So Tomorrow Came and Went

And this was all I got done…

They needed to be filled, sanded and painted.

But oddly enough I just didn’t feel like spending the weekend wearing a mask.

So here’s where they’ll sit
While the days, they will pass by
And I breath easy

Upgrade for a Cheap Desk

A little less than a year ago, Tammy’s workplace started setting up almost all of their staff so they could work from home

We didn’t have a home office workspace for her at the time so we ran out and bought a small, cheap desk and put it in the master bedroom.

She brought home a small form factor HP CPU, two monitors, mouse, keyboard, and headset. As you can see the desk is a bit small for all of that plus a notepad, drinks and snacks. Additionally, @ 31″ in height, the top of the desk was a bit too high for Tammy to comfortably use a mouse and keyboard. Essentially her feet didn’t touch the ground if she adjusted her chair to a comfortable height for the keyboard and mouse.

Tammy finally found a keyboard/mouse tray attachment she liked, It’s adjustable so she can stand or sit and it frees up a tone of space on the desktop for more snacks and tchotchkes.

This thing is massive and weighs over 20lbs. It’s actually designed to mount directly under the desktop.

However that couldn’t be done with Tammy’s desk, it had to be mounted almost 4″ lower than the desktop. Fortunately with its range of motion it is still high enough for Tammy to stand while using it.
The desk is only 20″ in depth but the mount for the tray is 24″ and the wood screws they included for mounting it would have blown through the bottom shelf of the desk so I added a 1/4″ thick layer of MDF and a 3/4″ oak extension to the back of the desk so the full length of the mounting bracket was covered.
Even with the 4″ extension the arm would slide another three inches past it to fully retract the keyboard tray so I had to add a stop to it to keep it from banging into the wall.

It took about an hour to get it mounted and put back together this morning but she likes it so far. We’ll see on Monday when she has to work at it all day on Monday.

Let’s try this instead..

The pyramid configuration just didn’t work for me. I wear progressive bifocals and I spent half the day with my head tilted back to look at the upper monitor and after just a few hours it was killing my neck. After ten to twelve hours of that a day I was a mess.

I had to try something different. At 52″ wide I knew I didn’t have enough room on my desktop for the iMac and the two monitors to sit in landscape mode, side by side. I really didn’t want to have to buy a bigger desk. I also realized I was going to need to move the floating shelf out of the way to the right.

I bought a dual monitor stand to mount the monitors on. I thought I was going to have to mount them both in portrait mode but fortunately there was just enough room to mount one in each mode.

After getting the two monitors set up I decided the iMac was now too low so I removed the under shelf I built and set it back on the desktop. Again, because of my bifocals I prefer that I look in a more downward direction at my monitors. So now my keyboard and mouse were too low for real comfort.

Years ago we bought a gaming table. It had inserts for chess, backgammon, parcheesi, and some other table top games. The tabletop was 1-3/4″ thick laminated pine. Unfortunately we kept it in the garage for way too long and it got seriously dried out. I cut it up thinking I was going to turn it into a new end grain butcher block cutting board but the wood was far too dry, it chipped and splintered badly. I would have had to fill way too many holes, there were too many gaps in the glue up.

It wouldn’t work for a cutting board but it would work as a platform for my mouse and keyboard. I’ve never cared for Mac peripherals. Their keyboards and mice are an abomination of form over function. I prefer my keyboards larger, more configurable, and on a greater incline. I absolutely love my Corsair mechanical keyboard and dread having to go from it to that chiclet keyboard and having to relearn how to copy/paste. Every time I switch between my other machines and this iMac drives me nuts.

Anyway, I decided to put together three pieces of the old tabletop I had glued up in a way that would work as a riser for iMac’s keyboard and mouse. I also added a strip of oak to increase the angle of the keyboard. It’s likely a little too highly pitched but I can plane it down if need be.
Note: This last effort to increase the incline of the keyboard did not work as well as envisioned. I’ve removed it and just added a couple of stick on feet to the back of the keyboard.

I’m actually liking having the middle monitor in portrait mode. I can see more lines of code at one time and I also have a browser window set to view my pages in mobile phone mode so I can more quickly check formatting. I’m liking it so far!

Third Eye, the Third

Well, I found out a little over a week ago that I was getting a new 27″ iMac. Of course, I did not know that when I built the riser. The new iMac is three inches taller than the 21.5″ model I was using so I either had to either add three inches in height to the riser and build a 3″ riser for the second monitor or somehow shrink the new iMac so it would fit under the third monitor as it was now configured.

I really did not want to raise the height of all three monitors. I prefer they are at or below my line of site. Though I have to a bit for the third monitor, I prefer not having to crane my neck back while working. On my home workstation the top of monitors are just below my line of site and I rarely get neck or eye fatigue with that arrangement.

At this time I can’t really do that with my work workstation. I don’t have enough room horizontally for all three monitors. I’ve been tempted to buy a second mounting arm and re-orient the two extra monitors vertically. This would solve a lot of problems but it would still be a really tight fit horizontally and I would need to move the shelf about a foot to the right or raise it about four inches to get it all to fit. While that would probably be the best option it would cost another $30 and it would be a lot more work.

For now I have chosen to dust off my trusty monitor shrinking machine (Patent Pending) to try and get the new machine to fit into the current space. Kidding, anyway I found the dimensions for the 27″ iMac online, took more measurements and built the “under shelf.”

I eased all of the edges and sanded it. I also added a couple of coats of Teak oil and wax before mounting it.

It turns out I mounted this just barely far enough to the right for the monitor to fit. I probably should have spent a little more time looking at this before mounting it, but it worked.

There is just an 1/8″ between the desktop and the iMac (when fully perpendicular), and between the iMac and the upper monitor.

Done, for now.

Third Eye Part 2

After using the riser for a week I decided to maker a couple of small changes, then sand and finish it.

I used a short length of black pipe to act as a spacer for the mounting bolt. I thought about cutting it off but I might change the mount later so I used a spacer instead.

I sanded it down and threw on a couple of coats of oil and wax.

It’s nice to get the cables off of the desktop.

Third Eye

Last Friday I decided I wanted a third monitor for my work system:

I ordered the least expensive 24″ HDMI capable monitor I could find that could also be delivered by Sunday. It’s a ViewSonic VA2446mh. I got it for just $110 w/delivery.

My work desk is height adjustable so I can stand or sit.I did not want to mount the monitor on the wall. Well that and I may end up re-arranging my office so I did not want to have to deal with moving the mount, patching holes, etc. so I ordered an ErGear Single Monitor Mount Stand.

I knew the mount was going to be too short to get the new monitor over the two existing ones but building a riser for the new mount would make up for the lack of height I needed and was much cheaper than buying a much more expensive, taller arm..

I didn’t take any pictures during the build of the riser, but here is the final product in use.

The riser can slide side to side without having to loosen any clamps, bolts, or screws. More importantly though the monitor will move up and down with the desktop as I raise or lower it to sit or stand. I don’t actually it lower it to sit that often. Once in a while after about 7-8 hours of work I will sit for whatever is left in the work day.

One change I may need to make is really just an addition. I ‘ll probably glue some leather to the back of the riser just to make sure it doesn’t scratch the paint on the wall. It’s a pretty snug fit between it and the wall but I can squeeze some thin leather in there.

So for $137 and some scrap wood I have a new third monitor, for my “work” workstation that is.

Work from Home

For obvious reasons I am now working from home. I spent 2 days re-arranging, and cleaning, my home office so I could add a second workstation.

I decided that for now I would use my Husky adjustable height workbench. It has a couple of advantages:

  1. I can use it as a standing desk
  2. I wouldn’t waste time, and money, looking for something new, online or in person.

Turns out that I really missed having this bench out in my shop so I bought another one of these Husky workbenches and moved this one back out to the shop. The new one has the cross bar at the bottom in the back so I can roll my chair underneath it more easily.

Of course, since it’s new, the top isn’t scratched up so mousing is a little easier and more accurate.

Check out the upgrades I’ve made since this was posted: