Magnetic Laptop Mount

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About: My 30's have become a sort of renaissance for my tinkering and building.

I have a job in the construction industry where I am frequently in places where I need my laptop but there is nowhere to set it down to use it. Luckily there is already a manufactured solution for this issue in the form of a folding magnetic mount for laptops. You can find it on Amazon for about $150. If you've read any of my other 'ibles then you'll know that this just will not do. I was looking to recreate this device for as little dough as possible.

SPOLIER: I did it for $55.00.

Step 1: Material and Tools

The commercially available device is made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). You can buy the stuff from Amazon for about $20 a square foot. But you know what is also made of HDPE and is a little cheaper? Cutting Boards! I got a 30" x 18" cutting board 1/2" thick from Amazon for $25.00. I also needed some super strong cup magnets. I actually had 10 of them already but they cost $20 for a pack of ten. Here is a complete list:

Material

Big 'ol Cutting Board

Four Cup Magnets

Piano Hinge

Tee Nuts

10-24 3/4" Bolts (4 of)

Wood Screws

Tools

Table Saw

Miter Saw

Drill Press

Drill Bits

Velcro (optional)

Step 2: Cutting and Layout

This stuff cuts like butter with a table saw and a normal drill bit. I cut out the pieces per my plans and laid out the locations of the holes. When using either the saw or the drill press just take your time. If the HDPE gets too hot it will start to melt. After cutting and layout I dry fit the pieces.

Step 3: Bonding

Finding a type of glue to bond HDPE is near impossible for cheap. You can use a torch to melt the surface of both pieces and stick them together that way which is actually pretty good for large pieces however it makes smaller pieces more brittle which I found out. So the melting method was a no-go. I decide to just mechanically fasten all the pieces with screws and bolts. To my surprise I found that the HDPE responds to screws exactly the same way wood does. This was a game changer, because woodworking I can do.

Step 4: Drilling

Like when you work with small pieces of hardwood you want to pre-drill the screw holes. For most of the holes it only took a small 1/16" bit. For the Tee Nuts it took a 5/16" bit. A tee nut is a barbed nut you can insert into wood or plastic and then run a bolt through. These tee nuts are what I used to attach the magnets. I used a forstner bit to countersink the tee nuts so they would be flush with the surface of the board. I used a 1 3/4" hole saw to create a makeshift handle and to take some weight out.

Step 5: Assembly

I hand tightened all of the screws and bolts to avoid striping out any of the plastic. I did screw up on one bolt and over tightened it which cracked one of the cup magnets. Not a big deal, it still works. The piano hinge was a little tricky because of how small it is. You can add a pad of velcro if you have any reservations about the laptop sliding off.

Step 6: Testing

The magnets are rated for a 97 lbs (44 kg) vertical pull each...EACH! I tested the device on the back of one of my tool boxes. Even though the tool box is pretty thin metal it stuck like a champ. This thing its not moving unless someone really tries to move it. The point is to have somewhere to place my laptop while I take down some information, not to provide anyone with a spot to rest their elbows. I have every confidence that it will support my laptop with no issues. I am concerned that when i'm on a roof with this thing in the desert sun it may get a little "flexible" but I will just be careful to limit the time in the sun.

The whole thing fits in my laptop bag like the commercially available one, was much cheaper, and functions as planned and only took about 4 hours to make. :)

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    15 Discussions

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    galah

    18 days ago

    Any particular reason not to use plywood instead of HDPE?
    Gluing is easy.

    2 replies
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    Nick70587galah

    Reply 17 days ago

    No particular reason other than its what the inspiration piece was made of. There may be a little more durability with the plastic...we'll see. I would like to make a fancy hardwood version with brass fittings.

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    galahNick70587

    Reply 17 days ago

    I thought the HDPE would be a little too saggy. By durable I guess you mean pulling out the hinge bolts...maybe. Hardwood might be a little bit brittle and warp. Well, our local Australian hardwoods would certainly warp that wide and thin. If the HDPE works well, great.
    I also wondered about string or chain from midway up the back to midway out the horizontal. On either end that is. Would reduce the stresses on the hinge mounts. As long as it doesn't get in the way too much when using it.

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    Nick70587AnandM54

    Answer 19 days ago

    The magnets have a hole in the middle that fits a #10-24 machine screw. The screw is connected into the tee-nut which was inserted into the plastic.

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    goldenskyhook

    Question 20 days ago

    This looks WAY cool. Am I seeing this right, that I would need a vertical, ferrous surface to use this?

    1 answer
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    Nick70587goldenskyhook

    Answer 20 days ago

    Yes, it is intended for vertical surfaces. I stick it to Air Handlers on the roof more than anything. I stuck it to a steel door in a building the other day and scratched the paint so I won't do that anymore. I tried adding a thin piece of felt to the magnets but even that small gap drastically reduced the effectiveness of the magnets. It still held, but I was less confident every time i started typing.

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    bruce.desertrat

    20 days ago

    Any magnetic fields generated by these that get through the case to affect the drive will be several orders of magnitude less than the fields generated by the extremely powerful magnets inside the hard drive. I have magnets harvested from old SCSI server drives that will hold bout 50 sheets of paper to a refrigerator. There's no danger whatsoever of these magnets affecting data in the laptop. If the laptop has a spinning hard drive, the vastly greater danger is it being jostled around on a construction site!

    1 reply
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    Nick70587bruce.desertrat

    Reply 20 days ago

    Agreed. Both on the minimal danger to my data and the banging around the laptop. Our technician's laptops have about a two year shelf life due to the environment which is a benefit of this device. It helps keep me from having to set the laptop down on dirty, wet surfaces, or worse...the ground.

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    menglor

    20 days ago

    The magenetic Clasp of a purse can erase bank starts inside it, and they themselve are not directly in contact. so any magnetism is bad.

    one issue to be concerned about, is my moving the magnets around, you could magnetize the chassis or any Ferrous metals, and for example the opening and closing of the lid could cause issues on a Drive.

    Though the wise choice would be to change the laptop to a SSD and remove the issue altogether.


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    oragamiunicorn

    Question 22 days ago

    is there any issue using strong magnets near complex electronics like laptops? I's be worried about data corruption, perhaps needlessly?

    1 answer
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    Nick70587oragamiunicorn

    Reply 22 days ago

    They are cup magnets so the strongest part of the magnetic field is directed away from the computer. When its in my bag, i just make sure the magnets face away from my computer.