I'm finding it tough to find an inexpensive tripod mount for an iPad with a ruggedized case, so I figured the cheapest method would be to make one myself. I had a lot of the basic hardware I needed for the job as well as the tools, so this project ended up being pretty cheap for me. I spent $12 on materials (not counting the money I've spent in the past on the hardware I had stockpiled). Without that stash of excess hardware you might spend closer to $20-$25. Not bad for a solid, lightweight tripod mount.
It took me an hour or so to whip this up.
• Aluminum Angle Iron: I used 1" but a larger (1.5") size would work better with the iPad case I'm using. You'll need two 10.5" lengths.
• Threaded Rod: 1/4" coarse thread. You'll need two, each about 9" long.
• L Bracket: This will be riveted to the angle iron to attach the frame to the tripod.
• Nuts: You'll need (3) 1/4" coarse threaded (One will be used to fasten the bracket to the tripod) and (2) 1/4" coarse threaded wing nuts.
• Washers: (4) 1/4"
• Rivets: You could use nuts and bolts for this, but I found the rivets to have a lower profile. These will be used to attach to the bracket to the frame.
• Heat Shrink Tubing: I didn't heat-shrink it, but instead used it to cover the threaded rods so they don't damage the iPad.
• Self-sticking Felt Blanket: I put this on the inside of the angle iron to keep from marring the rubber cover of the iPad.
• Ball-peen hammer
• Center punch
• Vise with anvil
• Metal file (I used a Dremel)
Using a small hacksaw I cut the angle iron to size (2 lengths of 10.5"). The aluminum cuts easily but I found it better to hold the angle iron up against a block of wood. It gave me something substantial to hold onto while cutting and braced the aluminum, which can easily be bent out of shape.
Next I drilled (2) 1/4" holes into both angle iron pieces. I marked where I wanted the holes to go and used a center punch to give the drill bit a solid starting point to dig in to. I started by using a small drill bit and worked my way up to 1/4". I smoothed the edges of my earlier cuts and the newly drilled holes with a Dremel, but a file set would have worked as well.
Next I cut the 1/4" threaded rods to size (2 lengths of about 9"). While test fitting I found that the 1" angle iron was slightly too small to fit right. Bending the threaded rod allowed for the iPad to fit but next time I build one of these I'll use a slightly larger piece of angle iron. The rod was bent using a vise and ball peen hammer. It's easy to break these rods if you bend them too much, so be careful. I smoothed the ends with the Dremel but again, a file would do.
Next I drilled holes into the bottom angle iron to fit the L bracket. I had to drill a 1/4" hole into one side of the L bracket for the tripod bolt. I then riveted the bracket onto the angle iron. Frustratingly one of the holes was too close the inside edge of the angle iron to allow for the rivet gun to work, so the third empty hole will remain as a reminder of my poor planning.
Finally I cut and placed the felt onto the inside of the angle iron where it will contact the iPad case, covered the threaded rods with heat-shrink tubing (don't actually shrink it) and bolted everything together.
You can see the outcome in the photos. Despite its light weight (about 9.5 ounces) it's surprisingly sturdy. It seems rickety without the iPad in it but once you set the iPad it gives the frame all the stability it needs. When mounted on a tripod I found that I had to fiddle with the tension on the four bolt in order to get the iPad to sit straight. At one point I was using a length of Velcro running from the top wing nut to one leg of the tripod to further steady it but once I had the tension correct it wasn't necessary.
Overall I'm happy with the way it came out but next time I'll try to make it a bit prettier and I'll be sure to use a larger piece of angle-iron.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you found this useful at all.