Cell Phone Holder

Ok, this is one of those "quick and dirty" projects.  Stop me if you've heard this story.  You buy a new cell phone with nifty GPS capabilities, but there's nowhere in the car to put it that lets you safely use them.  Or you get a new case for your cell phone and now it won't fit in its old holder for the car. 

Our cell phone plan ran out and we figured it was about time upgrade to a smartphone.  I say "we."  What actually happened was I got a twitter message at work saying "You're cell phone is dark, don't use it 'til you get home."  When I got home, I found my father's day present was a shiny new Droid.  That very next weekend was my first trip with the nice GPS.  I don't want to put down Digiwalker I've been using, but it was used when I bought it several years ago and lacks a certain level of AI that's found in more recent units.  There's one particular shortcut we've learned coming home that basically turns a 40 mile arc into a 20 mile straight line.  We don't take it enough for it to be completely ingrained, so it would be nice if the old GPS could guide us through it.  Instead, try as we might, it keeps insisting that we do a U-turn and go back to the arc.  Five miles from home, it's still telling us that the quickest way is to drive back 15 miles, and take the 40 mile arc.  Now I admit that I'm stubborn, but that's going a bit to far. 

My first long trip with the new Droid was a weekend trip with me Little Pete to Dadstruction HQ.  The GPS was not essential, so this was a good shakedown cruise to test it out.  It worked flawlessly with the small complicating detail that I was forever trying to position it somewhere so that it would stay put.  The best solution I could come up with was to have it wedged between a camera bag and a socket set on the passenger's seat, using a waded-up t-shirt to adjust the angle.  It was a pain. 

For the next family trip, I was determined to have something better.  For one thing, All three of us would be going, so the passenger's seat would be occupied.  Here's the solution I came up with. 

Our car has a little tray in the instrument panel.  I found that a large binder clip (Thanks supply cabinet!) could clamp to bottom lip of the tray.  Then it was just a matter of cutting out some grippers for the cell phone.  I've dubbed my invention "THE CLAW!"   (You must form your hand into malevolent hook when saying it.)

Here is the layout I used for "THE CLAW!"  Obviously, your dimensions will vary.  The width and depth for my CLAW was the width and depth of the droid in its case.  I expected it to take some tweaking, but it worked well the first time.  That was part luck and part materials. 

I cut the pattern from a 1/4 inch thick sheet of high density polyethylene (HDPE).  A band saw, jig saw, or even a coping saw would work well for this.   The arms are about 1/16th inches across, which had a good stiffness, but was still fairly flexible.  The gap is a bit small, but opens with a little force and then holds the phone nicely.  I cut two pieces, drilled them both and tapped one  to accommodate a nylon screw.  Why nylon?  It was a WIHLA (What I Had Laying Around).  You could probably get by with just one CLAW (don't forget the hand) and a bolt with washer, but I figured two would have a bit more holding power. 

Here are the parts, including the binder clip and nylon set screw.  Assembly was just a matter of passing the screw through one handle of the binder clip with a plastic part on each side.  Tightening the screw clamps the binder clip handle and holds it in place. 

So there you have it.  It looks like there are a bit more flexible holders out there on the market, but most of them take up some valuable windshield realestate.  Besides, I wanted to place it low enough to reach it with the charger cord and aux audio cable, both of which are too short to reach the top of the dashboard.