I firmly believe that the environment you work in will have a drastic impact on your productivity or lack of. I have been programming since birth, so over the years I have made it a mission to make my programming environment both virtually (on the system) and physically enjoyable. Recently I have started using laptops. I like laptops because they are portable. I like to change up my scenery by going to different places in the house and working. In the summer time I take the laptop outside and work out on the patio in the vast awe of the Area 52 forest. That being said, I have noticed two drawbacks to the laptops. The first is heat and the second is ergonomics.
All of our laptops get warm, but the newer Core 2 Duo processors and higher get pretty toasty. One of the laptops, an Acer, has an annoying feature where it gets hot and throttles the fan. However, then the chip cools and it turns off, then 10 seconds later it throttles. Stupid design for sure. So we tried chill mats that fit under the laptop and plug into the USB port. These work, but are annoying to drag around with you, noisy, and create a continual draft near your wrists that is annoying. Not to mention that whomever designed these obviously never had a laptop! The mats are like 10 inches across and every laptop now days is 12-15 inches across.
The next issue with laptops is the keyboard and screen placement. The keyboards are completely flat and not angled at all. They are a sure way to get carpal tunnel syndrome. The next issue is the screen. Since the screen is connected to the keyboard it is always lower than your line of site. What I mean is that if you have the laptop at a comfortable level to type, the screen is so low you have to be hunched over and continually looking down. So now you not only do you get carpal tunnel, but a kink in your back and neck! Argh!
There are laptop stands that will solve both of these issues. The issue with them are that they cost an average of 35 bucks or more and you generally can’t find them in most places except computer specialty stores. Most are also not portable for travel. So I figured out a way to make my own laptop stand for literally $1.75! Here is how to make one for yourself.
Parts you need:
You want to go to a lumber company or hardware store and buy 3/8 inch inner diameter plumbing parts. Here is the list. These are common household hot and cold PVC stuff.
1. 6 – 3/8” PVC 90 degree elbows
2. 2 – 3/8” PVC T’s
3. 2 – 3/8” PVC end caps
4. 1 – stick of 3/8” PVC, this comes in a 10ft piece, just have the store cut it in half to fit in the car.
5. Small can of PVC glue (I already had this) this will up the cost to like $4.00 total. Or just use super glue or epoxy. The PVC glue works best, but be sure you know how you want the part before putting on the glue. Once you touch the pieces together, 3 seconds later you will NOT get them apart!
So here is what your parts will look like.
Then I cut the PVC stick into pieces using a hack saw or a Dremel tool as follows:
1. 4 – 5” long sticks
2. 2 – 12” long sticks
3. 2 – 4 ½” sticks (these can vary depending on how much tilt you want)
4. 2 – ¾” sticks these are tiny pieces.
1. Take one 12” stick and glue a T on each end, make sure they are aligned with each other. You might want to test fit before gluing!
2. With that part laying flat on the table, glue a 5” stick into one of the T’s. Repeat this with the other side of the same T, then repeat with the other T. When you are done you will have used all 4 of your 5” sticks. You will have a big plastic H on the table.
3. Next, with the H laying flat in front of you, glue a 90 degree elbow on the bottom left 5” stick in such a way that it points straight up. Do the same with another elbow and the bottom right side of the H.
4. Now do the same thing with top two arms of the H but make the elbows point down into the table.
5. Now take a ¾” long stick and glue it into the bottom left elbow that is pointing up. Do the same for the bottom right elbow with another ¾” long stick.
6. On each of the ¾” sticks you just glued, glue a cap so you won’t rip open your delicate wrists as you type
7. Now take your last remaining 12” stick and glue an elbow on each end making a “U” shape. Make sure the elbows are aligned.
8. Now you can take the 4 ½” sticks, and INSERT (DON”T glue) them into the elbows of your H that are pointing down into the table. Now you have a ramp like deal going on.
9. Finally, take the U shaped piece and connect it to the bottom 4 ½” sticks you just inserted. You can keep adjusting the length of the 4 ½” sticks to get the angle you like. If you are sure that you like the height you can then glue the 4 ½” sticks into the U. When you take it apart for travel, you will have an H and a U part.
I don’t glue the back sticks so that I can take the stand apart and fit it into the laptop case for travel. See you can’t do that with a $35 dollar laptop stand from Best Buy
You’re done! It should look like this.
And it should function like this.
This got rid of a lot of neck and hand strain, and the laptops stay much cooler. Not to mention, that because they are off the table now, they don’t suck up dirt into the fans. That is a bonus feature. So there you have it! A laptop stand that is customizable for the angle you want, super light weight, nearly indestructible, portable, fits in a laptop case, and will go through airport security without issues like a metal one would for literally a couple dollars at most! Enjoy!