mount less obtrusive and bulky if I don’t have my iPod with me.

Step 3: Marking Up 2, the Holding-brackets

Picture of Marking Up 2, the Holding-brackets
  • Measure the height of your device, including the thickness of the scrap wood (just lay the iPod on top of the scrap wood and measure from the top of the device to the table top, picture 1)
    Be careful: you either have to add the rubber band’s thickness to this measurement, or you may have to make grooves for the rubber band in the base-plate
  • Mark the measured height on the scrap wood (picture 2)
  • Mark the width of your holding-brackets (choose a dimension that fits your needs, picture 3)
  • Add another 4 mm to the heights dimension for the top-plates of the holding-brackets (picture 4)
  • You need a total of 4 holding-brackets with top-plates to prevent the iPod from falling over, and one bracket without top-plate at the bottom of the car mount

Step 4: Cut Out the Base-plate and the Holding-brackets

No pictures here, but I assume the title of this step should be self explanatory.
Just try to get the edges as straight as possible to save yourself from too much sanding and filing later.

Like stated in step 2, I shortened the base-plate to about 3 ¾ inches.

Step 5: Marking Up 3, the Base-plate Cuts

Picture of Marking Up 3, the Base-plate Cuts
  • Like stated in step 1, I shortened the base-plate to about 3 ¾ inches (picture 1)
  • After taking a measurement of the width of the adjustment knob of my car’s vent, I decided to make the cuts in the base-plate about 1 inch long (picture 2) and positioned approximately ¾ of an inch from the outer edges (picture 3)

Step 6: Cut and Sand the Base-plate

Picture of Cut and Sand the Base-plate
  • Make the cuts with a saw according to your marks on the base plate (picture 1)
  • To round the edges of the cuts enough as not to damage the rubber band later (and so it also fits better as a straight saw cut is a little narrow), insert a piece of sandpaper into the cuts perpendicular to the cut, then bend the sandpaper to one side (picture 2) and slide it through the slot until you get a nice smooth edge. Repeat in all directions and on all cuts.
  • The final result of the sanding efforts (picture 3)

Step 7: Test Drive the Base-plate

Picture of Test Drive the Base-plate

I just wanted to make sure that my idea really works, so I tried the base-plate on my microphone stand. It also shows that cutting and sanding the slots was sufficient for my rubber band to fit.

Hey, there are many uses for this sort of iPod mount. I can see it working on stage for bands, for bikers (if an adequate rubber band is used), etc.

Step 8: Assembling the Holding-brackets

Picture of Assembling the Holding-brackets
  • Lay the longer parts of the holding-brackets on a flat surface
  • Put some glue on the top-plates and attach them to the longer parts. By doing this on a flat surface you get nice right angles.
  • Wait until the glue is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.

You can either finish off the brackets by filing and sanding them to the shape you like, or you can do this after the next step.
(The top plate of the 5th holding-bracket was glued on accidentially. I did this at a time when I wasn't sure if I need a top-plate for it.)

Step 9: Assembling the Car Mount

Picture of Assembling the Car Mount
  • Put the iPod on the base-plate and lean the holding-brackets against the iPod to see if the height of the holding-brackets is sufficient (as you can see, the bottom holder doesn't have a top-plate, picture 1)
  • Glue the holding-brackets to the base-plate
  • Wait until the glue is completely dry
  • File and sand the edges of the holding-brackets and base-plate to your liking. I decided to put the finishing touches on the car mount after everything was assembled. The complete assembly is much better to handle than the little holding-brackets. But this totally depends on what tools and work space you have available. In my case, I have done all filing and sanding on the balcony on a beach chair :-) while temperatures were close to freezing. I was also going for an absolutely sanded finish with all rounded edges, but as it was so cold, I decided that a “rougher”, more “edgy” look was great, too.

Step 10: Finished Car Mount

Picture of Finished Car Mount

These are pictures of the finished car mount, just to give an impression of the mount.

Step 11: Fixing the Car Mount Onto Your Car's Vent

Picture of Fixing the Car Mount Onto Your Car's Vent
  • Completely close the vent on which you want to install the car mount (you certainly don’t want the rubber band to fall into the vent’s duct, picture 1)
  • Insert the rubber band into a vent slot above and beside the control knob (picture 2)
    Be careful, you won't be able to get the rubber band around the control knob. You can only insert it on the left or right side of the knob.
  • Form a hook from the pipe cleaner (or wire) to pull the lower end of the rubber band out of the vent below the control knob (picture 3)
  • Attach the car mount to the rubber band (picture 4, I tried to “stiffen” the car mount by using 2 rubber bands first, but as I forgot to take the thickness of the rubber band into account and also didn’t make some grooves in the base-plate, I couldn’t fit my iPod. So I removed one rubber band again and it’s now a perfect fit.)

Be careful not to break any vent or control knob parts. You don't want a broken vent...

My car mount is held pretty firm to the vents adjustment knob and to the dashboard at the lower end of the car mount. So I didn’t have to add additional supports. But to make the mount tighter, I’ll probably attach some self adhesive foam to the car mount’s base-plate so it “squishes” in between the vent slots a little. This should further improve the fitting.

Step 12: Final Pictures and Test Drive

Picture of Final Pictures and Test Drive

I had a little test drive after attaching the car mount to the vent, and it held up pretty well.
It didn’t twist around while driving and even while operating the iPod it didn’t twist around much (I guess it didn’t move more than any other "off the shelf" product that attaches to a vent).

If you happen to make a car mount like this for a player not being a touch-screen unit, some additional support for the base-plate may be needed (due to the harder button presses needed to operate the gadget). The easiest being some foam between the base-plate and the vent.

One final CAUTION:
Leave the vent closed at all times when using an electronic gadget with the car mount or the car mount only. You don’t want any electronics or rubber bands being fried or frozen (depending on your AC-setting).


qziema (author)2017-05-18


manuelmasc made it! (author)2015-08-23

made it with some improvements! thanks for the idea

Mike73 (author)manuelmasc2015-08-23

This looks pretty cool. I could have painted mine too. Never crossed my mind though. I've since moved to a nexus 6 (after some other smartphones) and ever since they got bigger, it's getting harder to find suitable mounts. I found one though having sticky stuff to hold the phone. Just need to see how it keeps up over time.

1N5TRUCT4BL3S (author)2012-10-30

Nicely made, I'm def trying this!

SavannasauR (author)2011-11-09

Oh man... I wish I was this handy!! This looks really professional!! I love it! If I could, I would definitely make one of these babies!!

Mike73 (author)SavannasauR2011-11-09

Go ahead and try it. It really wasn't difficult and it's a rather small project. If it's not coming out as expected, not too much time and money is spent. Just use some scrap wood.
As you need only real simple tools, it shouldn't be hard to make.

SavannasauR (author)Mike732011-11-10

I might :) If I do I will post my result here!

htony (author)2011-09-11

Great iPod/iPhone holder, I can hear "The Gambler" playing now....

Mike73 (author)htony2011-09-13

I just love that song. Sometimes I just need a bit of Kenny Rogers.
By the way, I have to replace the rubber band by some wire eventually. Due to heat and cold the rubber got briddle and finally snapped.

dmb321 (author)2011-07-17

love the rubber band part

Mike73 (author)dmb3212011-07-17

Yeah, actually, I found that pretty awesome, too.
But I guess I have to replace it with some wire. The rubber band just held up about 6 months.
With the heat and cold in the car, the rubber got brittle and now I have to fix my mount again.

nuckthebuck (author)2011-04-13

i think i might try this after i get a new radio/ aux input point put into my cd player so i will be able to listen to music off my ipod and not have to worry about wreaking. you may have found yourself saving numerous lives at a cheap rate. =D
Thank You So Much !!!!

joflynn (author)2011-03-17

Mine's not as pretty, but have you considered velcro? My civic had plenty of room for it, and i still get to use all my vents.

Love the rubber band trick though.

rustygray (author)2011-03-10

I started making them out of kydex years ago. It is a wonderful pliable when heated and solid when cool polymer.

Kydex. Heat gun. Imagination. Cool.

PS your ipod mount rocks!

Mike73 (author)rustygray2011-03-10

Thanks. I was thinking about some plexiglas bending, too. But if you check my "workplaces" photo instructable, you'll see I don't have that much of a "workshop" :-)
So wood is always a good option.
(I thought about making it at work, but my employer probably wouldn't like me spending my time on privat stuff.)

RichardBronosky (author)Mike732011-03-13

You don't need a heat gun, and shouldn't use one either. Heat guns can burn (aka: oxidize) the plastic. All you have to do is heat it in boiling water. No risk of burning when you heat it in the absence of oxygen.

irishjim68 (author)2011-03-13

Actually, if the iPod gets as hot as my DroidX does while operating, having the AC blow on it a bit will help to cool the thing. But when the heat is on, yes, keep it closed.

Mike73 (author)irishjim682011-03-13

I haven't had any problems so far. But my 4th gen iPod doesn't even get warm. But yes, if a device gets too warm, using the AC to cool it down would work.

exaran (author)2011-03-10

I recently made a similar mount out of sheet metal for my ipod touch. If you can make room for the charging cable, the ipod will stay "on" as long as music is playing and the power cable is plugged in. That way you can always see what's playing, AND have access to the skip buttons (no more need to swipe and enter the password)

I used 2 tabs on the bottom on either side of the charging port, and drilled a small hole in the right one for the headphone plug

BadVanGoh (author)exaran2011-03-10

How well did sheet metal work? I want to make something similar to this for my Droid X. Did you use any foam padding?

exaran (author)BadVanGoh2011-03-10

Well, it's way more functional than attractive, but it works great and was easy to make. I used some aluminum that was thin enough to bend easily by hand, but thick enough to hold the weight of the ipod. Then I just cut it with tin snips and bent it in a vice to get straight bends. My dash has slots for holding credit cards, so I just slide part of it in there to mount. I didn't use any padding, but my ipod case is leather

BadVanGoh (author)exaran2011-03-10

I dont need the mount, I just need to make an enclosure that lets me access everything while it's mounted on a flat surface.

Mike73 (author)BadVanGoh2011-03-10

Thanks for all the comments guys.
Did you think about a simple cardboard box with a cutout for the touch screen? Really easy and works fairly well. I made a box for my Zen mp3 player some years ago and it's still working well (the box, that is), even though I was using it heavily. I made a template in powerpoint, attached the printout to my cardboard and cut everything with a scalpel. I then taped all together with double sided adhesive tape. I can send you the template and some pictures so you get an idea if you want.

BadVanGoh (author)Mike732011-03-11

I kinda want this to be industrial strength, as I plan to mount it to a bracer of some sort on my wrist.

exaran (author)BadVanGoh2011-03-11

I made my enclosure/mount from one single piece of metal. Just make whatever you want out of folded paper, and then transfer the design to a sheet of aluminum and bend it up. Make sure you sand everything carefully if it will be against your body

Coliopteran (author)2011-03-10

I love the look of the wood mount... Simple yet elegant! I wish I had thought of it!

aldebaraan (author)2011-03-07

I like the look, very smooth.

One improvement here would be to alter the bottom mounting bracket to be two on either side of the slots, freeing up the port for charging or integration with a sound system.

Mike73 (author)aldebaraan2011-03-07

I had that idea. But actually, the headphone jack is on the right bottom edge. So I would have had to go with a non symmetrical design.
I know from my Zune that this differs from player to player. So for the Zune it would have been perfect.

Callum Snowden (author)2011-03-01

A way to skip songs w/o having to open the home screen. While your music is playing, simply double-click the home button and it should come onto the lock screen with a menu at the top for the track,play/pause,volume e.t.c :)

Mike73 (author)Callum Snowden2011-03-01

Yep, I know. But I guess I leave it to not lock while listening to musik and using the Zune-theme-thingy-app.
I always had problems with changing volume while skipping songs, no matter if I use the ipod app or the double click one. It's just that you can't hit the skip button without touching the volume scale (at least I can't easily) and changing the volume as the scale is so close to the buttons. And while my car bumps along the street and I still have to watch out for the traffic, too, I often hit the volume instead of the skip button.
The Zune-theme-thingy has the operating buttons really nicely spread over the screen :-)

Kirbsome! (author)Mike732011-03-02

would you kindly direct me to this Zune-theme-thingy?

Mike73 (author)Kirbsome!2011-03-02

I surely will. Look for the Muzik app. I think it's a universal app working on iphone, ipod touch or ipad. And it should be $0.99 or Euros 0.79. It's not perfect, but the buttonspacing is great. And you can skip tracks by swiping the cover art to the next song (there ain't no buttons you can accidentally press while in the cover view mode).

Although it's far from perfect, it works very well in the car (been trying it for about 2-3 days now).

aritoner (author)2011-03-01

omg i own that ruler!!!!!!well not that one but one just like it...this is a nice instructable and out off all the ways i would have thought up in my head this one would probably never had come up...thanks for posting it

Mike73 (author)aritoner2011-03-01

I think I bought it a Michael's store. Great store anyway. We don't have those here in Germany...

rachl009 (author)2011-02-28

coolio. you can double click the home button and it will bring up a screen with the pause/play, next song, and such buttons. much easier than pushing the home button, then swipe to unlock, then go to the next song. :)

Vermin (author)rachl0092011-02-28

You can also hold the home button until it beeps then say "next track" or any of these other commands:

Mike73 (author)rachl0092011-02-28

Funny. I didn't know that.
But I guess I still prefer the other way round as this option didn't show the band cover.
What I dislike in all those settings is, that the volume slider sits just below the buttons. So I "adjust" my volume setting often times rather than skipping a song (the sound output is so low on my car's stereo that I have the volume slider just below the next song button).

rachl009 (author)Mike732011-02-28

hmm on mine it shows the cover art when you do the double click move.
is there some way you could make an "external" controller for pause/play, next song?
I remember maybe 7 or 8 years ago, I bought a sony "car ready" pack that came with a tape adapter and a portable cd player, and it had a cable with a little round controller that could skip songs and pause/play so you could mount it somewhere convenient and didn't have to use the portable cd player to skip songs and such.

Mike73 (author)rachl0092011-02-28

I just downloaded and installed the Zune-kinda-app. I still have my old Zune and like the UI pretty much. But it cannot pull off tricks the iPod touch can. And I couldn't get my hands on a Zune-touch here in Germany (I guess that there won't be a lot of apps either?!?).
The Muzik-app has the buttons well separated, so I'll give that one a try during the week while driving...

rachl009 (author)Mike732011-02-28

pretty much like this

dombeef (author)2011-02-28

Go iPod Touch 4G!

RetroTechno (author)2011-02-28

Nice idea. I would suggest that instead of one big bottom bracket, you should have two smaller ones. That way, you can have access to the port for charging.

Mike73 (author)RetroTechno2011-02-28

I actually thought about that, but the headphone jack is just on the right beside the dock connector. So I would have had to go with a assymmetrical design with just one bracket to the left. And as the battery lasts about (at least, depending on whether I play games or not) 3 days. So I charge at home or at work and thought that I don't need the dock connector in the car.
And I guess that if I run out of juice, I probably won't have a charging cable with me ;-)

About This Instructable




Bio: I rather like "to make" than "to consume". I've been programming for iOs for a while just to see if I can. I love ... More »
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