Browsing on a tablet is great; there's nothing like digging into your favorite site while getting comfy. I find the longer I browser the more supine my posture, eventually my pose self-levels to lethargic mass lying on my back with the tablet above my face, making my arms tired. It would be great if I could combine my thirst for Internet and laziness so I can nerd out online while on my back. So I hacked an IKEA desk lamp into a tablet mount for bed time browsing.
You can easily make your own on the cheap. Articulating tablet mounts only need 3 readily available components to work, a tablet holder with a tripod mount, a mini tripod to act as a connector to the articulating arm, and an articulating arm from a desk lamp. There's countless variations for each of these, all of which can be inexpensive, so you can customize your tablet mount to suit your needs. You probably have some of the components on hand. I made this one for under $20.
Here's how I made it.
Step 1: Materials
- Articulating Arm: TERTIAL articulating work lamp from IKEA - $8.99. This lamp is ubiquitous, and this design can be easily modified to suit your needs.
- Tablet Holder: They make all kinds of tablet holders, the one we want is a variety that has a threaded connection embedded that allows it to be mounted to a camera tripod. Tablet case with tripod mount (1/4" - 20 threads) - price varies depending on tablet.
- Mini tripod: There's plenty of types of these small and inexpensive tripod mounts.
The type we are looking for has a ball joint on the attachment end that allows a free range of rotation. We only need the rotating head part, like this one for $4.
Step 2: Disassemble Lamp
For this project we only need the articulating arm of the lamp. This IKEA lamp only had two small bolts attaching the lamp head to the arm, after removing the two bolts there was a retaining clip around the switch which released the light fixture from the lamp housing. The electrical wires were clipped and the light assembly was separated from them the articulating arm. The electrical cord was then pulled out through the lamp. I saved this light fixture for use on a future project.
Step 3: Disassemble Tripod
The only part we need from this cheap tripod is the swivel head. This model had telescopic legs that were removed from a screw in the base.
This swivel head will act as connector piece between the tablet and the arm, allowing the rotational freedom to position the tablet into any angle desired.
Step 4: Arm to Tripod Conector
This IKEA lamp uses a pinion to swivel the lamp head. While this works for casting light we need greater movement for positioning a tablet for viewing. Luckily we can use almost all the existing hardware to make the connection from arm to tripod mount.
Removing the adjustment knob from the arm that holds the lamp attachment we can see there's a plastic collar that wraps around the pinion that held the light. We can use this plastic collar to wrap around a new machine screw, this machine screw matches the threads inside the tripod mount where we removed the legs from. Insert the plastic collar with a machine screw back into the arm and install the adjustment knob.
The machine screw can now be screwed back into the base of the tripod and tightened. It may get a little tight with the adjustment knob and tripod mount, so consider using a small washer to give you some room if needed to tweak the adjustment knobs when getting the arm into position when using.
Step 5: Mount Arm Anchor and Attach Tablet
This lamp comes with an anchor foot that can be secured to most table edges or night stands. Just make sure you're anchor point can hold the weight of the arm when it's fully cantilevered out, otherwise you might end up with the tablet falling on your face.
Next, attach the threaded tablet back into the tripod mount on the articulating arm and you're ready to start surfing the web from the comfort of your back.
Step 6: Lie Back and Surf
With the arm securely anchored in place you're ready to lean back on your favorite chair, or lie back in bed and enjoy surfing the information superhighway with no more tired arms.
This project can be modified in countless ways to suit your needs and tablet size. Some larger tablets may cause your articulating arm to sag, luckily there's tightening knobs to help hold everything in place. If you're still having sagging trouble you might look into stronger springs which counterbalance the arm.
Have you made your own articulating tablet mount? I want to see it!
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