Sunday, May 5, 2013

How did I Join the Uprising

Updated: 01/12/2015. New version of this project you can see here .

In March 2013 letter from Make magazine there was summary: why people are concerned with DIY. Among reasons economy  was mentioned: “Making is often cheaper than buying”. From my experience it is seldom true. In our highly specialized society making things cheaper than you can buy them is quite a rare case. But it still happens sometimes. Project described here is an example.

People who work in the office or from home spend most of their active time sitting: while working, in the car or in the bus/train during commute. It would be much healthier to switch from sitting to standing position from time to time while working . I looked what kind of furniture can help me to do that. Indeed there are some vendors producing sit-n-stand stations. Especially I liked the advertisement from Ergotron company The Uprising: JustStand! .  The ad  is pretty smart and funny,workstation is doing exactly what’s needed, allowing to change from sitting to standing position without job interruption. While such a  workstation is not cheap (~330$ - 420$) it is still affordable. But when I evaluated  its functionality I came to conclusion that it is possible to  implement it differently with almost the same user experience and for less money. I did  couple of visits to the local hardware stores, revised what I have in the attic, and dedicated two weekends to make adjustable monitor/keyboard station .

These photos show my station at the bottom position and when it moved to the top.

Here is the drawings which reveals details about  inner construction. Monitor desk is integrated with keyboard desk. To the sides of the desk attached inner parts of sliders. Outer parts of sliders attached to the side walls of the tower. The desk can move into vertical direction up and down together with  LCD monitor and keyboard on it. Tower is set on the top of the table and  walls of the tower is tied to the table with metal corners providing the needed stability. When desk is at the bottom position it rests on the table, two hinges attached to the edges of tower walls are turned outside.  While at the top position desk rests on the two hinges which now are turned inside.

Important part of the design is counterweight system. Weight of the desk with monitor, keyboard and mouse reaches 17 pounds. It is too heavy to easily move it (especially down). Four pulleys together with rope and 5 pounds weight  creates system which compensates most part of the desk weight. Pulleys 1,2 and 3 creates  3 times mechanical advantage . Pulley 4 changes force direction. As a result 5 pounds weight creates 15 pounds counterweight.  This is not really a high tech but what worked for Archimedes 2300 years ago may work for me as well, right?

And here is how actually pulleys 1 and 3 mounted:

Let us calculate price of the project.

1. Pair of draw sliders: $14.99 (Ace Hardware)
2. Two pairs of metal patio door wheels (to use as  pulleys): $6.99*2=$13.98 (Ace Hardware )
3. Fourteen metal corners: $0.69*14=$9.66
4. Two shelf tablette 35” long to make tower walls: $8.99*2=$17.98 (Eames local hardware store)
5. One shelf tablette 23” long to make  keyboard desk: $5.29 (Eames local hardware store)
6. Pair of hinges: 2.99 (Ace hardware)
7. Two C-clamps to tie the LCD monitor to the monitor desk: $1.99*2=$3.98 (Ace hardware)
8. Pair of wooden knobs for hinges: $1.99 (Ace hardware)  
9. Five pounds training weight (used): $2.99 (Play-It-Again store).

So the whole price of the project would be:

$14.99+$13.98+$9.66+$17.98+$5.29+$3.98+ $2.99 + $1.99 = $72.87

Some stuff I found in my attic (leftover from previous projects),namely:
a) wood for tower roof and monitor desk;
b) metal rods to attach keyboard desk to monitor desk;
c) soft material to wrap up weight so it will not hit room wall while moving (I have used old mouse pads here);
d) some screws and Elmer glue.  
I am not sure what will be the cost of this stuff if I need to buy it,  probably $25-$30.

I would tell that for DIY this project is rather  expensive but anyway the whole price is under $100. Saving compare to Ergotron workstation (which is cheapest among the available on the market)  exceeds $200.

And eventually here is the video which shows the process of bringing the  monitor desk from the top position to the bottom and then back to the top.

I have used this station for more than month and I am quite satisfied with it.  Maybe it does not look so neat as Ergotron but it meets my expectations. Having sit-n-stand station at home give me a reason to telecommute more often (Can do that,  I do not work for Yahoo).