Roginald 8:01pm, 2 November 2017

I'm not sure how many people this will interest because nobody seems to have complained about their AlphaSmart sliding around!

I have to say that's one of the first problems I noticed with both the Neo and Dana. On the couch I normally sit on, my knees are quite high and both devices kept slipping down towards me. It was a real pain. I don't know if I wear extra-slippy trousers or something.

Also, I feel that if I *must* write my book, I'd like to do it in the most indifferent posture possible - I don't want to give this book the wrong impression. If it gets written, it will be in the most casual, non-commital way possible. I'm going to write this thing in bed. Not sitting up in bed. Lying down in bed. The most I am willing to give it is raising my knees up to rest it on.

So after lots and lots of thinking about how to make it stay put, I hit on an idea for 'extreme adherence', which also avoids sticking anything permanent on the outside of the Neo / Dana.

I bought a big sheet of 'non-slip car boot material' from the local £1 shop. It's very thin, a tiny bit stretchy, moderately durable, easy to work with, and most importantly, very grippy:)

I took the base off the Neo and cut a piece of fabric around the outline of the base, with an inch or so border:


I then folded the material around the base, and used duck tape to hold it fairly taughtly. The fabric is very easy to work with in that I didn't bother to make holes in it for screws (it's got lots of gaps in it anyway, plus screws can easily make their own thread through the rubbery material), and also just folded it in at the corners so it was 3 layers deep (it's thin and compressible) - that didn't cause any issues at the end:


I forgot to attach the battery door to the base originally before I started, doh! You *could* cut a shape so the batteries are always accessible without needing to open it up, but I imagine the fabric would deteriorate fairly quickly in use - since for the Neo, and even the Dana if you've done the battery mod and use a charger in the Dana, you don't need to get to the batteries for a long long time, I figured I'd rather it was a solid base cover.

Then I made sure batteries were in the Neo, put the back on, and screwed it up, sometimes having to drive the screws through a few of the internal layers of fabric - no problem really. It looks pretty neat externally once done:


Best of all, it grips to some materials so well you can have the Neo almost vertical while lying on the sofa / bed with your knees up. If it doesn't *quite* hold, then I found it easy to either use my left thumb to give it that extra little bit of anti-gravity assistance while typing, or if you are under the covers, just putting a small wrinkle in the fabric meant I could type away with no fear of it sliding:


I'm really pleased with the ease and the utility of this mod.

I think it's perfect for the Neo's unusual form factor and screen orientation - if you want to write on a device in the ultra-casual position, what better form-factor is there?

If anyone is interested in having a go, I'd suggest:

* Check you are okay with the material first. It has rubber in it which you may have problems with, and for my bit of fabric at least there was a very slight rubbery smell. Really quite slight though.

* The same sort of material seems to be available e.g. on eBay, called 'non slip fabric', and you can get colours! This may be of interest to those who have painted their Neos lovely colours, it could be fun mixing and matching:) Very tempted to have a go myself.

PS I wondered if it would be a pain to get into and out of the snug AlphaSmart neoprene case, but it's fine.

Also I tried this on the Dana, expecting more trouble especially around the back, but no, it looked very neat outside and it all screwed together fine.
d_b_cohen 4 years ago
Not very stylish, though, is it?

Roginald 4 years ago

Ha! Well let's say I'm not expecting a job as an industrial designer any time soon.

No, it's all about utility - you don't even see anything unusual when you are typing on it.

However I must say the all-round appearance and texture is growing on me.

Compared to the initial idea of gluing bits of material underneath, I like how this mod completely respects the curves of the Neo and is reversible. I can't really do photography but I've taken two shots in a rubbish attempt to show how the lines of the fabric vs the plastic flow quite nicely to my eyes:



Having half of an electronic device covered in fabric may be unusual, but it reminds me of the Psion 7, so there's a bit of nostalgia about it for me as well.

I think it *could* be very stylish if a different type of material was used, especially a non-mesh material. I'll be on the lookout for thin, flexible grippy materials e.g. siliconised rubber on my travels and may well give it a go.
dutch_garvey 4 years ago
I don't think it looks bad at all, Roginald. And it's an innovative solution to the particular problem you described. Nice job.
Roginald 4 years ago

Thanks! Yes, whatever else it is, it's certainly a solution:)

I accidentally clicked a link which took me to your photos, I'm still finding my way around and didn't really join for the photos, just for this group. Anyway I'm glad I did, lovely dogs!
vrf 4 years ago
I have a piece of that material I keep with my Dana for the same purpose. Hmm... maybe I should figure out a way to attach it. Double-stick tape?
Roginald 4 years ago

I started off using a loose piece as well, and just putting on my lap under the Dana.

But it didn't 'stand up' to the 'lying down' test - the Dana slipped off over a certain angle.

If it's big enough then you could actually do what I did and wrap it around the base and clamp it between the top and bottom. I was surprised at how well the Dana went back together like that pretty neatly in spite of the interesting shape at the back with all the ports.
dutch_garvey 4 years ago

Thank you, Roginald! That was a rare get-together of my dog and my son's. Mine is the big hairy 11-year old. The other's a two-year old and she just about wore our old boy out that day. They had a lot of fun, though.
Roginald 4 years ago

Forgot to say that the area around the stylus holder probably needs doing carefully if the stylus is going to slide in. I didn't actually try putting the stylus in but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have on the 'prototype'. I figured I'm not going to fuss over the details till the batch of Danas arrive and I put together one I'm happy with.
chaburchak 4 years ago
This is an interesting hack, and one I've considered myself at times. I sit in various positions while writing (thank you, sciatica!) and have experienced some problems with sliding and getting it to stay in the right position for me to see the screen. Thought about sticking some of those non-skid bathtub strips across the back, or masking it off and spraying it with one of those tacky rubber sprays you see on TV. Haven't really used my Neo for a while for that very reason, so maybe I'll have to revisit this. Thanks for the ideas!
gray447 4 years ago
3M makes stick-on non-skid flexible vinyl strips in various widths. They should be found in hardware or boating stores. The strip surface is aggressively textured to be a non-skid addition on boat decks. I applied cut lengths to the deck of a West Wight Potter sailboat, and the non-skid footing improvement was outstanding. Two or three of these on the back of a Neo or Dana should be a tenacious lap-gripper. The self-stick property is also quite tenacious, made for exterior deck use in sun and rain.
theyachtinglife 4 years ago
I kept a square of rubberized mesh meant for kitchen drawer liner in my Neo bag. I can see how a permanently attached traction mat would be a better solution.
Austruck 4 years ago
I use these simple, cheap, and very effective round stick-on rubbery "feet":


For my Neos and Dana, I also use Laptop Legs to change the angle of the screen to something more usable for me (since I'm short).

Neo with Laptop Legs 1 by Austruck
Austruck 4 years ago
I've also used that rubbery shelf liner stuff for lots of stuff, mostly typewriters, to keep them from shifting around the desk. Works great!
gray447 4 years ago
Me too! (grin) I cut rectangles of mesh-like rubbery shelf liner and place them under keyboards and anything else I don't want slipping around. I also use those little stick-on lumps & dots to replace various 'feet' that get dislodged and scraped off.

Don't forget our handy friend, super-glue. It's holding together an antique Dell laptop--it's plastic shell became brittle and cracked with age. Super-glue run into the cracks bonded it all back together.
Justin_T_Call 4 years ago
Just spray the base with black plasti-dip spray paint. It's rubber based (more or less) and has a rough enough texture that you get all the traction you want without any hassle.
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