Super monitor bow

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Months ago I mounted my monitor on a big heavy monitor arm. This was a suprise aha moment. I wanted to releave neck pain from a low monitor, but I got that and so much space. Going from a monitor stand stacked on a box to empty space breathed new life into the desk. I could put things there! I could push my keyboard out of the way to write or read! But this left me wanting more.

What else could I put up there? The monitor arm, an Erogtron HX, is spec'd for 42lb of monitor. The dinosaur Apple monitor I have weighs ~20lb (how?!). That is 22lb of fun I just can't leave on the table (ha!).

Ergotron makes a Triple monitor bow, which is designed to hold three monitors all on a single arm. Interesting, except it costs over $300 and I don't need more VESA mounts. This got the wheels spinning. Why can't I make my own? Its really just a bar of extruded aluminum. In fact, if I mount some t-slot extrusion up there I can mount just about anything under 22lb.

The Bow

monitor bow

The bow is simple. A single 4ft bar of 1"x1" extruded t-slot. Mounting the bow should have been simple as well. The VESA adapter for my Apple thunderbolt display gives a big flat surface to clamp to. My third design, inspired by t-slot hold downs, has been working for a month now!

the clamps
No idea why this is sideways, but you can see the black plastic clamping the bar to the aluminum VESA adapter.

This should have been an easy design to come up with, but sadly it took weeks of trial and error. The older designs aren't worthy of internet exposure, but I learned a good 3d printing lesson: Less is more and stress along extrusion lines will fail 100% of the times you're depending on it.

An exploded view of the clamp

These t-slot clamps are really elegant. The outer clamp is slotted and allows the inner 'washer' and bolt to rotate and sit perpendicular to the slot, even as clamping pressure is applied and the clamp angle changes.


annotated monitor bow

On to the fun part. I now have 16ft of t-slot (4ft per side) to fill up with dumb ideas. Of course the first thing I added was more t-slot.

iPad Arm

I've been taking all of my video calls through my ipad. I am not the first to do this or write about it. It works. The tricky part is holding up the ipad. I used an ipad arm (referral link) affixed to my laptop stand for many months. The mount itself is rock solid. The arm can be super floppy though, and I found myself mounting to things thinner than the vise mechanism was meant to clip to like my laptop stand.

If I mounted a short t-slot bar (1ft here) on an angle, I could get the ipad exactly where I want it for meetings.

top joint

Fortunately there are existing t-slot parts for this, and it goes together like legos if you have a 1/4-20 tap on hand. I used this set (referral link) to cut the end tap.

Now to mount the iPad. The old arm came apart to expose a conical clampy thing which allows the ball head to pivot easily. Modeling this into a t-slot grip was simple.

top joint

This mount allowed keeps the ball head and ipad grip, which are the 'hard' parts to print myself.

top joint

And here it is mounted up. The safety rope fortunately hasn't been needed, but it is a very cheap insurance plan.

Mic Mount

I have an AT875R (referral link) for video calls and recording fun sounds. I wanted to mount this thing up away from the keyboard and right at my face, as the mic is highly directional. The mic came with a clip, so like the ipad I repurposed the half of it that was harder to print and designed a new half for the t-slot.

mic mount
I reused the hardware from the old mic mount, which used a hex headed nut that seats into one side of the print.
mic mount
I designed this to sit straight but ended up mounting it with 1/2 bolts on the main rail so it sits out of the ipad's camera FOV.

Headphone Hook

A 3d printing classic.

headphone hook
The top hole holds the t-slot nut, and the bottom is for hex driver access.
headphone hook

Hue Play Bar Mounts

I use Hue Play Bars (referral link) to light the desk area, including myself during video calls. The lights ship with little plastic wall and surface mounts. I replicated these to make my own mounting hardware. One for the 'fill' light next to the ipad, and the other for an accent light behind the monitor. The light atop the monitor is just mounted with 3m velcro.

Flat hue mount
It has small tabs to register with the t-slot and keep the bar from rotating.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those projects that will never be finished. Working with t-slot has been fun. Designing parts that fit into the standard slots is really quick once you have the measurements down. All of the parts are mounted with the same t-slot bolts like this (referral link). I am dreaming of a giant tool cluster for the left side.. but more on that later.


TODO: Need to track them all down..