Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rethinking the Station Desk

Recently, the water supply line to my Gwinnett house had to be replaced, and that meant I had to clear out my station operating desk so the plumbers could work. With everything moved out from that end of the room, it was the perfect time to re-think the station desk.

Truth is, I had been thinking about this for the past year. Ever since I moved back from Floyd county, I had considered making some changes. Some of this was based on my experiences with the Micro-shack.

Let's start with the desk. In 1985, I bought a 30" solid-core door and placed it over a couple of two-drawer file cabinets. Over thirty years and two moves later, that's what I'm still using. The door has stood the test of time. I originally stained it and coated with polyurethane. When I moved to Gwinnett county eight years later, I sanded it down again and gave it a fresh coat of polyurethane. More than 20 years later, it was again time.

I also made one modification I should have done from the start. I took a router and a 1/4" radius bit and rounded off the top edge of the door. For years, the sharp edge of the door had been cutting into my arms as I rested them on the edge while contesting. The gentler radius prevents that entirely. With a fresh coat of polyurethane, it feels quite smooth.

The two-drawer file cabinets were cheap and provide ample support -- although one of them has to be pushed back pretty far to support the back end of the desk, and thus you can't really use the top drawer to store anything. But the biggest drawback is the height. The resulting tabletop is 30 and 1/4" above the floor -- just a little bit high. In contrast, the Micro-shack desk was closer to 29" above the floor. A much more comfortable height.

I've considered moving the filing cabinets out and replacing them with a 2x4 frame to support the weight of the desk to get a more optima height. I may still do that.

Back nearly thirty years ago, I built a shelving hutch that sits on the desk, holding the equipment on three levels. Made from 12x1 lumber, it's not quite as square as I'd like, but I wasn't much of a craftsman thirty years ago, either.

Back then, I purposely made a shelf about an inch off the desk, and that's where the equipment goes. The space underneath was intended to allow logbooks and other operating aides to be stored, out of the way. I haven't used paper logbooks in a decade now. I did just fine in Floyd County with radios right on the operating desk. If I did again, the shelving hutch would have the first compartments on the desk directly.

Another thing that has changed is space for a computer. Thirty years ago (and yes, I did have computers thirty years ago), the computer was off to the side, and 90 degrees to the operating desk. Today, I almost exclusively use laptop computers. Using a computer is integral to radio contesting, and a lot of my DX chasing. And one side effect of having bifocals is not to have the monitor too high off the desk -- otherwise I end up leaning my head back uncomfortably far.

Any new shelving hutch would have space front and center to slide in a 15-inch laptop or a keyboard and monitor. With room on the right (and left) for radios.

Certainly something to think about.