Monday, March 26, 2012

A Kindle Gadget

With the rise of inexpensive, lightweight flat-panel TVs and monitors (and an amazing array of mounting systems for them), I joked to my co-workers that the ultimate TV-watching-in-bed setup would be "a monitor on a microphone boom."

Good articulating boom arms (probably perfected by Luxo -- thanks, Kirk A! -- made by many, but exemplified by O. C. White) can be costly (compared to the price of a small monitor), but the high-end ones are designed to carry very heavy, expensive mics. Lightweight booms are more affordable (like these); my "aha!" moment came when Markertek popped up with a good sale price on the Rode version, after I'd bought my Kindle Fire...and dropped it on my face, watching TV in bed. They're heavy enough to hurt when the edge hits the bridge of your nose.

Once you've got the boom arm, the job is not done; you need a mounting for the monitor/Kindle/eReader/iThing and it needs one more degree of freedom, since the mic boom counts on the microphone clip to be able to tilt.

Enter The Gadget (Mk. II), made of scrap wood and items from the "junkbox:" (Mk. III will involve relocating the grooves for the rubber bands, er, "elastic retaining devices" to better match actual dimensions.)

On the back, the pivot and a mic-thread-to-base adapter: And a close look at the pivot, four brass angle brackets, a 10-32 bolt and a couple of knurled nuts:The assembly can be tilted on two axes and spins, making it easy to find a comfortable viewing position.

(Only drawback to the Rode version is the mic mount is natively 3/8" BSW, with an adapter; the coarse Whitworth threads are more difficult to lock with the supplied jam nut than U.S.-standard 5/8"-27 would be. You can just barely see the threads above the big chrome jam nut.)

I'm very happy with it. Given the Kindle Fire screen size, I can even watch (or read) without glasses!

You could also use a "gooseneck," the flexible mic-thread widget, plus flange-mount adapters at each end like the one I used between the pivot and the boom. Use at your own risk: it's less expensive but also less flexible -- an articulated-arm boom offers little resistance if you bump it with your head and is a lot easier to adjust to the right spot.

As ever, if you buy any of this from Amazon, please use the link at Tam's: she's saving up for a full tank of gas!


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...


My problem with the Fire is that it's too slippery to hold without the case to give me some purchase, and the case makes it too heavy to hold up for long with my carpal tunnel. This is precisely the kind of thing I've needed for mine.

Kirk A said...

Thanks for the link to OC White. I love the similar booms on my Luxo drafting and magnifier lamps.

Roberta X said...

Aha! Kirk, I was trying to remember their name -- I think they invented the modern form of that type of spring-balanced boom.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Brilliant! Elegant simplicity rules!

I would probably end up re-purposing one of those inexpensive swing arm lamps, which is even more budget friendly - especially if you have an extra or can get one secondhand that's in decent shape. It's probably not quite as good as the microphone boom arm, but I suspect it would be good enough for this application.

jon spencer said...

This is like the Ram-mounts for computers and gps's that I have installed in boats.
They do the job.
They make them for Kindles too.
That is if you do not want to do it yourself.

Anonymous said...

RX, thanks so much for the links to the professional-quality booms. I have a very different purpose for them... gunsmithing lights.

The swing-arm lights that are available on booms are invariably falling down after two days' use - their clamps/screws aren't meant for constant re-adjustment, swinging to and fro as one does when working on a stock or detailed metal work on a bench. They're always falling down, sagging, etc -- and when one is wearing an optivisor and the light crashes down into your visor.... it can piss a guy right off.

thanks again...

BGMiller said...

Now how about mounting the whole works on the ceiling, powering all the joints and hiding the controls in a bell cord?

Just 'cuz.

And I feel like a bit of a dope because when I first looked at the picture I had to go call my produce guy and add on two cases of asparagus to my truck.


Douglas2 said...

On one of my returns from the UK I stocked up on 3/8 whitworth t-nuts for building mic-stand adapter whatnots.

Subsequently I found that 3/8-16 hardware from any hardware store or home center works just as well.

Douglas2 said...

I've used Atlantic Satellite Speaker Mounting Brackets from walmart as universal swivel mounts for a variety of things. (mostly mounting point&shoot cameras for fixed video shots) The stem from the ball is 1/4-20, so with the right 1/4-20 to 3/8-16 coupling nut from Fastenal you could eliminate a lot of the pieces on your invention.

Spartacus said...

Hey! Dentist chairs are pretty comfy when you're not getting drilled, and they can be moved to any position from sitting up to flat as a bed. What if you mounted a flat screen where the X-ray camera or that annoying halogen light is normally placed? I think I'd buy one!

Spartacus said...

^ especially if the weight activated water spigot could be plumbed into a pony keg hidden nearby!

Jerry said...

Nice rig, Ms. Bobbie. Is it on a mic stand, or stuck to a wall? The wall mount would be the soft spot, if done wrong. I'd go with wire ties, over rubber bands, too.

Anonymous said...


Where did you get all the knurled nuts? I'm especially interested in the two chrome ones with vertical serations in your third picture (for an entirely different project). The upper one appears to be about as tall as it is wide, and the other is pretty flat.


Roberta X said...

BSR: Those two came with the boom (and the upper is part of the 3/8 BSW bolt that extends out the other side) -- but for that general sort of thing, check with McMaster-Carr ( first and always. (Best drill-down of any sales website, ever!) Generic assortments can also be found in the "lighting" sections of most big-box home-improvement stores.

The fat 10-32 knurled nuts are pretty common. The ones in the photo were a hamfest find.

Jerry: neither! It's clamped to my bedside table. They make nice wall-mounts for these but I am still working out the best spot.