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Ultimate Computer Desk - 2 Integrated Computers

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#1
Hello all, this is my first time posting at techPowerUp, but I've been a long time browser, especially in the project log section - there's some really amazing work being done here!

I've been contemplating for a few years what the ultimate computer desk for me would be like, and as technology has changed, so have the requirements, but I think that recently, I've finally stumbled upon a design I would actually like to pursue!

I'd like to take you all along for the ride, and I hope that I can elicit some constructive feedback, ideas, and criticism from all of you bright apples out there :laugh:

So here we go! The official project log of the Ultimate Computer Desk!

I'd like to thank Crucial, Kingston and Danger Den for sponsoring this project and helping to make it a reality!





 
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#2
The 1st Draft

Here it is, the 1st draft of the Ultimate Computer Desk.

I wanted the desk to be capable of having 2 integrated desktop systems. 1 for high-powered gaming, and the other, a low-powered system with lots of hard-drive space that will be on 24/7 for sharing media across the network and playing videos locally.

It needs to be quiet, have dust control, have manual fan control, and it also needs to look great in an office - sorry ahead of time to all you bling lovers! :laugh:

I used Google Sketchup for all of my drafts.

I started first by sketching on paper how I would like the components to be laid out, and then started working on the left-hand module.

After determining the minimum width, I started to build up the left-hand module, taking into consideration that I would be using 3/4" plywood for the construction.



I then decided that the air intake will be on the same board that the motherboard will lie, air will come from the bottom. It will be covered with a furnace air filter material that should eliminate most of the dust, and also provide good air circulation.



Next up was to add some to-scale components. A big thanks to B@gy, who created the model for the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Heatsink, as well as the Noctua fans, Alexander who created the model for the Asus Ares video card, Nightsoul who created the model of the Western Digital Hard-Drives, and Fubar East for the very nice power supply model. Your talent saved me a lot of time when it came to placing the items to scale.



Another view, from the back



I then took the same requirements and applied them to the right-hand module. This will be the "server-type" system. I also wanted to add drawers to this particular module, so this is what I came up with. It has the same air-intake system, which will be covered by a furnace air filter.



And, finally, putting it all together, I figured 2 monitors is a reasonable thing these days. In the upper left, there will be the DVD drive, plus power and fan controls for the gaming rig. There is a glass cover over the gaming rig that can be removed to perform upgrades and maintenance.



And a picture of the back - the boxes aren't exactly what they'll turn out as - they are for cable management, ideally I will setup little boxes so you will see almost NO cables in the back. They will have some foam stuffed in the top to keep dust out of the boxes as well.



And that's it for this post! The 1st draft! I'll have to ponder on it for a little while to make sure everything is A-OK for building, and determine how much lumber I'll need.

As always, comments, feedback and ideas are ALWAYS WELCOME! This is going to be a long build, I figure it'll take me a couple months at least, and that's not including some of the custom electronic trickery I'm going to have to learn :laugh:
 
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#3
The 2nd Draft!

After spending some time reviewing my 1st draft I realized a few things very quickly:

1. All my joints are butt joints! This is going to result in a lot of screw holes on the visible surfaces that I will have to cover up, and it will not be as strong as it could be.

2. The edges of plywood are nasty - I did not account for using 1/4" solid wood trim on all of the visible edges of the plywood. This will seriously throw off all my measurements.

3. The right-hand module, with the so called drawers, don't actually have drawers sketched in - just drawer faces!

So, it was time start from scratch (Sorta). Here's the end result, and ultimately, the final plan. The dark coloured wood is the solid trim, and the light coloured wood are 1x1's so that I can screw the panels together from the inside, avoiding any screw holes on the outside. I also added a few dado joints that I believe will be ultra strong with just a generous application of wood glue.





So, while I was redoing all of this, I figured: this desk is going to be a beast. A big, heavy, super-duty truck kind of beast. This means I will likely be able to keep it for quite some time, and with technology going the way it is....



Yup, planning for 3 monitors, external fan / dvd / power controls for both of the systems, and going the full 8 foot length for the desk. The dvd / controls will be in the cubby holes you see in the upper left and right-hand sides of the desk.

It'll be able to be disassembled into 4 pieces - the desk surface, the desk shelf, and the left and right modules.

Much better. I think from here I can make my cut sheets and actually get to work!
 
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#4
Cut Sheets!

Yes, I love Google Sketchup, I am not ashamed of it either, it is so incredibly useful and it's so incredibly free.

I've used it for a few years now, mostly for planning aquarium setups and building aquarium stands. Here is the most awesome part of Sketchup - pulling dimensions, and creating your cut sheets (Someone needs to automate this).









And that's it! 4 Sheets!

Now I have to figure out where I'm going to build this darn thing. I've got a low-ceiling basement with a circular saw, router, and a drill...

I think I might need some new tools... :D:D:D

Stay tuned! I'll be cutting up some wood next!
 
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#5
this looks amazing!
 
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#6
Time for Wood

Purely coincidentally, while talking over the idea with a few :toast: at the local pub, a good girlfriend of mine piped up stating:

"Oh, didn't you know? My dad has a full wood shop in his backyard, he'd love to help I'm sure!"

By golly.

A meeting was arranged, and poof, we got along great and he's looking forward to a nice big project being started in his shop.

It's a free standing building in his backyard with an attic for wood storage, lots of tools - stationary and portable, and yeah, lots of tools - did I mention that? :laugh: Table saw, band saw, drill press, planar, horizontal planar, belt sander, jointer, grinders, air compressor, just about everything a guy could ask for.



So we set about to pick up the initial bits of lumber. 4 Sheets of 3/4" Plywood, 2-sided Maple Veneer - was a steal too, such a good deal that Mike, the owner of the wood shop, picked up a pair of sheets for himself for a future project as well!





Time to hit up the table saw to do the initial lengthwise cuts







Thankfully I had a helper - she was eventually covered in sawdust and abandoned me in the shop after the big cuts were done. It still left me with several 8' long sheets to manage on my own, as you can see in the left hand side of the shop in the back.



So I set about my merry way, and thankfully, did not lose any of my fingers (This time).





All of the initial cuts were done, except for one particular strip of 8' that needed to be cut into 3 28" lengths - beyond what the table saw was capable of doing. I decided that it was enough for the day.



Made quite a nice little mess!!





All in all a good start to a long project





Stay tuned! Lots of work still to go :laugh:
 
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#8
That's a lot of wood. I wanted to build my own desk over the summer but never got round to it. This is going to be bloody huge!
 
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#9
Yey for my reference :D

Good luck matey, and welcome to the club!

Gunna be watching this very closely.
 
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#10
Love where this is going.
 
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#12
Looking good ~ subscribed
 

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#13
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#14
sub'alicious:D
 
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#15
Im in....:rockout:
 
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#16
Deja fucking Vu.

Subscribing to this as I have a very similar idea brewing away in my head and in SketchUp as we speak. Mine's substantially smaller though, I'm not being greedy and am only looking at putting one computer in mine.

EDIT: BTW, your design is great, I might have to steal some ideas off you. ;)
 
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#17
I just came:eek: is dat normal:p:p

Awesome job bro:toast:
 
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#18
Sub'd love desk mods.

I might know one up if I ever clear my room out enough to have space to do it lol

( only with a very simple design! bolt mobo to inside of cupboard, make it so side of cupboard is hinged at bottom with some locking bolts going through top of desk when I want shut safely, meaning I fold down to a test bench/easy installation platform, hdds/dvd/psu will be in a draw underneath my cupboard.)

Mines a cheap version of a deskmod though XD
 
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#19
That's a lot of wood. I wanted to build my own desk over the summer but never got round to it. This is going to be bloody huge!
Damn right! I'll post up some pics of the space I'm putting it in sometime soon ;) I hope it fits!!

Yey for my reference :D

Good luck matey, and welcome to the club!

Gunna be watching this very closely.
Thanks MoonPig, I love this place, glad to part of the posting gang now ;)

Deja fucking Vu.

Subscribing to this as I have a very similar idea brewing away in my head and in SketchUp as we speak. Mine's substantially smaller though, I'm not being greedy and am only looking at putting one computer in mine.

EDIT: BTW, your design is great, I might have to steal some ideas off you. ;)
Thanks gumpty, feel free to grab anything and everything from my designs! Pipe up if you've got any neat ideas to add to mine as well ;) I'll be posting the Sketchup files sometime in a future update as well.

I just came:eek: is dat normal:p:p

Awesome job bro:toast:
Hah, well, it IS a lot of wood ;) ;)

Sub'd love desk mods.

I might know one up if I ever clear my room out enough to have space to do it lol

( only with a very simple design! bolt mobo to inside of cupboard, make it so side of cupboard is hinged at bottom with some locking bolts going through top of desk when I want shut safely, meaning I fold down to a test bench/easy installation platform, hdds/dvd/psu will be in a draw underneath my cupboard.)

Mines a cheap version of a deskmod though XD
Sounds like a great idea, it didn't even occur to me to have a section setup to do some workbenching, that's fantastic!

Loosenut, PopcornMachine, HammerON, t_ski, The Don, AlienIsGOD. thanks a bunch for the support everyone, I'm hoping to have this project done by Christmas, at least, the desk portion. Getting the hardware all setup and paid for is another question!

I've got some new updates for you coming soon!
 
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#20
Oh man this is going to be awesome. I'll be sticking around for a while.
 

theonedub

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#21
Your workmanship is looking great, and so are your pics :cool:

SUBd
 
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#22
Hole Time

Had time to cut that last 8' sheet into the 28" sections, and cut a hole in the surface portion of the desk. The surface portion, fyi, will be composed of two 8' pieces of 3/4" plywood, so its total thickness will be 1.5" thick.

The upper plywood will have a hole that is .5" wider all around than the board beneath it.

Only had time to do one hole tonight - the lower portion, thankfully, because I made a few small mistakes!





I started off with a carpenters angle, measured off my lines with a pencil and then made a rough cut with a jigsaw. I then clamped a straight-edge lined up with the edges (measured) and ran a router across it to create the smooth finish.

I messed up a bit, going a bit too far with the router on one end, and then not far enough on the other end - I'll have to sand and file to square it off.

Sorry I didn't take too many pictures - the next hole will have more!







Thankfully the shop is heated, here's one of the heaters - it went down to -8*C that evening!



Here's the mess for the night!





And, the hero of the night! Mastercraft Plunge Router!!

 
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#23
Thanks gumpty, feel free to grab anything and everything from my designs! Pipe up if you've got any neat ideas to add to mine as well ;) I'll be posting the Sketchup files sometime in a future update as well.
Looking good there ult.desk.

I do have one idea: unless you have the parts already, have you considered getting a mini-itx board for the 'non-gaming' computer? Throwing in even an Atom+Ion based mobo could save you LOADS of room (or even an H55 mini-ITX board). Only thing is they generally don't have many sata ports but a cheap raid card could solve that.

In saying that though, I don't know how you'd incorporate those space savings into your model. Just a thought anyway.
 
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#24
Sounds like a great idea, it didn't even occur to me to have a section setup to do some workbenching, that's fantastic!


Feel free to add it to your own design if you want. :toast:

Also how did I manage to make so many typos in my last post! :laugh:

Sounded like a spam bot trying to write a generic fitting in message followed by an ad.
 
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#25
theonedub, Soylent Joe thanks for the encouraging words :)

gumpty, the idea of doing an itx / atom based system has indeed crossed my mind. To me at least, the only up is size, and since there is plenty of room for a full size atx, I figure there are ultimately no savings in the end.

In the end, there is a good chance that the "server system" will see some game use - it is inevitable that someone will want to come by for some side-by-side multiplayer gaming, so keeping upgrade options open for the future I think would be a good idea.

pantherx12, I was thinking about the whole incorporating a workbench idea, and I haven't come up with a neat, stealthed implementation yet. Not sure if I'll pursue it, but oh you've got my brain gears turning, it would be too cool to have something like that!

:toast: Cheers everyone, I'll be posting an update either later tonight, or tomorrow morning, and I'm going to be spending a day in the shop this weekend, so there'll be another big update early next week!