Introduction: IPad Tablet Holder for Exercise Machine

About: Amateur tinkerer addicted to designing and building things.

I wanted to set up an iPad Pro to watch video or listen to music while using the elliptical machine at home. What better way to stay distracted while using the machine. I decided it should be integrated into the machine as much as possible and look appealing while serving its function. The iPad needed to be fixed to the machine but able to rotate from landscape to portrait mode easily. Additionally the holder should be durable and lightweight made from common readily available materials.

I started by designing and then fabricating the actual holder for the iPad. After getting the iPad dimensions, 9.4 inches (240mm) x 6.6 inches (169.5mm) x .24 inches (6.1mm) I chose to make a simple channel to cradle the top and bottom of the iPad, and my idea began to form. From here I would attach the channels with a couple of vertical members and then make an arm to attach the holder to the elliptical.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools


1” PVC pipe

½” schedule 40 PVC pipe

½” PVC elbow

3/8” Binding posts (4)

Primer and paint

½” long sheet metal Screw for pivot action

Neoprene iPad sleeve


Table saw

Rotary tool

Miter saw




Heat gun



Tape measure

Wood blocks

Drill bits

Step 2: Construct the Channels to Hold Your IPad

Cut a piece of 1” PVC pipe so you have a 11 1/4" long piece.

Rip in half lengthwise on a table saw to leave you with 2 half-round strips.

Next you will begin to and shape the channels from these strips by applying heat to the PVC.

Several times in this project you will be heating PVC with a heat gun. Do so at your own risk! PVC can release gases so this should always be done outdoors with adequate breathing protection.

Heat slowly and uniformly by gently sweeping the heat gun across the length of the PVC while holding the gun about 6” away. When the PVC is softened flatten by pressing the strip under a piece of 2" x 4". Press for a couple of minutes until the strip remains flat but has a little flexibility left. If it has firmed too much, reheat slowly along one edge and then roll around the dowel rod to form a half circle along one long edge.

Use a ½” dowel to wrap the softened PVC around to form the J profile. Press the remaining width flat again and let cool until it retains the shape desired. This should leave you with a J shaped channel.

Step 3: Final Shaping of the J Channel

Measure a total length of the final channel size to equal 10 1/4” and mark.

Mark an additional 3/8” length from the 10 1/4” mark. This mark should be 9 7/8” from the end. Cut J channel to length at the 10 1/4” line.

Cut through ONLY the channel section of the J Channel at the 9 7/8” mark. Cut from the edge to the prior cut to remove the end of the channel. This will leave you a 3/8 wide tab at the end of the channel.

Carefully heat the tab area with your heat gun on low setting . When heated, fold the tab at a 90 degree angle to make a flat end closing the J channel on one end. Repeat for second J channel. These will be the resting pads for the holder when rotated to the portrait position

Step 4: Cut and Form Cross Members for the Holder Frame

Cut 6” piece of 1/2” PVC pipe
then spit in half. I used a rotary tool after marking the cut line down the length. Sand the cut edges so they are smooth and straight.

Place the half pipes so the outer surface of the pipe is up. Make a mark 1” from each end and heat the area with a heat gun. Flatten the last 1” leaving the remainder of the pipe rounded. This will give greater strength to the final structure. Repeat for other end then repeat for the other half pipe.

Step 5: Pre Assemble the Frame

Drill holes to attach the
J-channels and the half tubes. Mark 3” on each side of the midpoint of each J Channels. Drill holes.

Drill matching holes on each end of half tubes spaced to allow the iPad to slide into the channels. Attach loosely with barrel screws .

Attach top j channel to half pipes with 1/4” binding posts and 3/8” binding posts on opposing corners.

Step 6: Construct and Form the Diagonal Support

Cut a length of ½” pipe 7 ½” long. Mark center line on pipe to split
in half with rotary tool. Split the pipe only 6” in length, leaving the last 1 ½” uncut.

Heat the pipe then bend each half outward in opposite directions. When making this bend, maintain the round profile of each half, do not allow the bend to flatten. A strip of wood on each side of the pipe as it bends will help maintain the profile. The final bend should be 90 degrees to the pipe

After the pipe cools, Sand and smooth the cut edges.

Place diagonally across the back of the J-channel frame.

Slide the diagonal support so that it is 3 1/2” from the bottom of the frame and closest to the folded tab. Mark the location of the cross members and the J channels and cut to appropriate length. Then heat the diagonal support and flatten the last 1” on each half pipe.

When cooled, place the diagonal support over the frame and mark locations of the binding posts. Drill holes in the diagonal support for binding posts.

Disassemble the frame and reassemble with the diagonal support in place. Before final tightening, ensure the frame is square.

Step 7: Build the Pivot Mechanism

Now that the holder is assembled, slide the elbow onto the end of the diagonal support so the elbow points downward. Drill a hole on the top for the pivot screw drilling into the pipe as well. Cut a slot in the round end of the pipe that aligns with the hole. This slot with be used to allow the holder to rotate from portrait to landscape view. The slot should start at the top and continue 90 degrees clockwise. This slot should be large enough for the screw to slide freely.

Step 8: Shape the Mounting Arm

Cut a piece of 1/2” PVC pipe to 19” length.

Mark the pipe 6 1/2” from one end. Make another mark at the 8” mark.

Heat the end of the pipe where you made the previous marks. Heat past the 8” mark. Thoroughly heat the pipe until it is pliable. Press the pipe between two boards to completely flatten. Press from the end to the 8”mark and clamp. Fold the pipe upward and make a 90 degree bend and press the remaining 1 1/2” flat. Gently pull away from the bend to keep the pipe flat as you make the bend.

After the pipe cools a bit, but is still pliable, bend the pipe from the 1 1/2” mark to make the ‘V’ bend. Bend the ‘V’ to make an angle of 45 degrees as shown in the picture.

Heat the tube at the 6 1/2” mark from the 45 degree bend and when pliable, bend to form a gentle bend of about 25 degrees .

Let pipe cool completely.

When cool drill holes for mounting screws to match locations under the control panel of the elliptical.

Step 9: Finishing the Mount to Match Your Equipment

Basic assembly is done. Now you can finish to your preference.

Lightly scuff the surfaces with fine steel wool then apply primer. I used Rust-oleum 7784 Gloss Charcoal Gray for a final coat. This matched the finish on the elliptical nearly perfectly.

Step 10: Fitting the Cover

Slide I pad cover over frame and mark location where elbow with screw is located. Orient the cover so the flap will be toward the back when using the elliptical. Mark this location on the cover and make diagonal cuts to allow the pipe to protrude through the cover.

Slide the cover over the frame. Attach the arm to the elliptical, then attach the elbow on the frame to the support arm.

Step 11: Conclusion

The iPad should slide into the holder and be held firmly in the J Channels.

The holder should rotate so the I Pad rests on the tabs formed in the early steps.

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