I was greatly inspired by this great instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Drone-IPad-Mount... and decided to make something similar but with my own twist. I too wanted to find a way of using my iPad Air with my drone, rather than a humble phone. I also wanted the controller with its little joysticks to still be the most prominent bit of the setup, and closest to me...I didn't want to be reaching over the iPad to work the controller.
Please note: this system won’t work if you have a big cumbersome case or cover on your iPad. I just have a silicone back, which makes it easy to grip, and cushions the corners in the event of a bounce, and works perfectly here
I literally made this out of scraps I had lying around!
Some 5mm Perspex
Some aluminium composite signboard ( this goes by brand names like Dibond)
Offcut of drainpipe
Various nuts & bolts
Old cabinet handle
Length of threaded bar and matching turn knobs
Offcut of PEX type pipe.
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Step 1: Making a Template for Your IPad Holder
Lay your ipad on a sheet of paper, and draw a triangle which sticks beyond both the top and bottom edges by 25mm or so.
Then measure your triangle, and use a simple computer programme such as Word, PowerPoint or Apple Pages to draw it to scale.
Print it out at 100% (no scaling), cut it out neatly, and try folding your paper over the top & bottom to see if your iPad holder is the right size. Adjust as required.
Step 2: Making the Plastic IPad Holder
Now for a super cheap source of heat mouldable plastic, get an offcut of new plastic drainpipe, and cut a slot down the length with a hacksaw.
Either bake it in your oven on a flat baking tray, or simply use a heat gun to soften the plastic till you have a flat sheet. Tip .... if using the heat gun method, once the plastic melts, put a piece of ply or mdf on top to help it dry flat.... this only takes minutes.
Now drawer round your paper template onto the sheet of plastic, and cut it out with a hacksaw. File or sand the edges.
Now get a piece of ply, plastic etc which is roughly the same thickness as your iPad (with its sleeve if applicable). Reheat the bottom edge of the plastic triangle and fold it round the former to get it roughly right. Once cooler, but not rigid you can at your own risk, form it round the actual iPad for even greater accuracy. Repeat with the top of the triangle. Now fine tune the size of the top and bottom lips, and round the corners if you like.
Tip! You don’t need a very deep lip to support the iPad, and the top part can’t be too deep, or it will never spring out to allow you to attach/detach it from your iPad.
Step 3: Fake Phone
Your drone controller will have arms designed to hold your phone, so we’re going to replace that with a ‘fake phone’.
I made mine out of an offcut of Perspex and an offcut of aluminium composite signboard. Glued together they worked out at 9mm thick. Or you could just use a piece of ply. Round the corners, so it looks good, and won’t damage your drone controller.
Step 4: Rear Support
Next I made the back support out signboard: it’s a tapered shape approx12.5cm by 8cm. Tapered so it’s strong at the base, but can clear the moulded shape on the back of the dji controller. I fixed this to my fake phone, using countersunk bolts and 20mm spacers so it sat behind the controller. (I didn't have any nylon spacers so just used 2 short lengths of PEX type plumbing pipe bonded to the perspex with hot melt glue).
I wanted my iPad mount to partially fold, so I made a lockable hinge from An old handle which consists of a centre tube and separate brackets. I simply drilled out the tube, shortened it, and ran a threaded rod through the tube with a knob on each end to connect it to the brackets.
I then cut the top support from signboard, 12cm x 2.3cm.... this should be no wider than the tube part of your hinge. I pop riveted this to the tube, so by loosening the yellow knobs, you can position the angle of the top support, then lock it in place.
Finally I used large headed pop rivets to fix upright (B) to the plastic iPad holder.... the larger heads spread the load on the plastic.
It’s quite hard to describe this stage, hopefully the pics give you enough detail.
Step 5: Connecting the Cables
Your Mavic air controller has a little cable on the left that typically you would plug into your phone.... you can remove this. If you look on the bottom of the controller there’s a less than obvious USB port. Simply use this to connect the controller to your iPads lightning port... you probably already have a suitable cable. For convenience I bought a 50cm one off amazon, as my ‘home cable’ was way too long. It also handy to leave a specific one in the drone bag.
(By the way, as a later mod I cut a circle out of the lower support, just to lighten it, and to show the usb port).
Step 6: Conclusions
I was a little worried that with the iPad being where it is, this might obstruct the controller’s aerials, but so far, it all works fine.
The unit is of course heavier to hold than if just using a phone, but it’s pretty well balanced, since you can have the iPad semi upright.
There’s so much detail to see on screen when flying your drone, I find the ipad way better!
If you have a go at making something similar or have any improvements to suggest, do let me know!
Happy making :)