How to make a better PDA car mount
- Contributed by bilagaana
While I'm not that impressed with the Arkon CM700 mount for the iPAQ, it does provide a common power source for the PPC and accessories and so offers some convenience when using a GPS package.
Most of these car mounts are offered with suction cup pedestals for attachment to the windshield. This is unsafe and illegal. The California Vehicle Code (to cite one example) specifically prohibits placing any object upon the windshield or within the vehicle that will reduce the view through the windshield. Driving is expensive enough without risking additional liabilities.
I didn't want to use a vent mount, so I began to look for some alternative location that would make the unit accessible without creating a safety hazard or violating statute.
In my manual transmission vehicle, there is a cup holder next to the gear shift. The diameter of the cup holder is enough to fit the PPC mount's suction cup but the plastic doesn't provide a smooth enough surface for it to adhere properly. However, it was a relatively simple matter to make something to meet the need. I thought other users might find the solution a good alternative in their vehicles.
Polymer clay can be bought at any craft store. It bakes up hard but retains some flexibility. The various brands vary in the amount of kneading required prior to use. I used Sculpey, which is very pliable right out of the box. I lined the cup holder with thin plastic, used enough clay to tightly fill the base of the cup holder to a depth of an inch, used a cup to flatten the inner portion of the top surface, then carefully pried the resulting biscuit out of the holder and placed it on a piece of ceramic tile for baking. Following the directions and precautions on the Sculpey box, it took about thirty minutes to harden in the oven.
Meanwhile, I cut a disk out of scrap acrylic sheet (Plexiglas), slightly smaller in diameter than the cup holder. I used three-quarter inch acrylic because that's what I had on hand.
When the clay cooled, I filed the top surface flat, leaving the central area slightly lower than the circumference for holding the adhesive I intended to use. Gorilla Glue, which will stick just about anything to anything else, bonded the acrylic disk to the clay biscuit. (If you've never used Gorilla Glue, practice on some other material first to get a sense of how much it will foam and expand.)
As the clay biscuit expanded slightly in baking, some minimal light sanding was required to fit it back into the cup holder.
Though not every car has a cup holder in the same location as my manual transmission Explorer, most have something similar in the passenger compartment.
The result can be seen below; a removable but very secure surface for mounting the entire PPC unit in a safe and accessible location.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview