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KB1WSY Shack Redo

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KB1WSY, Feb 7, 2014.

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  1. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    It became clear in the past few months that I'm being held back in my ham radio progress by a wildly disorganized shack. It was fine when I started in the hobby two years ago, but as I accumulated more and more components and tools for homebrewing, the junkbox took over the shack.

    So today I totally emptied the shack! Its contents have been transferred pell mell to a spare bedroom. This will allow a reconfiguration of the shack including a new coat of paint, then building an operating desk and workbench, adding shelving, components drawers and bins, thus setting up a proper station and workshop. It's all fairly straightforward apart from the awkward issue of finding the right position for my large, floor-standing drill press (a wonderful tool, but it takes up a lot of room).

    To make more wall space, I will probably (reluctantly) board up one of two of the windows.

    I live in a rental apartment, with a very kind landlord, but obviously there's a limit to the amount of alteration I can make.

    Here's the plan (click on it to get a legible version):

    View attachment Shack.jpg

    Photo of future operating position:

    Photo of future workshop:

    The shack is not big (about 60 square feet), but I still feel fortunate (as a semi-urban ham) to have as much room as I do.

    I will post when further progress is made. I've deliberately set no schedule. Work life is crazy so it will just have to be squeezed in when possible. A good winter project!!
  2. KB2FCV

    KB2FCV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would make the most out of the wall space (third photo) and the wall space behind you (above the radiator) before I'd board up a window (I like light). If you do cover it up, I'm not sure what your landlord will think of having a board over a window.. you may need to think of how to make it look attractive from the outside. It will be cozy in there, but I would think you should be able to maximize every bit of available space into something neat and organized. I like building custom desks / shelves to fit the space instead of trying to fit something in and possibly wasting space. Fun project! Do post some progress photos..
  3. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I love light, and I also love the view out of the "candidate" windows -- I've even posted "beautiful winter" photos over on RCC that I shot through those shack windows. However, even with one or two windows boarded up there will still be lots of light because the other outside wall is basically all windows. As I said, I haven't decided yet ... but I think it would make quite a difference in terms of available storage and display space. My landlord has already boarded up one of the windows in that room (behind the drill press in the last photo) and from the outside it just looks like a window -- plus, these are not windows that many people will see from the outside (the shack is at the back of the plot).

    I am considering customizing the desk further by either (1) notching/slanting the workshop end or (2) separating the operating desk from the workbench completely, with each one against a different wall. Both of these solutions would eliminate the problem with the drill press getting in the way. I have built custom desks before, it's fun shaping them to the available space! Whatever I do, I'll want to physically separate the operating and workshop benchtops so that if I'm pounding stuff with a hammer, or sawing, or whatever, the vibrations won't harm the rig (which is under construction and will be hollow-state).

    So here are two other layouts I'm considering (click to enlarge):

    Notched workshop bench:

    View attachment Shack2.jpg

    Separate workshop bench:

    View attachment Shack3.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  4. K5MUG

    K5MUG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice work, Martin. I favor doing similar layouts; it gives me a better grasp of spacing for best usage. I think the last pattern would work for me - it seems to give better access to each effort. Another plus for me is that separation would tend to minimize/lessen work debris contamination of your operating area. Seems it would be easier for clean-up as well.

    Continued success to you! 73,

  5. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here's one surprise. With the shack "under construction" I've exiled my little regenerative receiver to my home office, with a few feet of indoor wire antenna. It works very well!

  6. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Seeking Advice About Pegboards

    Before installing the desk and workbench, I'm likely to configure the walls for maximum parts/tools storage space.

    So I'm thinking of using pegboard, for several reasons:
    • This is a rental apartment, and using pegboard will minimize the number of holes I make in the wall.
    • Easy to mix parts drawer-sets, parts bins, and tools on the same wall.
    • Easy to reconfigure as I go along.
    • Much quicker than laboriously drilling holes for each toolholder/parts bin/drawer-set.
    • Can be removed and taken to my new home when I move.

    There seem to be two distinct type of pegboard.

    The old-fashioned wooden ones with evenly spaced round holes:


    The newfangled metal type with a mixture of round and "slot-type" holes for things like shelf brackets:


    Seems like the new type is both more versatile and stronger. Am I missing something?

    (Edited to add: I don't suppose a shack wall covered with metal pegboard will raise any RF/shielding/hum pickup issues???? I really wouldn't think so....)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  7. WA8UEG

    WA8UEG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The old type pegboard would require spacing it out from the wall a bit so the hangers will work correctly. I think the consideration for metal would be cost.
  8. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I thought it was pricey until I realized that the price often includes not just the pegboard but also a "kit" of hooks, screwdriver holders, hammer holders, and so forth. The one I'm interested in is this:


    It's 48" wide (the wall behind the workbench is 51") and 32" high. Cost is $116 from Amazon with free two-day shipping (I have Amazon Prime). Alternatively I can buy it in a 32x32 version for only $35 and use the left-over space for test equipment racks. My test equipment is vintage, bulky and fragile, so it needs to be above the workbench, away from the impact of hammers or other tool vibrations. The smaller pegboard comes without hooks/accessories, which largely explains the difference in price. They are made by a company called Wall Control.

    Most of the rest of my "shack redo" will be custom work done by myself. They will be specially shaped work surfaces to fit the space that I have; I have done this many times before in other homes, so I don't think it will be hard.

    For the operating-station area, I'll be using conventional shelving so that it doesn't look like a workshop!

    Another issue I'm trying to figure out is the height of the work surfaces. For the operating area, it will be the usual height for a business desk I think (29"). I am considering making the workshop bench somewhat higher: using manual tools such as saws can be tiring if you are standing up and the object you are working on is clamped to a vise on a low workbench. (I'm tall.)
  9. KB1WSY

    KB1WSY Ham Member QRZ Page

    So the decisions are being made fast, which is rare, for me. Perhaps my hangup all along was having a lousy shack, and "being organized" will make all the other ham-radio decisions easier!!!!

    I have decided to use layout number 3 (with the operating desk and workbench completely separate), as K5MUG suggests.

    Looking again at my available space, I've also decided to store some of my components (the "special parts" bought for specific projects) in shelving in a spare bedroom. I don't like to have my hobby invade the house, but this will just be one set of "territorially limited" shelves (hmmm, this is probably how it "started" for WA6MHZ). Each project will have its own cardboard box -- in fact this is already done! When I emptied my shack I discovered that I had actually been quite "organized" about this already.

    In the shack itself, I will keep all of the "generic" components: resistors, capacitors, tubes, hardware, hookup wire and so forth. I've done some further work on the workshop layout (click for bigger version):


    I hope to get going on this next week!!
  10. WA8UEG

    WA8UEG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's really nice for the price, heck standard pegboard hangers are pricey now a days and standard pegboard doesn't look nearly as nice or professional.

    My operating desk is at 30" and works well for me. Like you I built my work bench higher at 33" I'm not tall (6') but 29" for a work bench just isn't high enough, specially as I get older :(. I use a high leg all aluminum chair (like you would use at a kitchen bar) at the work bench.

    I finally have everything the way I want in the shack, only thing I need to do is have a piece of glass cut for the top of the operating desk, I have the glass but have to move all the equipment so I can mark it, the top of the operating desk is curved. Been putting it off and putting it off, think I'll get that done this week!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
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