Reader Ryan Mottau built this awesome DIY smartphone car mount using our favourite DIY wonder-tool, the binder clip. Here’s how he did it.
Problem: I wanted to take full advantage of the mapping and other car-friendly features on my Android phone without having to look down or have the phone slide under off my leg and under my foot, especially when travelling in rental cars.
Idea: Inexpensive mounting system (so that if I lose it I am not out a $US45 accessory) that can attach to any car and provide close to line-of-sight use of my phone.
Solution: Modified extra large binder clip with some reverse tension (from rubber bands) and protective covering.
Step 1: Modify Your Binder Clip
Disassemble clips and bend ends of each wire piece using two sets of pliers to the angle shown in pictures below.
centerStep 2: Wrap the Wire for Protection
To protect my phone from scratching and provide some friction to hold phone in place, I tie off black thread on one side and wrapped around the bent wire until it provides a tight covering.
A few more times around both sides of the wire helps hold the whole thing together. Then reassemble the binder clip with the round ends bending in toward each other, wrap remaining exposed wire with duct tape (I found that I could put a width of duct tape into the "mouth" of the clip and then pull it over the exposed wire, clipping the tape to fit I then wrapped the excess around the back of the wire holding the thread in place and providing a clean, all-black exterior).
Step 3: Add Rubber Bands for Reverse Tension
In this step, you want to wrap rubber bands around the wire holders to provide the reverse tension necessary to hold your phone in place. Rubber band wrapping will depend on the size and strength of the band, I doubled my band up and then went once more around one side of the clip.
The Final Final Product
The genius of this design is that it provides a double clip, one side to attach to the car (fits onto vent louvers) and the other side holds phone securely in landscape orientation.
I have tested this in several rental cars, my own Mazda 3, and with a variety of different phones (my Droid X shown, also tried with EVO 4G, Droid 1/2, iPhone 4). The clip will generally hold a big phone like the X or an EVO in either landscape or portrait orientation with or without a case. Smaller slicker phones like the iPhone 4 will work but hold better with a case. Orientation is dictated more by the car's vents (or other securing point) but in the case of the Droid X, the side mounted power cord makes landscape the better way to attach anyway. iPhone 4 suffers disadvantage in that portrait mode is less secure and the power cord pulling down makes slipping out more likely. A rubberized case helps with grip.
Bonus: It Doubles as a Stand
The clip can also be used as a stand but this is not as elegant as clipping it on to something.
I see no way to produce these that won't take more time than I could possibly charge for them, so I figured I will just put it out there and let people build, improve and enjoy.