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Windows 7: Project: The Ultimate Computer Desk

23 Dec 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
 
 
Project: The Ultimate Computer Desk

Hey Everyone!

I've been wanting to build my own custom computer desk for a long time now, and I've finally got around to starting it, and decided to start commenting on these forums that I've been browsing for long at!

Firstly, I would like to thank Crucial, Kingston and Danger Den for sponsoring this project and for helping to make this a reality!

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!

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

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

23 Dec 2010   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
 
 
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!

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...

Stay tuned! I'll be cutting up some wood next!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
 
 
Initial Cuts

Purely coincidentally, while talking over the idea with a few pints 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? 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
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


23 Dec 2010   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate
 
 

those sketches look good, hope it comes out great. make sure to post the final product. im exited to see what it gonna look like.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2010   #5

windows 7 ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Try and find a old atx case to get the motherboard tray/ back plane....
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2010   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Mint 9
 
 

Dude this is f***ing awesome.

Looks like you thought of a lot of things.
Couple more thoughts:
Make sure you buy some high quality dust filters for the fans. They make some that fit right between the case and the fan with a thin metal mesh.
Airflow needs to be checked to make sure there are no obstructions, and (especially over the CPU and GPU(s)) has the space to be moved.
Before you put in the (high quality) computer, make sure that there are no dead spots in the air, and that you fix any if there are. You might also consider liquid cooling the gaming desktop and putting a big radiator on the back of the desk, possibly even with a fan bank blowing to the side to flush the hot air.
For the monitors, I liked how the first one had then supported on the rack. You might even consider articulated arms so you can move them around.

I would also build speakers into the desk, just for the hell of it.

~Lordbob
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2010   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

Thats very impressive. Will you be using some sort of dampining/cushioning between the various fans and the wooden sides of the desk to help mimimise vibration?

Regards,
Golden
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2010   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

looks cool
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2010   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
 
 
Thanks Sevenforums!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by vierasniper View Post
those sketches look good, hope it comes out great. make sure to post the final product. im exited to see what it gonna look like.
Thanks for the confidence vote there vierasniper, I hope it turns out as good as the sketches!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ivan the SoSo View Post
Try and find a old atx case to get the motherboard tray/ back plane....
Roger that Ivan the SoSo! I ~actually~ may have a little surprise coming in from Danger Den soon... we'll see!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lordbob75 View Post
Dude this is f***ing awesome.

Looks like you thought of a lot of things.
Couple more thoughts:
Make sure you buy some high quality dust filters for the fans. They make some that fit right between the case and the fan with a thin metal mesh.
Airflow needs to be checked to make sure there are no obstructions, and (especially over the CPU and GPU(s)) has the space to be moved.
Before you put in the (high quality) computer, make sure that there are no dead spots in the air, and that you fix any if there are. You might also consider liquid cooling the gaming desktop and putting a big radiator on the back of the desk, possibly even with a fan bank blowing to the side to flush the hot air.
For the monitors, I liked how the first one had then supported on the rack. You might even consider articulated arms so you can move them around.

I would also build speakers into the desk, just for the hell of it.

~Lordbob
Hey there Lordbob75, thanks for the comments! Just to let you know, I'll be cutting out a section of a high-quality air filter for a furnace to put over the intake, and with 4 120mmx38mm fans sucking in air, I'm hoping there will be PLENTY of airflow.

I like the idea of putting the monitors on an articulated do-hickey as well, however, my second design compared to the first design adds that little shelf that they rest on, so that I have the ability to use the space beneath the monitors, which was the whole point of the rack in the first design. I may very well design something in the future to accommodate for some nice speakers - great idea!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Golden View Post
Thats very impressive. Will you be using some sort of dampining/cushioning between the various fans and the wooden sides of the desk to help mimimise vibration?

Regards,
Golden
Ohhhh yes, this will be a very interesting part of the project actually. I will most likely spend just as much time building little tunnels to hide the wires, dampen the vibrations of the fans and hard-drives, as building the desk itself! I plan on experimenting with various packing foams and such from past deliveries as well as the local hardware stores. Thanks for the comments, and stay tuned for more updates!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Fatezoom View Post
looks cool
Thanks Fatezoom! I really appreciate it!

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!

Sorry about the photos folks, I had already uploaded these to imageshack and forgot to resize them, so here are the thumbnails since I don't have the original stock photos on me right now. From now on, they'll be properly sized at 800x600, which I feel is a fair compromise for detail and bandwidth.





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!!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2010   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Mint 9
 
 

Looks like its coming together well.

I would still encourage you to think about liquid cooling your gaming rig, but you probably will have a fair bit of airflow with a fan bank

Also, now I really want to build something like this, even though it wouldn't fit in my dorm room.

~Lordbob
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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