How to pick a table clamp for an arcade controller?
August 23, 2012 9:28 AM   Subscribe

What kind of clamp would you use for holding a small control panel on a table firmly?

I don't have the space for a full-scale MAME project in my home, so I was going to build a couple smaller purpose built panels for use in my office. I've got a trackball setup and a spinner set that I am planning on making small dedicated cases for. These kinds of controls generally don't play well unless they are fixed in place (the trackball especially). So I want to design a case that I can affix to the desk in a manner I can easily remove it, but so it won't move around during game play.

So far, the only thing I can find is a clamp like the ones you find on swing arm lamps. It seems like it would work, but the part that hangs down would interfere with the keyboard tray.
posted by inthe80s to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Will they always be used on the same desk? If so, I would just build a wood "L" under the panel, sized for the desk I'd be using it on.

Or you could put some bolts on the bottom, facing down, with some pieces of wood that you can tighten with wing nuts. Size the bolts so that they're not any longer than you need them to be. Basically making your own clamp.

Depending on the surface of the desk you could just use some non-slip pads under the control panel. We use some rubbery stuff to temporarily hold our cutting boards to our kitchen counters. Something like this might work as well.
posted by bondcliff at 9:36 AM on August 23, 2012

Depending on the surface of the desk: suction cups?
posted by HuronBob at 10:00 AM on August 23, 2012

I may not explain this well, so hopefully someone who can will jump in and do a better job, but:

There are storage systems that use tracks, and they're really easy and adjustable. What you have is basically a U-shaped track and then a bar that slides into the track. They come in all different lengths, and they have them at those warehouse home improvement places, like Home Depot.

So what you would do is affix, with just nuts and bolts, something like this to the bottom of your MAME controller: [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ and then have a bar affixed to the table to slide it onto, or vice versa.
posted by misha at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2012

Along with the non-slip bottom, put a bunch of lead inside the box to keep it still. Lead shot is cheap, and one method would be to fill Altoids tins with it and put them inside the controller box.
posted by chazlarson at 11:14 AM on August 23, 2012

These pull-tab adhesives hold surprisingly well, provided your controller cases have a flat base, and are easy to remove afterward. No good if you're really going to be yanking the controllers around hard, but for less aggressive play a few of the large ones should do you fine.

I'm not sure I trust their URLs to persist; if the link breaks look for Products, Refill Strips
posted by ook at 12:02 PM on August 23, 2012

Bad ass magnets, like these. You can put them in the base of your panel and get a flat piece of steel that you can clamp any which way works. Since your description lacks a huge amout of detail, that's all you'll get from me without a sketch. I just never overlook a chance to use these things as they are super powerful, small, and really a designers best friend. Of course, you have to keep your mag media away from them and the really big ones can amputate your fingers if they slam together too hard, but hey, magnets!

Velcro, too.

I build many purpose-specific panels and use a lot of wooden pins for locating, tapered holes /pins for quick attachments, lock pins, threaded inserts. You can make a career out of this sort of thing. Just hook it up somehow, decide if it works, improve it if it doesn't. (It helps if you can drill your furniture, BTW.)
posted by FauxScot at 7:53 PM on August 23, 2012

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