At first I thought about modifying a COTS (consumer off the shelf) iPad case and mounting it to the face of a cabinet but I didn't feel comfortable swinging the thing around every time we wanted to get a plate. After hitting a slight creative block, I was inspired by a couple drawer slides I found whilst fumbling around my spare parts box. I could mount the dock to the underside of a cabinet and slide it out and over the sink when it's needed. However, in this configuration, I would only have 1 and 1/8 inches of clearance to work with. Subtracting the width of the iPad (1/2"), the iPad holder (1/4") and the logically minimal width of a sturdy base (1/4")... I was running out of room quickly. I would have to lay the iPad holder flat against the base and somehow conjure up enough space to fashion some sort of kickstand mechanism.
Knowing that I had no height to work with, I envisioned an opening in the base where the hinged portion of the dock would reside. I also thought up notches in that opening that would later accept a couple of saw tooth sections to act as adjustable stops for a kickstand. Luckily I have access to a laser cutting table. Otherwise, cutting out the design below would have been impossible with a Dremel.
|Figure 1: CAD drawing for laser cutting table
I made the iPad holder out of 1/16" sheet aluminum which I painted a shiny black with a couple coats of clear acrylic for protection. This is also the case where having the right tools really makes the job easy. Having a good sheet metal cutter and bender makes all the difference. I left a little slack around the iPad to put a thin felt pad to minimize scratching but turns out the current finish is soft enough and any additional material may not be necessary.
There are a couple things I would have done differently had I owned the house. First off, building the drawer slides into the cabinet so it's totally hidden when not in use would have been really neat. I'll shelf that idea until I put up some custom cabinets of my own. Next, having the whole thing motorized would bring this to the next level. Completely unnecessary but cool none the less. I had that notion from the very beginning so I designed it with that potential upgrade in mind. Though I have many more projects in mind so that will have to wait for another day.