Friday, November 27, 2020

Improving the Shack Desk

Finished, standing against wall.
Thirty-five years ago, I asked my father-in-law to be for advice on lumber for an operating desk. He suggested I find a solid core door. I bought an 80x30" door and have used as my operating desk since. It has held up very well, surviving two moves, and three re-finishings. 

Originally, I bought the door and two small two-drawer filing cabinets. With the cabinets on either side of the door, the result was a very stable platform, strong enough for me to stand on. 

However, it wasn't the most perfect arrangement, as I wrote four years ago. Adding a 1/4" radius edge to the front, was a  dramatic improvement, mainly because the operating surface was just too tall. 

This year during Contest University,  Doug Grant K1DG gave a talk on Optimizing Your Station For Contest Operations. One of the salient points in his talk was that the operating desk needed to be at the right height for the operator. 

The door across the filing cabinets was 30 7/8" off the floor. Doug's talk indicates that the optimum for my height should be closer to 28 1/2". The micro-shack desk was about 30", and the luncheon table that serves as my workbench on the other side of the shack is 29" off the floor. What I needed were shorter supports. 

Box frame.
It is not possible to make the filing cabinets shorter, so I needed something else. It had to be strong -- the door itself is heavy, and the linear amplifier and other bits of equipment add up. I also needed to be able to get it through the door to my 6x15 foot room that is the shack. 

What I came up with is a set of box frames aligned by some cross members. The box frame is a "U" shape made out of 2x4s, capped with a 30" 1x4. A couple of 1x4s act as a shear web to keep the box frame square. It's held together with glue and screws. Three 58" 1x4s serve as the cross members. The cross members are each in a different plane, and give plenty of room for a chair to roll underneath.

Finished stand.
It's sufficiently strong that I can easily sit or stand on it.

And, here's the best part. It's on six castors, so I can move it away from the wall to get behind the desk to wire things. No more having to do my rig wiring blind!

I was worried that the tile floor might make it hard to roll the desk, but it's actually pretty easy. 

This design is pretty simple, and it came together quickly. The 30" 1x4s on top have a single wood screw on each end into the door, so the surface can't slide around. And the cross members are held on only with screws, so they can be removed when in order to get the whole assembly out of the shack.

Voila! Away from wall.
The door already has a couple of power strips mounted on the underside, which makes plugging in equipment that much easier. 

Based on what I was thinking four years ago, the next improvement will be the equipment hutch that goes on the desk. That's also a relic from 30+ years ago. I've already purchased the lumber for that project....

No comments:

Post a Comment