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cubeberg

Setting up a workspace - setup suggestions?

4 posts in this topic

So I've been horribly quiet in the forums lately - mostly because of a lack of free time.  Since I don't have a dedicated work space - having to break down and set up tools, projects, etc. severely limits how much time I have on projects.  Thankfully - I'm getting a new house with my own room for projects as well as a garage!  I'm hoping this will mean more time to complete projects.

Most of my components are in cardboard boxes and plastic tubs - well organized but not exactly what I'd like for a nicely organized full workspace.  I know we've had threads for showing off your workspace - but I'd love to hear about what you like best about your workspaces or anything you think might be helpful since I haven't had a dedicated space before.

So - any suggestions on the following?  I'm definitely not afraid of making my own furniture as well.

  • Organization (small components to WIP projects)
  • Types of work spaces (large open table, bench with shelves, etc.)
  • Sites/videos with information that might be helpful (I'm thinking Adam Savage or Ben Heck videos for instance) 
  • Tools (not soldering iron or oscilloscope, more like magnifying glass, monitor holders, etc.)
  • That one thing that you find invaluable for your workspace.
  • Where to buy affordable stuff (I'm in the US, but non-US places might be good for other forum members)

I've heard Harbor Freight is bad for tools - but they seem to have pretty cheap component organization options, and I've got one near by.

And I'm trying to talk the wife into a hidden bookcase as the entrance.  Fingers crossed!  If I pull that one off - I'll have to post a video tour!

 

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For organizing cables, parts, and random stuff, I am using clear Samla Series boxes from Ikea:

  1. Small = 701.029.72
  2. Medium = 401.029.78
  3. Large = 801.029.76
  4. Huge = 001.029.75

There are more sub-types that these.

The benefits are:

  1. They stack on top of each other
  2. They are clear so you can see what's inside of them
  3. They all have matching lids to keep the dust out
  4. You can put slips of paper on the inside facing outwards to label the contents
  5. They are inexpensive

I have created two wall mounted shelving units to hold these boxes. This is the BOM for one of the shelving units:

  1. 4x Rubbermaid 70" black twin track uprights screwed into the wall studs
  2. 16x Rubbermaid 11.5" black twin track shelf brackets - 4x per shelf
  3. 1x sheet of 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" plywood cut into four 8' strips

The shelves are spaced so that two small Samla boxes can stack on top of each other comfortably.

I like the results.

 

cubeberg likes this

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A good bench is at the top of the list. I have an industrial assembly bench as my primary space with a work area of 1500mm by 700mm. It came with outlets mounted in the shelf faces, the front of the work area, and the back f the work area, but I ended up adding several more duplexes (4, for a total of 8 more) as well as a few 2A USB sources and an IEC320 strip (I scored a bunch of 600mm IECmale to female cords at Eli Heffron's back in the late '80s. They still come in handy) Power is key, and not just for electronics work, These power the scope, logic ananyzer, several meters, computer, monitors, power supplies, and several projects.

The bench has a lighted magnifier-on-a-stick which gets a LOT of use (I have about a half dozen mounted around the shop and the office. I am getting old and have had several eye injuries) as well as the optivisor and a bunch of loupes. My go-to style loupe is the jewelers style (black conical with a single lens) of 2.5 to 5X. The 5X and 10X Bauch and Lomb that clips onto my glasses gets a lot of use, as well. One good one costs as much as several cheapies, but the cheap ones are useless due to distortion. Go good with glass lenses. I also keep several powers of cheater reading glasses around as well as safety glasses with cheaters.

 

A stereo microscope gets a lot of use. High power isn't the key for electronics. It lets you work in a more comfortable position and focus without strain. I would love a Mantis, but can't justify the cost, so I have a 7.5 to 75X Nikon that spends most of the time at the 7.5X end. It also gets used for machinist work (I made a mount for the lathe and for the mill), and for measurement and for photography. If you can find one (craigslist is your best friend) an arm mount beats a base any day. It isn't too hard to make a mount, but it is nice to have it come with one.

 

My monitors are mounted to the back rail of the bench. Dual monitors (if I upgrade the machine, I'll go for three next time) of good size are a requirement to maximize workflow and reduce eyestrain from focal changes. It doesn't seem like it should matter, but it does. A lot. They also get use with the microscope camera for a lot of things when I prefer not to be staring down the eyepieces.

A decent workholding vise is nice. I made several for specific purposes, including board-holding.

If I was to name the MOST important thing, it is light. A lot of glare free light. I have about 5000lm/m^2 at the bench, from multiple directions, most diffuse sources, and have about another 10000lm available task lighting (fixed fluorescent and lamps on movable arms). About 20%  of this os LED floods, to give some shadowing and contrast, the rest being quite uniform from flourescent.. I use high color rendering index lights (90+) daylight (6500k) mostly. I have a few fixtures in the shop with warm (4500K) so it doesn't feel so clinical, but hte key is a LOT of light. Magnification comes right with this.

As I also use the space for woodwork and machining, I also have a bunch of vises for these tasks. A decent drill press vise can serve a lot of masters.  The one I get the most use from is an ancient, swap meet, palmgren 2-1/2" angle vise. Second is a dirt cheap ($2?) yard sale job with 1" and 1-1/2" jaws that rotates (no brand.... just "Japan"). The jaws on that needed a little dress with a file, and the vacuum holddown went to the trash, but it works a treat for everything from holding a probe in place to holding a micrometer suspended in mineral spirits during rebuild. I never had mch use for a panavise or equivalent, though I have had several, as they never seem to be rigid enough or be able to get to the position I need them in.

 

dubnet, cubeberg and bluehash like this

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6 hours ago, cubeberg said:

So I've been horribly quiet in the forums lately - mostly be cause of a lack of free time.  Since I don't have a dedicated work space - having to break down and set up tools, projects, etc. severely limits how much time I have on projects.  Thankfully - I'm getting a new house with my own room for projects as well as a garage!  I'm hoping this will mean more time to complete projects.

Most of my components are in cardboard boxes and plastic tubs - well organized but not exactly what I'd like for a nicely organized full workspace.  I know we've had threads for showing off your workspace - but I'd love to hear about what you like best about your workspaces or anything you think might be helpful since I haven't had a dedicated space before.

So - any suggestions on the following?  I'm definitely not afraid of making my own furniture as well.

  • Organization (small components to WIP projects)
  • Types of work spaces (large open table, bench with shelves, etc.)
  • Sites/videos with information that might be helpful (I'm thinking Adam Savage or Ben Heck videos for instance) 
  • Tools (not soldering iron or oscilloscope, more like magnifying glass, monitor holders, etc.)
  • That one thing that you find invaluable for your workspace.
  • Where to buy affordable stuff (I'm in the US, but non-US places might be good for other forum members)

I've heard Harbor Freight is bad for tools - but they seem to have pretty cheap component organization options, and I've got one near by.

And I'm trying to talk the wife into a hidden bookcase as the entrance.  Fingers crossed!  If I pull that one off - I'll have to post a video tour!

 

Yeah, first off. Avoid anything from Harbor freight if you hate spending good money after bad. Their parts boxes with clear plastic drawers where you have say 4-5 across, and 8 high( or whatever ) are garbage. My buddy bought like ten of these, and less than a year later the drawers, and boxes started disintegrating. All of their other stuff is garbage too. Search youtube for "harbor freight", and get the gist.

As for the one thing I personally find "most desirable". That would be more work space. Our place has lots of work space, but not where I spend most of my time. In my own area, I'm constantly struggling to keep space clear for development boards, prototypes, etc as I develop software and test the hardware. I even built a 4'x8'( full sheet plywood ) workbench, that is a bit higher than waist high to make it easy to work on things while standing. Off of one corner, I have a one of the 4x4 legs built up with stacked 2x6's( screwed together ) to accommodate a custom built, by me, swing arm for my laptop Pretty much, I was given  the base for this, and I welded together galvanized pipe, and angle iron as the post mount, and then 3 other pieces of pipe for the laptop base to swivel on.

Anyway, I did not really plan all of this from the start, so it does not work out the way I had hoped. So I think the best possible thing you could probably do is draw up several plans, until you're happy with something for making the best possible use of your space. Then gives you what you want.

Also, at first thought, it may make sense to keep your electronic design space separate from your software development space. Which make total sense to me too. However, if we're talking about constantly moving between the garage and an in house room. That could present its self as a problem. So it may make better sense to *somehow* do all this inside your room, and keep the garage for other things like . . . I don't know project box fabrication, etc, if you're into that sort of thing.

As for a good place to find related tools ? I find amazon a good place to start looking sometimes, but may not necessarily purchase form amazon. Or sometimes I'll just google, find something, then check to see if amazon has comparable prices. But I also am an Amazom Prime member, So I usually get free shipping on everything.

So maybe, consider buying some cabinets to hang on the wall above your work benches, so all you have to do is stand up to grab something that may not always need to be on the bench. Then have your benches shallow enough to be  able to do that. Maybe 2-3 feet from the wall out. This way, you could potentially span a whole wall with one long bench, then have storage above in easily accessible cabinets. Or you could do a whole room like this is you wish, Which we've done here. Several rooms actually. As for monitors, do you really need more than one ? I know, I prefer at least dual monitors too for documentation, and editor type situations, but you may only need one. But if you need a single, double or even triple stand, Amazon has a wide variety of stands. Also keep in mind that some 4K monitors can be partitioned into 4 separate 1080p screen areas. So basically giving the possibility to have 4 screens displayed on 1. If something like that would work for you.

With all that said, I think the most important thing you could do is start thinking about what you need, and want. Then start drawing up plans until you're happy with what you've come up with.

 

 

bluehash and cubeberg like this

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