Feb 4 2010

Building the (old) work desk…

As some of you may already know, I’m somewhat of an eccentric; this post may do nothing short of confirm that I am indeed, a bit nuts. I am going to document some of my more random ideas as I’m entering a phase in my life where I am in a position to actually bring some of them to life.

For a little background on this particular project, I recently moved from Haydock to Bristol and with this I had to prioritize on what I really needed compared to what I had simply collected over the last 7-8 years of building an IT company. I did however get news from my business partner and new housemate that as he has a bigger room than the one I was moving into, he would happily let me house one of my desks next to his.

This was due to be ideal, it would mean that because his room is directly above mine, I could wander up and work on my machine in his room so that we could collaborate in person and not via something like Google Wave or phone.

This left only one problem, the machine! The desk itself was a rather standard black desk; nothing special by any means. This was easily sorted by screwing some 9mm ply to the underside of the desk, removing the top and then attaching it with a piano hinge. This turned a standard desk into something I could open, store stuff in and in turn have a little extra space. This is when it hit me…

“Ooooh! I know! I have a spare Dell machine that doesn’t really seem to work too well. Perfect!…The desk!”

…and thus the project was born. After finding a set of parts that would actually enable this machine to work, I began to build it into the desk. As it stands now, it all works, really well. But this is not the end of it, there needs to be more!

The critical information, the machine itself. It was a Dell something or other that was donated to me after completing some other work for a friend. The machine was dead, nothing I seemed to change would actually let it work. As far as I could tell, the only thing I hadn’t changed was the motherboard. It would begin to work and then just stop. Random things that could not be pinned down to anything logical.

We had problems installing windows, new RAM, optical drive, hard drive, still no joy. Let’s try Linux, 6 versions later and only one would actually boot up. This made no sense! Everything that could be swapped, had been. Things that where on the board were replaced by cards, still nothing.

After taking the board out of the box, building a custom frame out of ABS plastic to hold the heatsink onto the CPU and then building some other custom cooling, Blue Peter style, I managed to get something I could test on a table. I took the standard PSU out of the same case, hooked that up. Some RAM that I had kicking about, a random SATA hard drive I had laid around and some other bits. I pressed power and it worked!

The desk! Typically, it wouldn’t fit; the computer was far too tall. Here’s where the simple ideas work the best. I grabbed some longer screws and lowered the boards under the desk, this worked. It’s not pretty but it works. After a lot of playing around with locations, holding things together with pipe cleaners, removing anything that wasn’t actually useful and trying again, it lives.

The picture below gives you a rough idea of how it looks up to now. More will be done in the very near future and more information will be added as soon as there is something to post.

Desk PC

The build so far