BMW E90 DIY iPhone Mount (prototype)
I’ve been thinking for a while about how I want to go about mounting my iPhone in my car. For a while I had one of those suction cup mounts that gently clamps onto whatever phone or case you have, but it was pretty cruddy and snapped the other day. It got quite in the way as well. Looking around today, I came across Kuda which sells a bunch of custom-fit solutions that look very good though are quite expensive. I thought to myself that something similar wouldn’t be too hard to fabricate myself for a few bucks at home depot.
I happen to have the perfect case to do it, as well! Normally I’m not into big bulky cases. Normally, cases are sort of a mixed bag anyway – they’ll certainly protect your phone from a fall, but they also trap dust and sand up against the phone where it scratches and grinds ad-infinitum until you remove the case and clean everything out. But the other day, AT&T threw some extra stuff at me when I went in to buy a microcell, including an OtterBox Defender case, which happens to include a somewhat silly belt holster snap-in. Well, if I don’t much like cases, I’m certainly not about to use a belt holster. But on the other hand, it’s quite sturdy, snap in/out is fast, and the clip rotates 360* with detents every 45 – super convenient for a car mount.
My plan is to bend a piece of sheet aluminum or perhaps thin bar stock into just such a shape as to fit in the gap between the dash and wood trim, presenting a flat surface to clip the phone to (or, in the future interface to a gripper for a caseless phone). The top of the bar snaps under a piece of trim in the middle of the dash covering two vents and a speaker mount (unused on my trim) – the dash is made out of a foam that’s spongy enough to allow this, given a slight bend in the metal.
The first step is to prototype such a thing. Well, I have a bunch of nice cardboard laying around. Here are the tools: a sharp knife, a good square, a long metal ruler, and a cutting board (I used a 2×4). I cut a nicely squared-up rectangle of cardboard along the grain. The clip on the case is just wide enough that it should fit snugly over a 1-5/8″ strap, so I cut my strip that wide. I brought it out to the car, jammed the end into the gap between trims where I thought it would work, and used the edge of the square’s metal ruler as a guide to neatly bend the cardboard up, then down to rest on the top of the dash, and finally a zigzag to sneak under the plastic cover edge. I ended up with something that actually holds well enough to mount the phone for regular use, so I covered it up in some black gorilla tape so that it blends in for the time being.