How BIG is Enough?
Did I ever show you my electronics bench? Total Train Wreck: (Fully functional, just looks like hell…)
It’s ALL there. Desoldering machine, microscope for SMT parts, even a spetroscope for LED color checking. Thing is, I never get around to keeping it clean and organized. Project overlap. Phones ring. Martini time comes…And that’s the hole in Ure’s head.
An example of a much more workmanlike shop – and in a tiny space – is reader Hank’s “closet shop” out in Hawaii. I’ll let him give you the tour:
“This is the view as you approach. The wood stool will fit inside so the sliding door closes. Lighting is LED strip lights along the hanging bar, and under the lower shelf.
Top shelf drawers are fasteners, screws sorted by size. At far end plastic compartment boxes for crimp terminals and metric screws. Second shelf plastic drawers are for small hand tools, screwdrivers, cutters, pliers, small wrenches, etc. Far end some small test gear and an AC Variac.
“Moving to the left side, the wall has the red ‘shop vac’ (dustbuster) and optical amplifier headband. Second shelf has multimeters. Left bench has clip leads sorted on the wall prongs, and the back corner is a soldering station, next to a gooseneck lighted magnifier. Ceramic tiles on bench are soldering plates for heat resistance for splashes. Not seen in dark under bench is another shelf with a couple of DC bench power supplies, solder gun, and heatshrink blower. Of course there are AC outlet strips at the back wall of the bench to power this stuff.
(Ure is appalled by the neatness of it all. It must reflect a clear-headed person able to work one a single task, finish it, and then clean-up. Z’is amazing, or what????)
“I put a 2×4 ft sheet of pegboard on the inside wall of the inside sliding door and bought a big assortment box of pegboard hangers. The upper pegboard seen here is wire storage. Magnet wire, hookup wire, etc. Lots of space on the board yet for more tools.
Lower pegboard for larger tools. Note orange Black & Decker battery drill at far end. All the larger, heavier tools sometimes used get hung here. Room for more above.
“So there it is… a small electronics workbench shop built into a closet. And it closes up to hide the clutter!”
Thanksgiving Shop Time
One of the surest ways to a happy spouse (after good looks, being fit, and making shitloads of money) is to have a clean and well-organized shop. Here are a few organizational ideas for you to consider if the holiday shop cleaning is on your list this coming week.
Pill Bottles. No, we don’t like scrips, but if you need them, might as well turn the lemons into lemonade. One whole cabinet of Ure’s electronics rat’s nest is devoted to pill bottles. Recommend a small label printer which reduces the lazy man’s inclination to forget what all the parts are!
Another good parts storage idea?
When I need a single part (screw, fender washer, copper crush washer, hose clamps, electrical crimp-ons, and more) we try to get them in “assortments” that come in their own plastic boxes which can then be “filed by pile” into Nuts, Bolts, Washers, Clamps and so forth.
It may not sound particularly graceful, but it works and it takes care of the one thing I hate to do in the shop: Spend valuable working time cleaning up and sorting out parts.
Watch the sales in January and February because a few years back I picked up a case of 24 shoe boxes – plastic, with covers. These are great because they seal up to keep bugs, dust, and birds (more on this in a sec) out of your valuable parts.
As a bonus, because of the type plastic they are made off? You can sort of see what’s insider and that makes finding things easier.
What you MIGHT want to shy away from, unless your shop is large enough to have a high school kid (masked) coming in to sweep floors and keep the parts bins clean, are set ups like this rack which is mostly tractor and construction parts. If I need a lynch pin, or some right-angle sheet metal for a wall, then these are the bins where it’s found. Larger hardware like the choice of metal or plastic pipe strap.
What’s not to love? Well two things. First, even with the big dust collector, there is still a certain amount of dust around, especially out here in the country. So these open bins get dirty. Second problem, because my shop is not air tight, the bins (one or two per year) become off limits when a bird gets in and build a nest. When the birds take wing, the nest goes in the burn barrel.
If you need storage boxes (and have been paying attention to our dabblings in 3D printing?
Which gets us to the…
3D Printing Department
My first “original George” design for handling 300 ohm antenna wire was made and installed this week. In place looks like this (two printed parts, base & clamp):
Stainless bolts on the clamp. When the far one is installed on “yonder tree” this morning, the clamps will allow the antenna .(part of the Beverage arrays here) to be tensioned just right. High enough to clear walking and animals under, but not so high as to be hard to work on.
Probably the best site on the web on Beverage antennas is the W8JI page over here. Read and build…
Also in Radio Meets 3D…
My clean-up of the Icom M700 marine single sideband radio is done, save the gasket which remains unobtanium. Radio’s answer to Endangered Species act. The gasket has aged, & ripped on one side, so Ure will be trying his thermoplastic urethane (flexible plastic) printing skills out to fab up a new one:
No, the Icom M700 is not state-of-the-art. But, it’s a solid commercial SSB radio which is ideal for channelized operation.
And since there are five “channels” on the 60-meter band? Well, you know who’s “gotta have one.”
OK, off to re-install the Beverage with the new clamps.
Have to wear bright orange vest and hat out in the woods. Even though we have posted “no hunting” all over, no one reads signs. No one can see the purple tree marks. No one in Texas seems to understand that filet mignon is still cheaper and way faster by the pound. When that changes, we will fire up one of the SKS’s. But, until then…
Write when you get rich (or your shop spiffed up),