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Free (or very cheap) DIY, completely invisible phone vehicle mount
Hey everyone, I've lurked for a while but finally think I have a contribution to make, so I thought I'd share. I have been thinking over the last few days about cell phone vehicle mounts of all varieties, including DIY projects and commercial options. I wanted something to mount my Evo that would hold it securely, but wouldn't be overly obtrusive. I'm not a fan of the generic mounts, bean bag mounts, or the long goose-neck mounts for this reason. The solution I came up with is working better than I ever expected, is completely invisible, and didn't cost me a dime -- just a little time and effort.
DISCLAIMER: It's come to my attention that many (maybe all?) Android phones are equipped with compasses, and a strong magnet in the immediate vicinity will most likely affect the compass' performance. I have used this mount for a while now, and I have not noticed any degraded functionality due to the magnet. Navigation, location, etc, all work perfectly for me. There are also commercial phone mounts utilizing rare earth magnets on the market, like the Tetrax XWay. That being said, I can't possibly predict the potential short-term or long-term effects of this project on your phone, and won't be held responsible if you do this mod and it damages your phone. Proceed at your own risk. Thanks!
You will need:
1 - rare earth (neodymium) magnet (from an old hard drive or purchased online)
1 - very thin piece of magnetic metal (a thin flat washer about half-dollar sized will work. I used some carbon steel banding that we use at my workplace)
1 - adhesive capable of bonding metal to plastic (I used super glue for the initial bond, and silicone caulk for a permanent bond.)
You might need:
A rotary sanding/grinding tool (dremel)
A case for your Evo.
Making the mount
My idea was to use a rare-earth magnet from an old computer hard drive, secured underneath the dash trim of my 2006 Chevrolet Impala, to create a mounting spot on the dash, next to my radio, that would be invisible. I began by disassembling an old, broken 40GB hard drive I had laying around the house. In each hard drive, there are two very strong, rare earth magnets. There are numerous tutorials online for removing these magnets, so I won't reinvent the wheel. Just do a google or youtube search for "removing magnets from hard drive" and you'll be in business. After removal, you'll have two pieces that look like this. Set the magnets aside.
Next, I removed the trim around my stereo / air conditioner unit in my car. It simply pops off with moderate pressure. If you have a GM vehicle from around 2006 your trim probably comes off in a similar manner. (Every vehicle varies, obviously, so you might have to get creative to find the ideal spot to do this on your vehicle.) After removing the trim, I realized that the magnet wasn't going to be quite strong enough to get through the trim and case of my phone, so I needed to do some sanding. I used a pneumatic rotary tool (basically a compressed air-powered dremel) with a cone shaped sanding attachment to shave down the back side of the trim where I wanted to mount the magnet. If you need to do this, take care that you do not remove too much of the material, because the plastic will lose it's integrity and will be too flimsy, or worse, you will sand right through your trim piece :-(. I used a micrometer to measure the thickness of the plastic, and I thinned it out to about 50 thousandths of an inch.
Once that was complete, I super-glued the magnet face to the back side of the plastic trim. At that point, the in-dash portion of the mount was basically done. Before replacing the trim, I ran both my auxiliary headphone cable and my charger cable up and around the trim, allowing for easy, clean hookup of those necessary wires. Here's the finished product without the phone attached.
Granted the wires are kind of ugly, but it actually looks much cleaner once the wires are attached to the phone. My long-term plan is to do away with the auxiliary cable by purchasing a stereo bluetooth aux. transceiver (something like the Scosche MotorMouth).
That was the hard part. Now I needed to figure out a way to make the phone affix to the magnet mount, but I didn't want a visible metal button on the outside of the phone back. My solution was to cut two thin strips of carbon steel banding, and insert them in between the back of my phone and the phone case. I didn't adhere these strips to the phone in any way. I simply set the strips on the phone back, and gently slid the phone case over everything. I have removed and replaced the case several times, and there is zero damage to the phone back or the case. If you are concerned about scratching, I would recommend getting a full body screen protector and putting it on the back of the phone. If you can't find some thin steel banding, you can use a thin flat washer instead. I would highly recommend the metal banding however. I'm sure you can find something suitable at a hardware store for pennies.
That's it. The mount is complete. This mount grips the phone extremely tightly. I have had a little fun testing the mount out, intentionally trying to get the phone to move while mounted, and I cannot do it. No amount of potholes, speed bumps, or quick acceleration/deceleration has made the phone even budge.
I'm really happy with how the project turned out. I have an invisible mount that securely holds my evo, and i've gotten more than a few double-takes from passengers when I casually place my phone on my dash and the phone just stays there :-) . I think this would be especially cool for someone who had a vehicle with stereo bluetooth syncing built-in, as you could use the setup 100% wire-free.
I hope this inspires someone to tackle the project. It took about an hour from start to finish, and cost me $0.00.
Any questions, feel free to PM me.