Like many schools, ours is trying to put an iPad into the hands of every student (update: after two years, we replaced iPads with Chromebooks and re-utilized the cart for those). For our seventh grade, that's over fifty iPads. As our middle school is multi-age, in a year we will have iPads for every seventh and eighth grader. Soon, we will have to store and power over one hundred iPads.
The cost of an IPad cart is anywhere from over a thousand to three thousand dollars. Looking at their capacity, we would need to buy anywhere from three to five carts that are currently on the market, depending on the cart. While various grants have allowed us to stock up on iPads, they won't pay for the cart. Or five. Our school's budget is shrinking, so we needed a solution that was practical and cheap.
I would have thought that, with the popularity of iPads, cart plans would abound. No. There is one plan, which was very helpful in organizing the Ipads. John Umekubo is the Director of Technology at St. Matthew's Parish School in Los Angeles and writes this very helpful blog entry here. It will teach you the guts of the beast. Other sites talked about using dish racks and such, but they weren't secure and middle-school proof (I did adopt an old desk organizer for my own personal electronics).
This design is four cabinets, each of which holds nearly 30 iPads while charging ten at a time (more on power and syncing later). They are designed to sit on a counter, although caster wheels could be added and be secure from crimes of opportunity (anyone who really wanted our iPads could get them, and you can make them more secure, I'm sure).. The total cost was $400.00, including locks.
Throughout, I offer up considerations and lessons learned. On the last page I have included other brainstorms. I am sure you will only improve on what I've done with these prototypes.
UPDATE: As stated above, after two years we moved from iPads to Chromebooks. The slots I had made happened to fit in width, although I did need to drop the shelves about an inch as the Chromebook on its side was taller than an iPad on its side. Fortunately, the dividers, when turned, happened to be tall enough so that I did not have to re-cut a whole new batch. Measure with your device in mind--and the next generation!
UPDATE: There were some concerns about heat combined with the wood construction. We tested the temperature over the years and found no problem. Still, results vary. And our insurance carrier ultimately expressed the same concern--we no longer use these. They worked for our needs, though, with no problems.
I built four carts. Adapt to fit your needs.
Four 19/32 CDX plywood. If you plan well, you can actually get away with three sheets. CDX is cheap, but pretty ugly sitting on the counter. If I had it to do again, I'd spend the extra $80 and upgrade to AC or something with a nicer finish, or have planned better and used only three sheets.
Five 1"x10"x10' pine boards
Two 1/4" Luann 8'x4' sheets. Nice stuff.
1lb of 1 1/2" finishing nails.
1lb of 2" sheet rock screws (wood screws would be fine, but I had these already).
100 1/2" #6 wood screws. The hinges and latches came with screws, but the screws were a tad too long for the thickness of the wood so I had to buy the wood screws. Your results may vary.
Eight hinges. Note that some hinges have a removable pin, which is not what you are looking for if security is an issue. I went cheap and got 3" narrow hinges. They came in two-packs for under $5.00 each.
Pack of four locks that have a common key.. Master Lock sells them and it allows for other teachers to open any of the iPad carts.