Product Review: Deohako Mounting System Secures iPad mini in Cockpits

 - May 2, 2013, 12:10 AM
Deohako’s iPad mini mounting system lets pilots mount the device on the windshield, shown, or yoke (for some airplanes). The case can also be used as a kneeboard.

Deohako’s iPad mounting system offers a solid and secure method of protecting and attaching iPads in the cockpit. But the Austin, Texas-based company’s iPad mini product needs some refinements to make it more suitable for cockpits.

For the iPad mini, Deohako offers a $55 case made of strong polycarbonate plastic coated with a rubberized material and fitted with a standard ¼-20 connector. Four corner lugs hold the tablet securely in the case. The case holds the iPad mini so tightly that I worried about damaging something when inserting or removing the iPad, but both the device and the case survived multiple installations and removals. The iPad can be inserted screen-side-down into the case for protection while traveling.

A ¼-20 connector in the back of the case attaches any standard photographic mount to the iPad case, but has its drawbacks. The connector is also a twist-and-click type, which attaches to a $10 wall mount. For the iPad and iPad mini, Deohako offers a variety of accessories, including suction-cup mounts, a kneeboard device and a yoke mount.

The heavy-duty suction cup mount ($25) proved to be the best accessory, with super-strong suction that works great on glass or plastic windows. I tried the suction cup in my car, on a King Air 200 pilot side window and a Cessna 172 side window. The iPad mini is just the right size for suction-cup mounting in these applications, well within easy eyesight and not blocking important instruments. Deohako also makes a bendable suction cup mount ($25).

The Deohako yoke-mount clamp ($25) is too short to attach to the center control wheel shaft and is designed to grip onto the yoke. This might work well for a circular yoke (as shown in Deohako’s aviation video), but most modern yokes are W- or U-shaped, and the clamp would thus use up one side of the yoke.

To use the iPad mini case as a kneeboard, Deohako offers a three-legged Joby GorillaPod tripod device ($50), which is designed to screw into the ¼-20 connector then wrap around the pilot’s legs–a novel kneeboard solution that allows the pilot to adjust the angle of the iPad quickly. The GorillaPod can be used to mount the iPad anywhere that the tripod’s legs can grip, such as a headrest or armrest.

There are two key problems with parts of the Deohako system. First, each accessory has to be screwed into the ¼-20 connector by spinning the accessory or the case. Unlike a typical camera tripod mount, the Deohako accessories don’t include a freely turning knob or mounting screw. Screwing the accessory on tightly enough to secure it does not guarantee proper directional alignment of the device. Second, the cutout in the case for the iPad’s on/off switch is too small. I frequently take iPad screenshots while flying, and the Deohako case makes it hard to push the on/off switch.

The Deohako iPad mounting system is on the right track, but it could use some improvements: enlarge the on/off switch cutout, add free-turning screws to accessories and extend the yoke mount so it can grip the yoke tube. Deohako founder Chris Anderson said these problems will be addressed with future updates. A new four-inch gooseneck with threaded male and female π-20 has just been released and allows the clamp to be used more flexibly.


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