Computers and Internet

Portable and adjustable Lego kickstand for Nokia Lumia and other smartphones

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There are many uses for smartphones and some would benefit from a kickstand. The two scenarios that I’m targeting with this are:

  • Dinner table toddler entertainment
  • In-flight video/podcast viewing

I have been wanting to do this every time I needed to adjust the salt shaker to barely hold the phone in place until food arrives on a restaurant dinner table. Same thing when traveling as I always wish for a better way to place the phone while watching podcasts and movies.

Following were top of my mind when putting it together:

  • Need to work with most phones. In our family, we have Nokia Lumia 800, 900 and 920 phones but I also wanted this to work universally with any phone.
  • Portability. It needs to be convenient enough to throw into toddler’s bag or consultant’s backpack.
  • Made out of generic and most common Lego parts for you to easily build one for yourself, and make additional ones if needed.
  • Adjustable. Think of lower positioned toddlers around the dinner table. Video screen inclined at 30-45 degrees is not going to deliver best experience. Similarly, plane seats vary and adjustments will come handy.
  • No obstruction of headset, power or button controls. For buttons, Nokia Lumia phones work out the way I liked but can’t guarantee how all others will behave. I expect it’ll be fine due to simplicity.

On the note of reliability… Because it’s made out of Lego, if a part separates after repeat use, you just fix it on the spot. If you want some permanent solution, simply glue them as you like. The way it is, I find it reliable enough to handle the situations I targeted.

I’ll show some close-up shots but this is how it looks “in the bag”

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Below is how it looks when you open it. Opening instructions are dead-simple. Angle the legs apart as much as you like, raise the blue backrest as high as you need. Let me explain couple things here.

  • The blue Lego piece is a part that comes in different types. This is one that has the red insert on rotation axis (see the arrow on the right) and it requires a bit of force to adjust. Alternatively, there are similar looking parts that essentially opens/closes effortlessly. Obviously that one will not hold the phone in place. This is critical dependency that I couldn’t solve the adjustability requirement any other way than use this specific part.
  • The arrow on the left is the second rotating element. I made it yellow in this photo so you can relate to what part it is in subsequent photos. Very common and easy to get.
  • Finally, the height of the elements that hold the phone in front, marked with the red curly bracket on the right. This is very easy to adjust to your liking but in my case I wanted absolutely minimal height that would still hold the phone at an angle without obstructing the view for a low-sitting toddler.

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Below, I separated it into two so you see the yellow part. Normally you wouldn’t separate them – it just rotates on the yellow part to collapse for traveling. I increased the brightness so you see the details on black parts better.

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One last detail shot and then I’ll show it in-action:

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Below are the kickstand in-action shots. I want to show two extreme cases of adjustability. First, you see near-vertical alignment for a low-sitting toddler…

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…and more traditionally angled standing for in-flight video viewing:

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If you pay attention to the angled front photo I just showed you (last row above, left), and compare to the first photo at the very top of this post (left), you’ll see that the legs of the stand are positioned at different angles. Let me comment on this a bit:

The yellow rotating Lego part has no friction. So the most force that’s preventing legs of the stand opening completely is the phone’s weight and consequently leg’s friction on the surface it has been put on. Testing showed that on slippery surfaces like wood desk or glass table, smaller angle legs work better (last row of photos, left). On a cloth or paper surfaces, you can open them as wide as you like (first row at the very top, left). In either case angle of the phone is determined by the blue Lego piece so you can let it stand however you like. You can further improvise on friction by adding rubber pieces to the bottom of the legs and they will almost stick to the surface. In my case I’m not using them with rubbers.

Check my blog for charging docks like Lumia 900 and let me know if you can improve on this idea further. Thanks for visiting.

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