For me (and many others) tablets are information consumption devices first and foremost. I love leaning back in my chair reading RSS feeds, a magazine or a newspaper on the iPad. I also find it very useful to have the iPad open and use as a secondary computer when writing articles or doing any work on a computer that is better done with a second (or in my case third) monitor. For those uses it’s much easier to have something flexible to put the tablet on so you don’t have to hold it in your hand all the time. Read on to see how you can turn a camera tripod into a very flexible, cheap tablet stand.
“Cheap” in this instance does require you to own a camera tripod already, but even if you don’t this isn’t a very expensive project. I spent about $15 in parts and that’s Norwegian prices where the cutting board was 2/3 of the total cost.
The basic idea with this mod is to create an iPad holder that can be screwed onto a standard camera tripod. That means you need some sort of device to hold the iPad and somehow incorporate a 1/4 nut with 20 threads per inch (camera screw size) to make it compatible with tripods. My solution uses a plastic cutting board, some scrap metal, a couple of screws, felt pads and adhesive hooks plus a hot glue gun, but there are many ways of achieving the same result. you can make it out of wood, metal, acrylic glass, cardboard or really anything you want. I just picked up a few things at a local hardware store and went from there.
I started off with the cutting board and made a hole for the nut to fit in. I hot glued it in place and used some scrap metal (the kind you get get from things like tin cans, mint tins etc) to make a metal plate with a hole in it to go on top so it wouldn’t come out easily. I glued the plate in place, put some black vinyl tape I had on top to cover the sharp edges and put in some small screws to really secure the plate to the cutting board. I then placed the two adhesive hooks on the front, spaced appropriately for the iPad to rest on them, and glued them in place before I added a screw each to those as well from the back, just to be on the safe side. I then added a few felt pads to the front and cut off the top of the cutting board to better fit the shape of the iPad. Then all i had to do was screw it onto the tripod.
As long as your tripod is flexible, your tablet stand will be too. My main tripod has several joints so the resulting tablet stand can function in any configuration from a flat table type stand at full standing height to a slanted easel type stand that holds the iPad at recliner chair height. I also tried using a Gorillapod-style fully flexible stand I have and it also worked perfectly, giving me a nice tabletop iPad stand.