“Über Computer Desk” or “A Nerd’s Dream Small-Footprint Workstation”

Desk - 1Not only am I a not-unskilled woodworker, but I am also one of the biggest I.T.-junkies in this outport… come to think of it, that isn’t saying much considering we don’t even have broadband… I digress. Right now I’m trying my best to function on a wicked laptop that my darling wife bought me the day of our wedding (23 August 2013), which happens to be an HP Envy 17 J010-ca, a 17″ (non-1080p, alas) 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ, 8gb DDR3, NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M with 2048MB DDR3 dedicated and Beats Audio quad speakers and two subwoofers. Not a terrible machine, to be honest. However, for many of my drafting needs, and some of my PHP/MySQL programming needs, I’d rather have more. Much more. To that end, I bring you the Über Computer Desk, version… uhh… twelve or thirteen, I guess.

Desk - 3I’ve designed this one with a triple monitor layout, a 36″ 1080p in landscape orientation for the centre main screen, and twin 22″ 1080p montiors in portrait orientation left and right. These monitors are attached using spacers on hinged wings all attached to the backer board using a french cleat and 4 bolts, but more on that later. These monitors are free-swinging, so that they can accommodate the ideal viewing angle for the user. They have been positioned, vertically, so that the very centre of the monitors will be at the eye-level of a user of typical height (5’10” or 1.778m) siting in an office chair who’s arms are at right-angles to the keyboard (yes, I actually calculated that). The three lines are the visual angles that run perpendicular to the screen’s exact centre. The gusset holes you see bored into the back boards of each cupboard, drawer and keyboard tray are for cable management, and the cupboards themselves will have two doors a piece, to make less stress on the hinges and to avoid obstructions through overly large door-swing. These four cupboards are each 8″ deep, 20″ wide and 6.75″ tall. This should accommodate a great variety of small form-factor PC peripherals, and the top of the cupboards are available for additional space. The sides of these cupboards are also vacant real-estate for stereo speakers, as are the sides of the desk below the desk-top for 5.1 surround. The monitors can swing upon their own hinges to rest flat against the back board for unobstructed access to the entire desk surface (5′ by 2′, ~1.5m by 0.6m).

Desk - 2Under the desk top, we have three drawers on the left. The bottom two are capable of accommodating a legal-sized file folder that will ride on grooves that can be carved via a dado set into the top of the drawer. The top drawer is 5.75″ deep. The keyboard tray, and all other drawers, run on 24″ full-extension drawer slides, the filing cabinets have double-sets to accommodate the added weight of a full drawer of files. The two drawers in the top right are for pens, pencils, markers and similar stationary, they measure 6.25″ by 3″ tall and, like all drawers and trays, measure 23″ long at full extension. The middle drawer is vented by two 120mm fans and has two gusset holes for cabling. This drawer is designed for heat-generating and occasional access appliances like Optical drives, USB hardware and the like. This drawer slides all the way out and the lid hinges away from the user for better sound-suppression and is sealed against unwanted air infiltration. The two fans are placed in opposite blow-direction to create an air cycle, and an example of products sampled have a running noise rating of under 6db at full speed. The drawer below is similarly designed for air-control and noise reduction, and contains the main computer hardware. This drawer has an interior height of 13″, a width of 15″ (the motherboard is mounted on the bottom, as seen), and a depth of 23″. This layout will, in effect, provide a great deal more space to organize technology, especially with all storage media in the top drawer, connected by longer SATAIII cables to reach the added length of two fully-extended drawers at an extreme case of use. All fans have HEPA filters attached to capture dust and have been specifically chosen for low dB ratings.

Desk - 4

The monitors, seen here, are designed to be hinged, and have spacers that stack to accommodate monitors of varying shapes and sizes. For the purposes of this specific unit, side monitors were chosen with bezels that would match the centre monitor in the configuration shown. These spacers can be adjusted to include a french cleat system and be capable of sliding left and right to adjust. This way the viewing angle can be adjusted and all bezel corners can cleanly meet at the edges of the central monitor. For the purposes of cable management, holes have been provided for all wiring to be snaked through to the back plane of the desk and be stapled or strapped into position, as seen in the next image.

Desk - 5The back plane has been specifically designed to accomodate all the cabling and wiring potential for the desk. Each of the drawers has a 2″ circular hole drilled, capable of accommodating a plastic gusset insert available at most office supply stores. The main supporting lumber is 2″x4″ milled to 1.5″x3.5″, providing ample space for cabling solutions. One cabling solution would be to provide a Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) and/or Surge Protector with Splitter in the top drawer, or the bottom filing cabinet drawer, and have holes designed to allow space for the increased/concentrated wiring demand. This would allow a single plug to extend beyond the desk and into an outlet, while all other wiring needs would be included. Supplimental power infrastructure could be provided in one of the overhead cupboards, to supply power to AC-dependent peripherals. The above-portion of the cupboards would also provide a safe location for a printer, given the net-depth of 10.25″ and acceptable overhang of the device.

This desk does away with a conventional computer tower in favor of a more tailored and integrated design. Given the nature of full-extension drawer slides, once installed, the whole computer unit could be withdrawn and removed from the rails without need of tools. The power could be removed from the computer PSU and cabling removed from the peripheral drawer above.

Thorough cost-analysis of this product is not yet complete, but is estimated at approximately $400.00, in addition to any monitors cabling and IT components and other technology. Given the nature of the active cooling design, incorporation of closed-loop liquid cooling and carefully chosen power demand, with the option for supplemental fan cut-outs, this desk package will provide both an ultra quiet and ultra heat controlled solution to geek furniture.


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