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.