Author Topic: Workspace organization  (Read 5536 times)

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Offline uski

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Workspace organization
« on: February 12, 2014, 08:12:39 pm »
Hi there !

I just got hired (yay!) at a new job and they ask me what I need for my lab.

I have no problem for the lab equipment itself. Actually I found out I requested equipment quite similar to what Dave suggested in his video #168.

My question is about how to create a nice workspace. I will have several bench-type equipment (power supplies, oscilloscope, multimeters, ...) and I need some space to put them without eating too much workspace.

The main difficulty is that I have a desk with no wall behind (it's an open space and I'm in the middle), so I can't mount anything to a wall like most people seem to be doing.

I have attached a picture of what I have currently (computer/office space not shown on the left). There is a 12" ruler at the center, so you can see it's quite big. The removable walls behind the desk will be removed (unfortunately).

Any clue ? How would you create an electronic engineering workspace there ?

My current idea is to make a custom stand out of 1" thick wood, like on the quick 3D drawing I made (sorry I'm not good at drawing :D). This is not to scale; it will be 50" wide.

Does the dimensions look OK for typical lab equipment ? I'm a bit worried for the depth; too much depth, and it's going to be annoying to use; not enough depth means I won't be able to put deep equipment on it. 14" looks like a good compromise for usability but it might be a bit short, not sure. Desk is 30" deep.

Any suggestion ? Any better idea ?
I couldn't find off the shelf equipment for this, but maybe I don't know where to look (I'm in Canada).

Thanks
uski
« Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 08:18:16 pm by uski »
 

Offline skipjackrc4

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2014, 08:32:18 pm »
What you have looks pretty good, as long as the 7.5" height of dimension B is enough for your equipment.  With a desk that is only 30" deep, a 14" shelf will leave you with 16" usable space.  If you work on mostly small things, that will probably be enough.  If you work on rack-mount equipment like I often do, you need more.  Now, given the lack of available depth, I would maybe consider leaving one of the desk-level compartments open so you have room to shove things out of the way, or possibly put soldering equipment there.  You could then put equipment above it and in the other side.

Most modern equipment that I have seen of medium power and frequency will fit in 14".  However, high speed scopes, spectrum analyzers, and pretty much any VNA will need more like 20-24" depth.  That stuff is heavy enough that it would probably have to be left on the desktop anyway, though.

Do you have any ideas for where to store hand tools? 

My main concern would be with stability.  That desk doesn't look all that stable.  Have you thought about how to attach the shelf to the desk top?  Maybe it's more sturdy than the cubicles I've seen, though.  Just make sure stuff isn't going to fall or tip over if the desk takes a jolt.
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2014, 08:36:14 pm »
what will you be working on?  soldering in an office is a good way to get people to dislike you; get a very good, very quiet fume extractor, or make one, and change the filter regularly.  Amazon has sound absorbing foam that works pretty damn well.

It's hard to say how you should organize this stuff if you don't tell us what kind of stuff you'll be doing.  We don't know how many parts bins will work for you, how many shelves, lighting, outlets, nothing.

Need more information.
 

Offline uski

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2014, 08:55:02 pm »
Hi

Thanks for your replies :)

To Rigby :

what will you be working on?

My job is to create proof of concept, prototypes. I will be doing say 50% embedded software development and 50% hardware prototyping. I won't be soldering lots of things, maybe a few boards per month, and some wires and protoboards.

soldering in an office is a good way to get people to dislike you; get a very good, very quiet fume extractor, or make one, and change the filter regularly.  Amazon has sound absorbing foam that works pretty damn well.

I got a soldering station with an integrated fume extractor (this one).
Hope it works well. But I told my supervisor that it would be better for me to get a separate office, he insisted that I stay with the others (team work he said). We'll see how that works out :D

It's hard to say how you should organize this stuff if you don't tell us what kind of stuff you'll be doing.  We don't know how many parts bins will work for you, how many shelves, lighting, outlets, nothing.

I will be into prototyping. I won't have tens of reels of SMT components, but some sample books and other boxes. I have a big drawer to store those behind the desk (see attached drawer.jpg).

To skipjackrc4 :

What you have looks pretty good, as long as the 7.5" height of dimension B is enough for your equipment.  With a desk that is only 30" deep, a 14" shelf will leave you with 16" usable space.  If you work on mostly small things, that will probably be enough.

I'm into embedded device development, micro controllers and things like that so yea 16" is OK. I also plan to leave the space above the first tablet (A in the picture) empty on the left part of the shelf to give me extra depth (I think I will put the soldering station on the right part).

If you work on rack-mount equipment like I often do, you need more.  Now, given the lack of available depth, I would maybe consider leaving one of the desk-level compartments open so you have room to shove things out of the way, or possibly put soldering equipment there.  You could then put equipment above it and in the other side.

What do you mean by "leaving one of the desk-level compartments open" ?

My main concern would be with stability.  That desk doesn't look all that stable.  Have you thought about how to attach the shelf to the desk top?

I have attached a picture of the lower part of the desk. It's indeed very stable, very sturdy. The desk is made of 1" thick wood. I would have no issue climbing on it. But you are totally right, I will screw the shelf on the desk.

Do you have any ideas for where to store hand tools?

I was thinking of a drawer tool chest, under the desk on the right side. I have to find one that fits, but that's another story...

:)
uski
 

Offline skipjackrc4

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 09:56:28 pm »
What do you mean by "leaving one of the desk-level compartments open" ?

This:
I also plan to leave the space above the first tablet (A in the picture) empty on the left part of the shelf to give me extra depth (I think I will put the soldering station on the right part).
 

Offline Dave Turner

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 10:34:15 pm »
Without more detailed information of the prototyping you're referring to it is difficult to advise you. I would suggest that that you 'beg' for a separate room which you can use for the construction of the prototypes that involve 'antisocial' activities such as cutting, drilling, most soldering etc.

Where possible leave your desk for records, report writing, design (e.g. Spice simulations, board design etc.) and enough mensuration to demonstrate results, possibly remotely to the 'real' lab.

Just a thought! In a different, but allied, discipline it worked for me.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2014, 04:05:56 pm »
I also need to setup a new lab in an office-ish space somewhere in the next few months. Getting my own office will be out of the question for now. Like in my own lab I probably only put equipment on my desk which I need for the particular project. The rest stays on a shelve somewhere else.
A few tool cabinets under the desk usually work well but keep in mind you have legs which need to go somewhere under the desk as well. It is a pity you don't have any reall walls. Those are excellent for component cabinets and cable holders.
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Online wraper

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2014, 08:02:53 pm »
That soldering station is junk frankly saying. I had such 4 years ago on my previous job. All fumes it sucks come out from the hot air gun, no filtration at all. And that rubber tube connected to soldering iron just makes it hard to use. I removed that integrated fume extractor as it was useless and used normal separate fume extraction. So try to get normal fume extractor, and try to get rid of that soldering station if possible. Get some JBC/ersa/metcal/weller soldering station (solder iron only). And separate hot air, don't necessarily need to be expensive one.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 06:58:43 am »
You can never have too much desk space!

I custom ordered an 8 foot long, 4 foot deep desk.  I mounted my monitors on an arm that keeps them off the desk... and mounted all my equipment up on shelves above my desk, and I still run out of space. 

I would suggest free standing shelving if possible.  Or, you can even make it by just adding a couple of feet to normal wall mount shelving (maybe need to bolt it together with some extra hardware to make it nice and sturdy).  Failing that, you can also buy gridwall with bases that let it stand upright - and you can mount all sort of hooks and hangers to gridwall - useful for storing tools, cables, etc.  You can also get gridwall shelves and such.  And it's cheap.  Another option is a 2-post server rack that you just stand behind your desk - put some shelves in it and mount all your test equipment on it.  It keeps it up and away from your desk. 

And you can buy some thing edge lit LED panel lights on Amazon or eBay (only 1/2" thick) and mount them to the underside of your lowest shelf giving you excellent lighting. 

See attached
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Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 05:57:10 am »
Congratulations on your new job! I hope you get a lot of technical satisfaction out of it.

Doing embedded and hardware prototyping at a desk?

(1) Suggest you invest is a burn proof antistatic mat. If it is conductive, tie it to earth. Add an antistatic wrist strap connection.

(2) Pull the desk away from the wall so you can pass up IEC mains plugs and other cables. Keep the rats nest of cables away from your desktop. (Or is that "desk top" with a space?)

(3) Invest in some headphones so you can block out office chatter and play chill or classical music whilst programming. Even so, it does not work if you have an office idiot stationed nearby. I once had one who had a bad habit of whistling random notes like a bird for hours on end.  :box:

(4) If your desk is near a coffee vending machine, move to another desk unless you are hearing impaired.

(5) Make sure you buy plenty of power boards. You will need them.

(6) Good lighting is vital. Get some decent overhead fluorescent lights and invest in an decent illuminated magnifier. I once bought an LED one from Element 14 with the big concertina arms that clamped to the desk edge. It was fabulous.

(7) You might be able to drape your probes and leads over the partition. If not, invest in a cable rack. Label your own CRO probes. When people borrow them, they tend to lose the coloured rings or probe tips, or lose the whole probe.

(8 ) Use a drawer for miscellaneous bits, and other drawers for paperwork. Every Friday night, clean up you desk before you go home. That way Monday morning you start afresh, feeling good you have a clean, neat electronics desk. It is worth the investment of 5 minutes to do this. That includes wiping the desk top (or is that "desktop" without the space?) down with a cloth with some mild detergent.

(9) Keep the PC off the desk. It wastes space. If it is on the carpet, you might need to open it and clean it out every 12 months due to excessive dust.

(10) Remember you spend 8 or more hours a day there, so make the electronics desk your home away from home. Nothing beats a well laid out electronics desk. It makes life enjoyable. But there is nothing worse than a big mess and you cannot find your probe tip because it is hidden under a sea of cables. Working in a pigsty does not tend to send a message of professionalism either.

Hope these hints are helpful. Once again, contratulations.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 06:05:37 am by VK3DRB »
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Workspace organization
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 02:54:27 pm »
(3) Invest in some headphones so you can block out office chatter and play chill or classical music whilst programming. Even so, it does not work if you have an office idiot stationed nearby. I once had one who had a bad habit of whistling random notes like a bird for hours on end.  :box:
Oh, i have one 5 meters from me whos spends 4-5 hours a day making silly jokes. In dutch (which I dont speak. I just live here...). When I'm getting really tired of them, sometimes I just start using the desoldering station. It makes enough noise to make them go away.

I suggest to buy a shelf above your desk, where 19" stuff can fit, also you will probably need cabinet of some sort below your desk to collect all the junk and mess.
 


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