No, I’m not talking about making a case for owning and iPad 2. Just go pick one up and play with it for a second. These things don’t need a sales pitch. Nope. I’m talking about making a case that will hold one.
I came by my iPad 2 by way of a customer, who sent it to me in order for me to design games and such for him. (I love my job!)
The Apple iPad 2 (as of this writing) still has the “new” on it. The only ‘case’ that’s been released is the Apple-designed cover (which is a pretty cool thing in and of itself). This magnetic (!) cover takes care of protecting the screen while not in use, doubles as a stand, and triples as a screen cleaner. (No word on how to clean the cover, once it’s saturated with finger oils, and at $39 for the ‘cheap’ one, it’s hardly a disposable item.)
So…I’m looking around at my options, and I frankly don’t see a lot out there that appeals, either in what’s available now or what’s Coming Soon. I originally considered buying a neoprene, fleece-lined sleeve, as that’s what I’ve got for my MacBook Pro. Here’s the deal. I drop things. Not a lot. But just often enough to be a major headache. And as cool as those padded covers look, they aren’t really that padded, especially where you need them to be. If you drop a laptop – or an iPad – odds are, it’s NOT gonna drop flat. Nope. It’s likely gonna drop where one of the corners absorbs the impact. So the slipcovers are largely useless. Ditto for the skins. The Zagg case with the integrated keyboard looks cool, but it protects the glass – not the back. Hmmm. What I want is something not too much bigger than the iPad, that will protect it from being crushed or stepped on, provide some serious impact resistance for the corners, and not make me look like an über-dork carrying the bloody thing. Secondary concerns are price, weight, and ease-of-use.
To make a long story short(er), I found nothing that would work. That is, until I looked up at my office bookcase and spied an old aluminum clipboard/case that belonged to my late father. I pulled it down, opened it up, and saw a space that was tailor-made for an iPad. The fit (with the Apple cover installed) was just about perfect. All I’d need was some foam to build a surround for the back of the unit. And as an added benefit, I’d have a case that looked nothing like an iPad case, which should help keep my iPad from wandering off, should I take my eyes off it for a second.
I assembled my tools. They were a couple of sheets of foam (I bought mine at Michaels for 88¢ a sheet. Hobby Lobby carries them, too.), some double-sided carpet tape, my trusty X-Acto knife (with a fresh blade), a pencil, straightedge, and a cutting surface.
The foam was just about a quarter-inch too wide to fit precisely in the aluminum clipboard’s compartment. Trimming it up only took a second. Next, I laid the iPad face down and trimmed around it, making my first big mistake with the build. Because the iPad 2 has a beveled back and the foam is not quite as thick as the iPad is, I cut the compartment space too wide (unless I wanted to store the unit face-down, that is). Good thing I bought two pieces of foam. (I know me so well.)
Take 2, and I traced around the iPad, face-up this time, with a pencil. Cutting foam is easy. Cutting it with a bevel? Not so much. I’m sure there’s an easier way to do nice, rounded curves that would hug my iPad and look like a piece of factory-molded foam. Sadly, I don’t know how to do that. But what I ended up with works, it’s functional, and because I chose a flat-black foam, you can’t really tell my cutting job was less than perfect.
I ended up with some extra foam towards the bottom. I chose not to center the iPad, but leave the extra to one side, as this allowed me to cut an extra compartment. I figured it might be useful for a couple of pencils. Adding some strips of carpet tape, and I was all but done. Turns out, the carpet tape was just thick enough to prevent the cover from closing securely without pressing down on the top. Not good. A quick analysis revealed that the extra aluminum piece at the top to be the culprit. I X-Acto’d the carpet tape away from the area, re-stuck the foam down, and I have the perfect mobile case for my iPad 2.
If I had it to do over, I might add a piece of fabric under the iPd, just so I wouldn’t have metal-to-metal contact. However, the tolerance on this thing is pretty tight. a piece of felt I bought for just that reason proved to be too thick, so I’ll have to look at other, thinner fabrics.
As you can see, this gives me a solid case with two layers of protection on top (three if you count the iPad cover itself) and a clipboard.
That’s about it. The resulting case will fit neatly in a briefcase or my computer bag, right next to my MacBook Pro (in it’s neoprene sleeve). And the best part (for me) is I get to carry around something that belonged to and was important to my dad as a way to protect something important to me.