Rotation Speed (Aviation Blog)

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Building Your Own iPad 3G EFB Kneeboard

So you're a pilot and you finally have your hands on an iPad.  And of course you waited for 3G to take advantage of the GPS chip and mobile data capabilities so you could use it as an EFB.  Now you want to take it up in the plane and one question quickly arises, "How do I anchor this thing?"  A few of us have been talking about it.  There is one iPad kneeboard solution that exists as I write this, which looks quite good but is $150.  I did a little searching online and a couple of other people had worked out home made solutions.  Click here for the best one of those. And with a nod to his great work, here is my current home made solution to the iPad kneeboard problem.  You can click on any thumbnail to get a bigger view.

I bought an inexpensive plastic holder from which I modified.  (If you're following at home it is the "Matte Slip, Apple iPad, Super Blue" version.)  It started as a four-sided holder with a hole in the center of the back for the Apple logo to show through.  The goal was to make something that would hold my iPad in its Apple case, allow me to strap it to my knee and still open the iPad case lid.  So I sliced off the left edge so it wouldn't hold the case lid closed. Then I sliced two holes into the back to feed my strap through.  (I already owned this strap although they are probably available in many places.)  This second picture shows the strap installation from the back side after my mods.

Now to install the iPad in the Apple case. In this first picture you get a look at how the Apple case fits into the new holder at the edges.  It isn't a great fit, but the edge of the Apple case is grabbed nicely by this holder's hard rubber edge.  The next picture shows the "sliced" left edge as it meets the back side of the Apple case.  Not a perfect cut, but good enough to get the job done. 

The whole unit is now not much heavier or bigger than the iPad itself.  The back shows how the straps look coming out of the installation slits and how big it is for handling in the plane.

You can see that because the holder is meant for the iPad, you still get relatively good access to the switches.  You'll also now begin to see the reason to keep the lid functional.  Notice that small clip on the top edge of the cover.

You can use the Apple case lid as a place to keep paper information or a place to write with an actual pen or pencil on paper. IF you need to use actual paper that is!

I have also added one more thing to my iPad 3G EFB, which is a glare-reducing plastic sheet overlay. Also from it is the "ClearTouch Anti-Glare, Apple iPad" sheet.  First impression is that it does give the iPad screen a matte finish and does reduce the amount of finger smudging that is visible.  But this particular product isn't cheap and is impossible to get on perfectly (which is probably par for the course.)  So know going in that perfection or a total lack of bubbles is not possible.  You can however clean it with soap and water which I did several times as I tried in vein to perfect the installation, but if you aren't in a sterile room, you can expect hair and dust to get under there during the process.  That said, the screen is still very bright, definitely less glare-y and easier to clean.  I may not leave it on all the time, but I think it will help in the cockpit.  Next up, an in-flight test.  Pirep to come.