An electronics workbench with tools and drawers

IKEA Wardrobe Holds Entire Hardware Workspace

If you’re like us, you probably don’t finish a typical hardware project in one sitting. This doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated workbench for your hacking activities; you simply leave your current project there, ready to continue when you have time again. But this is not always a workable option if you, or a housemate, needs to use the same desk for other tasks as well.

[!BATTA!] over at IKEAhackers ran into this problem, and solved it by building a complete electronics workstation inside a wardrobe. The base of this project is a storage unit called PAX, which is designed to store clothes and shoes but which also works just fine with project boxes. [!BATTA!] installed a variety of shelves and drawers to organize their collection of boxes and tools.

Not content with simple storage, [!BATTA!] decided to add a workbench, using a sturdy sliding tray that carries a working surface and a reinforced back panel to hold parts bins. Metal braces were added to prevent wobbliness, and the whole structure was bolted to a wall to prevent it from tipping over. When the workbench is not in use, the tray simply slides inside so the doors can be closed for a nice, clean look.

We really like the many clever storage solutions spread around the work area, such as a magnetic rail to hold hand tools and a “honeycomb” of PVC tubes for storing cables. Compact LED strips provide suitable lighting while a power strip with both mains and USB sockets brings juice to the tools and projects.

Modifying pieces of IKEA furniture is nothing new; we’ve seen them turned into arcade cabinets and MP3 players. We’ve also covered several well-organized workspaces, but none as compact as this one. Thanks to [IrregularShed] for the tip.

Workshop Organization With Panels

Tired of all your completed (or half-completed) projects cluttering up your workspace? Or you toss them in a box and later forget which box? Well [Another Maker] aka [Develop With Dan] came up with a solution which he dubs Mission Control — panelize your projects and store them in one of many cubbyholes which are provided by a false wall.

Back view of an example project panel

Each project gets a panel and is neatly stored away when not in use. For some project, this could be simply for storage. For other projects, this might serve as a showcase. Occupying the center of Mission Control is a large monitor, presumably a permanent installation. It looks like there are two different sizes of panels, but we wonder whether more and smaller panels might be more useful. As he’s putting this together, we particularly like one piece of advice that [Dan] offers regarding his custom tool, the Cornerator 3000:

Never hesitate to make a jig when you want to repeat something.

[Dan] will be posting this workspace on his GitHub repository along with code and documentation for various projects he posts on YouTube. He’s also proud to have built this system out of 100% recycled material, or as he says, he went dumpster diving. Do you have a good system for storing / displaying projects in your lab? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ask Hackaday: How Small Is Your Shop?

Electronics, metalwork, carpentry, sewing — however you express your inner hacker, you’ve got to have a place to work. Most of us start out small, assembling projects on the kitchen table, or sharing space on a computer desk. But eventually, if we’re lucky, we all move on to some kind of dedicated space. My first “shop” was a corner of the basement my Dad used for his carpentry projects. He built me what seemed at the time like a huge bench but was probably only about five feet long. Small was fine with me, though, and on that bench I plotted and planned and drew schematics and had my first real lesson in why you don’t reach for a soldering iron without looking first. My thumb still bears that scar as a reminder.

Many of us outgrow that first tiny space eventually, as projects (and accumulated junk) outpace the available space. Some of us go on to build workspaces to die for; personally, I feel wholly inadequate whenever I see Frank Howarth’s immense wood shop, with its high ceilings, huge windows for natural light, and what amounts to a loading dock. Whenever I see it I think The work I could do in there!

Or could I? Is bigger necessarily better when it comes to workspaces? Would more space make me a better craftsman?

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Artificial Skylight Brings Sunlight To Any Room

Humans aren’t supposed to be cooped up indoors all day, but who wants to be bothered by UV rays, insects, allergens, traffic, physical activity, and other people? On the other hand, a gloomy living space generally inhibits productivity — if not making it difficult to find what you’re looking for. So, if you’re looking to illuminate any room in your place, and you have the cash and the patience to wait for its widespread release, CoeLux is a skylight that needs no sky or sun — not that you’ll be able to tell the difference.

The Italian developers [CoeLux Srl] are perhaps wisely remaining tight-lipped on how the effect is achieved, but confirm that nanoparticles in the skylight mimic the effect of atmospheric fluctuations, compressing that vast deep blue into a few milimetres while maintaining the perception of infinite depth.

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3D Printer Enclosure Is Pleasant On The Eyes And Ears

There’s a lot going on in the 3D printing world. Huge printing beds, unique materials like concrete, and more accessible, inexpensive printers for us regular folk. The only thing that’s often overlooked with these smaller printers is the ruckus that they can make. The sounds of all those motors can get tiresome after a while, which was likely the inspiration for [Fabien]’s home 3D printer workstation. (Google Translate from French)
After acquiring a new printer, [Fabien] needed a place to put it and created his own piece of furniture for it. The stand is made out of spruce and is lined with insulation. He uses a combination of cork, foam, and recycled rubber tile to help with heat, sound, and vibration respectively. Don’t worry, though, he did install a ventilation system for the fumes! After the printer housing is squared away, he place a webcam inside so that the user can monitor the print without disturbing it. Everything, including the current print, is managed with a computer on the top of the cabinet.
Having a good workspace is just as important as having a quality tool, and [Fabien] has certainly accomplished that for his new 3D printer. There have been a lot of good workspace builds over the years, too, including electronics labs in a portable box and this masterpiece workbench. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of working in an area that wasn’t designed for the task at hand, you’ll easily be able to appreciate any of these custom solutions.

Lighting Up A Workspace Twofer

desks

Sometimes a pair of extremely similar builds hit the Hackaday tip line within hours of each other. We’re not one to play favorites, so here’s two projects that put RGB LED strips in a desk and workbench.

[Charles] over at The Makers Workbench has long needed a lighting solution for his workspace. Flourescent lights are alright, but for real geek cred nothing but LED strips will do. He picked up an RGB strip on Amazon for $20 and now has a lighting solution that’s able to change colors above his workstation. Check out the video of his RGB workbench rave.

A computer desk is a workbench too, right? [Will] had the idea of letting people on the Internet control the lighting color of his desk. He’s asking people to head over to this site and asking people to schedule the color of his desk for an entire day. A Raspi pulls each day’s color off the server. With a few transistors, an RGB strip, a custom shield, and faking three PWM channels, [Will] has a new color at his desk every day.

Updating Your Workspace For More Organized And Efficient Hacking

workspace-upgrade

If you’ve ever looked at one of [Todd Harrison’s] teardown or how-to videos closely, you would likely notice that his work bench looks like a standard hacker workspace. While we all try to keep our work areas clear of clutter, it’s not uncommon for components to pile up, cords to tangle, and things to get messy. [Todd] decided it was time to get a bit more organized, so he recorded a video showing how he went about the process.

Part of [Todd’s] work revolved around adding shelves to his bench so that he didn’t have measurement equipment stacked on top of one another. He also spent a good amount of time adding 30 additional plug sockets to his work space, replacing the single socket he had been struggling with for years.

Obviously this is not really a hack in and of itself, though this sort of reorganization is an important to efficient hacking all the same. We like the fact that [Todd] took the time to explain his process and materials in great detail – it will no doubt be helpful to those new to hacking.

Continue reading to see [Todd’s] video in its entirety, or swing by his blog for more pictures and details.

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