Introduction: Bidirectional Car Smartphone Mount
In my mind, paying $40 for a phone mount for my car is out of the question. So naturally a few minutes on Instructables brings me to repeet13's Binder Clip Phone Car Mount. It is a beautifully simple solution but it didn't quite suit my needs. I wanted to have the ability to mount my phone in both landscape and portrait modes depending on what application I plan on running. Plus, the binder clip didn't hold on to my air vent slats very well. Time for an upgrade!
Step 1: Decision Time: Where Should I Mount My Phone?
Personally, I like to keep my car gadgets as close to my natural line of sight as possible, almost like an aircraft HUD. It is much safer because I don't have to take my eyes off the road for very long and for that brief second, the road is still maintained in my main field of view.
Perhaps you find it distracting to have something near your view of the road or maybe it blocks some of your view. There is no wrong answer (except to take your view completely off the road to text with your phone in your lap, grrrrrrr). I recommend sitting in your car and trying out a variety of places.
Another point to remember is that a lot of cars now have front A pillar and side air-bags. You don't want your phone/mount to get launched at your noggin during an accident.
I decided to mount mine on the dashboard below the rear-view mirror. This spot is not too far off my line of sight, allows for uninhibited use of the air vents, and is close to my car charger. The air vent can also be directed upwards to help cool the phone off if needed.
Step 2: Building the Phone Holder
I used repeet13's basic design. The only real changes that I made was using rubber surgical tubing instead of paracord and regular rubber bands instead of hair bands. I found that the paracord did not provide enough friction to hold the phone while in portrait mode.
Step 3: Sizing the Mounting Arm
Your desired location will dictate the size and shape of your mounting arm. This is something that you will have to play around with and use a bit of Maker magic. I decided on an L-shaped cantilever held in place by industrial strength Velcro. The vertical portion should be at least 2" x 2" to adequately fit the binder clip. The horizontal portion will vary.
Mine is made of 1/8" thick x 2" wide aluminum bar. Horizontal portion- ~6" long, vertical portion 2" x 2". I debated making the arm out of wood, steel, and plastic but eventually settled on aluminum because I had some laying around. Aluminum is nice because it bends easily however it is shiny and will throw the sun into your eyes at the right angle. I ended up painting the top of mine matte black to mitigate this.
Step 4: Forming the Binder Clip Bite Area
After drawing center lines on the 2x2" vertical portion, use Sugru to form the nubs that the binder clip will bite onto. These could also be made out of wood or other material. Make sure to keep the binder clip near you as you form the nubs and use it to test the gaps in between the nubs. I sanded down the aluminum surface so that the Sugru would have an easier time grabbing hold.
The size of each nub is approximately 3/8" long x 1/2" wide (at top and bottom, the center tapers inward like an I-beam) x 1/2" deep. The nubs form a cross with the middle portion missing. The bite area must have enough of a gap between the vertical and horizontal nubs in order for the binder clip to fit through. Scissors worked well as a gap guide. If you accidentally put too much Sugru on and let it dry, just take a small knife and shave down the gaps.
It is important that the nubs have a rough I-beam shape for the binder clip to remain attached. I made the mistake of making the nubs with a rectangular profile and the binder clip would slip right off.
Step 5: Attaching the Mount to Your Car
I used industrial strength Velcro to attach my mount. I liked the idea of being able to remove it. If you want a more permanent solution, epoxy, JB weld, or screws could work as well. Just remember to prep the surfaces before any adhesive. Cars are often dusty or oily on the dashboard which make adhesives less effective. Soap and water or rubbing alcohol work well.
In addition to Velcro, I also had to add a height-boosting nub of Sugru on the bottom of the arm because my dash is not flat. If you want to be able to adjust the height, I'm sure you could whip up some sort of adjustable monopod with a bolt and some nuts.
Step 6: Final Thoughts
Remember to check the laws in your area regarding cell phone usage in cars. A lot of places have outlawed texting or even talking. Also, even if you aren't using your hands to talk on your phone, you are still splitting your attention between driving and talking. Driving is a privilege, not a right so make sure to stay as focused on the task at hand as possible.
My main purpose for making a phone mount was so that I could run Waze as part of my HUD setup. If you haven't heard of it, I highly recommend you check it out. It lets you know the location of speed traps, road construction, obstacles, potholes, traffic, and more. It also has a nice navigation function. It's also one of the apps that Ed Bolian used to break the Cannonball run record so there's that.
Take care and stay safe!