I was looking for a way to mount my iPhone in my car in a position that allowed me to easily see the screen without having to look away from the road too much and operate the phone with out letting go of the steering wheel. I didn't want anything that would damage the interior with adhesives or screws. When shopping for car mounts I found suction cup style windshield mounts, which were very cheep but California law prohibits what you can attach to your windshield. Vent clip attachments would not place the phone where I wanted it and, of course, would block a vent. Custom molding mounts were too expensive and would have to be replaced if I ever changed cars.
A friend of mine came up with a pretty good solution by sticking an inexpensive suction cup type phone mount to the glass in front of her instrument panel. I found a suction cup windshield mount holder for a couple bucks online. I ordered two, one for my car and one for my wife's. Unfortunately the glass on my wife's instrument panel is curved so the suction cup couldn't get a seal and the only place it fit on my car covered the odometer and tended to fall off every now and then.
My solution was to make an adapter that would securely attach the car mount holder to the dashboard.
- Thin sheet of aluminum or tin. It should be strong enough to hold its shape but thin enough to wedge between the molding pieces on your car's dashboard. (I found some at an art supply store with the model making stuff for less than $5. I'm sure you could find something similar at a hobby shop or hardware store. You could probably salvage a suitable piece of flexible smooth metal from a tin container or some other product.)
- Cheap suction cup style windshield car mount holder for your phone or device.
- Tin snips or super strong scissors (anything that can cut a thin sheet of semi-soft metal)
- Thin cardboard
- Pencil, Sharpie(marker), and/or some other mark making implement
- Spray paint
- Painter's/Masking tape
- Bench vice
- Scrap wood
- Sand paper or grinding wheel
Step 1: Choose your location.
Find a flat spot on your dash where two molding pieces meet. You will wedge the tabs on the back of your adapter into the small gap between the molding pieces.
I chose the spot under the top edge of the dash and above the air vent. This will put the holder within reach of the steering wheel and easily viewable while driving.
Step 2: Make a template. (Measure and Mark)
Slide each end of the cardboard into one of the gaps between the molding until it stops. Mark the depth with a pencil.
Then trace the suction cup at the base of the holder onto the middle of the cardboard.
Step 3: Make a template. (Trim to size)
Step 4: Make a template. (Folding)
Step 5: Mark folds and cut lines onto metal sheet.
Also trace the shape of the suction cup at the base of the phone holder.
Step 6: Mark corner tabs.
Be sure note which lines you will cut and which ones you will fold.
Step 7: Cut your cut lines.
Step 8: Correct any warping.
Step 9: Fold your fold lines.
Use the straight edge of a table or scrap wood to make your bends.
For small areas that are hard to hold with your fingers a table vice is handy. If you don't have that pair of flat nosed pliers works pretty well too.
Bend up your triangular tabs about 90 degrees. leave room to attach the holder base. You will fold them over the rest of the way later.
Step 10: Test it in the fit.
Step 11: Paint (Optional)
Note: You may want to paint the adapter after you have the suction cup in place and use a glossy paint rather than flat. I found that the suction cup did not want to seal over the mat paint. I also found the paint can crack or chip when you are bending the triangular tabs into place.
You will see in a later step that I had to add some adhesive to get a good seal and touch up the chipped paint in some areas.
Step 12: Attach the adapter to the holder base.
Note: Because I painted the metal before I attached the base, I had to add some silicone adhesive to the suction cup to get a better seal. I used silicone sealer because it is easy to remove from plastic if I ever want to remove the adapter.
You can see in the photo how the paint chipped where I bent the tabs over. I had to touch up the edges with more spray paint.