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Author Topic: Station furniture  (Read 2986 times)

Posts: 74

« on: September 14, 2004, 07:16:50 PM »

Some of the stations showcased have really beautiful furniture.

Are you all custom building, or are there companies who either produce such furniture, or plans for building at home?

Posts: 82

« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2004, 10:37:47 PM »

I couldn't find a desk that did exactly what I wanted so I just built one.  I found the best selection of desks that looked almost like they were designed for radios at Staple's, Office Depot, and Office Max.  They just didn't have exactly what I was looking for.  Measure your operating location, your radios and accesories, and just go look at the stores.  You should be able to pick up a free catalog at all of them.  Alternately, you could look at some of the furniture designed for computer rooms.  I saw some that were very neat looking (unfortunately also very expensive).  If you decide to go the route of building your own, email me a "callsign"  I will try to help (mainly let you know what mistakes I made so you can avoid them).

Good Luck

Posts: 47


« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2004, 01:22:04 AM »

Hi Scott, Station furniture has three rules, just like real estate. 1.Ergonomics. 2.Ergonomics. 3.Ergonomics.
You may have the finest piece of handcrafted furniture in the world, but if you can't operate your equipment comfortably for extended periods of time, or if you can't reach and adjust all necessary equipment without straining or getting out of your seat, that piece of furniture is worthless. To determine what's best for YOU, several things must be considered. What are your operating style and habits. If you are only into VHF/UHF FM repeaters, your needs are simple. You only need room for the radio and PS, maybe a small rotor control. You will probably want your computer available on the same desk top. Lots of good units available at Staples, Office Max, etc.. Just remember that you want a fair amount of open space on the desk top, and the computer monitor at least 20" from your eyes for easy viewing. The open space is nice for reading magazines or books, notebooks, coffee mug and maybe a snack. If you're a casual HF operator, your needs won't be much different except that your equipment will probably be a bit larger, and there will be more acessories. (tuner, SWR meter, etc) Make sure there's room for them, DON'T sacrifice the open space! If you are a CW operator, serious DXer or contester, the ergonomics of your setup can make or break you. I cringe when I see some of the station pictures posted here on eham. Stacks of fine equipment on expensive pieces of furniture. All of the equipment is situated within 4"-6" of the front of the desk. That entire 4"-6" is taken up be a set of paddles, keyboard, desk mic, etc. First, the aforementioned points for open space still apply. For the CW operator, its very tiring to send CW when you can't rest most of your forearm on the desk. This leads to poorly sent CW. Now for the DXer and contester. These guys tend to sit for hours at a time (more on chairs later), and frequently tune caross the bands and makeing adjustments. Again, if you can't rest most of your forearm on the desk while doing this, it leads to premature fatigue. It's much easier to dig out that weak one when you have precise control of your radio, and this means a steady hand; arm support greatly enhances this. So what do I use? I have a 5'X 30" steel office table, with one big shallow drawer in the middle.All of my equipment sits 14" from the front of the desk, the monitors are 20"-25" from my eyes. (The distance my optomotrist set my glasses at) I have a series of wooden shelves to hold the equipment. My goal was to have a two position operating desk (That's why the table, so two guys could sit side by side)that would still be comfortable for a single operator. Two HF radio along with a few other acessories sit on the desk top. (SWR meters, speakers, DSP unit, rotor control, etc.) The next shelf up is 3" above the radios. Here are two monitors in the middle, and two HF amps to the right, stacked, each on its own shelf to provide good air flow. The bottom AMP is for the left operating position, it can be adjusted without interference to the right position. On a shelf above the monitors are  the antenna tuners. Power supplies and main computer units are under the table. The table is 2 feet from the wall so I can walk behind it and make connections easily. This is what works for ME. It fits my requirements. Your needs will be different. Identify those needs, THEN go shopping. Just remember to leave plenty of open space on the desk and set the equipment far enough back. You'll never regret it. On to chairs. Staples, Office Max, etc. all have sales on good chairs on a regular basis. Try them all out! You're probably going to want one that has a thick, comfortable seat cushion. (and not lumpy) Other that that, it gets personal. Do you want arms on the chair? Padded arms? Do you tend to lean forward most of the time, or do you need one with good back support? Try lots of them out. Just get one that's going to be comfortable for at least as long as you plan on sitting there. BTW, most larger cities have used office furniture stores. These are often a source of great bargains.                    73, Bob

Posts: 2

« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2004, 06:44:05 PM »

Scott:  I had the same problem. The desks at the Office Max and other such stores are often made from cheap particle board then covered with a very thin layer of contact paper that looks like wood. These will actually sag from their own weight let alone from the weight of your equipment. However, I did find the Bush Delta series of desk components to be of good solid construction with very thick tops and strong steel supports. I have a corner unit and a straight unit and you can get the straight units in 3'  4' and 5 ft  lengths. The straight units are 30 in in depth which allow some arm support when tuning around or running cw  etc. The corner unit is very deep and allows lots of room for your arms to rest comfortably. In my opnion they are handsome as well. Take a look at the Staples and Office Max websites. Remember though, stay away from the cheap and wimpy particle board . It is worthless when it sags.  Good luck,  Max  

Posts: 82

« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2004, 08:39:17 PM »

I second the thoughts on getting your desk top deep enough.  I built my stuff and the biggest mistake I made was having 24" deep desktops.  30" is the Minimum!  See my profile to see what I'm talking about.  I can get by with this since my keyboard and the laptop are on seperate sliding shelves under the desktop.  If you build your own, the desk/table top should be about 30" above the floor.  A really good chair is a definite requirement.  Plan on a minimum of $70 and probably more.  Stay away from the particle board furniture.  It will absorb moisture, sag and warp, and look pretty bad after less than a year.  For the price of a particle board desk, you can make your own that is similiar, but will last nearly forever.

Good Luck

Posts: 9930

« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2004, 09:20:55 PM »

look at my picture here on the look up..

I used 10 foot long white melamine counter ( kitchen counter at home depot  around $70) 34 inch tall under counter cabinets for support, and cut a second top in half ( 40/60 ) for the two shelves and used white melamine shelves for supports... works well for me..

I also put a cleat in the wall in the back to fasten to wall and help support the load.. Iused a 6' tall, 2' wide cabinet on end for more storage..

you can  fix it the way you like it..  I would add 1 thing.. I would mount a quiet fan blowing sideways behind all the shelves to move a bit of air behind equipment.  I will do this on next revision.

 thanks to ed and bob  kg6ndo and k6zoe for all the help..

tom N6AJR

Posts: 23

« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2004, 08:42:44 PM »

I have about $200 in my new console.  I used a 36" by 80" solid core oak door from Menards for the main operating table. Cost me about $48.  The rest is 2 hollow core 24" by 80" doors for the side desk and equipment shelf. The rest is a 2 by 4 framework and pieces of paneling for sliding doors to hide the wiring behind the equipment and face off the cabinets.  If you are at all handy with tools you should be able to build something similar. Put a couple coats of Minwax combination stain/varnish and you are set for quite a while.  Look up my callsign on Eham or QRZ and you can see the result.
                         Mike  WA8EBM
if you are serious about building I will send you more pictures.

Posts: 179

« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2004, 12:14:11 PM »


I currently use a second hand LAN desk. These typically are priced from $1000.00 to $5000.00 new, but with a little patient’s one can be had on Ebay for a few hundred dollars. The flexibility these desks offer is amazing. Almost every component is adjustable for the user’s requirements.

I have also found that most of them come with AC outlets and ground busses handy for hooking in all the ham goodies one can buy. Every one I have seen listed come standard with wheels on the base, making it easy pull the whole desk from the wall for cable installations or adjustments.

The one I use came with cable trays which are handy for hiding all those eye sore looking cables. Furthermore, the sides are slotted for good ventilation of you equipment. Keep in mind these where designed to hold heavy electronics equipment. Mine is rated for 900 lbs which is overkill, but again that leaves much room for upgrades!

I am a contester and found that I can sit at this desk and operate for hours without much fatigue. Every component is reachable from the center of the desk without strain. The monitor sits dead center and displays everything that is going on with my equipment. I can even operate using nothing, but the computer if desired. You can tilt all of the shelves at any angle you wish, but even better adjust all the heights to fit your specific needs.

If you would like to see pictures of this configuration I would be happy shoot some and send them via email. Hope this helps!


Rich Miller

Posts: 80

« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2004, 05:22:17 PM »

I knew I couldn't buy what I needed so I built it.  But wow, the cost of materials doesn't make it all that cheap anymore.  One suggestion:  Flat black paint.  It hides boo boos, goes with anything, makes a bad job look almost professional and draws attention away to the gear.
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