Mounting a TabletKiosk eo i7210 in a HUMMER H2 – Part 2

Summary: Mounting of a TabletKiosk oe i7210 UMPC in a HUMMER H2

In Part 1, I mention how Ram Mounts was the only mounting component vendor (at the time) to have a UMPC holder that was sized well enough to hold the TabletKiosk eo i7210. Given that, I decided I’d go with an all Ram Mounts based solution to mount the eo in my HUMMER H2.

This is the full list of requirements I had in mind when planning this mount. Some were missing from my first post.

  1. allow for quick insertion/removal of the UMPC into vehicle
  2. don’t obscure air vents
  3. don’t obscure shifter or cup holders
  4. don’t obscure center console stereo, climate controls, transfer case, e-locker, and traction control buttons
  5. don’t encroach on passenger space
  6. securely hold it in off-road driving situations
  7. position at convenient location for use by driver, i.e. don’t have to stretch or bend to reach or read it
  8. allow for repositioning for use by passenger
  9. minimize visible impact to vehicle – while I own the H2 and don’t plan to get rid of it until it dies, I’d prefer not to mar parts of the dash that are in plain view

This is a pretty healthy list of requirements. I decided that, to fulfill them, I had to use some sort of mounting arm that’s attached near the floor in a carpeted area where holes are out of sight, where the arm can be adjusted after installation, and the eo sits in a cradle at the end of that arm. It probably wasn’t going to be the cheapest or most turnkey solution.

Ram Mount Components

I did some measuring and decided to start with the following components that I ordered from expressmounts.com.

Ram Mount Components

  • (A) holder for LS800 tablet
  • (B) 2.5″ base with 1.5″ ball – mounts on back of tablet holder
  • (C) 7.88″ arm for 1.5″ balls – quick adjustability arm between balls (B) and (D)
  • (D) 1.5″ ball with 0.5″ NPT threaded hole – to connect to lower end of arm (C) and top of pipe (E)
  • (E) 12″ long powdercoated pipe with 0.5″ NPT threaded ends – to provide rise up from floor
  • (F) 2.5″ base with 0.5″ NPT threaded hole – to mount pipe into side of console near the floor

When they’re all connected as described in the list above, they look like this. The cradle will bolt onto the upper-left end, and the plate on the lower right will be fastened into the side of the console between the driver and passenger seat.

Ram Mount Components Assembled

Out With the Old

This is a picture of what I’m replacing. It’s a Creative Zen Touch mounted up near the 2 o’clock position on the steering wheel. I mounted it with an Arkon generic PDA cradle, bolted to an angle bracket that is bolted to the dash using one of the trim bolts that holds the bezel on the center console.
The an audio cable snakes down into the center console around knee level and then back up in the center console to an AUX input module that’s resting on top of the head unit.

MP3 Player mounted in H2

Once I get the UMPC mount I’ll route the AUX input cable up it’s mounting arm and remove the PDA cradle.

In With the New

Mounting the Arm

First, I needed to open up the center console. I wanted to move the audio cable from the left side to the right. But more importantly, I had to place a block of wood behind the plastic console housing to screw the base into. Otherwise, the base would only be held with three screws through some thin plastic. Most of the Ram mount components are light, but the quick adjust arm and the UMPC itself are heavy enough that I wanted a solid base. The green arrows in the following picture show the 1×8 that I fit in there.

Wood 1x8 mounted behind plastic console cover to improve it's strength.

Next I screwed the base into the top right side of the center console so that the pipe is oriented straight up. I chose this location to mount the arm because if I ever remove it, the carpeting hides the mounting holes some. If you mount into the plastic dash surfaces and then later opt to remove it, you have very noticable holes and, possibly, a scratched up surface that hasn’t faded as much as the surrounding surface.

The screws go into the wood piece behind the console cover. But this isn’t enough. If I pushed on the pipe toward the driver side of the H2, it still torques the right panel of the console up a bit. So I fashioned up a brace from a spare window blind mounting clip that I had left over from a past project. The brace (circled in yellow in the picture below) is screwed into the floor and into the side of the console below the Ram mount base. This maked the mount much more solid. It does make for one more item that must be unbolted/unscrewed to slide the console out of the way in the event of service. And I might just paint it black to blend in more.

The arm viewed from the passenger side, highlighting the home-made brace to keep the side of the console from flexing outward.

Here’s a view from the rear seat. While I have some removable DVD monitors strapped to the backs of the head rest, the mount is adjustable so that the UMPC could be pointed straight backward for viewing from in back.

View of the mounting arm from the rear seat.

And here is the arm from the driver’s side.

View of the mounting arm from the driver's side.

Modifying the Holder

The holder for the LS 800 almost works. The only problem with it, is that the clip that holds the top edge of the tablet, sits about an inch away from the tablet since the eo i7210 is about an inch shorter in height.

I tried cutting a piece of closed cell foam to fill the gap, but it neither looked very good nor did it hold the eo i7210 in place well. the foam was just too soft.

So instead, I decided to eliminate the approximately one inch rise in the sliding clip. I started by cutting the sliding clip into two parts:

Next, I found an ond storage case that had a thick, fairly rigid, but also slightly smooth flexible plastic. From it, I cut out a rectangular piece to join the two pieces of the sliding clip back together.

Then I drilled holes in the plastic plate and the sliding clip pieces and bolted it all together.
Here’s a view of it.


You can see from the side that it drops the bump that retains the tablet.

Does it work? Yes, the clip does hold the eo i7210 in place.

From the side, you can see that the bump slides down over the front and the bolt heads don’t contact the eo i7210.

And it passes the gravity test.

Next, I re-tightened the nuts with a little LocTite thread lock instead of using lock washers, since I didn’t want to use any locking washers on the plastic nor did I want to make a trip to the hardware store for nylon locking nuts. And finally I cut off the excess bolt ends with a Dremel leaving a little extra thread to add some cap nuts if I remember to look for some the next time I go to the hardware store. Sadly, while cutting the last bolt, I let it get too hot and it started to melt the plastic plate and the sliding clip. I stopped before it got out of hand, but it doesn’t look as good as it could. My consolation is that in a few months, TabletKiosk should have their car mounting plate/holder on the market and I’ll replace the hacked LS800 holder with one made for the eo i7210.

In the HUMMER H2

Here it is in the HUMMER.

From the passenger side, you can see all the wires.

From the driver's seat (without flash)

From the driver's seat (with flash)

From driver's side (without flash)

From driver's side (with flash). DeLorme Street Atlas 2006 Running.

I paid full price for the TabletKiosk-supplied 12V DC power adapter. While it’s pricey, I saved myself the time searching for the right aftermarket adapter and power tip. Their adapter is a well made, compact unit that doesn’t run very hot. The power cord and AUX input cable are zip tied to the arm in a few spots to keep them orderly. It would have been nice to have more cord downstream from the power adapter box so that I could mount that on the console instead of tying it to the arm.

Does it shake at all? Unlike a solution that mounts the UMPC very close to a solid surface, this one puts it on the end of a foot or two of arm. So yes, it does shake a little as I touch the screen. And at speed or over terrain it does vibrate some. Not enough to make it unusable however. In the near future, I may pursue bracing the upper end of the pipe on right right side of the dash center console to reduce vibration further. Of course, that will violate requirement #9 above. We’ll see.

What software am I running? Currently, I’m running regular desktop apps such as Thunderbird, iTunes and Windows Media Player and using DeLorme Street Atlas 2006 for mapping. I’ve got a Holux GPSlim 236 bluetooth enabled GPS receiver stashed in the center overhead console bin. I’ll be experimenting with more driving friendly front ends in the future, but will make do with what I’m currently using for now.

I have no plans to wire in a rear view camera. I may also wait a while to figure out if I can pipe video out into the portable DVD player with strap-on-headrest monitors. There’s no video out on the device. There’s an S-video out on the docking cradle, but integrating that into my mounting solution is not something I’m interested in. So this capability will have to wait. Also, I don’t have plans to run XM/Sirius or anything like that from the UMPC.

Conclusion

Am I happy with it? Yes.

It definitely wasn’t turnkey. I struggled at first to figure out how to mount it solidly without hacking up the dash or console. And since the tablet holder was made for an entirely different model, it took a lot of brainstorming to come up with this solution, not to mention a couple hours of careful cutting and tinkering to get it right. If you don’t have scrap components lying around, don’t have a good set of basic tools, or you just aren’t all that handy (I’m not tremendously handy BTW), this may not be the route to take.

Further, the Ram Mount components, while high quality, are not the most low-budget. I spent just over $100 including shipping to get all the pieces I needed.

Still I had fun doing the project and I love the fact that I didn’t have to compromise my requirements to gain a versatile mount for my TabletKiosk eo i7210.

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