Introduction: The Flying Case Tray

About: A long time Instructables lurker.. now pleased to be an Instructables worker, in; doing instead of doodling. This is easier now that I am 'semi' retired with more time to do stuff. My grandson is becom…

Here is a very useful thing that can fly. (with the help of it's owner and an airline ticket)

I hope it inspires you to adopt, adapt and improve on the simple design for use with your own carry-on luggage.

If I see you and your flying case tray at an airport I will say hi, and congratulate you on a good job

Step 1: Why

You have found a seat at the airport or transit station and want a nice tray to use for your laptop, tablet or food?

This instructable aims to help you solve that problem.

Of course your carry-on case may be different and have different spacing of the handle etc. However the basic concept shown here should be easily adaptable to your own case.

Just obtain or make a different sized tray and then link to the handle in the best way possible.

This retractable hook method would work with minor modifications for many cases that I have seen.

Step 2: With What?

I used just a few items from the cheap shop (AKA The Dollar store or Pound shop)...and some tools.
Tent pegs cost £1 in UK
Connector blocks another UK pound
The tray was more expensive at £2
I also added 'optional' non slip material from the cheap shop for another pound.
I had the screws but you may prefer to use short bolts and locking nuts, or even zip ties.

I do not recommend using glue.

Those lucky folk with 3D printers could probably create a super ABS clip-on bracket arrangement, but this Instructable is for the rest of us.

The tools used were :
Pliers, scissors, sharp knife, small flat and cross headed bits for a small screwdriver.
A small drill bit and an electric drill, although you could probably make the holes in many other ways.

Step 3: How to Start :

Having gathered together your materials and your tools first I suggest that you turn the rods into hooks.

The existing end is opened up with pliers to create a hook that fits comfortably over the case handle supports.

If you are using just straight wire then you will need to form the hook from scratch, at one end of your wire.

Step 4: Cutting and Marking:

Cut the plastic connectors carefully to retain the hole as part of the finished component.

Disassemble a couple of connectors from the plastic. These will be used later as end stops.

Lay out the connectors on the side of the tray (Holding in place with tape) and mark the maximum and minimum positions of the sliding hooks.

Step 5: Next

Mark the drilling spots using a slim pencil or marker through the fastening hole in the plastic. Then select a drill that is smaller in diameter than the screw or fixing that you will be using.

Note: it might be preferable in some circumstances to secure the connectors using zip ties passed through the holes and back through the tray. In that case an additional hole would be required.

Having built the project using common wood screws, I think that a better, more elegant, solution would be to use small nut and bolt assemblies. In that case a locking nut or Nyloc type nut should be used.

Step 6: Finishing the Drilling and Cutting:

Next transfer the measurements of the first side holes to the other side using a marked stick, paper or measure.

Screw through from the tray side into the soft plastic of the connectors or use the other method of fastening mentioned earlier.

Please do not try any type of glue as it is highly unlikely that it will work and would not offer any benefit.

Having carefully measured, checked and double checked the length of rod needed to extend and retract, then the excess can be cut off.

I used the cutter on electricians pliers and 'work hardened' by wiggling the wire gently to and fro, until it snapped.

I was left with a clean cut that fed through the connectors easily.

A saw or bolt cutters would also work to shorten the rods but some deburring may then be needed .

Step 7: The End Stops and Tray Enhancement:

Having determined the correct lengths and cut off the excess, the rods are then fed through the connectors.

Brass inserts, that were removed earlier, are then fastened on the ends to limit the extension amount and to stop the rods being pulled out.

Next a template is used to produce a cutting pattern for the non slip matting.

This is optional and other methods could be employed to add a non slip surface, but this is a very low cost and effective way of preventing items slipping.

Step 8: Completing the Flying Tray:

The non slip mat can be just placed on the tray and removed for cleaning etc when required. Alternatively it can be held in place by double sided tape.

The tray is now complete and can be mounted onto the flight luggage.

Since some adjustment has been built into the design it should be possible to effect a secure attachment to the case handle.

The side screws can be tightened after attachment to secure the tray from removal or left to allow some movement.

Step 9: Enjoy:

The flying case tray is ready to be used.

The hook attachment allows for the tray to pivot and offer different angles as the handle is raised.

This could be used for reading a tablet, Kindle or even a traditional book or magazine.

The angled position could also be used with an art pad for sketching or painting.

In the flat position the tray is just right for eating a plated meal, it can also safely support a fast food container and beverage.

The height of any carry on luggage with a tray like this is perfect to be used when seated.

Most carry on luggage has a front or rear pouch that the tray can be stored in after retracting the hooks.

Step 10: All Done:

I have seen trays offered on shopping channels that are far more complicated and cost significantly more than the few notes that this would cost.

There has even been a Kickstarter campaign offering of a super do-it-all case that included a tray for hundreds of dollars. Neither of those options provide the pure satisfaction of having made it yourself.

I hope that you travellers will build this and enjoy your travelling experience more.

Like ourselves this tray does not have wings but it can fly with us anywhere, any time.

Things That Fly Challenge

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