Automate Your Desk With The Upsy Desky

It might be surprising for some, but humans actually evolved to be long-distance runners. We aren’t very fast comparatively, but no other animal can run for as long or as far as a human can. Sitting at a desk, on the other hand, is definitely not something that we’re adapted to do, so it’s important to take some measures to avoid many of the problems that arise for those that sit at a desk or computer most of the day. This build takes it to the extreme, not only implementing a standing desk but also a ton of automation for that desk as well.

This project is an improvement on a prior build by [TJ Horner] called the WiFi Standing Desk Controller. This new version has a catchier name, and uses an ESP32 to run the show. The enclosure is 3D printed and the control board includes USB-C and a hardware UART to interface with the controller. The real perks of this device are the automation, though. The desk can automatically lift if the user has been sitting too long, and could also automatically lift if it detects no one is home (to help keep a cat off of the desk, for example). It also includes presets for different users, and can export data to other software to help analyze sitting and standing patterns.

The controller design is open source and could be adapted to work on a wide-array of powered desks. As we’ve seen in the past, with the addition of a motor, even hand-crank standing desks can be upgraded. If you haven’t gotten into the standing desk trend yet, we hope that you are at least occasionally going for a run.

33 thoughts on “Automate Your Desk With The Upsy Desky

  1. I went to school to be a draftsman (pencil+table). We had tables at almost elbow height and a stool that maintained our torso elevation regardless of sitting/standing. No need for automation, no cat on desk. Just sit|stand as you want. The clock chime would signal time to switch sit/stand, take a break and record your billable hours. Pre-1900 solution btw.

      1. I thought the same, but this is actually incorrect. An elite runner can finish a marathon (26.2 mi) in just over 2 hours. A horse can run at 30+ mph for short distance, but can’t maintain that speed for very long. Example, the Pony Express ran horses for 10-15 miles at a clip. To maintain that speed they only hired young boys as riders to keep weight down and many of the horse’s died. You know what animal can beat a human in a marathon? An ostrich, it will run one in about 35-40 minutes.

      2. They beat us in speed, but not distance. They will be exhausted long before humans. Look up “persistence hunting.” Dogs come close, and that’s probably part of why they’re such close companions.

          1. Adult red kangaroo, easily runs all other creatures into the dirt.

            An ideal recovery of energy spent to hop forward, nearly 100%

            Their legs are built like springs.

            Can run at 13-16 mph indefinitely, or burst up 44 mph.

            GPS collars have tracked them running across the entire continent in days.

  2. Hello, author here. Does it need justification beyond being cool? Nerds often do extremely unnecessary things in the name of being cool. And I admit it is indeed extremely unnecessary, but as a home automation enthusiast I like to add the silliest things to my Home Assistant, simply because it’s fun! Plus, people seem to enjoy it — I’ve sold many more units of the original version than I ever thought I would. I understand and respect that it’s not your cup of tea, but no need to be rude :)

  3. There’s an interesting book called Running After Antelope, by a long distance runner named Scott Carrier, that talks a lot about the human history of persistence hunting, where we’d run after an animal until it dropped from fatigue, thus greatly reducing our risk in getting hurt trying to kill it. It specifically deals with his attempts to try this with antelope, which are maybe the only animals that we can’t manage to outrun over the long haul. Antelope can run 50 km in an hour, not 50km/h, but an actual 50 km. As I recall, he and his other running friends had not at the time managed to come anywhere near persistence hunting an antelope.

    1. @smellsofbikes, if I’m not mistaken, “50 km in an hour” is exactly the same as “50km/h” (which is read as “50 km per hour”). It’s “an actual 50 km” distance run over the duration of one hour. It seemed like you were trying to emphasize that something that is, in fact, the same… is actually different and so I questioned your facts. So I did a quick fact check… and found claims that not ONLY can some antelope sustain a speed of up to 48 km/h for a duration of up to 20 minutes, some can even reach peak (but not necessarily sustained) speeds of up to 98 km/h. It’s no wonder that long distance runner couldn’t manage to persistence hunt an antelope! Very impressive!!

      1. Being able to travel 50km in one hour doesn’t actually mean the same thing as being able to achieve the velocity of 50km/h. Travelling 50 kilometres in on hour actually requires one to be able to sustain average speed of 50km/h for entire hour, whereas being able to reach the velocity of 50km/h on it’s own doesn’t say anything about endurance, only potential power output. It’s like the difference between lifting 100kg for a few seconds of deadlift vs actually grabbing 50kg and carrying around for prolonged period of time.

        1. No. If you cover 50km in an hour, you have achieved a speed of at least 50km /h it’s physics. If you take a rest in the middle, it means your average running speed is higher than 50km, to account for the time you spent not running.

          Literally whatever distance you travel at a speed in 1 hour, will be that distance per hour in avg speed.

          1. Goodness, this is not that complex. I could run 50 km/h for 5 minutes and you could say truthfully that I ran 50 km/h but not that I ran 50 km in one hour. Really, there’s no reason arguing this, it’s elementary.

          2. That only works with the assumptions that
            1) you travel at a constant speed
            2) you travel for exactly one hour

            If either of those are not true, then the assumption breaks down. For example, if you run at 100 km/h for 5 minutes then take a 5 minute nap, you have travelled at 50 km/h on average. If your nap was instead 55 minutes, you have travelled at 4.17 km/h on average. If you did not take a nap at all, then you traveleld at 100 km/h on average. Your average speed changes, despite your isntantaneous speed remaining constant.

            For predation, that difference between average and instantaneous speed matters, because that’s how persistence hunting works: the prey animal outpaces the predator over a short timescale, then over a longer timescale the predator continues to catch up whilst the prey animal remains stationary or moves at a low speed. This cycle can then repeat: as long as the predatory can maintain its average speed as its continuous speed, but the prey animal cannot (i.e. its bursts of speed are not sustainable) the predatory will inevitably catch up the the prey regardless of instantaneous speed.

  4. Squirrel!

    One article about desk automation. 1 rather *meh* comment about the desk build. 20+ comments in a deep discussion about the speed of animals. Go internet! LOL!

    …and the poor author of this story is slowly wilting in a corner and thinking to himself, “Why do I even bother?”

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