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Ham Radio Desk

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by WI4USA, Jan 4, 2010.

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  1. WI4USA

    WI4USA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello everyone. I have searched the internet over in looking for a desk for my ham radio equipment. I wanted something that would look nice, but be very functional and ergonomic as well. I found that most desks were not deep enough. I pride myself on having good equipment, it seem wrong to keep my current desk made up of some 2 x 4's and plywood.

    I have decided that I am going to take my time and build my dream desk. I am enlisting your help to tell me what you would like to have on your dream desk. I have listed some of my ideas or constraints, I would love to hear what yours are. Here are some of my needs:
    • Mounting four computer monitor at a height, that does not cause neck strain.
    • I should be able to sit and reach everything, without moving my chair.
    • Easy access to the back of my equipment, thinking of putting the desk on wheels
    • Ground bar mounted to the back of the desk.
    • Plenty of electrical outlets built into the desk.
    • Plenty of connection points for 12V DC.
    • Be able to store my power supplies out of plain site.
    • Adjustable shelving.
    • Desk should have about a 30" main console position, the units coming out on both sides at an 45 degree angle.
    • Should be strong, but easily unassembled.
    • Should be resistant to Coffee and other drinks. Should it have a laminate top or just good old wood with lots of coats of poly on it.
    • Must be hard enough to all writing.
    • Good place for keyboard and mouse. Maybe off of the desk.
    • Ample righting space.
    • Cords should be hidden.
    • Coax should come into a distribution area and neatly ran to each radio. Maybe S0-239 connectors prewired for expansion and it goes to single distribution box.
    • Prewired for 8 conduction cable for Rotors and other equipment with DB-9/DB25 connectors.
    • Place to mount my computer underneath, but to have the ability to access USB and Serial Ports at the console level.
    • Should have some convenience AC outlets to plug something in temporarily.
    • Jacks for Telephone and internet Easily accessible.

    I would be interesting in hearing your thoughts. How deep should the desk be? Any materials you would suggest using or staying away from. For shelves, how deep should they be? What are your thoughts about tilting the radio's back at an angle. Not sure I'm sold on that yet.

    Here is my current shack:


    I would love to get pictures of your current shacks to give me some idea's. I promised I will post the results of this adventure and make it available for all to see.

    73 de wi4usa

  2. KJ4KDM

    KJ4KDM Guest

    Good thread! Ive been trying to get some ideas myself. Ive got a whole room to use and cant decide how i want to build my desk.
  3. N4WSH

    N4WSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thom, I have to say I like the set-up you have right now. The one thing that you hit on in your list is the easy accessibility to the back of the desk (rigs). My set up, well lets just say I have to be a contortionist to get to the back of my gear.
  4. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Thom,

    My desk is homemade, 38" x 72". It consists of two layers of Oriented Stand Board, with tempered hardboard on top. I used contact cement to glue the layers of wood together and trimmed it with 1x2 fir. Plywood would be stronger but, it's strong enough to support my weight! It's stained and then coated with Varathane. I used a homemade crosscut sled on my table saw (with infeed & outfeed rollers) to trim the glued-up slab.

    It's held up OK though, a couple of coffee spills have done a little damage to the hardboard. The next iteration will be covered with plastic laminate for better wear & water resistance.

    vy 73,
    Bryan WA7PRC
  5. WI4USA

    WI4USA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Bryan,

    I was thinking about going 36" on the depth. My current desk is 30" and I could use another 6" of desk space. Also with 36", I could have 12" depth left over for shelves from the 4 x 8 piece of birch plywood. I'm not sure if my shelves should be deeper than 12". Most radio's are around 12-13" in depth.

    I was thinking about making my depth 30" and then using 18" shelves. Most of my equipment excluding the amp, is less that 13" in depth. So 18" shelves might be overkill. The amp would be on the main desk anyhow, so I would not have it on the shelves any how.

    This is what I'm kind of thinking about:


    73 de wi4usa


    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  6. VE3FMC

    VE3FMC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I say build your operating desk as big as you can.

    The reason for this is you never know when you are going to add equipment.

    I currently have 3 HF rigs I can operate. However I have 3 more I would love to have sitting on the desk. I just do not have room. Half of my desk has one shelf running the entire length of the desk. Then on top of that I have another shelf which covers half the length of the desk. That desk is 6 feet long.

    I have an L shaped operating desk, the second part of the desk is 48 inches. I have my digital computer set up on that part of the desk. On the main desk I have my internet computer set up.

    It is cramped but serves the purpose other than the lack of space for those 3 extra rigs. I'd like tear this all out and build a new operating desk. But I cringe at the thoughts of having to be off the air for a few days and renovating the entire room!

    So that is why I say BUILD IT BIG, THOSE RADIOS, COMPUTERS, POWER SUPPLIES AND AMPS WILL COME! :D Do it right the first time, build it as big as you possibly can with at least one shelf on top of the desk surface.
  7. KD0EAH

    KD0EAH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wouldn't build it as big as possible, but build it with the idea of being modular. Able to change or modify it when you want.

    Build a desk surface. add above or below that. I'd even suggest so far as to build it to enable you to be able to stand at the desk. It's nice to be able to stand at times more than you.

    There are times I have had this at my desk at work and it's so nice to do.

    Some additional ideas.
  8. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Everything in front of your hand looks pretty good----

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  9. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Thom,

    Your semi-circle design looks nice... it should be easy to get to everything with minimal reaching. When it comes to determining actual dimensions, a tape measure is your friend. Someone else recommended a modular approach. I like that idea, with the capability to tie the sections together.

    One other note... an 'amplefire' makes heat. Unless you have A/C in the room, you might want to provide a way to exhaust it. At my old QTH, I had no A/C and my SB220 was adjacent to a double-hung window. During Summer months, I would just open the window and most of the heat escaped. During Winter, the 'amplefire' kept me warm! :D

    Bryan WA7PRC
  10. WI4USA

    WI4USA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the links, they are very helpful.

  11. KF7AYS

    KF7AYS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Whatever size you build it, it won't be big enough next year....
  12. KC9GVB

    KC9GVB Guest

    Don't forget to leave some dedicated "free" space, for writing and other miscellaneous tasks that you will not want to move equipment to do.
  13. KC4ART

    KC4ART Ham Member QRZ Page

    I built mine using an equipment rack design. It backs up the the steps, so I have plenty of access to the back of the equipment.

    Here is a pic of how it was a few months ago. I have changed a few things around, but havent got a pic made yet.


  14. WB2TPS

    WB2TPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look at modular office furniture.
    BUSH brand makes very sturdy desks with laminate tops and cable ways on the back. Keyboard trays and drawers are available.

    I use five of them in a U shape and built shelves for the equipment.

  15. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    A corner desk is OK, but it does not allow you to expand, nor does it allow you the potential for more than one operating position.

    I agree that getting around the back is useful. I have a 6' long desk and I can reach the wiring from the ends, but any longer than that and it would be better on wheels or 3' off the wall.

    You can scarcely have the desk deep enough, IMHO. I've got a 34" deep desk and it is just enough - I like to be able to have a full size notepad on the desk and room to read while at the station.
  16. AD7N

    AD7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    If I put time as I do to other projects, my desk wouldn't require shoving reems of paper around to get stuff done. Alas, time to get it up to speed with the rest of the things!
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