Introduction: How to Custom Tablet Car Dock for Under 15 Bucks

Picture of How to Custom Tablet Car Dock for Under 15 Bucks

I recently received an Asus Transformer tablet for Christmas and wanted to be able to use it in my truck for music, GPS etc. After shopping online for a while I was unable to find a car dock that was reasonably priced and that could be mounted in place of my old CarPC that i haven't used for months. I finally came to the conclusion that I would have to build my own dock in order to fit my needs.

Although this tutorial is based around the Asus Transformer tablet, it can be applied to any tablet and smart phone with ease. Also this was installed in a 1996 Dodge Ram pickup so the way I decided to mount the dock might not apply to your vehicle, but I'm sure you can come up with a clever way to adapt it to your car.

Items you'll need:

A wire coat hanger
Some aluminum sheet metal
Sharpie
JB Weld (And mixing dish and mixing stick) 
Tin snips
Drill
Two bolts, nuts, lockwasher\
Two self tapping screws
90 degree angle bracket
Philips head screwdriver
Heat gun / lighter
Heat shrink tubing large enough for the coat hanger wire
Pliers


Step 1: Cut Aluminum to Size

Picture of Cut Aluminum to Size

First take your hanger and cut off as much as the bottom portion as you can using the cutting portion of the pliers (if equipped, otherwise use your tin snips or diagonal cutters). This will be used for the bottom support bracket of the tablet dock. 

Step 2: Create Bottom Bracket

Picture of Create Bottom Bracket

Now take your freshly cut piece of hanger and using the pliers make a 90 degree bend one inch in from the end of the wire. This will become one of the two mounting points for the lower support bracket.

Next make another 90 degree bend  about 2 - 2.5 inches from the first bend. Be sure to make this bend so that the first bend can lay flat against the back of the tablet as shown. This will begin the bottom portion of the lower tablet support.

Next make another 90 degree bend that will wrap back around the front of the tablet. I found that using a sharpie to mark where the bend should be made it much easier. For Transformer owners note that I am using the outer portion of the "dock slots" as a reference for how wide the lower bracket will be.

Next make another 90 degree bend across the front of the tablet, be sure that this bend doesn't cause the wire to come in contact with the touchable area of the screen. Then mirror the bends from the first end of the wire for the other end (Pictures clarify much better)

Once finished you have just created the lower bracket for the tablet dock.

Step 3: Create Side Bracket(s)

Picture of Create Side Bracket(s)

When i was initially designing this mount i was going to use two side brackets, but after assembling the lower bracket and one of the side brackets I found that the tablet was held sufficiently snug and didn't require two side brackets to keep it in place.

Now you need to cut out the portion of the hanger that would come in contact with the shoulders of the garment it would hold. This portion only has two bends in it. Cut off and discard the spiral portion that connects to the hook, then straighten the remaining wire as best as you can.

Again following the same general steps as the lower bracket, make the bends for the side bracket, again allowing 2 - 2.5 inches of the bracket to wrap around the back of the tablet. The final picture shows the second to last step, the final step is to cut the rear mounting points so that they line up end to end and don't over lap as depicted.

Step 4: Protecting the Tablet From Raw Wire

Picture of Protecting the Tablet From Raw Wire

I decided to use heat shrink tubing to create both a protective covering for the wire and also a grippy surface to prevent the tablet from easily sliding. You can use a continuous single tube of heat shrink tubing for this or multiple 1.5 inch portions like i did. If you decide to use a continuous tube you may want to first shrink it around the wire before you make any bends as trying to maneuver it around the bends can be pretty tough.

Since i was using small sections of tubing i was able to slide it onto the newly created brackets and finagle the tubing around the bends in the wire. Use your heat gun / lighter to shrink the tubing around the wire.

One subtle benefit that i noticed from using small portions of tubing is that you can overlap them and create better grip points for the tablet.

Step 5: Cut Back Plate, Mount Brackets and Drill Mounting Holes

Picture of Cut Back Plate, Mount Brackets and Drill Mounting Holes

The next step is to cut the back plate and mount the brackets to it. 

First cut the back plate out of the aluminum. Use your tablet as a reference for how large to make it, i cut mine so that the tablet was roughly an inch larger on all sides. 

Attaching the brackets is kind of tricky, I suggest doing them one at a time and letting the JB weld set before mounting the other brackets. Place the aluminum plate on the back of the tablet and then slide the bottom bracket onto the tablet so the back mounts are on top of the aluminum plate. Make sure everything is square and then apply a liberal amount of JB Weld to the two bend points as shown. Let the JB Weld set and repeat the same process for the side bracket(s) Note: I used my tablet to help keep the bracket at the correct position while the JB Weld was setting, this was the easiest way to make sure that the bracket would stay positioned where i wanted it.

Once the JB weld on the lower bracket has set you can then attach the side bracket using the same process as the bottom bracket. Again use the tablet to help keep the bracket in place while the JB weld sets.

After the brackets are attached go ahead and drill some mounting holes using your angle bracket as a reference for the spacing of the holes. You'll notice in the picture that the holes i drilled are off center, I did this because i didnt know if i would have to attach another angle bracket for additional support.

Step 6: Install Your New Contraption

Picture of Install Your New Contraption

Once all of the brackets are attached you are now ready to install the mount into your car. Again, this was done on a 1996 Dodge Ram but you should be able to figure out a clever way to attach the mount in your car.

Using the self tapping screws i attached the angle bracket to the lower portion of the dash, below the stereo and just above the 4 wheel drive shift knob. 

Finally attach the mount to the angle bracket using two bolts and lock washers to keep the nuts from coming loose.

Finally slide your tablet in, plug in the auxiliary audio cable and enjoy!

You'll notice that i bent the corners of the aluminum in order to make the mount for visually appealing. The absolute final step would be to cover the aluminum with a material of your choice. I will be using the cloth from a reusable grocery bag in order to provide a clean look and protect the back of the tablet from scrapes.

Comments

wheeljam (author)2015-06-11

I used this method to make a hanger for my external usb backup drive. Thanks for the idea.

awhitehouse1 (author)2014-06-19

Great idea, and cost-effective. However, I would also recommend putting the heat shrink tubing (or other materials) over the wire that rubs against the front of the tablet to prevent wear and tear on the screen.

livedog (author)2013-11-01

Nice work here - did this and it's working well!

the_eradicator (author)2012-12-30

I'm going to try this great alternative to hacking and cutting current radio out great 'iable!