LOG Workbench Mod

About: Lazy Old Geek

Some of you may know that this Lazy Old Geek likes to do Instructables about Arduinos and electronics. So I have a workbench and I even mentioned it here:
Sometimes, I get philosophical and think “What is the purpose of my workbench?” Don’t worry, this only happened once. So I think the purpose of my workbench is to provide maximum workspace and ideal environmental conditions to maximumize productivity.
Most of you are saying, “Oh, give me a break!”
Over the years, I have done some things with my workbench to make it better. This is my workbench. Full disclosure, this is a fake picture of my workbench. Believe it or not but this is what it looks like after a major cleanup.
For those of you who want to see what it really looks like, you will have to go to the end of this Instructable.

By the way, if you see that this was accepted by any contests, please vote for me as you can tell, I can use all the help I can get. 

Step 1: General Modifications

One of the things I did was add a piece of particle board to the top.(see picture) This work bench (actually, it was originally a computer work station) sits next to my computer table which is deeper than this one so there’s lots of space behind it. I don’t even think the particle board is secured to the workbench. The pictured oscilloscope is mostly over the workbench. But the obvious advantage is that it adds more storage space.
In the second picture, you can see another piece of particle board. As you can see, this is attached with some metal straps. This adds a little to the desktop/storage space and helps keep things from falling behind this workbench. Unfortunately, there is a gap for power cords to pass by so stuff still drops into never-never land.
The third picture shows two modifications.
One is my homemade soldering iron holder. As some of you may know, soldering irons get hot.
True Story: I just have to tell you this one. When I was about 15, I was into electronics and was using my soldering iron one day. It was summer and I went with my aunt and cousins to help my uncles on their farm. Well, I came back about two weeks later and saw my soldering iron sitting out so I grabbed it. Ouch! I burned the bejees out of my fingers. I wish I could say I learned my lesson but now I’m old and forgetful so I may occasionally forget to unplug my soldering iron. I am more careful about grabbing an iron though.
So many of you may have seen those fancy soldering iron holders. Well I made my own. I took three strands of house wiring, stripped off the insulation twisted them together, formed them into this cone and tied them to some bracket I had in my stuff.
So when I’m using the soldering iron, I have it on the bench top, but when I’m through I will put it in this holder.
Does it work? Well sort of. The soldering iron I have has a screw to hold the copper tip in and it makes it harder to slip it in or out. But it’s better than burning my fingers or something else lying on my bench.
Two is the shelf I added on rails. This shelf contains many of my electronic components. (see next picture)
So the whiners out there may say, doesn’t this interfere with putting your legs under the bench?
 Well, I am short and I could actually get my legs underneath the extra shelf.
 But in my real world, I usually have so much stuff underneath, I wouldn’t have room anyway.
I do need a better way of organizing my parts. 

On the left side of the parts shelf, you can see a long strip of plastic. This is a holder I made for my cheapy Dremel-clone tools. Basically, I just drilled a bunch of holes (of a few different sizes) to hold the various tools.

Step 2: Elenco Trainer

So you might be asking what is this Elenco Trainer? Well, that’s an excellent question.
It is a mini electrical workbench for experimenting with electronics.
Technospeak: It has fixed and adjustable power supplies, a couple of potentiometers, a waveform generator and some simple digital circuits, plus a breadboard.

So these were designed to go in a case. They’re about 11” x 10” x 3” deep.
Problems: It could be used flat on my work space but it takes up a lot of room. I did use it standing on end but when not used it got in the way. Plus it’s a 110Vac device and the back is open, so it’s a little dangerous.
Solution: So I attached it vertically to my workbench. (see picture)
Actually, first, I wanted to remove the breadboard as it’s hard to work on a breadboard vertically (at least this Lazy Old Geek thinks so). Unfortunately, this requires removing the main PCB, which requires removing the knobs and also some regulators attached to the metal frame. Well I did get the breadboard out and got it back together.
Problem: The connector on the adjustable power supply are larger than standard breadboard size.
Solution: Since I was already in there, I ran wires out and put in some banana jacks, so it would be easier to use them.
To make it more geeky, I decided I wanted it to swing out of the way when not in use. Well, I spent a lot of OLD brain hours trying to figure out how to do this. I decided on some hinges to allow it to swing out of the way.(see picture)
Please believe me, this was a ‘bear’ to install the hinges and trainer back inside that crowded space. So the upper lip on the Elenco overlaps the board on the workbench so the Elenco would hang vertical. But the left side just clears the workbench so that it could swing back.

Problem: How do I keep it vertical. Well, this required another OLD brainstorm. I was first thinking of something under the Elenco or behind it.
Solution: Well, the Eureka moment hit. I put a little metal plate on the workbench and hooked it under the Elenco. (see picture)

Problem: How do I latch it horizontally. Well, this required another OLD brainstorm. 
Solution: Well another Eureka moment. The Elenco horizontally extended beyond the workbench shelf. I used a piece of an aluminum sign (For Sale?). I cut a notch in it and drilled a hole in it. Then I screwed it loosely into the back of the workbench shelf. When the Elenco is swung up, the back latch will catch on the lip and hold the Elenco up. (see picture)
This works pretty well. The trainer is above the workbench so there is a little bit of room below it. The back is open but it’s hard to get into the space so it’s pretty safe from shock. And it moves out of the way when not needed.

Step 3: Personal Computer Usage

As some of the readers may notice, there isn’t any PC in these pictures. Well, that’s true, the PC is being used elsewhere right now.
The first picture shows the slot left for the PC.

The second picture shows the LCD monitor bracket I put up. I decided to attach it to the side of the workbench. This is so that the monitor can be pulled out from the workbench and angled.

The next picture shows that the monitor can be moved to the side giving more space. Note that I left the allen wrench, for tightening, attached to the bracket so I don’t have to track one down to adjust it.
The next picture shows the shelf I installed to store the keyboard and mouse. It leaves more work bench space when the PC is not needed.

This works pretty good, though it is a nuisance to clear space for the keyboard. 

Step 4: Lamp Modification

So this Lazy Old Geek has a halogen desk lamp. I’m Old, I don’t remember where I got it. But it’s been through a couple of changes.
Problem1: When turned on, it gets very hot around the lamp head. Ouch. Well, I’m Old, my reflexes are slow and I’m a slow learner.
Solution: I built a little cage around it. I needed something stiff. I had some unused house wiring. I don’t remember the gauge but it’s pretty stiff. I wrapped it around the lamp head as shown in the pictures. It’s ugly and flimsy but it does the job. I no longer burn myself.
WARNING: Do not attempt this if you are not familiar with working with 115V AC or if you have children in the house.
Problem2: I don’t have a picture of the original lamp but it was similar to the next picture. The base was big and took up a lot of space on my work bench. As you might surmise, I don’t like to waste space on my work bench.
Solution: I decided to take the lamp apart, discard the base and install the lamp in my workbench. I drilled a hole for the switch wires and one for the swivel. (see picture)
The next picture is underneath looking up. The box is stuck on with double sticky tape. The blue wires go to the switch on top. The white insulation goes to the lamp. The yellow wires go to the AC plug. The red sleeves are heat shrink where I had to cut some wires and solder them back together.
As can be seen in the first picture, this does clear up some work bench space so I can have more projects going.

Step 5: Fan

Ventilation: It is so important for a good working environment! Yeah, right. Full disclosure, I made this modification for my dog, Marcus. My workbench is situated right next to a door and Marcus likes to block doorways and likes air circulation.

Problems: I tried setting the fan next to the workbench but it was noisy, it was in the way and the bench blocked air flow.
Solution: So I decided to build the fan into the side of the workbench.
I took the fan apart and figured out what size hole I needed. I used a drill and a jigsaw to make the hole. The hardest part was figuring out how to raise this side off the rug so that I could cut the hole and not the rug. Well, I used a crow bar and some blocks of wood to raise this side enough to cut the hole.

Noise: Well, these cheap plastic fans are inevitably noisy but I did mount the fan and motor with bolts and rubber gaskets (probably taken from scrapped printers) to help dampen it. Further more some of the sound is muffled by the enclosed space and junk I store under the workbench but allowing room for air circulation.
The front plate has the On-Low-High switch and protects dogs and people from spinning fans, so I used some screws to screw it to the bench. If I remember correctly, it is slightly offset from the fan so the screws didn’t hit the bolts.
Does it work? Marcus loves it. It is on 24/7. I thought the noise might bother me at night but I hardly even notice it.
As is now apparent, I need to clean it and occasionally oil it. 

Step 6: Before Picture

Well, I’m sure you’ve all been anxiously waiting for the Before (and the soon to become) picture. Here it is. Well, since I went to a lot of work to declutter, I’m going to make an effort to keep it somewhat reasonable. This Before picture has a couple of major projects that I put in boxes for now.
On the left side of the picture, you might be able to see a camera on a rod. This is another little mod I made, described in:
But I do have a couple of more improvements for my workbench in mind . . .



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    4 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great ! You have managed to put a lot into the minimum space.

    'What is Where ?' needs to be memorized.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Work in process. Since this, I added a parts bin that actually went into my closet. So the shelf isn't as crowded. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of What's Where.

    On my Elenco, I added a two LCD voltmeter(Ebay), to monitor the adjustable positive voltage.

    In the works, a regulated power supply for my camera.


    cool, great to see this and the mods you've made to it. What are those multiple projects sitting on the table? what's next for LOG?

    1 reply