Three years ago I temporarily attached a laptop to the wall in my kitchen. Temporarily as it was about to be redecorated – which is only just now happening as I finish upgrading the house.
It provides web access, email conversations, instant messaging, skype and a whole range of media including music, iPlayer and the like, as well as locally stored films, audio books and documentaries to keep me occupied while cooking. You can even – gasp – look up recipies.
All this makes it much more useful than a TV, and these days netbooks provide all that functionality for the same as a kitchen flip-down TV.
Some people have asked how I did it, so here we go. A later post will describe the even more excitingly interesting new and improved wall-mount, which solves some issues with the current one.
Choose Your Laptop
Unlike desktops, which might be suitable for a static multimedia player in a kitchen, a laptop takes up very little space and the user interface is all handily bundled together: there are no separate keyboards and mice with cables to clutter and clean or batteries to replace.
Ideally the laptop should have ports for power, ethernet and audio on the side or the rear for tidiness. I used external speakers to get a bit of volume when the frying is particularly loud (although I hear there are quieter ways of cooking, apparently few of them involve lard).
Netbooks will provide enough processing power for ordinary multimedia needs, but bear in mind some of the screens might be annoyingly small when viewed across a kitchen.
Touchpads seem better than nipples for controlling the mouse pointer, particularly as they are easy to wipe down if you use them with inadvertently greasy or wet fingers.
Choose Your Location
I had my house wired for ethernet and telephone while having the electrics redone, and so I had power, ethernet and telephone sockets put in below where I wanted the laptop to be. If you need to use existing connections then obviously you’ll be a little more limited; wireless can help but a nearby power socket is needed if you don’t want draping cables getting greasy.
Ideally it should also be in your line of sight while preparing food. However I have it on the wall opposite the work surface – usually I’m listening to something rather than watching it, and it means it’s clear of all the organic mess that is associated with my cooking.
Finally check the height on the wall against the laptop’s vertical field of view. Most screens can be seen quite well from left to right, and from above, but some don’t look at all well from ‘below’. So if it’s going to be placed flat against the wall (as below) then it’s best to put it a little below eye height of the shortest viewers.
The Simple Fixed Mount
I wanted to make sure the laptop was removable in case I wanted to take it away, and that when not used it should fold up.
Most laptop clamshell cases will only open around 120 degrees (as below) which is handy as it means that if you fix the top screen shell to the wall the bottom keyboard shell will stick out at a convenient typing angle. If it does not, then a backing support might be required.
This mount then is a simple board about the size of the screen, with angle brackets to ‘clasp’ the screen, and a lip at the bottom to support the weight of the laptop. The whole thing is screwed to the wall:
In this case, as a temporary fixing, it was made with an old bit of chipboard and some battening screwed to the bottom of it as the lip.
The laptop then slides down from the top so that the angle brackets ‘clasp’ it to the board:
Bear in mind that screws into chipboard from the end like this, or into end-grain of wooden board, have weaker holds along the screw than when screwed in across the grain. That shouldn’t be a problem as there is little strain that way.
Since the angle brackets are thin, the laptop can then be closed up out of the way:
Note that some laptops might not have a conveniently ‘square’ bottom to the upper clamshell, and so the lip might not be sufficient. Make sure you buy one that does. Make sure you read all the instructions before starting.
And tidy up
This is a tatty temporary mount and looks it. Using a wooden board rather than chipboard, sanded slightly to round off the corners and painted the same colour as the wall would make a significant improvement. Similarly painting the angle brackets to match the laptop.
Finally the base of the laptop is pretty ugly; it’s fine for a batchelor’s gadget-infested pad, but I would be interested in any suggestions as to how to tidy that up a little.