A New iPad Aviation Rotating Kneeboard Strap from Hand-e-holder
I have an iPad and being a private pilot, one of my major uses for it is aviation. Running ForeFlight Mobile on my iPad gives me a lot more information at my finger tips and the moving map GPS improves situational awareness. I love it! But since I got it this past summer, I've been playing with different ways to use the iPad as an electronic kneeboard and actually have it solidly on my knee. My first attempt was to mod a case using an elastic/velcro strap and that solution was documented here. And it worked well enough.
But then, one day I was listening to the Mac Break Weekly podcast. That week, one of their guests mentioned a nice product he liked, which allowed him to easily hold an iPad for long periods of time. It was developed to help in situations where people were using iPads for extended periods of time, and gripping it by the edge eventually became painful. It is essentially a hand strap attached to a disc that connects to the back of the iPad. The product is called Hand-e-Holder and the web site for that product is here at http://www.handeholder.com.
What was particularly interesting to me was that the disc was meant to allow the iPad to rotate in position while holding it. So it strapped to your hand, held tight but also allowed the pad to be used in portrait or landscape mode! Here is their demo video. When I saw their hand strap product, I immediately realized that if you made a slightly longer strap, this product could function as a kneeboard holder for the iPad. So I contacted the company and made the suggestion that with some kind of tweak, their product could be useful in aviation. It turns out that the President of Hand-e-holder is a pilot himself (though not flying as much in recent years) and totally understood my request. So he and his team got to work on a solution, and it was actually a simple one. By adding an extra strap to create the "pilot" version of the Handeholder, it was very easy to make the strap work around your leg. Here are some pictures of the strap being assembled with my iPad. As you can see on the Hand-e-holder website, they use a very solid interlocking material that is almost impossible to pull apart unless you grab it at the edge, where it will pull apart without much effort. There is a small ring of material that sticks onto your iPad, but I am told this comes off without damaging the surface should you no longer wish to use the holder. It's not a very thick piece of material so when the holder is not attached it is unobtrusive. The holder pieces snap together with an audible click which let's you know you've got a solid connection. It's like velcro but not a hook and eye design. It's more like a disc of interlocking plastic mushroom-shaped pieces (a technology from 3M called Dual Lock, so it will withstand the constant snapping and unsnapping from use. Here are some pictures of the kneeboard in the plane environment. You'll also notice that I use a non-glare covering on my iPad which I find necessary when using the iPad in sunlight. Below is a frame grab from the HD video I shot as I approached Norwood Airport for a right downwind pattern entry. I included this so you could see the iPad in position during flight. The bottom line on this solution is that the connection is very solid. The ability to pivot the iPad on your knee is cool and overall this is a very clean way to use the iPad as a kneeboard. Your mileage may vary and this solution may not be for you but I'm happy with it. I also modded an Apple case to allow the holder to function with the iPad in a case with a lid. In theory this would allow me to have something to write on for ATC instructions, ATIS etc. However, I actually enjoyed having the iPad open and available the whole time during the flight, so I might not end up using the case as much as I thought.
If you are interested in trying this product for aviation, I recommend contacting Hand-e-holder through their website. I don't think they have the extra strap configured in an "aviation" package yet, so drop them a line and tell them what you want to do.
Oh, and here is a video where they put their device to another use. Kids, don't try this at home.