Cheap Cup Holder Laptop Tray


[Michael Davis] sent in his homemade laptop tray. He does a lot of traveling in his Toyota Tacoma and was looking for a good way to mount his laptop inside. Unfortunately, [Michael] soon discovered that commercial laptop trays can be very expensive and difficult to install. He saw an opportunity in the empty cup holder in his car. Fifteen dollars worth of PVC pipe fittings and a piece of plywood later he had a laptop tray.

52 thoughts on “Cheap Cup Holder Laptop Tray

  1. That looks like an old Dell Inspiron 1100… those things are heavy. Just looking at the picture makes me wonder where the weak spot is – personally, I would be worried that the area around the cupholder will break under the strain.

    Thankfully, my passenger seat in my Chevy Equinox is a “fold-down desk” – the back of the chair is hard plastic, and works perfectly as a mobile desk. Too bad I’ve never had occasion to use it!

  2. This man wins one internet. Beautiful, simple, elegant, cheap, and functional.

    Now this also means soon someone will package it as a commercial product, and before long every idiot commuting in LA traffic will be attempting to answer their emails while driving, but thats a different issue.

    For now, mad props mike.

  3. @sansan “Lame idea… and very safe!! do something better!”

    Um, i don’t think you get this. you don’t use it while actually driving. I would imagine that this gets set up, used, and then dropped back on the passenger floor before the car ever gets going. It isn’t even set up to prevent swinging around wildly while in motion, a pretty good indication it isn’t even erected when the car is moving.

    it would be a life saver for people like some realtors and sales people who are always on the move, and where every hour or so you have to either get back to your car and sit there attempting to operate a laptop balanced on something or go find a starbucks or something to go sit down in to put notes into and pull new addresses and data.

  4. So ingenious. Looks like I have a trip to the hardware store to make.

    I also share the concern @jared had about the cupholder possibly breaking, but I think some cupholders are more durable than given credit. My car uses the same plastic for the cupholders as the mirrors, so if it’s good enough for a mirror, I would hope it’s good enough for this.

    Thanks for the idea

  5. Best bet is to modify this for a car that has two solid and separated cup holders (like the OP car has) and make use of both. That would not only prevent swinging around, but divide the stress between both cups, and be safer overall imho.

  6. Now THAT’s a Hack! Quick & dirty, cheap but gets the job done. All you whiners moaning about it not being ‘safe’ or wanting more features can go on out and plunk down $250 for a mobile laptop mount. Or you can acknowledge that this is a hack, not a commercial product, pony up your measly $15 and spend the rest on a nice cold glass of STFU juice!

  7. Great, just what we need… Another distracted douche bag surfing for gay porn while driving…. If I see you I will put into the guard rail and will see how well you craption holds up before you crack the screen.

  8. you guys are a bunch of idiots. this is probably one of the best things i’ve seen on hackaday in the last few days. for those of you who think its unstable, read what Stunmonkey wrote. As far as safety, how many people drive around while texting, putting on make up, using a touchscreen nav, etc… This seems hardly as bad in comparison. I have a GPS chip on my NC10 which I use instead of dishing out 400 bucks for a descent nav unit. My tray cost me a pretty penny too. I dont care what anyone says, this is awesome.

  9. @I love you

    Wow, talk about road rage, morons like you shouldn’t have a fucking driver’s license. he most likely won’t have it running while driving. Maybe you should go run a couple cops off the road while you’re at it, every one of them has a laptop open and running all the time in their car.

  10. @i love you

    Die in a fire you insolent motherfucking assbandit. Immediately ingest something lethal so you can save the rest of us the trouble of seeing your thoughts on the web.

  11. @ I love you

    you sir nailed it on the head. We should put together a task force just for this kind of thing. We should tell all of our friends if we see anyone using this, we should run them off the road. No one should be surfing the web or doing the their excell spreadsheets while there driving 70mph down the highway.. I say we should make them cause an accident and they would be to blame.

  12. @ all of you… every last one of you:

    dubious legality.

    not that it isn’t a good hack. As long as its down when the car is in drive, its no issue.

    But for every one person who drives responsibly even though technology is at their fingertips, there are 10 of you fucking idiots who try to multitask.

    As it is, it is illegal in most states to talk on the cell without a hands-free set (and rightly so). Yet we have have car modders putting LCD screens everywhere. In the damn visor even. Eventually, any form of LCD will be outlawed in the front seat of any car, in every state. (with the exception of police, and navigational aids. Unfortunately, because of the vast majority of douche-bags who use laptops to watch their latest download while driving, the law will be sided with commercial navigtional products only. End result, hacking in the front seat will become illegal everywhere.)

    I like the hack. Unfortunately, the law will not.

    Seriously… if your job requires you to be on the road a lot, and entering data and whatnot, find a Starbucks. Charge it to your corporate account. Its tax deductable. Cars are ment for driving. Not computing and movie watching.

    Im not trying to be an asshat hater. but hell.. if your life is *THAT* busy… maybe its time to find a less busy one.

  13. oh… and to all of you who suggested or supported the idea of running someone off the road for this… yeah… the legality of that is not so dubious.

    you should be lined up and escorted off the planet.

  14. I can see this being useful for tradies who are constantly on the move and use laptops for their line of work.

    p.s.. This site needs a good idiot filter. Most of the posters I come across on this site either a) lack imagination and fail to see the point of a hack; and/or b) do nothing but whine.

  15. @MRE

    Not all towns have a starbucks. True it’s illegal to have a video display in view of the driver, I know a lot of people who have streets and trips or other mapping software running on their laptops. My dad does this, though only in the rv. Trying to use a garmin or tomtom in an rv is pretty much useless, the window is too far away to see the screen very well. Some people actually have the ability to multitask while driving, it’s not a good idea, but glancing at a screen every now and then is no worst than glancing at your rear view mirror. Cops do it all the time, and no, they don’t get special “computing while driving” training.

  16. Funny thing about “distractions while driving” is that my old GPS unit had a Multimedia program that could play MP3 files (makes sense) and AVI/MPG video files on the SD Card.

    Guess to pass the time if broke down/parked because you’re lost (the funny part), but it seems of “dubious legality” to have it available like that.

  17. The reason why most of the commercial car laptop stands are so hard to install and expensive is that they are “supposedly” engineered to withstand an accident, or at least not become something that will likely to decapitate you as it flies around the car.

  18. You can say all you want that this is for “research” when parked and somehow unable to find a Starbucks (which I doubt since there is one on every other street corner), but we all know that idiots will be in traffic messing with their computer and cause a 50 car pileup on the interstate. For God’s sake people, you’re not SO important that you can’t be unavailable during your morning commute. I say get over yourselves and just focus on driving, cause lord knows most of you can’t even handle that without any distractions!

  19. I don’t know why there are so many foolish people on here.


    You are a complete idiot. Of course mre didn’t mean ONLY lcd, he meant any kind of screen. And I think he’s absolutely right; they should be outlawed.

    @ Everyone

    While I agree that this is a good hack, it does pose some problems. It’s original intent might be for the overworked traveler, but it’s sure to attract the overeager multi-tasker. While someone who needs to be in constant contact with coworkers (like hospital personnel) might just use it intermittently while stopped and taking breaks, others might use it whilst driving and loose concentration on what’s really important; the road. Yes, there are people everywhere that manage to put on makeup, check a navigation system, or flip through some CDs for music, but when a computer comes into play, we all know that its bright display and many buttons are simply irresistible. I’m sure gerrit coetzee meant no harm in this simple hack, but the potential for disaster is too great for this to be widely used or publicized.

  20. Oh, and BTW. Driving while distracted is already a crime. There are quite a few people who use these things including cops, the electric company, and yes your nav system counts. People are the problem. You can’t legislate people into being responsible.

  21. I wouldn’t really trust that thing… couple holders in most cars (even the center console like this one) are just thin plastic and the whole center console is only held together with 4 small screws to keep it from sliding around on you. I certainly wouldn’t feel safe using this laptop holder.

    When I installed a laptop stand in my WRX for tuning/performance monitoring I bought a Jotto-Desk. it bolts to the transmission tunnel, and was incredibly sturdy and didn’t impede the use of the passenger’s seat at all.

    I only paid $80 for the thing and it insalled in 10 minutes… this guy spent $30 and several hours fabricating a sub-par solution. Honestly $80 is cheap money for a device that is designed to protect an expensive laptop.

    I’m all for hacking things to improve on an existing product, or making something for your own entertainment/experimentation… but I really hate hacks that are for the sake of saving a buck especially when they end up unintentionally dangerous.

  22. its not the laptop that make people idiots… stop blaming everything for the cause of distracted driver… if you are easily distracted, then dont put crap in your car… simple as that… heck, your radio/cd player should be removed … rear view mirrors should be removed too since it takes your eyes off the front road?? does this make any sense to you???

    driving by itself is multitasking, adding another task, like listening to the radio, wont do any harm, unless you are not capable of it… if that is the case, dont do it… duh…

  23. Oy, I like it, but as an automotive tech I would pull the cupholders and use a closet flange and maybe some metal strips to attach the bottom to the actual floor of the car.

    Or just use a bit of metal and plastic and some short self-tapping screws to reinforce the cupholder. Maybe even a fender washer with some foam rubber on it and a single screw in the bottom would prevent a possible tear-out of the cupholder.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    The basic design is not at fault, quite ingenious and elegant actually, you just have to rely on your cupholder being strong enough; which is sadly not the case on many vehicles.

  24. ….seriously?

    from that link:

    “And before you all start writing me and saying how unsafe it is to use the computer while driving, don’t panic. I don’t use it while driving. I use it while stopped, usually at sales. It’s a lot more convenient than trying to balance it on my lap or the armrest.”

    “Since the tray is so easy to remove by just pulling it out of the cup-holder, I generally leave it on the passenger side floor when I am moving, and only pop it in place when I am parked and need to use it to research an item. ”

    dear god, i thought this place was full of people who knew how to read.

  25. i like the idea of this, i used to have a perfect laptop stand i built for when i was driving a semi truck, using streets and trips, it consisted of a legal outbox which held the laptop, drawer liners to keep it from sliding, a 12v fan to the cig lighter, and some foam rubber to cushion the consent beating the road gave it

  26. @mre:

    and I quote:
    “im not trying to be an asshat hater. but hell.. if your life is *that* busy… maybe its time to find a less busy one.”

    You’re right, you just caused me to experience an epiphany; I’ll go find a less-busy life. I’ll just go find one, with less busyness, and my problems will be solved.

    Get real; this “hack” definitely deserves props in that a wide variety of professions can benefit from this simple tray. Anyone who thinks it should be used during driving is simple wrong; it should be common sense that it is to be used when you’re not also attempting to drive. Only several people will truly make a mistake that takes their lives before everyone gets the picture.

    This can help those of us with truly busy lives, when used as responsibly/safely as possible, and that’s indisputable.


  27. This has to be the dumbest group of morons… Commercially made versions of this exist by the shit-ton. The point is they cost typically a hundred dollars or more, so this innovative individual made a fifteen dollar one, thus making it a hack not an invention. Stop griping about the purpose of the product, lots of people need a laptop mount — commonly the commercial truck driver and the sales exec. Give this dude props for his innovation, gripe about the flaws or STFU! But don’t exclaim its uselessness just because you don’t have use for it — narrow minded much?

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