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I really wanted a geek desk, but they're like 1,000 dollars. So I built my own for about 200 bucks (not including top). This is simply a regular desk that can rise up with a push of a button and turn into a standing desk. It takes about one minute to raise, speedier linear actuators are expensive. 

Parts
Pair of linear actuators (found on eBay for 150)
Premium pine (Home Depot 50 bucks)
12v power supply (found in my electronics junk box)
wire
screws
electrical tape

Tools
miter saw
drill
clamps
wire cutters
stapler

Step 1: Design

I wanted to figure out how this thing would all fit together before I started making any cuts. So I drafted a 3D mock up in Autodesk Maya. I know Maya is usually used for animation, but it’s what I know, and it works. I wanted to take my current IKEA desk and just swap out the static legs for dynamic columns.

Can you post a link to the actuators because I don't see them on ebay?
<p>Search for a better manufacture on height adjustable office table furniture, please refer to this manufacture: Foshan Changteng Intelligent Home Furnishing.<br>For better undetstand it, here is their web: <a href="http://www.gdhsmart.com." rel="nofollow"> www.gdhsmart.com.</a></p><p>Actually they also make the international Selling by Alipay. something just like Ebay, but it's in China.</p>
looks like the seller only has a 12 inch stroke pair listed right now. But I bet you can contact them to see if they have 18 inch stroke actuators available. http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-TWO-Heavy-Duty-12-Inch-Linear-Actuator-Wring-Switch-Kit-225lb-12-Volt-DC-/400330190977?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&amp;hash=item5d3589f081&amp;vxp=mtr
How did you synchronize two dc actuators !!?? I don't know how to figure out....
<p>Looks great. I want to make a similar set up for a 6X8 foot table top so it will be heavy. Do you think this will work for 4 legs? Any suggestions?</p>
<p>Great article!</p><p>I am interested in doing a similar project.</p><p>Please, May you post/publish the project Autodesk Maya mock up file?</p><p>It was not clear for me how to mount the desk legs mechanism. </p><p>I appreciate any help you can give me</p>
<p>Sure thing, I added the Maya file to my site: Check it out here: http://justinwilcott.com/height-adjustable-desk/</p>
<p>It took some time, but I finally build a very nice desk based off this idea.</p>
Wow! Really nice job.
<p>Thank you for this very nice instructable, makes the project look easy.</p><p>Once I get to round to gather the parts and do it, I ll post my effort.</p>
nice<br>
<p>I was wondering if you could do this as a pedestal table with just one support. I don't need that much clearance. That would take out the synchronization issue. Probably have to use a much more heavy duty actuator though. Great article! Thanks!</p>
<p>Might do this in a few weeks, here is a great option I just found on ebay for actuators, 12&quot; and 14mm/s (or .5 inches per second).</p><p>http://www.ebay.com/itm/Set-of-2PCS-12-Stroke-1000N-220lbs-12V-Linear-Actuators-Wireless-Control-Kits-/191611653852?hash=item2c9cf1cedc </p>
Not to be a Luddite and playing around with limit switches, breadboards and all are way cool, but I think I'd look at setting up a couple of 1:4 cable purchases inside the legs, and snare a couple of $10 hydraulic bottle jacks from Harbor Freight. You could cross-plumb the jacks so they'd always produce identical force, and get &quot;calibrated&quot; every time the table comes all the way down. $25 for 4 double sheaves from Home Depot, $20 for the bottle jacks and $0 for electrical design or troubleshooting. If you wanted to get fancy, order some bare ball-bearing sheaves, use stainless cable (or Spectra!), build the whole thing of Lucite. Watch it work. <br> <br> Heck, both my Prius and Jetta have &quot;pump-em-up&quot; adjusters on their drivers seats. Who needs electronics?
<p>I love this idea...Did you ever try it out?</p>
<p>No, but this type of setup is pretty common on sailboats--used for things like raising/lowering centerboards and canting lead keels, raising outboard motors and the like. @<a href="/member/MrRedwood/" rel="nofollow">MrRedwood</a>; the need for the sheaves/pulleys is in order to increase the throw, using a 1:2 or even 1:3 purchase. The bottle jack's good for 2 tons ($10 cheapie) reducing that by half or even 2/3 isn't going to break the deal. Use high quality/low cost pulleys/sheaves. Like these: https://garhauermarine.com/index.cfm</p>
<p>I'm thinking about building something using these materials over the summer. I'm having trouble visualizing how exactly you are putting these materials together. Can you post a basic draw-up of this jack-cable-sheave system?</p>
As far as I can see from some webpage reviews, the throw of a bottle jack is pretty limited &mdash; five to eight inches? To switch from a sitting to a standing desk requires about fifteen inches or so.<br> <br> I'm thinking about using a dampened gas strut or two repurposed from some minivan for this, instead.
<p>I think I'm going to try this with these: <a href="http://www.harborfreight.com/3-ton-super-heavy-duty-long-ram-hydraulic-flat-bottom-jack-36468.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.harborfreight.com/3-ton-super-heavy-dut...</a> <br>These jacks go from 24&quot; to 44&quot; which I think should be plenty. I'll just leave a cut out in the side of the bases for the pump handles. May not be as cool as the electronic, but I figure it will be cheaper, easier to set up, and more reliable (anything electronic seems to be doomed to give out).</p>
I think a gas strut would be the next step in simplifying this design. Please post if you give it a try!
I like hydraulics, myself. Tractor supply sells or can order just about any size ram cylinder.
<p>Great Job, and article. It insprired me to make my own very version. Very similar to your design, execept, mine just slide under my existing work table. Now I stand/sit during day. it great. My link: <a href="http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/~denault/notes/standup_desk/" rel="nofollow">http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/~denault/notes/standup_desk/</a></p>
Wow! It looks great. I'm so happy to have inspired you to make :)
<p>Great article. It inspired me to may my own very. Very similar, but mine slides under my existing work table. Feel better standing or sitting as I choose. A link with more info on my built</p><p><a href="http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/~denault/notes/standup_desk/" rel="nofollow">http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/~denault/notes/stand...</a></p>
I've read in other places (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?194702-How-to-build-an-electronically-height-adjustable-desk) that the actuators can sometimes be &quot;out of sync,&quot; with one moving up at a different rate than the other, causing some desk wobble. Does this happen to you? Maybe the actuators you bought have some mechanism for preventing it?
I'm build one like this with actuators that are pretty much out of sync (10 to 20 sec.). I slow the faster one down using PM with an ATmega8.
Great question. This pair stays in sync really well. I haven't had a wobble yet. The only thing I've noticed is one will finish about one second sooner or later than the other. Which is unnoticeable as far as tilt of the table surface. There might be something in the wiring kit that helps with this, I'm not sure.
<p>Your instruction is quite helpful. And thanks for posting these tips in the internet. If you don't mind will you please add more detail how you attached the linear actuators to the legs? I am planning to made for myself too, But I haven't did that yet.</p>
I am looking to do something similar and appreciate your sharing in detail this project. The power supply you are using looks rather small ...what DC voltage and output current does it deliver ? <br>Build_it_Bob
It's 12v 2amps. I think. Go for it bob! Send me a link when your project is finished.
<p>I switched out the 12v 2amps PS for a 12v LED PS. It can provide up to 15 amps. The desk rises much faster now lol.</p>
<p>Hi im interested in doing a similar project, with the new power supply, 12V 15A, how much faster does it rise? I know you mentioned that it took about 60 seconds for it to fully extend before. And also I saw another comment where you mentioned that they get pretty loud, would it be possible to maybe use some padding around the actuator to reduce noise or is that not recommended. Thank you.</p>
<p>I would say it's about twice as fast. So maybe 20-30 seconds to rise and lower. </p><p>I think most of the noise comes from the motor vibrating the wood columns. If I hold the actuator in my hands while its running, it's pretty quiet. But it's resting on the workbench while running, the workbench vibrates and it's pretty loud. So if you could pad all the contacts of the motor to the mounts, I think that would help reduce the noise a lot. </p>
<p>Great plan, I really like what you did. I am looking to do something similar. How did you wire up the power supply to the switch and actuators? What is the device you seem to have in line with the wiring?</p>
Thanks jaswicki. I think the device you're asking about is the four relay switches. Here is a great explanation on how they work and what they can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ZagKRnRdM<br><br>I'm still new to electronics, so I'm not sure if my wiring is correct, but the way I got it to work was with 4 relay switches. Each switch can connect and disconnect one wire. The reason I'm not sure if this is safe, is because and error in the code could short out the power supply. Here is a simple sketch on how I did it:
Great Idea, jwilcott. A pair of Roller Contact Switches and a different Control Switch, are all you need to make this fully automatic. If you want it adjustable you can mount the second switch in Tandem to the switch you current use and have a smaller selector switch to choose between them. If you use your desk in the two positions only, THAT is the easier modification. Let me know what you decide and if you want my help. I'll draw a wiring diagram for what you decide. I do this type of control system all the time for the Garbage Trucks I repair. Garbage tricks now have an industrial computer to make an automated arm pick-up the cans instead of a human being. This eliminated TWO workers off the truck. Now the driver uses his wrist ad thumb on a Joy-Stick to collect the cans. When they work correctly they save backs and are WONDERFUL. But, when they fail, they are a nightmare to repair! <br> <br>Great Idea, I think I'll give this consideration for a project I have in mind. A pop-up for the teardrop trailer I plan to build!
I'd love to see a diagram for what you're talking about. <br> <br>I was thinking about doing this with some number of presets, and a method of 'saving' a preset. I think that's going to require an arduino, though, and I haven't figured out how to have the arduino 'measure' the displacement of either actuator.
I'm currently trying out a Raspberry Pi to control presets. I haven't tested it yet, but I'd like to try a ultrasonic sensor to measure distances. Here is a great tutorial on how they work with the Raspberry Pi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xACy8l3LsXI
<p>The actuators that I picked up from Surplus Center have hall sensors built in. I'm just at the beginning stages of building my own, so I'll let you know how it works with the Arduino.</p>
<p>Do you have a link for the actuators?</p>
<p>Yep:</p><p>http://www.surpluscenter.com/Brands/VistaMounts/24-VDC-18-STROKE-LINEAR-ACTUATOR-5-1785.axd</p>
Awesome! Thanks for the great ideas.
Can I ask, how did you connect the Linear Actuator into the Table Leg itself? From the diagram, it looks like a metal foot was created? <br> <br>I'm interested in this as well, but I would like to work out the details before I go and buy the parts/pieces.
well for the bottom i used (2) 1 inch angle brackets (one for each side). For the top I just ran a long bolt through the column and added spacers and tightened and adjust. The long bolt method was easier because the bracket method required cutting the linear actuator mount. The actuator came with a ball and socket type mount, but I wanted it to be stationary, so I had to file down the ball so it was flush with the socket, took a while and it was really messy. I attached two picks to try and help explain.
Sweet! <br> <br>Thanks for the info, this helps a lot!
Hey cool project, instead of buying your actuators you could have made them for cheaper? I made one for a project using a 18v motor from drill and a psu its pretty powerful and cost like 30 bucks. Pulls around 12 amps not sure on the load it can push(I didn't need as much power as you) but I think it could probably do the job. Or you could even take apart the actuators and change up the gearing.
Where's the link to the 'ible? :-)
a drill motor, great idea! I'll keep it in mind for desk v2.0.
Well done, I love this and it has given me an idea for a motorcycle lifting bench. <br>Thanks Again.

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