Introduction: Ergonomic Edge Lit Monitor Stand
Ergonomics, the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. One of the main issues with standard monitor setups is that you can't adjust its position according to your custom requirements. Thus making your workflow slow and leaving your body in a tired state. This problem affects not just the people working in offices but to a diversity of people. Therefore, to fix this problem we designed an ergonomic customizable monitor stand.
This project was designed to resolve several other limitations such as desk organization and working conveniently at night. Our versatile system was fabricated with laser-cut acrylic parts, LEDs and some simple hardware so that one can easily replicate the concept.
Follow these easy steps to upgrade your setup and increase your work efficiency. Don't forget to drop a vote if you found this fix useful!
Step 1: Good But Not Good Enough
I have always needed a monitor stand as I feel it's a problem that all 'tall' people face, which is, due to our height we need to look down at our screen, which after a couple of hours turns your neck into a stiff knot and worse it spoils your posture. Secondly and most importantly, my work table is rather narrow, and as my keyboard occupies most of the space, I either work over it or I push it aside. In short, it gets very cluttered and working becomes inefficient! And finally, at night I need to unnecessary switch on a light as I fumble on the keyboard due to complete darkness which again can get very frustrating.
I'm sure several of you might have faced some of the exact problems and one day you just need a solution, so what do you do? Well, simple (or so it seemed) you go to Amazon and start looking for a monitor stand. Well as you scroll down the list you suddenly find out that these stands cost a lot more than expected!
Finally the maker instinct kicks in and you make your very own fix to all of these problems. In the following steps I will share the designs of the concept.
Step 2: A Fix to the Problems
We will try to fix the problems listed below with an ergonomic design that is modular and can be fabricated with customized features.
- The monitor needs to be raised to the eye level, improving working posture.
- The keyboard has to be placed in a more efficient way, providing more space on the table.
- An inbuilt lighting system to be able to type at night.
- And most importantly the project needs to be cost effective!
Let's take a look at the plan in the following step...
Step 3: Modelling the Ergonomic Design
Using Autodesk's free 3D modelling software called Fusion 360 we developed our first designs of the monitor stand.The whole process of modelling was easy to learn with some help from Instructables' very own 3D Design Class.This step is to give you a better understanding of how the model will look like.
To make the right height of the monitor stand we measured the distance from the table to my eye level as I sat on my chair. Then considering the dimensions of the monitor we calculated the best height of the stand, which in my case was around 13cm tall. We then added a gradual curve to the legs to make it aesthetically appealing while at the same time forming a holder for the keyboard to slide into when not in use. Finally to fix the lighting issue at night we decided to embed LED strips in the interior of our stand to give an edge lit effect, which not only solves the problem perfectly but adds a "wow" factor to the stand. To implement the idea we will have a three layer formation where the center layer will be made out of a frosted acrylic rim to diffuse the light and will be sandwiched between two opaque black panels.
Take a look at the model to get a clearer idea of the ergonomic design and do feel free to modify it or add some of your personal touches : )
Step 4: Materials Needed
- Clear Acrylic Sheet - (8 mm thick)
- Black Acrylic Sheet - (1mm thick, black was our of personal preference you could replace it with any colour)
- M5 Screws/Nuts x 22
- RGB Led Strip
- Power Switch
- 9v Battery
Step 5: Laser Cutting the Parts
We converted our 3D model into a draft, ready for laser cutting. Once the pieces are laser cut you can start by peeling the protective plastic layer and make sure that you have all the parts listed below.
- Base Top Panel x 1, Black 1mm
- Base BottomPanel x 1, Black 1mm
- Base Center Rim x 1, Clear 8mm
- Base Interior Support x 2, Clear 8mm
- Leg Outer Panel x 2, Black 1mm
- Leg Inner Panel x 2, Black 1mm
- Leg Center Rim x 2, Clear 8mm
- Leg Interior Support x 2, Clear 8mm
- Mounting Strip x 2, Clear 8mm
- Mounting Inner Layer x 2, Black 1mm
- Electronics Compartment, Black 1mm
Step 6: Gluing the Sections Together
Few of the parts need to be glued together, before we can start assembling the monitor stand. The Inner support pieces that the LED's are going to get attached to, have to be glued together with the partnering Outer Panels. To make sure that the alignment of all the pieces are maintained we have made templates that can be printed to help glue the parts in the right places.
Start by gluing the Base Interior Supports to the Base Top Panel with the help of the templates. Next glue the Leg Interior Supports with the Leg Outer Panel. Once these glue ups were done we moved to sticking the Rim pieces with their respective Inner Panels. This system of gluing the parts is the most efficient as you can easily access the LED strips for troubleshooting or for replacing them.
Note : We mixed batches of two part epoxy but CA will work just as well.
Step 7: Embedding the Nuts
You will notice that the outer layers have no mounting holes. This is because all the outer facing layers have been designed in a way that no nuts or screw heads will be shown giving the design a clean finish. To do this we embed nuts in the 10 mm clear acrylic layer that will act as threaded inserts.
Mix a batch of epoxy and simply apply it around the nut. With a little force push the nuts into their hexagonal holes making sure they are flush to the top surface. Wipe out the excess glue with a cloth and let them dry overnight. Repeat this process till you have all the 22 nuts firmly embedded in their slots.
Step 8: Cutting the LED Strips to Length
Its time to put in the lights, here's how the configuration will look like. You will need in total three strips of LED's:
- 2 strips for the legs/supports (one per leg)
- 1 long strip to go around the whole perimeter of the top panel.
Stretch out the strips along the curved slot in the leg and snip them at their terminal which is indicated by a dotted line. If there is an excess bit of the LED strip don't worry you can simply overlap that into the slot too.
Step 9: Soldering Extensions to the LEDs
Now cut, strip and tin 4 wires of length 12cm and solder them to the four pads on the LED strip. On the other end I sacrificed 4 female jumpers into half and soldered them with the color code for simplicity (Black to 12V, Red to R, Blue to B and Green to G). As the wires were getting untangled I held them together with heat shrink at several points. (Do this for both the leg LED strips). Repeat the same process for the base LED strip but instead of 12cm long wires you can use 3cm.
Step 10: Sanding the Rim
To make the LED lights diffuse better I sanded the inner and outer surfaces of the clear acrylic. Start with a rough grid of sandpaper and slowly in a circular motion sand the surfaces. After a while you should not be able to look through the clear acrylic. Once you have reached that stage get to a lower grid to smoothen the rims surface. Repeat this for all the edge pieces.
Step 11: Inserting the LED Strips
Peel the protective layer of the LED strip to expose the adhesive on the back. Press the tape firmly, securing the strips to their representative places along the profiles of the inner clear acrylic parts. If there are some areas that don't adhere well, add a few dabs of hot glue to hold them in place.
Step 12: Prepping the Screws
This step isn't really required but as I didn't have 1cm long screws I simply cut down the longer ones I had. In total you will need 16 small screws (1cm) and 6 long screws (3cm) for the assembly. Use a hacksaw to cut them and a file to round over the rough ends.
Step 13: Assembling the Legs
Slide the LED wire out of its notch and bend it down the back end of the leg. Then take the Inner Leg Panel and mount it onto the leg with 4 small screws. Make sure the alignment is right and that the edges are flush.
Step 14: Assembling the Base to the Legs
Guide the Base LED strip's wires out of the rectangular cutout, before closing the Bottom Panel to the top with 6 small screws.Then drive in six long screws from the sides to secure the legs firmly to the Mounting Strips. The monitor stand is almost fully assembled and can now be tested by placing the monitor on it to test for stability.
Step 15: Making the Custom PCB
Permanently soldering the LED strips together would be messy and wouldn't give room for troubleshooting, therefore we decided to design and make a custom PCB. We learnt the process with the help of instructables' free PCB design class. Follow the circuit diagram attached above. With this design, we can use standard jumper wires to connect the led strips to the header pins.
Step 16: Fitting the Electronics Compartment
The last step is to connect all the electronics. We started by gluing 4 sides of our box together with hot glue. Then we made a removable clear acrylic panel for the back so that it is convenient to access the electronics. Using dabs of hot glue we mounted all the components (the IR controller, the pcb and the battery). Once done you can push in the switch and the IR receiver in their slots on the front panel. Finally connect the circuit like so:
- Leg 1 Led Strip >> PCB 1st row (+ 12v, B, G, R)
- Leg 2 Led Strip >> PCB 2nd row (+ 12v, B, G, R)
- Base Led Strip >> PCB 3rd row (+ 12v, B, G, R)
- Base Led Strip (Plug end) >> Led Box Plug
- 9v Battery >> Led Box
Note : we have included a circuit diagram, have a look if any doubt occurs.
Step 17: Test the Colours
It's finally complete! You can test if all the colors and modes work with the remote. If there are any color swaps simply check the wiring again.
Step 18: From Design to Reality
When I thought of this concept and before embarking on this project I searched the internet and was rather surprised to find that there wasn't anything similar around. After having gone through all the rigors of designing every details of this concept and product I realized why it wasn't attempted until now. Without the convenience of 3D CAD modeling and laser cutting that has become increasingly available today, this project would have been extremely tedious and laborious to do. With all these handy tools within our grasp, we now have almost infinite possibilities to improve our lives by customizing the products we use to meet our personal requirements.
Not only do I have a desk that's less cluttered and spacious but I also have a better posture while working. The monitor stand gives an elegant touch to my desk and it looks impressive with the lights on at night!
Do drop a vote if you liked our project. Happy fixing and happy making!
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