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Author Topic: How much Desk space in front of radios?  (Read 2896 times)

Posts: 26

« on: May 21, 2008, 04:09:21 PM »

I am dedicating a corner of my home office to my Ham radio. I will be making may table and shelves myself. This will be on the opposite wall of my "PC Shack".

The desk will have an "L" shape.

- The right leg of the "L" will be about six-seven feet of desk space (Ham-dedicated open space/homebrew/and Laptop to the far right)

- The left leg of the "L" will 4'-5' wide, and probably 10"-11" deep for books/magazine shelves, only as high as the desk.

- In the corner will be the radios and gear (Kenwood TS-830S, VFO-240, Tuner AT-230). They will be directly in the center of the corner. Behind the radios will a triangular shaped open space for cables and grounds.

Question #1: I want to make sure that I have a comfortable space between the front of the radios, and the edge of the desk. Is there a standard amount of space that is preferred in front of the radios in general?

Questins #2: When I build the simple radio shelving, I will have the choice of having the first row directly on the desk (less likely) or elevating the firt row of equipment (more likley). Is there a suggested hight fo the first row of equipment?

I am planning to have the first row of: Tranceiver/VFO, and the second row: Tuner/Speaker...maybe in the future I will have Tuner/Radio/VFO, then second row of Monitor/speaker/patch/other.

Appreciate any feedback or direction to other sites that speak about the bio-mechanical requirements for Ham shack desks.

Thanks so much!

Posts: 21836

« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 05:19:14 PM »

Equipment front panels should be back from the front edge of the operating bench or desk at least the distance from your elbow to your fingertips, whatever that is (varies by the person).

I never use a bench or desk that's not at least 30" deep, but usually more like 36" to be comfortable.  24 or 28" definitely won't cut it, at all -- not even for somebody really short.

A "shelf" height above the bench should be 6" higher than the tallest piece of equipment on the bench.  If your tallest piece of gear (plan for the future, with 14" high amplifiers perhaps) is 14", then I'd make the shelf 20" above the bench.  Reason is, to allow for adequate ventilation of the equipment on the bench.

A tuner is a commonly adjusted item, I wouldn't put it out of reach while sitting and operating.  Less frequently adjusted items, or never adjusted items, like power supplies, speakers, wattmeters, the "shack telephone," maybe a monitor scope, etc. can go up on the shelf.  I'd keep the tuner within arm's reach.  If you don't adjust the tuner, there's no reason to have one!


Posts: 4283


« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2008, 09:42:00 AM »

Is there a standard amount of space that is preferred in front of the radios in general?

Enough so that your elbow will be able to rest comfortably on the desk top.

Is there a suggested hight fo the first row of equipment?

No, but for me, I have my DSP filters resting on the desk and the radio is on the first shelf above them.  I do this so that when I extend my arm, my hand doesn't have to dip lower than anatomically natural to turn the VFO.  The rotators are on anothe shelf above the radios.

Posts: 1042

« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2008, 02:34:48 PM »

I don't like to have to hold up my arm to adjust a VFO knob, so all of my radios that require any sort of adjustment are right on the desk.

I've got 15-17" of space for keyboard, mouse, mike, logbook or whatever.

I don't have a huge station however, by some standards.  You can see my desk on the zed if you are interested.

I've seen the lowest shelf just a few inches up - enough to slide keyboard and keys under the radios - that too might work though I've not tried it.

I've seen some super-fancy stations with everything custom fitted - the only thing that I worry about with that sort of work is what do you do when you want to change the rig?  Maybe you reach a certain point with equipment that I have not achieved.

Anyway, I find that a 6' long desk is about enough for one operating position, otherwise stuff is too far away to reach.  After that, make two different operating stations if you have that much gear.

My idea of real shack luxury would be to have a 3'-6" aisle behind the equipment desk for wiring and service access.  Of course, I'd love a three or four section rack with table too while we are fantasizing eh?

Posts: 21836

« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2008, 02:46:44 PM »

 >RE: How much Desk space in front of radios?  Reply  
by KB9CRY on May 22, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
Anyway, I find that a 6' long desk is about enough for one operating position, otherwise stuff is too far away to reach. After that, make two different operating stations if you have that much gear.<

::Heh, heh, heh...just wait.  Even in my current very "downsized" shack I have 12' of horizontal operating space (desk height), and this is cut way back from what it once was.  Just use a chair with casters to roll around.

In my NJ shack my operating bench wrapped three walls of a 16' x 18' room for 52' of linear space, 30" deep, at desk height for equipment and another 52' of linear space, 30" deep, at head height for accessories.  That shack had four chairs with casters and six boom mikes, footswitches and keyers for six stations that could operate simultaneously.

Trust me, that ain't big.  It's tiny, compared to many "multi-multi" contest stations.

I fully agree with the comment about making the benches spaced far enough away from the wall that you can walk behind them to change cables and service stuff.  If your room's big enough, that is a terrific luxury and makes changes/servicing so much easier.


Posts: 364

« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2008, 07:55:46 PM »

I just saw this topic and thought I would jump in. I agree with Steve on the finger tips to elbow distance for desk top space in front of the equipment. As we grow older our hands are not as steady as they were during our youth. I am in my 70's and the almost 19" I have from rig, amp, and tuner knobs to where my elbow rests works out just great. But even if I were young again I would not want any other set up. I have plenty of room for my log book, mike, and key. It's as they say, very ergonomic.


Posts: 45

« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2008, 09:06:15 AM »

I disagree some with the "elbow to finger tip" advice.

First figure out how yo want to operate - sitting upright in a chair, reclining or relaxing in the chair. Then put the items that require the most tuning/interaction at a comfortable distance. If yo like to lean back in your chair then leaning forward and covering that "elbow to finger tip" distance can get tiring very quickly.

Also remember to leave adequate ventilation height between your shelves. Rigs can get quite warm and need room for air flow.
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