Introduction: Modular IPad Stand Using Aluminum and an Erector Set!

Do you have an iPad?  Was your favorite part of The Sandlot the crazy ball fetching contraption?  Read on...

I don't know about you, but I HATE not having the right part when I'm in the middle of a project.  I was on my second trip to the hardware store last weekend trying to build this stand and it hit me: I have the perfect prototyping kit sitting in my basement that I hadn't used in years...My Erector sets!

So, I built an iPad holder using an old iMac stand (not an original idea I know,) aluminum stock, Erector pieces, and some lamp parts.

(I actually originally had the easel part of this mount attached to the articulating arm of an architect's lamp.  I might put that instructable up if people are interested.  That's where the modular part comes in.)

I was trying to replicate something like this that I saw in the Apple store:
I wanted something that captured the Apple aesthetic and had a few more features.

The neck has full range of motion for watching movies in landscape or charging in portrait.  The easel part has a neat spring mechanism to securely hold your iPad in place.

Thanks for looking, and please vote for me in the weekend projects contest and the I could make that contest!

Step 1: Materials


1/8" x 3/4" aluminum stock (3ft)
Misc. Erector pieces (If you don't have an old Erector set lying around, I'm sure you can find everything you need in a hardware store)
2 short springs, about an inch long

8 small machine screws (flat head) Don't use Erector screws for this.  They need to be flat head and I'll explain why later.  You can   get any type of slotting.  I chose philips
6 lock washers to match
6 nuts to match
2 nylock nuts to match

Small bit of weather stripping or foam with adhesive back

iMac stand

Step 2: Cut and Shape the Aluminum

Cut your stock into 5 pieces to the following dimensions:

2 pieces at 10.5" long
1 piece at 7" long
2 pieces about 2" long

Clamp the pieces securely in a vise and use a hacksaw or a dremel with cut off wheel.  Use a metal file to smooth down the edges.

Next, make a 90 degree bend about 1/4 of an inch from the bottom of both of the long pieces you just cut.  I did this by putting it in the vise, leaving 1/4 inch exposed, and hammering it flush with the vise jaw.  I clamped a screw driver in with it to give it a gentler bend.
Then, move the piece out in the vise so that 1.5" is exposed.  Hammer a 45 degree bend in the aluminum in the direction of the first bend.  It should look like the second picture when done.  Do this to both long pieces.

Do roughly the same thing to two small pieces.  Make a 90 degree bend in the middle of the 2" pieces and use your hammer to round off the ends.

Leave the 7" long piece straight

Step 3: Drill Screw Holes in the Aluminum

Now, using a drill press (ideally) or a handheld drill, make the screw holes in the aluminum.  Start with a small bit, then work your way up to the size you need for your screws.

Make 6 holes in the 7" piece:
2 holes 1/2 inch from the ends of the piece, along the centerline as in the first picture (note that I did this out of order, so these holes do not appear in the second picture)
The other four should be 2.25" measured in from both ends on either side of the centerline (see second picture)

Now, use the four holes you just made to line up and drill into both long pieces about 3.5" from the un-bent end.
Use a larger bit than the one you used to make the pilot holes to create a recess for the screw heads as in the third picture three (this is why you needed flat heads)
Once these are made use a grinding wheel or file to de-burr the sharp edges left by the drill.

The hole layout on the small pieces should look like picture four.  Drill one recessed hole about 1/2 inch from the non-bent end, and an elongated non-recessed hole in the middle.

As an optional step, now would be the best time to clean up the metal so it looks nice.  I used a bench grinder with a brass wheel to give the pieces a nice brushed look, but you can also use aluminum wheel paint.

Step 4: Assemble IPad Easel

Now put it all together.

Use four flat head screw, nuts, and washers to attach the long aluminum pieces to the center piece.  Add the foam padding now.

To assemble the spring mechanism and small end clamps, secure one end of your spring to one of the cross member screws.  The other end should be attached to the recessed screw on the end clamp.  Now, use a screw, washer, and a nylock nut to attach the cross member with the small clamp at the elongated hole you made.  The nylock will keep the nut from falling off, but the screw should be long enough that the connection is loose.  This will allow the clamp to slide to hold your iPad.  When together it should look like the second picture.

Note in the last picture, I added two additional holes below the crossmember.  This will allow mounting of the easel to the iPad stand later on.

Step 5: Make the IMac Stand Mount

Here is where the Erector parts come in.  Mount two L shaped brackets to the stand.  I had to drill out the center holes on the stand to accommodate the wide Erector screws.  Attach one three hole plate across them, and mount the staple shaped piece in the center of that. (see second and third pictures)

I should mention here that your mileage may vary when it comes to the lamp parts.  I purchased this inexpensive architects lamp to use for the mount I mentioned earlier.
The lamp shade is held on by the ball joint part in the fourth picture, which is allows the user to adjust where the light shines.
I took it off the lamp, removed the triangle shaped black parts, and used the staple shaped Erector piece to mount it to the stand.

I then attached two three hole plates to the end of the lamp part, and used them to attach the easel.

The knob at the right came with the lamp and allows you to adjust how hard it is to move the joint.

Step 6: Put It All Together!

Screw the easel onto the stand at you should be done!

This is what it looks like all together.

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Weekend Projects Contest

Participated in the
Weekend Projects Contest