Your dream computer room.

From: Pete Turnbull <>
Date: Wed Jun 28 18:52:21 2000

On Jun 28, 17:22, Bill Sudbrink wrote:
> Peter Turnbull wrote:
> > Six weeks ago was the point at which it all got moved out,
> > and the conversion/extension work began. By this weekend,

> <extreme jealousy>

Well, I can temper that a little, maybe :-)

Firstly, it's smaller than it sounds, and secondly, this is the culmination
of 10 years saving to do it: when we moved here 10 years ago, it was
obvious that the garage was designed to be extended to the house, joining
the car port and leaving the latter as the garage (it would then be fully
enclosed). However, the week we got the keys, I was made redundant, and
all plans/dreams were put on hold. After a while I went back to uni to
finish my degree[1], and it wasn't at all clear that we'd stay in York when
I graduated. I got a job on a 2-year contract as a sysadmin at the uni,
still no security, and meanwhile my wife was doing a weekly commute to work
in Edinburgh (200 miles away) because she had too good a job to give up.
 So we continued to save any spare money, and last year my job was made
permanent (with a raise) at about the same time my wife landed a good job
in Yorkshire. We spent quite a while chewing over plans before we decided
to call the builder, organise a loan, and the garage plus small extension
is now (nearly) a computer room-cum-workshop and a utility room (for the
washing machine, freezer, etc).

A lot was done "on the cheap". I got the flooring from someone who
reclaims such things from old buildings; a friend was buying a large
quantity and I got mine extra cheap -- but I had to spend a weekend with a
blowtorch removing the old glue from the supports, wire brushing them, and
a day getting them cut down to size and so on. Another day sorting out
good panels from bad (on top of 7' stacks) and moving them 25 miles (and
they're heavy!). I got the modular shelf supports as surplus, from another
building project, along with locks and door fittings I wanted. I got a lot
of network cable and fittings cheaply, over a period of time. I got a
patch panel free, a while ago, for example. A local kitchen unit supplier
has a 50%-or-more-off sale -- guess where I got the cupboard units. My 5"
metalworking vice was a "found object" several years ago.

[1] Actually, to start again from scratch. First time around, I went to
University straight from school, realised partway through 1st year I'd made
a bad course choice, and gave up. Anyway, it was so many decades ago that
it counted for zero credit.

> Ok. Let's start a fun thread for a change. Who among us didn't
> spend some time with paper and crayon as a child designing the ideal
> "fort"? What kind of computer shop would you build given sufficient
> time/money/space?

Much what I'm doing now, but bigger, of course :-) The new room is 2.7
metres (9') by 4.6m (15'). One side is computer space, the other side will
have my drill, miniature lathe, electronics bench, workbench and vise, etc.
 Only about 1/2 - 2/3 of my collection of micros will fit and be usable,
and there's no room for the PCB developing tanks I acquired, nor for my
photographic tanks and enlarger. Nearly all the DEC equipment will fit in
the two racks. Honest. OK, maybe something will have to go on top. What
did that brochure say the maximum floor loading was?

I'd make it two rooms, each about 10' x 15', one for computers, the other
for electronics/photo/mechanics. Or maybe the PCB and photo stuff should
be separate again, away from the dust. Lots of power sockets in both;
let's say one twin socket per linear foot of wall. Surge and RFI
suppressors, of course, and separate circuits for
computers/electronics/tools. RCD on the tools but maybe not the minis.
 Network connections (or rather, structured wiring, since some will be used
for serial or control lines) everywhere, even beside the lathe (maybe I'll
use those stepper motors one day). One bench with a built-in light box.

Floor-to-ceiling shelves, fully adjustable, in units 600mm wide (2') and
700mm deep for all the micros. And their monitors! I'd want about 4 of
those units (I will have 2). Make them strong (the brackets in mine are
rated for a 67kg load). Space to walk all round the 19" racks (I'll have
about 20" behind mine, accessible from one side only). A place to put the
microfiche reader where I can use it with moderate comfort (it used to be
on top of a 5' high shelf unit!). Desk space for a few favourite machines,
and a trolley with 'scope, BBC Micro, terminal and printer, and of course
make sure there's space to wheel it around to where it's needed. Plenty of
bookshelves - I have a full set of RSX manuals, two sets of RT11, one
Solaris, lots of other Unix, Acorn, programming, and networking stuff, and
shelfloads of data books. I just had to turn down a couple of shelfloads
of SGI manuals because I have no room left :-( Leave some wall space for a
noticeboard and/or whiteboard.

Air conditioning would be nice, but I've settled for a large(ish) extractor
fan. No budget left! Heating is, of course, largely by minicomputer :-)
though now there is a small central heating radiator and we have a portable
dehumidifier which I used to use to keep the workshop air dry (cheaper than
heating, and saves a lot of tools from condensation/damp damage).

Good lighting -- I'd go for those fluorescent fittings with the aluminium
diffuser grids built in if I could afford it (they're about 70 UKP a

Ah well, next time around ;-)

Pete						Peter Turnbull
						Dept. of Computer Science
						University of York
Received on Wed Jun 28 2000 - 18:52:21 BST

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