My netbook is great; it's small, portable and has enough juice to do everything I need when I'm on the move. However, there's been times where I need to conduct work in a specific area and there's no desk or suitable space to set my computer down and type. There's even been a few close calls where my laptop has almost fallen from resting on top of printers, cluttered desk space and stacks of other junk.
Time to combine may portable little laptop with the stability of a tripod, time for a laptop tripod!
Whether you're in the field writing a report or stuck in an office looking for a place to set down your computer, a laptop tripod should have you covered. Depending on the type of tripod you have there is a maximum weight and size limit your laptop will be able to hold, so remix the dimensions and ideas here to make your own.
Enough talk, let's make something!
Step 1: Tools + materials
To make your own laptop tripod you'll need a tripod with a quick-release head. You can order extra quick-release heads for your tripod online.
Step 2: Laptop deck
The laptop will need a solid deck to rest on when in use. This deck will also hold the hardware required to enable the quick-release head needed for the tripod and the tubing which will secure the laptop.
Start by measuring out your laptop dimensions, then add another 50mm (2") to each side as a buffer edging that will be installed later. The dimensions for my laptop were 260mmx184mm (10.25"x7.25"), plus the buffer gives final dimensions of 310mmx234mm (12.25"x9.25").
Mark out dimensions on plywood, then cut out. Lightly sand edges to remove burrs.
Step 3: Install tee nut
To attach out quick release to the deck we need to install a corresponding nut of the same diameter and thread count, this is typically 1/4" - 20. 1/4" is the diameter and 20 threads per inch, if you're unsure take your quick-release head to the hardware store and fit nuts until you find the right one.
To ensure a good bond between nut and the underside of the deck I chose a tee nut, which has a longer neck than regular nuts. The one I found also had teeth along the edge which allowed it to bite into the wood.
The nut will need to be located in the centre of the underside of the deck. To locate the centre simply draw a straight line between diagonally opposite corners, where the lines intersect is the centre.
Next, drill an opening slightly larger than diameter of the tee nut. Do not drill through the deck, just enough to sink the nut and have the teeth bite. Apply some glue in opening and hammer in tee nut.
Step 4: Molding edges
To stop the laptop sliding off the deck a raised edge was installed around the perimeter.
Cut molding to length and width of your deck, then cut 45 degrees on each end. Lightly sand away burrs to ensure a snug fit.
Apply glue to underside of molding and clamp in place around perimeter of deck to dry.
Step 5: Add legs
Legs were added so that the base can rest on a table without wobbling on the quick-release head.
40mm (1.5") Scrap dowel was cut into four equal lengths of about 50mm (2"), then glued onto the underside one at each corner.
Step 6: Add tubing
To secure the laptop when it's resting on the deck we'll use rubber tubing as it's elastic and won't damage the laptop. The tubing will be secured under the deck by being sandwiched between two screws.
Cut a length of tubing longer than the length of your deck (about 150mm [6"] extra). Staple one end to the underside of the deck near the edge, in the other end insert a bolt.
Next pull the tubing to wrap around the deck and mark the location where the bolt meets the underside, install two screws on either side of the tubing at the location marked. Do not install the screws flush with the underside of the deck, leave screw heads proud. The latex tube should be able to pass through the two screws and the bold will catch, securing the tubing taught against your laptop when placed on deck.
Step 7: Install laptop
You're all done, time to place your laptop on the deck and strap it down with the tubing. Your laptop has a base to sit on when you're at your desk and is ready to be snapped into a tripod for steady field work.
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