View Full Version : Simplest safe vehicle notebook mount?

24th May 2010, 04:03 PM
I was after a method to mount a notebook for nroute that is:
* secure for the computer and passengers,
* easy to view the screen, and to use the keyboard if needed,
* quick to set up and remove,
* lacking signs for thieves when removed,
* not an obstruction to vehicle controls, radio, air-con etc,
* very low in weight and bulk,
* very inexpensive,
* adaptable even to hire cars on vacation.

Here it is, shown in a Hyundai i30 using a (modified) HP mini 5102 netbook with 10.4” screen. I have also used an unmodified 11” Lenovo X200 or X61 – anything larger does not fit without obstruction in a small car. Caution: you need a notebook that will open flat like the Lenovos. This required surgery on the HP netbook (which has SSD and built-in GPS).


The only parts needed for the “notebook mount” were scraps in my case, or worth just a few dollars at hardware and disposals stores:

* 1 webbing strap of 15-20 mm width, with any kind of length adjustment (mine probably originated on a conference bag, but webbing, adjusters and hooks are cheap at disposals stores).

* 2 hooks added to the end loops of the webbing. I used hooks rescued from the elastic straps fitted to hold clothing in place in some old luggage. The “w” shape grips really well.

* 1 piece of non-slip matting – available at auto and hardware stores.

* 1 piece of firm foam padding – available in stick-on form at hardware stores.

That’s it. Detail depends on the vehicle of course; I have used the owner’s manual as packing behind the computer in some hire cars.


In the i30:

* The compact HP auto power supply takes up little space in the console between driver and passenger, which even has a cable slot. When closed, there is very little visible cable to get tangled or attract attention.


*The netbook sits open on the folded matting, in the space between gearstick and cigarette lighter, and the battery rests on the foam padding placed below the aircon controls.


* The open screen leaves the radio controls visible, and it can be folded to an angle to access the aircon controls.


* The strap hooks on to the cowling beside passenger and driver legs, and is tightened just enough to seat the notebook onto the non-slip matting and padding. No need to flex the notebook chasis!


This notebook has built-in Qualcomm gps as part of a wwan combo chip. It is amazingly good even in the vehicle (the gps antenna is near the top of the screen) – comparable to Sirf III as far as I can see. Alternatively use a gps mouse (which will work just fine under a non-conductive, dashtop tray lid if your car has one). You can run the cable down to the computer usb port invisibly inside the dash. Or you can mount a gps like the Garmin 60Cx removably on the dash with a usb cable down to your computer.

In a black sleeve, the netbook fits in the door pocket without being obviously worth stealing. It only takes about 2 min to set up or pull down. The bits for the mount take less space than a pair of sunglasses.

The notebook surgery: only for the brave or foolish.


I disassembled the HP netbook, cut off the lower 1 cm of screen bezel that otherwise fouls the battery, filed off the hinge lugs that otherwise stop the screen at about 130 degrees (instead of 180 required), filed spaces for the hinges to clear the base, and taped the wiring that runs beside the hinges when reassembled. This works on the HP 5102, but may destroy another computer (not to mention the warranty). Why don’t all manufacturers use screens that open to 180 degrees?

Wahroonga Farm
24th May 2010, 07:35 PM
Well done. :)

Must get round to 'show and tell' my very, very, very simple method of secure passenger viewed and operated mounting in a Landcrusier 80 series. :sick3

24th May 2010, 08:54 PM
I debated mounting my netbook on the ceiling so that it could be closed up out of the way or folded down for viewing. The screen needs to be rotated 180 degrees which is easy to do in software. The problem was the Commodore did not have enough ceiling space to get it out of the way. This could work in some 4WDs though.

24th May 2010, 09:33 PM
I also have an 80. My passenger refuses to hold the lappy (don't even think about securely)! :hysterica
What is your secret??

Wahroonga Farm
24th May 2010, 10:19 PM
WF's quickie for an 80 series

I cut a small thin sheet of custom wood (ply etc) to make a base for the lappie; in my case an eeePC.

The thin sheet, is 'cable tied' to the passenger dash grab handle in three locations with suitable holes drilled in the suitably shaped custom wood/ ply. I use a piece of 'u' shaped rubber moulding for the customwood edge against the dash to prevent any rub damage.

This provides a simple small, level and surprisingly secure 'table'.

A piece of thick carpet (for a bit of shock isolation) and a couple of thin 'occy' straps or shock cord etc, secure the lappie to the 'table'.

The lappie is readily removed and the 'table is easily dismantled when not required.

My navigator found it handy to store maps etc (secured by the shock cord) when the lappie was not there. :)

- - - - - - -

If this waffle is unclear, I can post a pic or two in a day or two. :)

25th May 2010, 07:19 AM
A good thing about the 'centre console' position is that it is out of airbag range, and nobody is going to be thrown headfirst onto it in an accident. You may have other things mounted in the centre of course. What, no airbags in the landcruiser? :scratchch

Wahroonga Farm
25th May 2010, 05:34 PM
Not in a 96 cruiser. :)

25th May 2010, 08:09 PM
Love to see a piccie or two please WF.