Studio Re-Design (part 1, the before)

I’ve been yammering on for weeks about the work I’ve been doing preparing to rework the studio/home office, but it occurs to me I’ve hardly broached either the why or the how of all that. And I’ve skimped on pictures, too. So let’s fix all that.

The current space looks (more or less) like this:

Studio before.

Yowch. That’s not pretty. To be fair, there’s a bunch of stuff prepped in those bins for the install, so it’s a fair bit more cluttered than “normal” right now. But still.

I’ll break down part of what you’re seeing. On the left far wall- that’s all analog stuff. Sewing, typing, book binding, soldering, crafting… all that stuff happens over there somewhere. There’s about eight feet of desk there between the two tables, but it’s crowded and not great. The right side is all digital stuff- that’s some rack gear on the ground, four monitors (for two different machines), and a laptop. And another rack underneath. And it’s a hot mess of cables and clutter. No good.

The plan is something like this (all along the right hand wall):

IMG_3897

In case you can’t read my writing, that’s two seven foot desks (with a bit of overlap) mounted to the wall, and a freestanding (on casters!) 28u rack on the far right. That extends my computer standing desk from just under four feet wide to seven, and adds a considerable amount of storage above for all the other supplies I need to keep around.

The 28u rack I’ll be building is 30″ deep, too- so it’s going to get all the audio, video, and computer gear I have strewn around. All the hard drives. All the dead media format devices (VHS!) I keep around. All of it, in one place, neatly. Both computers go in there, too, along with (I imagine) the in-the-mail NAS I’m putting together.

I’ve got most of a parts list (and most of the cut-list, too), but I need to take some more measurements and finally do a proper scale drawing of the whole thing (with markings for the studs in the wall) to know exactly how many brackets of which type I need to buy. And then there are a couple of specialty parts (24″ shelf brackets, 28u rack mount rails, etc) that need to be special ordered, so I’ll have to get those en route.

So that’s where I’m at: an hour with the stud finder and some tape away from a full shopping list. Then it’s time to mount stuff to walls, cut and glue a bunch of shelves, and get going on the rack case.

SitRep

Updates on projects.

  • If you’ve been following along, I’ve been working on the redesign of my home studio office. Right now it’s cobbled together from a selection of existing desks and tables, but I’m moving the entire thing to a wall-mounted shelving system. It’s going to clean things up a TON and give me more/better working space, but it’s a lot to do- there are a lot of considerations for hardware and use cases, and I want this system to work for the foreseeable future. I’ve recently started organizing and compiling the gear that’s going to go into this, and the first of those new parts start showing up shortly. I’m moving to a Synology DS418 NAS box for storage and access, and I’m moving my Plex install from my XServe to a Mac Mini that’s going to (mostly) do just that. I’m likely to end up with something like 12TB of storage, which should be plenty for backups and media and whatnot. I can’t actually really start to build this thing for a bit longer- I need the temperatures to get up enough that I can do finish work on the wood parts, and it’s still feeling like winter around here. Soon, though.
  • I’m really excited to get back on the bike and filming again. I’d made some headway late last year with producing more riding videos, and I liked the extra push to be creative both on the bike and behind the camera. I’m looking forward to doing more of that, and I’ve been getting the camera(s) ready and the bike(s) ready as well. I could use the exercise, too.
  • I’ve been working slowly on a new bag project for a while now- I need a new riding bag that’s built to handle not only tools and whatnot, but also filming gear. I’ve been in the development phase for a while, but I’m making good headway with the design brief, and I’m hoping to get started on the pack soonish. Maybe when the new sewing table is ready.
  • After the studio overhaul, it’s time to overhaul the garage. I’ve got (mostly) enough storage, but I really need to do a better job optimizing it. That means, in this case, ripping apart what I have and reworking it all. Again, I’m waiting for things to be just a teeny bit warmer before ripping into that.
  • IMG_3696I’ve been wearing my “Space Shoes” now for a few months, and they’re holding up pretty well- and so I’m just starting to think about what a summer pair might look like in the same vein. I’m also looking at some changes to construction- building certain aspects of the shoes somewhat differently and learning from the first pair.

SitRep

Updates are needed and warranted.

  • My love for Hypercard has been re-kindled, it seems. I used to love playing with it, building games and data sets and whatever, but… it’s been gone a long time now, and I’ve never found an especially good alternative to it. The solution was to grab an ancient laptop off the shelf that still boots Mac OS9, and install Hypercard. Looking forward to playing with this more.
  • The Studio Desk v0.3 work continues. I’ve been working on the electric plans for this- figuring out what gear goes where and how things should be wired for maximum flexibility. It’s currently looking like two 7′ desks (wall mounted) and a 28u rolling rack unit besides it (for A/V gear), as well as a rolling rack for my computer underneath. I’ve started compiling hardware as well- breaking down the current setup a bit and sorting out the bits I’m going to need once the desks are built. I’m also going to have to build a second Mobile Parts Rack for analog tools overflow, so there’s that, too.
  • Slowly getting back away from proprietary formatted document storage (gdrive, evernote, etc…), and moving back towards txt and rtf files. They’re robust and wildly compatible, and within the bounds of the formatting the offer, they’re elegant. I’ve re-installed nvALT for the first time in a long while, and it’s going to be my home for a lot of those reference files I keep.

Research List #41

Currently Researching:

  • DIY Motion Controlled camera sliders (with, ideally, pan and tilt, but that’s likely outside what should be the initial scope of the project)
  • Better rivets for clothing (closer to what’s used on jeans)
  • Modular Panel Mount connectors (for new desks)
  • NAS solutions (it’s hard to find decent non-Atom based units for reasonable money)
  • Alternatives to the GShock GA100
  • Backup generators (given the number of multi-day outages I’ve had in the last two years…)

SitRep

As always, things afoot. Just time for the highlights, today.

  • I’ve put an item up on my shop– it’s a pair of my space shoes. They’re made to-order, so if you’re thinking about a pair, keep that in mind. I’d even be willing to *think* about having them not be two different colors, but… I dunno. Seems weird. Holler at me if you want a pair.
  • The second round of my analog zine is coming along. They take a really, really long time for me to do- and that’s ok. It’s the process, for me, that makes them interesting. I’m also getting a lot better at layout and planning as a result of these, so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of impact that has on my other work.
  • Studio Desk v0.3 is coming along- I’m starting to settle somewhat on the layout and proportions, and now some of the details (wire and power management, port accessibility, finishes, etc) are coming into better focus.

Projects

This is less an update on status (my standard SitRep posts), and more some smaller look at how I manage some my projects. Just a small look, mind you.

IMG_3804This is a (partial) look at my project board- anything that I’m even thinking of making. It gets added to an index card, and pinned up. I (usually) organize them by category (bike, house, clothing, etc), but I shuffle them pretty often to see if anything lines up or can be batch processed. From here, these cards get filed as “finished” when the project is completed or “abandon” when I decide it’s not something I want to pursue. Every once in a while, on the rare occasion I’m feeling dry creatively, I sometimes paw through the “abandoned” cards for inspiration- I almost never re-up a project as-is.

For projects involving building, I usually spend some time sketching before I begin work. I have a couple of notebooks, depending on the scale I need, but this example is from my largest. It’s done in pencil, and it’s deliberately loose right now. I had the idea to overhaul my studio into a more functional space- that IMG_3820means more desk space and more storage, all while looking a bit less hodge-podge than things currently do. I’ll be installing a massive (16′ long!) work-wall, with (double) vertical desks build in- plus more shelving storage, cable management, and lighting. It’s about as big a project like this as I’ve taken on, and I know (based on finishing requirements) that I won’t be doing much until I can work in the garage again- the stain and polyurethane don’t like below freezing temps. But: I’m spending between now and then sketching and sketching and thinking to get the plans as solidified as I can, so when the temps finally break, I’ll be able to get right to work. So, for now, the sketches live here, and I’ll be revising and adding detail as I go. It’s the thinking that’s important, as it’ll make the construction go far more quickly, be less expensive, and better fit my ultimate needs.

So: between the board (to see the full range of the projects that are active) and the notebooks (for project details, sketches, equipment buy lists, etc), I find I manage to keep a reasonably good eye on what project is on which burner. For stuff I’ve never done before (like this studio 2.0 project), there’s a much-needed hibernation phase. I need the time to think through iterations on projects so I don’t have to build as many physical iterations. For some stuff (like my long suffering shoulder bag project, currently on prototype #5), that build/test/build is a normal part of the process- but when I can (and especially for larger stuff like this), I need to minimize the number of physical revisions.

Research List #40

On the oddball Research List

  • I’ve stumbled down an internet hole into vintage mechanical watch land, so… Seiko 6309-7040/9 (and, were I a wealthy man, Tudor M.N. and so on)
  • Motorola mdt-9100
  • Cubix PCI Expander chassis
  • DIY pipe VESA monitor mounts
  • Better local mass-storage for my computer workstation (I naturally lean towards rack mounted systems, but those are expensive)
  • Quick Release tripod plate systems
  • Alternatives to a Joby 5K Gorilla Pod

SitRep

It’s been a month, so it’s time:

  • My mobile/remote video shooting kit is coming along. I’m happy with the new zoom lens’s range (28-80 on an ASP-C sensor, so that’s like a 45-128), but the minimum focal distance is a pain- it’s north of 6 feet, so… yeah. Not awesome, in some ways. So right now I have to carry both a 28/2.5 prime and this zoom, which is fine, but… one more thing than I wanted to carry. Anyway, the new lav mic came, so that’s great (along with some wind muffs), and I’ve finally got my ND filter set up the way I’d like. Progress, then. Still need a better tripod/rigging solution that’s packable, as this setup is clearly over the weight limit for my current Joby Gorillapod.
  • A basement studio shelving project is taking shape- it’ll be of the same basic vein as the others I’ve built, but somewhat less ornate. I’ll use the same hardware, and likely build the shelves the same way (3/4″ ply with a 1×2″ facing board), but instead of a mahogany finish, I’ll likely go something lighter. And less staggered/offset shelves, as this is primarily a storage solution (and doesn’t have to pull double-duty as a display system. Or could it?).
  • I got a new bike helmet in (as the old one was… old), and I’m pretty excited to start (slowly) gearing up for spring riding. My new rear brake rotor came, too, so that needs to go on. Maybe (gasp!) even a brand-new set of tires this season. Or a dropper post (that I’ve been talking about getting for two years and still haven’t done anything about). All that is leading to me needing/wanting to build a new backpack for hydration and cameras while riding. Someone has to have made one of those, right? And then maybe a new crankset and bb? Because those have changed, somewhat, since my square-taper unit was made.
  • I’ve been reading about mobile data terminals as part of my effort to further build out my space like a cyberpunk control center.
  • I still want a metal lathe. I know, I’ve got no good place to put it (right now), and power/noise/upkeep is an issue (along with cost and weight…), but I want one anyway.
  • I’m coming along on project storage- it’s rough, because I tend to have so many in-process projects, and keeping things organized and not sprawling can be a challenge. But the last several months have had me making meaningful change, so that’s good.
  • I’m getting ready to build another zine, and I’m hoping to kick my newsletter mailings back into high gear (they’ve been going out, just somewhat slower). Apparently I’m itching to publish again.
  • I’ve not made a ton of progress with most of the other projects- it’s been the holidays and cold and whatnot, so some of that’s too be expected, but I’d still like to get back into high-speed project finisher mode.

SitRep

projects projects projects

  • I’ve continued shooting bike-based videos- but I’ve found myself itching to teach again/more, so I thought it’d make sense to combine the two and make teaching videos about bikes. Why not, right?
  • To that same end: I’m thinking about re-doing/expanding my original Lord of the Flies based Tangential videos. I made those five years ago (!) and they still, apparently, generate many of the views on my channel (which I’ve just now looked up). It’s still my favorite book to teach (all these years later), but I’ve never really done a full-blown solution to teaching it online. Those original videos were meant (primarily) as a front-loading exercise to clear up in classroom time. These new videos (and whatever else) would be a more complete & comprehensive solution.
  • MagicLantern is pretty neat. I know I’m late to the party and all that with it, but in all fairness, I’d not had something to play with it on, so… yeah. I’m not shooting RAW yet or anything, but it’s still opening up some welcome functionality.
  • I got RetroPie up and running on an original Pi Zero. That’s no big accomplishment, I realize, but it’s a stepping stone to picking up a Pi 3b and overclocking it (to better play N64 and PS1 games!).
  • I finally got a Silicon Dust HomeRun internet enabled digital TV tuner and got it working with my instal of PLEX. That means live tv on any device in the house (nearly), and in theory means easy DVR and replay of that live TV. I don’t seem to have that bit working reliably just yet, but I think I’m an update or two behind on my PLEX install, so we’ll see if that clears up the issues.

SitRep (a big-ish one)

Hi All.

Things I’ve been up to:

  • I refinished another bike seat. You might remember the previous (first!) seat I did a few months ago, but this was a much better job. I learned a bunch on the last one, and I was able to do a much cleaner job on this round. We’ll see how it holds up, now.
  • I wrote a tweet.

Let’s put aside the unfortunate typo, shall we? Actually, I relayed in a tweet something my wife does many times a day- which is to make a remarkably smart offhanded comment about something. In the two days since, it’s kind of slow-burned across twitter. It was meant as a quick jab back at the ALL STEM ALL THE TIME mentality. I’m finding that pretty toxic myself- all the stress on tech and science can (and has, I’d argue) led to technically amazing things with no moral/ethical thought. Facebook, for example. Totally amazing what they can do, and clearly without morals about doing it. Heck, twitter itself falls into that category. There’s a reason “Humanities” has the word “Human” in it, as we neglect those subjects at our own peril as a species.

  • I’ve been making bike riding videos over here. They’re short, to begin with (I’ve aimed for Instagram as a primary posting spot right now, and that’s capped at 60 seconds…) As much as anything, this is a way to keep pushing creatively. Like anything else, without practicing, creativity drops off, so I’m sharing my practice. If you care, they’re entirely (thus far) shot with my cell phone.
  • Did you know you can buy brand-new typewriter ribbons on Amazon? True story.