Although there's tons of iPhone car holders in the market, for the life of me I could not find a decent one that mounts on the car vent. I also could not find any that mounted the phone in landscape at that location. I had a generic one for my Android phone before switching, and really liked the mounting type, so I kept using that for a while, even though it was quite bulky and I had to manually insert the Lightling cable. Once I got a 3D printer, I decided to make my own, that satisfied my requirements (vent mount, landscape, compact, holds the cable so insertion is a snap). Since this would be substantial effort, decided to invest some little extra time to make it parametric, so others could customize it for their own cars, cables, and phone cases.
Well, here it is! Hope you find it useful; features, in no particular order:
- Reasonably slim, landscape.
- Cable and plug channel, so insertion is fast and easy.
- Two mounting options: vent slats or CD slot.
- Selectable cable channel profiles.
- Customizable dimensions to accomodate different cases.
- Design that uses sliding clips to allow adjusting fit, without re-doing large, tricky prints (the main holder body); should support any car vent (as long as your slats are horizontal).
- Does not cover headphone jack or ambient light intensity sensor (although you can optionally change latter, if you dont like the cutout, but then you may have to manually adjust brightness, unless you always keep it at high).
Note: The pictures are from an earlier print with full-height front, which covers the light intensity meter. I've since switched to the current design, which leaves that free (although old design is still an option).
I have tested this with the cases and cables I have: a Ringke Slim case (which I really like and have on all the time), an RND 6ft cable (which is long enough to reach the lighter plug in the armrest) and the OEM lighting cable, and of course my own car. If you customize for different cases and cars, please post in comments if you find issues. Customizing the cable profile needs adjusting OpenSCAD code (cannot be done with numeric parameters), so you'll have to download the source -- please share the modifications if you do.
I've been using this for close to two months, with no issues (we'll see when winter comes and I need the heater, but I'm guessing it should be fine :) ).
Update 8/25: Added CD slot mounting option. I still prefer the vent mount, but a few people suggested this. This is experimental, not thoroughly nested for strength yet (this configuration has been in my car for just a few days).
Print the holder, and either (i) top clips and bottom spacer, or (ii) CD slot bracket. Do not use support (there are small support tabs for the cable channel in the STL), otherwise you'll have to spend a lot of time cleaning the hollow cable channel.
Cut off support tabs in cable channel, and thread cable through channel.
Vent installation: Insert clips and spacer into holder. You might need to lightly file and/or add a small piece of tape, depending on how well-calibrated your printer is (the design has more slack that I usually do, esp. in cable channel, where I figured it's much easier to add tape around plug to make it thicker before inserting, rather than file in very tight quarters). Test fit on your car. Nice thing about this clip design is that you can print just those if you have fit issues. The long, tricky print of the main body can be done just once!
CD slot installation: Print CD slot bracket. Use M3 screws, nuts (and, preferably, washer at bottom) to secure clips onto CD insert. The notch in the insert is intentionally tight (intended to provide cantilever in this configuration), might need some filing. The clips are separate pieces for strength (if printed in one piece, they would easily delaminate).
Insert clips into case tabs and install in your car. Done.
This might ba a tricky print in ABS, prone to warping. My printer has a cooling fan and an enclosure. Before adding those (esp. enclosure), I had warping issues to varying degrees. I used a 4mm brim, which might help. Haven't tried PLA.
Printing tip: I observed that, if you remove the clips from the bed immediately after the print finishes (while they're still warm), they will warp ever so slightly, making the teeth close in towards the bottom arm. But even if you don't, the teeth should grip just fine if your dimensions are right (I've tried both).
Cable routing tip: An easy way to hide the cable (which in my case goes to the armrest) is to secure some cable ties around it but leave 1-1.5cm protruding when you clip the excess. Jam this excess into the gaps between the dash panels. Assuming your car has decent fit, it'll hold pretty well -- no adhesives, no damage to car!