I thought I would share a quick note on an interesting project for a client. We are deploying a FileMaker solution on some iPad Air 2s, using FileMaker Go. This is an invoicing/POS system for plumbers to accept on-site payment from customers at the close of a job. We needed a tough case that would allow a iMag Pro II card swiper to fit snugly into the iPad’s Lightning port, but unfortunately, we could find nothing pre-made – most every case fitting the “tough” description is designed to protect the port, not make it more available.

At our client’s suggestion, we tried the Gumdrop Drop Tech case, which consists of a hard plastic inner shell, a soft silicone outer shell, and a fairly thick, built-in plastic film screen protector. These are not designed to be completely waterproof like, say, a Lifeproof case, but they are incredibly rugged and good for protecting against shocks and some light exposure to water.

Immediately, I could see that the case would not work unmodified. The inner shell had a “channel” that protruded on each side of the Lightning port, completely preventing the insertion of the card swiper, which is several inches wide. Additionally, the soft outer shell was thick enough that it would also prevent the insertion of the swiper. Using a dremel tool with a cut-off wheel, I was able to cut away the hard shell’s obstructions and grind it down so that it left an open area. At first, I was worried that removing these channels would weaken the case’s ability to cling to the iPad, but the corners are plenty tight and it was unaffected. After modifying the hard case, I used an Xacto knife with a number 11 blade to cut a thin, rectangular slot in the case’s soft outer shell. This was easy to do in the sense that the knife slid easily through the silicone, but slightly harder to do neatly. Still, the result was pretty good, and the card swiper fit nicely into the port. The silicone surrounding the swiper actually helps to stabilize it. I could add some electrical or gaffer’s tape, but this would make it harder to plugin in a lightning cable when needed, and I really don’t believe it’s even necessary. A card slides easily through the swiper without any untoward flexing.

We deployed 4 iPads like this, and we think they will work well with the custom field billing solution we created.